The Ficus Benjamina is commonly referred to as the fig tree, Weeping Fig or simply as Ficus. It is a tree that can reach heights of up to 100ft in its natural surroundings, although with the right amount of pruning it can also become an indoor plant.
This is a tree with glossy deep green or variegated leaves with white along the edges on short drooping branches. It has an oval shape tapering to a point at the tip and can grow up to 30 metres high in its natural condition with an extensive system of aerial roots.
Native to South and South East Asia and Australia, it grows well in temperate zones such as the tropical parts of Malaysia, India and West Africa. It enjoys bright, sunny conditions but will also do well in shade. It is very popular as an indoors plant in businesses and homes, but needs to be pruned regularly to prevent it from growing too large.
The Ficus grows very easily from semi-hardwood cuttings done in summer and placed in well-draining, coarse soil water and does not need much water or fertilizing once it takes root.
Figs are members of the family Moraceae, to which the Mulberry and Breadfruit Tree belong. There are a number of cultivars available, including those with white variegation. The miniature cultivars are highly suitable for indoor bonsai.
The Ficus is very sensitive to changes in position and especially light and will drop its leaves easily. The new leaves grow back readily, adapting to the new conditions. Do not overwater it during the dormant winter season; wait for its growth spurt in spring. It is recommended that you repot the tree every few years to avoid the soil becoming compacted and the root balls too dense. This tree does not like standing in a draft.
Did You Know?
Ficus Benjamina is an excellent plant to bonsai as it is hardy and does not need regular watering as most bonsais do.
An interesting aspect of this tree is that three or more saplings are sometimes planted together in a pot and their trunks are plaited into a braid or woven into a trellis for ornamental effect.
It has been proven that the Ficus Benjamina filters indoor toxins from the air.