The ficus plant is a very common indoor plant. Some varieties can grow as trees, but primarily the ficus is a houseplant. They belong to the mulberry family. This family of plants, if damaged, produces a milky juice that can produce rubber. Ficus can be identified by color and the form of leaves.
Varieties of Ficus
Ficus benjaminia, commonly called the weeping fig, is one of the most popular varieties of ficus. It comes from an area with distinct seasons. All ficus plants like warmer temperatures. This one sheds it leaves during the dry season, but when the rain returns, new growth comes out. Watering this plant depends on light. The more light, the more water it needs. They like moist soil but not soil that is overly soggy. This plant needs to be potted properly so that it does not become root bound.
The rubber plant, or ficus elastica, is best known as a room plant. It is typical for office use. It can go days between watering and does not need bright light---it does well enough placed by a door or window. The leaves on a rubber ficus can be 11 inches long and a brighter green than some other species.
Ficus carica L, or cultivated fig, is a member of the mulberry family, and several tropical ficus producing edible fruit for local consumption and wildlife. There are four different cultivars of the ficus carica L, according to the University of Georgia.
Different ficus have different color and shaped leaves. It's normal for a ficus to lose 20 percent of its foliage as it adapts to new environments. Ficus can be placed outside in the shade in the summer when the evening temperatures stay above 50 degrees. Healthy leaves will grow until the plant is brought back indoors before temperatures at night fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The leaves should be dusted occasionally when inside.
Illnesses of a Ficus
A well cared-for plant rarely has problems, but the ficus can develop some diseases. Yellow leaves can be a sign of common insects such as scale, meal bugs and spider mites. Those pest may appear more readily if the plant is summered outdoors. The plant should be checked regularly and sprayed with a hose to knock off the insects.
Food and Medicinal Use
Ficus carica L. is an edible fruit-bearing species along with the breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis Fosb.), jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam.), and several tropical ficus. The fruit can be for local consumption or for wildlife.
According to folklore, latex may cause photo dermatitis---a sunburn-related rash that develops when the skin touches the plant and is exposed to UV light.
The popularity of this plant has re-surged from the decades of the 1950s and 1960s. Ficus originated from western Asia. They have been cultivated for thousands of years in Europe and North Africa. They were introduced to the eastern United Stated in 1669 and to California in 1881.