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Ficus is a genus of plants, made up of over 800 species of trees, bushes and vines. In the houseplant world, we see Ficus from vines in 2" pots to large, beautiful standard trees in 17" planters. One of the most recognizable Ficus as a houseplant is the Benjamina (shown above). Other very common and sought after varieties include Moclame, Alii, and Repens (Creeping Ficus). The ever popular Fiddle Leaf Fig and Rubber Trees are Ficus as well (Ficus Lyrata and Ficus Elastica, respectfully) and can be found in 4" pots up to 17" pots, grown as a bush, standard or column. (See our Plant Jargon page to learn the differences)
We tell everyone that Ficus are dramatic. They don't like change and will drop leaves. If you are visiting this page because you recently purchased your Ficus and it is has dropped leaves every day since you brought it home, don't worry. Follow the following tips and tricks and it will recover and start to put out new growth soon.
Most Ficus prefer bright indirect sunlight, maybe with a few hours of direct morning sunshine. Some can adapt and acclimate to higher light levels. If you wanted to grow your Ficus in more direct sun, go slow and allow it to gradually acclimate. Too much sun, too quickly, and you will see the leaves burn right off.
Ficus like to remain evenly moist at all times. They tend to be pretty thirsty plants, but do not want to be soggy, or remain in a pool of water. Checking the soil on your Ficus every 3-4 days is good practice until you figure out your watering schedule. If the top inch or 2 of the soil is dry, it is time to give your Ficus a drink. Because they do not like to sit in murky, stagnant water, planters with drainage are preferred to allow excess water to escape.
While it is not completely necessary, you can use a general purpose, high quality fertilizer from Spring through Fall. We recommend diluting the fertilizer to about 50% strength. Fish Head Farms soil conditioner is a great option to use year round to provide essential nutrients and promote strong, healthy growth.
Ficus do well in a number of different potting mixes. A general purpose, all natural commercial mix is usually fine. We like to add in chunky perlite or vermiculite to our mixes to allow for more air flow and better drainage. Just keep in mind that the fast the soil drains, the more you are going to have to water.
Here is where it gets tricky. Ficus hate change and do not like to be repotted. They are moderate growers, but that does not mean that they need to be repotted very often. We only recommend repotting your Ficus every 2-3 years, and even then, you only want to move up 2" or so in pot sizes to reduce stress. This should be done in the Spring or early Summer months. If you have just recently purchased your plant, do not repot it for at least 6 months. This is very important for Ficus, because too much stress and change, too soon is a death sentence.
The most common pest issues for Ficus are Mealy Bugs and Red Spider Mites, however, even Scale Bugs can cause issues. It is always best practice to isolate any new plants you bring in to your home for a few weeks to watch for little pests. For help and tips on prevention and treatment of pests, see our At Home Pest Recipes here!
If you have any more questions, or need further assistance, please feel free to give us a call or shoot us an email!