The weeping fig (Ficus benjamina) is often grown indoors in offices, interior landscapes, or for enjoyment. Weeping figs are easy to grow if they get enough light.
Weeping figs have dark green, glossy leaves and a light grey trunk. Often sold as three to six feet trees, weeping figs can grow as tall as you allow them to but can be pruned to keep them small. There are variegated varieties and ones with wavy leaves and weeping branches.
How to Care for the Weeping Fig
The key to a healthy fig tree is light and water. Weeping figs are picky and do not like to be moved. They also object to changes in light and water. The weeping fig is very sensitive to environmental changes and often drops its leaves when they occur. This guide will help you keep your weeping fig happy.
Because weeping figs can get quite large, they need heavy pots to keep them from tipping over. Choose pots with drainage holes, or the fig will get root rot. Also, as the fig trees get larger, they become difficult to move. Placing the pot on wheels will help you move the plant.
Weeping figs like bright, indirect light but will tolerate medium light. The variegated varieties need more light than the solid green varieties. Direct sunlight can burn the leaves, especially if the humidity is low.
Use a well-draining, soil-based potting soil formulated for indoor plants. The pH should be slightly acidic or neutral.
Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Let the top of the ground dry out before watering. This will also help control fungus gnats. In the fall and winter, let the soil get drier than in the growing season. When you water the plant, water until water is coming out of the drainage holes of the pot. After fifteen minutes, dump any excess water out of the saucer below the pool. Do not let the pot sit in water, or the roots will rot.
As a tropical tree, the weeping fig prefers high humidity. Leaves may shrivel and fall off if the humidity is too low. Consider using a humidifier in the room the fig is in. You can also fill a saucer with pebbles, fill the saucer until just the tops of the pebbles are dry, and place the weeping fig on the rocks. As the water evaporates, it will increase the humidity around the weeping fig. Keep the pebble tray full of water so it can work.
Weeping figs like nighttime temperatures of 65-75 degrees and daytime temperatures of 75-85 degrees. Do not let the fig get below 70 degrees during the day because the tree will not do well. Also, do not place the tree in a draft or near air conditioning and heating vents.
Weeping figs need frequent fertilization to do well. First, use slow-release granules at the beginning of the growing season. Then, use a liquid fertilizer every month during the growing season and every two months during the fall and winter. If the weeping fig drops its leaves despite ideal conditions, try supplementing the fertilizer with a bit of magnesium and manganese.
Wash the leaves with a clean, soft cloth. Turn the tree a quarter turn to keep it from bending toward the light. Inspect the tree for any pests or diseases.
Prune your weeping fig in late winter before new growth emerges. If the tree is too tall, prune the top. You can also prune the branches to shape them so it looks nice. Prune dead, broken, or diseased branches and leaves at any time of the year to reduce the possibility of a disease spreading.
Because weeping figs grow quickly, you will need to repot the plant yearly. Go up one pot size when you repot the tree. When the fig tree is as large as you want, change out all the potting soil and place it back in the same pot. When the tree gets too heavy to repot, remove the top two inches of potting soil and replace it with new potting soil.
Propagating the Weeping Fig
The weeping fig rarely blooms indoors or produces seeds. The best way to grow a new plant is from a cutting taken in the spring.
- Cut a three- to five-inch cutting from the end of a growing branch. There should be at least two leaves on the cutting.
- Strip all of the leaves but the top two off the cutting.
- Dip the cut side of the cutting in rooting hormone.
- Place the cutting in moist peat moss.
- Place a clear plastic bag over the pot but do not let the bag touch the cutting.
- Place the pot in bright, indirect light.
- Keep the soil moist.
- In two to four weeks, the roots will be developed enough to cut slits in the plastic bag.
- After six weeks, transplant the plant to a six-inch pot and continue to grow it as usual.
Diseases of the Weeping Fig
Weeping figs do not get many diseases indoors. Root rot is caused by overwatering or letting the pot sit in water.
Pests of the Weeping Fig
Weeping figs have problems with several pests.
Scales are insects with a hard or soft shell-like covering on their backs. They suck the sap out of the leaves and can make them wilt. In addition, scale insects excrete a sticky, sweet substance called honeydew. Sooty mold grows on honeydew and can cover the leaves and prevent photosynthesis.
Mealybugs are tiny white insects covered in a cottony white waxy coating. They have filaments sticking out of their bodies. Mealybugs also secrete honeydew.
These soft-bodied, pear-shaped insects are usually green. They suck the sap out of the leaves and can cause them to wilt. Aphids secrete honeydew, too.
Thrips are tiny insects that are long and slender. Their wings are fringed with hair. While adult thrips can be white, yellow, brown, or black, immature thrips are usually white or yellow. Thrips suck plant juices from the leaves and leave behind a white or silvery trail.
Spider mites are so small you need a magnifying glass to see them. Usually, the first sign of spider mites is fine webbing on the underside of the leaves where they meet the stem. Spider mites cause yellow spots where they feed. They can also cause leaves to yellow and drop. Spider mites love hot, dry conditions.
While thrips rarely cause enough damage to warrant control, they and the other pests are vulnerable to insecticidal soap. Use one formulated for indoor use. You will need to repeat the treatment weekly until the problems are all gone.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, it is toxic to humans and animals.
Small weeping figs are readily available from big box stores, nurseries, and online. Larger specimens are available from nurseries.
No. Weeping figs rarely have seeds, and they are challenging to grow.
Weeping figs grow relatively fast.
Weeping figs have small, inconspicuous blooms. They only bloom if the conditions are perfect, so they rarely bloom indoors.