If you’re lucky enough to live in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 12, you can grow Ficus trees (Ficus Benjamina) outdoors year-round. Elsewhere, ficus trees are grown as houseplants year-round or overwintered indoors and brought outside for summer only after the last frost.
Ficus trees are native to India, Australia and the South Pacific, where they’re often grown as specimen trees or planted in groups as hedges. In the tropics, they can grow to heights of 50 feet or more. When grown as houseplants, they generally grow to 10 feet tall.
Ficus trees are related to figs and do produce flowers and fruit in warm climates. Indoors, they rarely flower and never fruit because they lack a pollinator. The broadleaf evergreen leaves are glossy, elongated ovals, while the bark is gray or white. Some ficus trees have multiple branches that have been braided together for an interesting texture.
Planting a Ficus Tree
To grow ficus trees outdoors, plant them in well-draining, loamy soil of average fertility. Plant them in a location that gets full sun or partial shade. Fertilize ficus trees in the spring with ½ cup 10-10-10 fertilizer per tree. Although ficus trees are somewhat drought tolerant, they do best with moderate soil moisture. Water them when the soil dries out 2 inches beneath the surface and allow the soil to dry again before watering. Overwatering is one of the most common reasons ficus trees to decline.
Prune ficus trees during the winter to remove dead, diseased branches or branches that rub against each other. You can also prune to control size. The stems and leaves contain a milky sap.
Ficus Trees as Houseplants
To grow ficus trees as houseplants, plant them in a container that holds at least 5 gallons of soil. Use a lightweight potting mix that contains perlite or vermiculite to retain moisture. Do not use garden soil, which is too heavy to drain well and often harbors diseases.
Place the ficus tree near a sunny window or in an area that gets morning sunshine and afternoon shade. If you have a skylight, that’s also an ideal place for a ficus tree. Water the soil every few days, but allow it to dry out between watering. Fertilize indoor houseplants once every six weeks during the growing season with a diluted all-purpose, granular fertilizer.
As winter approaches, reduce watering and fertilizing. The dry heat caused by heaters in the winter is hard on ficus trees. If possible, place the tree in a cool room and run a humidifier to increase humidity. As ficus trees adapt to winter conditions, they often lose leaves. In most cases, this is no cause for concern. Continue caring for the tree and it will soon adjust.
If you’d like to move your ficus tree outdoors, wait until two or three weeks past the last expected frost, since these trees can’t tolerate any cold. Place the ficus tree in a protected area first to slowly acclimate it to being outdoors once again. Follow the same process in the fall as you prepare to move it indoors. Move it to a shadier location two or three weeks before you bring it indoors. Time the move to happen at least two or three weeks before the first expected frost.
Ficus Tree Pests and Problems
Ficus trees are generally low-maintenance plants, although they do drop leaves during the winter and whenever they experience a change in growing conditions. Remember to give them well-draining soil and avoid overwatering them. Occasionally, these trees are afflicted by leaf spot diseases. Promptly pick up and discard leaf litter and remove infected leaves from the trees. Outdoors, use drip systems or water ficus trees by hand, rather than overhead sprinklers, which can spread disease.
Both indoors and out, ficus trees are sometimes afflicted by aphids or mites. Outdoors, you can spray the leaves with a steady stream of water to dislodge these pests. Indoors, you may have to resort to an insecticidal oil or soap. Be sure to use one that is labeled for houseplant use.
Common Questions and Answers About Ficus Trees
Are ficus and fig trees the same?
Though there is a great deal of overlap, the commonly grown ficus and edible fig trees are not exactly the same. “Ficus” is the common name for a type of tree called the weeping fig, and “fig” is the common name for trees in the ficus genus. Ficus trees are usually tropical evergreens, with a few deciduous species. The ficus trees you see most commonly are ficus benjamina, also called the weeping fig. The tree that bears the fruit we commonly call the edible fig is the Ficus carica. Ficus trees aren’t grown for their fruit. They are grown as ornamentals. If you grow a ficus tree at home, it’s unlikely your tree will bear figs unless your area is also home to the right species of fig wasp to pollinate your tree. The fiddle-leaf fig tree is also a ficus, Ficus lyrata.
Are ficus tree berries edible?
The edible orange-reddish figs of the ficus benjamina tree are not normally eaten by humans, though they are enjoyed by various species of doves and pigeons.
Are ficus trees indoor or outdoor?
Ficus can be grown either indoors as a houseplant or outdoors in the garden. It can be grown outdoors year-round in USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11 (depending on species), or in other zones, it can be grown outdoors when the weather is warm and brought inside when it gets too cold.
Are ficus good indoor plants?
Ficus are popular trees for cultivation indoors as houseplants as well as in offices. In addition to the most common ficus tree, Ficus benjamina, also called the weeping fig, other popular ficus trees for growing indoors include the fiddle-leaf fig, Ficus lyrata, and the rubber plant, Ficus elastica. Ficus trees require plenty of sunlight and are grown with most success near a window that lets the sun reach their foliage. Ficus trees also need plenty of water and must be hydrated frequently.
Are ficus trees easy to care for?
Ficus trees can be particular about having their needs met—but if you know what a ficus tree needs, it isn’t difficult to care for them. Most species of ficus trees need plenty of bright, indirect light. Direct bright light can result in sunscald or cause the tree to drop its leaves. Variegated ficus trees are happy to grow in medium amounts of light. Ficus trees must be protected from drafts and cold weather in order to thrive. They require a climate above 60 degrees Fahrenheit and really flourish above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to choose a spot for your ficus tree where it won’t encounter drafts from windows or doors. Ficus trees also need plenty of humidity, whether it comes from frequent misting or from keeping a pebble tray filled with water nearby. To determine when a ficus tree needs to be watered, use your finger to test the surface of the soil where your ficus tree is growing. Wait to water your ficus tree when the surface of the soil has completely dried out. If the top of the soil is at all damp, it’s not time to water just yet. Ficus trees also require plenty of nutrients in order to keep up with their quickly paced growth habit. Fertilize your ficus tree each month in the springtime and summertime and every other month in fall or winter.
Are ficus trees hardy?
Ficus trees are not hardy to cold weather, which is why you most commonly see them grown indoors as houseplants. They can be grown outdoors year-round in USDA hardiness zones 9 or 10 through 11, depending on which species you’re wanting to grow. In other zones, gardeners can keep ficus trees outdoors when the weather is warm enough for them and bring them indoors when the temperature dips too low. (Ficus trees can tolerate temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit and really thrive in temperatures over 70 degrees.)
Are ficus trees poisonous to cats and dogs?
Yes, Ficus benjamina trees are poisonous to dogs and cats if they’re consumed or if they come into contact with skin. Symptoms of poisoning include gastrointestinal or skin irritation. If your pet has consumed any part of the ficus tree, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Hotline at 888-426-4435. (Consultation fees may apply for the ASPCA hotline.) Ficus trees can also cause serious allergic reactions in humans and should be kept out of the reach of children.
Are ficus trees poisonous to humans?
Ficus trees are toxic, though the toxicity level is fairly mild and will not result in death. Contact with the sap of the ficus tree, Ficus benjamina, can cause a serious allergic reaction in children. Contact between bare skin and the sap of the ficus tree can result in serious rash or skin irritation. You only need to contact your doctor or the Poison Control Hotline at 800-222-1222 if you see symptoms of an allergic reaction from your child, such as broken skin, blisters, or a rash. As soon as possible after contact, wash your child’s skin with soap and cool water. If your child has ingested parts of the ficus tree, rinse out their mouth and remove any pieces of the plant that remain in their mouth.
Ficus trees are also toxic for dogs and cats as well as other small pets, like parakeets or chameleons. Keep ficus trees out of the reach of children too young to understand the consequences of their toxicity. Once they are old enough, teach children never to break off pieces of the ficus tree’s foliage or put it in their mouth, and warn them of the potential side effects.
Can a ficus tree be outside?
Ficus trees can be grown outdoors year-round in USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11, depending on the species you’re growing. In other zones, gardeners may keep their trees indoors for part of the year and move them outside when the weather is too cold. (Bring ficus trees indoors when temperatures drop to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. They really need temperatures of at least 60 degrees to thrive.) When kept outdoors, ficus trees should be grown in a spot where they’re protected from high wind and where they receive partial sunlight. They’re most often grown in containers that offer plenty of drainage, in a potting mixture made of one part sand to three parts potting soil. Feed your ficus tree with a balanced fertilizer (such as an 8-8-8 blend) according to the package directions, fertilizing monthly in spring and summer and every two months the rest of the year. Water your ficus tree whenever the surface of the soil it’s growing in has dried out, and provide water until the moisture drips from the drainage holes of its container.
Can a ficus tree live inside?
Ficus trees are popular houseplants, and it’s easy to care for them inside when you know their preferences. Keep ficus trees in a spot that stays warmer than 60 degrees Fahrenheit (above 70 degrees is even better). Choose a location for your ficus tree where it will be protected from drafty windows and doors and will get bright indirect or filtered light. Ficus trees with variegated foliage do well in medium light. Make sure your ficus tree gets plenty of humidity, whether that’s from being misted or from a nearby pebble tray filled with water. Hydrate your ficus tree whenever the surface of its soil is dry, and water until the moisture drips from the container’s drainage holes. Give your ficus tree nutrition with a balanced fertilizer blend (such as 8-8-8) monthly in spring and summer and every other month the rest of the year.
Can ficus take full sun?
In mild climates, ficus trees can grow in full sun. Where the weather gets hotter, however, you may wish to give your ficus tree a place to grow where it will be shaded from the head of the day. Too much bright, direct sun can cause your ficus tree to drop its leaves or can burn the leaves with sunscald. Perhaps the best location for a ficus tree growing outdoors (in zones 9 through 11) is a spot where it will be shaded by the foliage from other deciduous trees most of the year, getting full sunshine when those trees drop their leaves for winter.
Can I plant a ficus in the ground?
In USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11 where you can grow ficus trees outdoors year-round, you can plant them directly in the ground. Choose a spot for your ficus tree where it will get some protection from the sun, such as an area where it gets dappled shade from nearby deciduous trees. Avoid wet, low-lying areas, as ficus trees need well-draining soil to thrive. Amending your soil with compost can improve drainage if needed, and you can help roots develop by amending with one cup of superphosphate per square yard of soil. Ficus trees can grow quite large when planted in the ground, so make sure to choose a place for your tree that gives it at least 30 feet of space on all sides.
Can I put my ficus outside?
Gardeners in USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11 can grow their ficus trees outdoors year-round. Gardeners in other zones can keep ficus trees outdoors in spring and summer if they can meet the ficus tree’s requirements for light, water, and temperature. Ficus trees need at least partial sunlight and should get five to six hours of sun each day. In especially hot areas, they benefit from getting shade during the hottest parts of the day. Your ficus tree should also be watered about every three days. Don’t allow the soil your ficus is growing in to dry out completely. Once the surface of the soil is dry, it’s time to water the tree again. Finally, ficus trees do best when the temperature is at least 50 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit, and they really thrive in weather that’s 70 degrees or above. If you can meet these needs, you can move your ficus tree outside. Be sure to bring it indoors again once temperatures get colder, though. Bear in mind that ficus trees do have deep, invasive roots, and the trees can grow quite huge.
Can you cut ficus roots?
Pruning your ficus tree’s roots can prevent it from becoming rootbound in its container, help it stay healthy and remain at a manageable size, and keep you from having to purchase a larger container. You’ll know your ficus is becoming rootbound and it’s time to prune the roots if it shows decreased time needed between waterings, decreased fruit production, or has visible roots growing from the surface of the soil or the bottom of the container.
When this happens, lay the container your ficus is growing in on a tarp, and loosen the tree’s root ball by rolling the pot along the tarp from side to side. With the tree still on its side, pull at the trunk to release it from the pot. Use a sharp knife that’s sterilized in a teaspoon of bleach diluted in two cups of water. Slice off at least one inch of roots on all sides of the tree’s root ball, being careful to remove no more than a third of the root mass. Loosen the roots with your hands, inspecting for any dark, discolored roots or kinked or circling roots that need to be trimmed away.
When you’re done, fill the container with potting soil up to the depth of the roots removed and replace the tree into the container, with the root ball in the center. Fill in with soil around the sides, and water your tree to help the soil settle.
Can you eat ficus leaves?
Ficus benjamina, the commonly grown ficus tree, is mildly toxic to humans when ingested, so its leaves are not edible. Eating ficus can result in irritation of the skin, mouth, or digestive system.
Can you grow a ficus from a cutting?
Stem cuttings are one way to propagate ficus trees, with other methods including air layering, tissue cultures, or growing from seeds. To grow from a cutting, use clean, sharp shears sterilized in a teaspoon of bleach in two cups of water. Wear gloves, and if your ficus is indoors, lay down newspapers to catch any of the tree’s sap that falls to the ground. Choose a stem section at least six inches long with a woody base and green growth at the tip as your cutting. You can root ficus cuttings in water or in potting soil with good drainage, covered with clear plastic to keep the soil moist.
Can you prune a ficus tree?
Prune ficus trees whenever they’re growing too large during a time of year when the tree is dormant and not actively growing, preferably during the winter season. To prune your ficus tree, wear gardening gloves and use sharp pruning shears that you’ve sterilized in one teaspoon of bleach and two cups of water. Also lay down newspapers or a tarp if your ficus grows indoors to catch the sap that falls from the tree. First, cut to free the tree from any dead or broken branches. Make your cuts at an angle just before a node, the bump on the stem where new growth comes from. Don’t prune away more than a third of your ficus tree’s foliage at a time. If you need to remove more than a third, do one third at first, then allow the plant to recover before removing more.
Do ficus lose leaves in winter?
Ficus trees are generally evergreen and do not lose their leaves due to changing seasons. However, ficus trees are known for their propensity to drop leaves for a variety of other reasons. Your ficus may be losing leaves as a stress response due to transplantation, a move, too much or too little water, pest infestation, cold drafts, or lack of sufficient humidity or sunlight. Too much bright, direct sunlight can also cause a ficus tree to lose its leaves.
Do ficus trees bloom?
Yes, ficus trees bloom, with trees producing lots of small yellow flowers. Ficus trees will begin to bloom during their second or third year of growth.
Do ficus trees drop their leaves?
Ficus trees don’t drop their leaves because of changing seasons, but they are known to drop their leaves due to any kind of environmental stress. Your ficus tree may drop its leaves after a move or transplanting, or simply because its needs aren’t being met. Some reasons for a ficus to lose its leaves include encountering a draft, getting too much or too little water, being infested by pests, experiencing cold drafts from doors or windows, or lacking sufficient sunlight or humidity. An excess of bright, direct sunlight can also cause ficus trees to either lose their leaves or have their foliage burned with sunscald.
Do ficus trees go dormant?
Ficus trees do go dormant. They do their growing in spring and summer, going dormant in the fall and winter. Temperatures too cold for the ficus tree can cause it to go dormant in the wrong season, so ensure your ficus is kept between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Do ficus trees have invasive roots?
Ficus trees do have deep, invasive root systems, and the trees grow quite large when planted in the ground outdoors. For this reason, ficus trees are usually grown in containers, whether indoors or outdoors.
Do ficus trees have sap?
All species of ficus trees produce a milky sap. This sap is made of latex (the same latex we use to make rubber) and can irritate skin if it comes into contact with it. That’s why it’s important to wear gloves when pruning a ficus tree, and if working indoors, to place newspapers or a tarp underneath the tree to catch the sap.
Do ficus trees like sun or shade?
Ficus trees grow in environments ranging from full sun to partial shade. Too much bright, direct sunlight can cause ficus trees to drop leaves or can scorch foliage with sunscald. In places with especially hot weather, the best place for a ficus tree is a spot with dappled shade from the canopy of deciduous trees.
Do ficus trees like to be rootbound?
Ficus trees like to be rootbound to some extent, but they will still need to be moved to a new container every two or three years.
Do ficus trees lose their leaves in winter?
Ficus trees do not lose their leaves due to changing seasons. However, they may lose leaves in response to a variety of environmental stressors. Ficus trees may drop their leaves after being moved or transplanted, if they’re infested with insects, when they aren’t getting enough water or are getting too much, due to a lack of sunlight or humidity, or they can drop leaves and exhibit burned foliage if they get too much direct sunlight.
Do ficus trees need a lot of water?
Ficus trees should be watered whenever the surface of the soil they’re growing in dries out. In spring and summer, water moderately, and move to a more sparing watering schedule in the fall and winter. When you water your ficus in the spring and summer, let the moisture drip from the drainage holes at the bottom of the container. Outside of its growing season, however, the ficus doesn’t need that much water at one time.
Do ficus trees need fertilizer?
Ficus trees need to be nourished with a balanced fertilizer (like an 8-8-8 blend) each month during their growing season in the spring and summer, and every other month in the fall and winter.
Do ficus trees produce fruit?
Ficus trees produce small orange-red figs, which are enjoyed by several types of doves and pigeons.
Does a ficus tree need direct sunlight?
Most ficus tree varieties do well in bright indirect sunlight or filtered light, and variegated types flourish in medium light. Too much bright, direct sunlight can cause ficus trees to drop their leaves or can burn the leaves with sunscald.
How big do ficus trees get?
In the tropical regions where they come from, ficus trees can grow up to 60 feet tall. When grown in containers, you can limit the size to something more manageable, as the ficus will not outgrow its container on its own, without the gardener upgrading to a larger container.
How do you care for an indoor ficus tree?
Plant your ficus tree in well-draining soil, in a container with drainage holes. Find a place for your ficus tree where it will get five to six hours of indirect bright sunlight each day, such as near a window. However, avoid spots near drafty windows or doors. Water your ficus tree whenever the surface of the soil is dry to the touch. Nourish your ficus with a balanced fertilizer blend, like an 8-8-8, each month in the spring and summer and every other month the rest of the year.
How do you fertilize a ficus benjamina?
Use a balanced fertilizer blend, such as 8-8-8, and apply according to the manufacturer’s instructions every month in spring and summer, and every two months the rest of the year.
How do you propagate ficus benjamina?
The easiest way to propagate a ficus tree is from a stem cutting. Wear gardening gloves, and if your ficus grows indoors, spread newspapers or a tarp underneath it to catch the tree’s sap. Use clean, sharp shears sterilized in a teaspoon of bleach mixed into two cups of water. Select a six-inch section with a woody base and leafy growth at the top. Make your cutting at an angle below a leaf node. You can root the cutting in water or place directly into the soil, with the leaves stripped from the bottom half. Keep it out of direct sunlight while it’s rooting, and if rooting in water, change the water out twice a week.
How do you prune a ficus tree?
Wear gloves when pruning a ficus tree, and if you’re working indoors, spread newspapers or a tarp under the tree to catch any sap that drips onto the floor. Use sharp, clean shears sterilized in a teaspoon of bleach and two cups of water. First, cut to remove any dead or damaged wood. Make your cuts at a slight downward angle before the node where a leaf or twig joins the branch. If you want a branch to grow back, leave at least one node, but if you want to eliminate that branch, do not leave any nodes. Remove no more than one third of the tree’s foliage at a time.
How do you take care of a ficus tree in the winter?
If your ficus is outdoors and your winter weather will drop under 50 degrees Fahrenheit, you should bring your ficus tree indoors for the winter. Reduce the water you give your ficus tree during the winter, as the tree is dormant and does not need as much.
How do you water a ficus tree?
Water your ficus tree whenever the surface of its soil has gone dry. During the growing season in spring and summer, water until moisture drips from the container’s drainage holes. The rest of the year when the tree is dormant, you don’t need to water it quite as deeply as that, nor will your ficus need to be watered as often in the fall and winter.
How far apart do you plant ficus trees?
Give your ficus tree at least 30 feet of space on all sides if it’s planted in the ground, as ficus trees can grow up to 60 feet tall with a sizeable spread.
How far back can I prune a ficus?
Prune no more than a third of the foliage on your ficus tree at one time. If you want a branch to grow back, leave at least one node after you make your cut. If you want to eliminate a branch, do not leave any nodes for it to grow back from.
How long do ficus trees live?
Ficus trees have a productive period of 10 to 15 years, but the trees can live much longer than that. It’s not unheard of for a gardener to have a ficus tree for a few decades.
How many types of ficus are there?
The name “ficus” covers about 850 species of plants from the family Moraceae, including woody trees, shrubs, vines, epiphytes, and hemiephiphytes.
How much light does a ficus tree need?
Ficus trees need five to six hours of bright, indirect sunlight each day. Avoid giving your ficus tree too much bright, direct sunlight, as doing so can result in foliage being burned with sunscald or dropping off the plant. Variegated ficus varieties only need a moderate amount of sunlight.
How often do you water a ficus tree?
During the growing season in spring and summer, water your ficus tree whenever the soil’s surface goes dry. Water the ficus until moisture drips from the drainage holes of the container. However, reduce the amount of water you give your ficus and how often you water it during the dormant period in the fall and winter.
How tall do ficus trees grow?
Ficus trees planted in the ground outdoors can stretch up to 60 feet high.
Is a ficus tree evergreen?
Most species of ficus are evergreen, though ficus is known for losing its leaves due to a variety of environmental stressors.
Is ficus benjamina poisonous?
Yes, ficus trees are poisonous. They are mildly toxic to humans, causing skin irritation and blistering similar to an allergic reaction. They are also poisonous to cats, dogs, horses, parakeets, and other pets.
Should I mist my ficus tree?
Ficus trees enjoy high humidity, and misting the tree frequently is one way to ensure they get enough humidity. An alternative is to have a pebble tray full of water nearby.
What does a ficus tree symbolize?
In the Middle East, the ficus tree symbolizes peace and abundance because of the figs wild trees grow. The seeds symbolize unification and enlightenment, and in Indonesia, are seen as a link between the world of spirits and the human world.
What is the lifespan of a ficus tree?
Ficus trees have a productive period of 10 to 15 years, but the tree’s lifespan can be much longer than that. Some gardeners have ficus trees that they have grown for several decades.
What temperature can a ficus tree tolerate?
Ficus trees are happiest in temperatures above 70 degrees, and it’s recommended to keep them between 65 and 85 degrees. They should be moved indoors if temperatures dip to 50 degrees, though they are capable of tolerating short periods of freezing temperatures.
When can I put my ficus tree outside?
In USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11, ficus trees can live outside year-round. For gardeners in other zones, the trees can be kept outside when temperatures are 55 degrees Fahrenheit and above, with the ideal temperature range for ficus being 65 to 85 degrees.
When should you repot a ficus tree?
As a general rule, ficus trees should be repotted every two or three years. Signs that a ficus is in need of a larger pot include visible roots growing from the drainage holes or the surface of the soil and reduced production or decreased time between waterings. The best time of year to repot a ficus is late winter or spring, just as the ficus begins to start a new growth period.
Where do ficus trees grow?
Ficus trees are found in nature across southeast Asia and Malaysia across to northern Australia and the southwestern Pacific region.
What fertilizer should I use for ficus trees?
The best fertilizer for ficus trees is a balanced blend, such as 8-8-8, applied monthly in spring and summer and every other month in fall and winter.
What is eating my ficus tree?
Insects that can infest ficus trees include aphids, mealybugs, scale insects, and spider mites. All these pests can be treated with a homemade spray of one liter of warm water with four to five drops of dish soap and a teaspoon of neem oil.
What is ficus wood good for?
Most ficus trees do not grow large enough for their wood to be useful as lumber. The wood of ficus trees that do get large enough is used as firewood, small domestic articles like fruit crates and laundry tubs, and as temporary construction or in mouldings and interior work. Some ficus trees are used to make matches and matchboxes.
What is the lifespan of a ficus tree?
The productive period of a ficus tree’s life is 10 to 15 years, but their potential lifespan is much longer. Many gardeners have had a ficus tree in their collection for decades.
What kind of fertilizer do ficus trees like?
The best fertilizer for ficus trees is a balanced blend, like an 8-8-8, applied monthly in spring and summer and every two months in fall and winter.
What kind of soil does a ficus tree need?
Soil for ficus trees must offer plenty of drainage and have a pH level between 6.0 and 6.5. (Standard potting soil works fine for ficus trees.) If you aren’t sure of your soil’s pH level, you can read our article on how to test your soil’s pH. Loamy soil works best, as clay is usually too moist and sandy soil can require frequent irrigation.
When should I repot my ficus tree?
Repot your ficus tree every two to three years in late winter or spring, just as the ficus is beginning its new growth period. Signs that a ficus is overdue for a larger pot include reduced production of foliage or fruit, need for more frequent watering, and roots visible on the surface of the soil or coming through the drainage holes of the container.
Will ficus trees survive outside?
Ficus trees can survive outdoors year-round in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11. Gardeners in other zones can keep ficus trees outside when temperatures are comfortable for them. Ficus trees do best in the 65-85-degree range, and should be kept indoors when temperatures are under 50 degrees.
Why are the leaves on my ficus tree turning yellow and falling off?
When a ficus tree’s leaves turn yellow and fall off, the tree is usually not getting enough water. Water your ficus in spring and summer whenever the surface of the soil is dry, and keep watering until moisture drips from the contianer’s drainage holes. You can cut back watering in frequency and amount during the ficus tree’s dormancy period in fall and winter.
Why do ficus have brown spots?
There are several reasons a ficus may get brown spots, including edema, anthracnose, sunscald, or injury. If your ficus tree consumes too much water too quickly, it can get brown spots called edema. These watery bumps appear on the back side of leaves with a corky texture and range in color from reddish brown to brown and black. Encourage a drier environment to treat edema by watering in the morning from the base of the plant and giving the tree more sunlight and ventilation or space for air to circulate.
Spots caused by anthracnose will be greasy with a yellowish halo and cause leaves to die. This fungal disease is also called blight and is spread by water, so treat by making the environment drier to reduce the spread. Ensure your ficus is getting enough ventilation and has space for air to circulate. As with edema, water in the morning from the base of the plant and allow soil to dry out before watering again. Gardeners can also seek out anthracnose-resistant ficus varieties.
Leaves may get sunscald if burned by too much bright, direct sunlight, which burns brown spots in the foliage and can cause it to fall off. Treat by moving to an area with more protection from shade.
Cold weather can distort or pucker ficus leaves while discoloring them to brown. They may also turn brown as a result of too much water or not enough or due to a cold draft from a nearby door or window.
Why does my ficus have white spots?
White spots on ficus trees indicate either powdery mildew or scale insects. A powdery white coating on foliage points to the fungal disease powdery mildew. Powdery mildew can cause leaves to fall off the plant or to be misshapen and distorted or small in size. Treat with sulfur, neem oil, or potassium bicarbonate. You may need to remove affected plants and dispose of infected foliage. Scale insects resemble brown bumps on the surface of the plant. You’re actually seeing the shell of the insect on leaves and stems. You can fight scale with a homemade spray of one liter warm water mixed with four or five drops of dish soap and one teaspoon neem oil.
Why does my ficus tree lose so many leaves?
Ficus trees drop their leaves in response to all kinds of stress. The most common reasons for leaf drop in ficus trees include not getting enough humidity, pests, low levels of light, due to drafts, in response to transplanting or relocation, too much or too little water, or changing temperatures (whether too warm or too chilly).
Why is my ficus sticky?
A sticky substance on a ficus tree points to infestation from bugs. The bugs that target ficus trees include aphids, mealybugs, scale insects, and spider mites. You can fight these insects with a homemade spray made of one liter warm water mixed with four to five drops of dish soap and one teaspoon of neem oil.
Want to learn more about growing ficus trees?
Don’t miss these great resources:
Ficus Benjamina: weeping fig by the Missouri Botanical Garden
Rubber Trees, Weeping Figs, and other Friendly Ficus by the University of Minnesota Extension
P Allen Smith talks about growing ficus indoors on YouTube.
Learn when and how to prune your indoor ficus plant on YouTube.
Julie Christensen learned about gardening on her grandfather’s farm and mother’s vegetable garden in southern Idaho. Today, she lives and gardens on the high plains of Colorado. When she’s not digging in the dirt, Julie writes about food, education, parenting and gardening.