The Ficus Tree
Ficus tree is a very common houseplant that comes in a number of different species. Most of its species are native to Indo-Australian region, some are native to Central and South America while others are endemic to Africa. Lets have a detailed look at this plant, its care, varieties and propagation.
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Most ficus species are a bit drought tolerant, that is they can survive for a while without regular watering. But to keep the plant in a healthy condition, water it regularly and allow the top two inches of soil around the plant to dry before watering it again.
Tip: Brown leaf tips indicate under-watering while yellow tips indicate over-watering. Also, whole leaves turning yellow might indicate over watering and falling leaves under watering. Just check your watering routines while having any of these issues with leaves.
Most ficus species require good amount of sunlight. However, direct sunlight throughout the day will burn the leaves of many ficus species(especially the younger plants). So to be on the safer side plant them in partial shade areas of your garden. Place it near a window indoors.
A newly bought plant will sometimes drop some leaves, that is because the it is adjusting to the new environment and there is no need to worry about it. Prune the near-dead leaves still clinging to the plant. Also prune dry twigs.
If you have the plant in pots, replant it every two years in slightly bigger pot than the previous one to ensure proper root growth.
You can multiply the number of your ficus trees by more than one methods. As this will save you some money, it is also much more fun to propagate plants(trust me on this one if you haven't propagated any before).
One of the most common ones is stem cutting. Take about 5 nodes long cuttings. Prune all the leaves and branches except 1 to 2 top leaves. You don't need to apply rooting hormone at the base of the cuttings when propagating ficus, however applying it might very slightly increase the rooting chances. Then stick these cuttings into small pots with rich moist soil. Keeping these pots with cuttings in hot and humid conditions increase the chances of the cuttings developing roots and also reduces the time required for root development. Look for the new leaves growth on the stem which might take months.
Interesting Facts about the Ficus Trees
There are about 850 identified species of ficus.
Many ficus species produce edible fruit. Depending on the species, each fruit can contain up to several hundred to several thousand seeds. Its fruit is considered to be one of the first fruits cultivated by humans.
It is an important tree from a religious point of view and have much importance in quite a few religions including Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism.
The have a long history and are estimated to have been here on earth for 60 to 80 million years.
One of the oldest ficus trees is in Sri Lanka which according to history records was planted back in 288 B.C.
Here are some of the common varieties of this plant:
- Ficus Midnight
- Ficus Indigo (It can thrive in very low light conditions.)
- Ficus Starlight (It is a new variegated form of durable Green Weeping Fig.)
- Ficus Monique (It is a very popular new ficus variety with shiny, bright green leaves that have raffled edges. Unlike many other ficus species, it shows good amount of resistance to leaf drop.)
- Ficus Hispida
- Ficus retusa (It is considered fastest growing ficus variety)
- Ficus Pumila (It is also known as the Creeping Ficus, Creeping Fig or sometimes simple called Creeper. They creep up with walls and cover them completely and can easily cover the whole building in a matter of years. Some gardeners suggest to cut the plant to the ground every few years to prevent it from becoming very invasive and growing beyond your control.)
- Ficus Benjamina (It is commonly known as the Weeping Fig.)
- Ficus Golden King
- Ficus Bonsai(They are normally grown indoors and the soil should be allowed to dry between watering.)
- Ficus elastica (Commonly known as the Rubber Tree.)
- Ficus Nerifolia
- Ficus maclellandii (Alii)