Getting to Know Your Ficus
From the knarled and funky Ginseng Bonsai to the fuzzy, lush greenery of an Audrey tree, Ficuses are known to make a statement. The Ficus plant family is filled with unique plants, each requiring a different level of care. This makes the Ficus family a cornerstone for the entire plant community - any level of plant parent is bound to eventually add a Ficus to their collection. Some surprising members of the ficus family are Fiddle leaf fig trees and the Rubber trees!
Ficus plants are perfect if you're looking to freshen up your space, your plant collection, and your air! The foliage grows large and dense, so air is forced to be filtered as it passes through the many layers of leaves. As an extra bonus, Ficuses are some of the rare plants that do not outgrow their containers (with some exceptions, like the fiddle leaf fig). So if you're happy with the size of your plant - great, keep it there! The plant will get larger if and when you decide to repot. If you want to encourage new growth, prune back some spent leaves and branches. But beware the sap - it is toxic to pets and can cause cold-like symptoms in those with latex allergies.
The Basics of Ficus Plant Care
Ficus plants thrive in medium indirect light throughout the day. For optimal lighting conditions, place your ficus near a nice, bright window so it can bask in the light but not bake in the direct rays of the sun.
They can be happy in a brighter sunshine, but only if its morning sun from an eastern window or evening light from the West. If you'd like to keep the plant in front of your windows, use a translucent curtain or other plants that prefer direct light to diffuse the sunshine before it hits the Ficus.
Bringing your ficus outside during the spring or summer months so they can enjoy short bursts of direct sunlight is a great idea! But, be sure to take it out of the sun after a few hours. You know you've given your plant too much direct sun when the folaige becomes bleahed and the growth is stunted. If not removed from the sunny spot, your Ficus leaves will crisp up and drop!
There are a few things to keep in mind before watering your Ficus. First, let the soil dry out slightly – we want the top 2-3" of soil to be dry. Second, feel the soil before you water. A strictly calendar-based watering schedule does not take into consideration the environment, the season, or the individual needs of your plants. Finally, fill your watering can and let the water sit out for overnight. Our tap water tends to have some minerals/salts that our plants don't like. Leaving your water out overnight will allow for the minerals to evaporate out of the water instead of seeping into the soil.
Ficuses tend to be a little finnicky about their water. A good habit to get into is feeling the soil for dryness before you water. When the first 2-3" of soil is dry, it’s time for a drink! Water slowly and thoroughly until you see water draining from the holes in the bottom of your pot. If the plant’s leaves begin curling inward, this is your sign to water the plant more often. Conversely, if the leaves are turning yellow before dropping, the plant is overwatered and you should water less often.
Each individual plant will have their own specific growth habits, but Ficuses in general love to grow! They tend to grow quickly, and can grow around 1 to 2 feet per month in the right environment.
Indoor environments, esecially in apartments, tend to have drier air than that of a greenhouse. To make up for that, we recommend dusting your ficus plant leaves occasionally with a slightly damp cloth. In addition to increasing the moisture your plant gets, this will help the leaves photosynthesize more efficiently. it is also a nice opportunity to get up close and personal with the leaves, helping you keep an eye out for pests or abnormalities.
You can stake your taller ficus trees if you feel they need a little more support. Bamboo stakes are cheap and easy to install! Gently tie the main stalk to the stake, but not so tight that you're preventing the plant from getting wider or growing taller. You can also spend a few minutes every day gently shaking your trees. This kind of movement mimics the natural movements the plant might make in the wild: leaves blowing in the wind, animals purshng the branches and brushing up against the plant. Shaking the tree will encoruage the plant to grow stranger and you'll eventually see more growth!
Most plants will tell you pretty quickly if something is wrong. If the soil is too dry for too long, your leaves will turn brown, crisp up, and drop. When the soil is too wet, your leaves will turn yellow and the main stem of the plant will feel mushy. Too much sun and the folaige will be bleached and leggy, whereas not enough sun will stunt growth and encourage small foliage. Pay close attention to your plants' needs as you care for them. Eventually, you'll notice that your plant will tell you what kind of care schedule they want.
Ficus plants contain a sap which has enzymes that are considered toxic. These enzymes cause dermatitis and blistering on the skin, so keep away from curious pets and children!
We're here to grow with you!
No matter what experience level Plant Parent we consider ourselves to be, we can all use a little help sometimes. We know you love your plants and just want the best for them! If you want to triple check and make sure that you are doing the right thing, or if you just have a general plant question, send a photo and your comments or questions to email@example.com. Our Plant Experts are always ready to help!
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