Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Five Keys to Growing A Healthy Ficus Tree

A happy ficus tree
My Ficus Tree
Have you thought about growing a Ficus tree in your house?  You may know this tree by the name weeping fig.   I have a Ficus tree in my family room, a room with high ceilings and lots of windows.

The Ficus fills a corner very nicely and helps bridge the space created by the high ceiling. This particular tree was a housewarming gift to my husband and me twenty-nine years ago.  It was small then, probably about three years old at the time.  That means it is about thirty-two years old now.  I can't believe I've had a plant for that long and haven't killed it!

It's pretty remarkable that I've had this tree for so long.  When thinking about how I managed to keep this tree happy, healthy and growing strong all these years it boiled down to five key elements.  Follow these tips and you can have a happy, healthy ficus in your home for many years, too.

A Guide for Growing a Ficus Tree

1. Good Light

My Ficus loves living in the corner of my family room where it gets both southern and western light exposure.  It has been in this one location for more than ten years. It had started in the northwest corner of my house and that didn't work well at all.  The tree told me it was unhappy by dropping lots and lots of leaves.  You won't want to move your tree very often,  Weeping Fig trees don't like change.

2.  Perfect Temperature

There are no heating sources near my Ficus.  Our baseboard heat is located on an opposite wall.  The room is kept at approximately sixty-five degrees for a majority of the year.  Nighttime temperatures can go as low as sixty degrees when I turn the heat down at night in the winter.  Keep your Ficus away from drafts.

3.  Trimming and Grooming

Twice a year I give the tree a good trimming and grooming.  I like to take it outside in the fall and spring.  First, I give the tree a good shake to loosen any old leaves.  Then I trim back the growth of the branches to keep it compact.  The tree also gets a shower when I take it outside.  I've only repotted my Weeping Fig tree twice in all the years I've owned it.  It may be due for another repotting soon, but as long as it is happy as it is I won't disrupt the pot.

4.  Water Sparingly

I usually water my Ficus tree with room temperature water once every seven to ten days.  I read once that the key to watering a Ficus is to only water when it tells you to.  That's when the tree puts out a single yellow leaf, as seen in the picture below.  I really do use this yellow leaf signal as my watering guide.

A ficus in need of water
A Single Yellow Leaf Means Time to Water

5.  Feed Occasionally

Very infrequently I use a water soluble 10-10-10 fertilizer when watering my Weeping Fig tree, mainly during the spring and summer.

These are the five care steps that have kept my Ficus going strong all these years.   I feel confident that if you follow this care guide you will be successful, too.  Good luck growing your own Ficus tree!

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  1. I had this gorgeous healthy ficus tree. Then replaced every window in our house, in February, in Wisconsin. We had pushed the plants to the other side of the room, but my poor ficus was never the same. He lost 3/4 of his leaves and I kept him for a couple of years 'til even I had to admit he was pretty much dead.

    1. I know exactly what you mean. They definitely let you know when they are not happy with their conditions. I'm very lucky mine has survived so long. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  2. I have an indoor ficus tree also, it gets southern and western light also. My mother gave this to me as a housewarming gift 13 years ago, and she had already had it for many years. They are very temperamental for sure. I use to take mine out in the spring but it got to big and my son got tired of moving it in and out for me. The last time I brought it back in from spending the summer outside, (under a big oak tree), it measured 13ft tall and 9 feet in diameter, needless to say it got a really big hair cut that year. I wanted to share a few things my mom taught me about this plant. If you will cut it back about 4-6 inches before moving it then it will cut down on the shock of being moved, (starts dropping leaves like crazy). She said to never repot the tree, I had to once because it burst the planter to pieces, the sun makes the plastic pots brittle after years of sun. Now I just wipe the pot down with armorall every now and then. After awhile as you know dirt just gets old and will not drink the water, it will just run right through it without nourishing the plant. So what you do is get a bag of potting soil, get the good stuff, and a metal trowel. You want to carefully remove as much dirt from the pot as you can without disturbing any of the roots, then fill the planter back up with the new dirt. Do not fill the planter any fuller of dirt than it already was. I have done this several times and did not drop one leaf. I was able to remove 6 - 8 inches of the dirt to be replaced.

    1. Thanks for sharing the story of your tree, Nana and B. It's great to hear from someone who has had their tree for a long time, like me. It starts to feel like it is part of the family, doesn't it? Your tips are great. I'll keep them in mind.

  3. I've had my Ficus.Tree for 35 years! It's moved with us from Seattle to New Port, RI, then Virginia and the last 20 years in Michigan! My husband (a navy man) would complain every time we moved it!! We are divorced but I have my tree! Lol

    1. I love hearing stories from long-term owners of Ficus trees. Thanks for sharing!


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