How to Care for an Indoor Ficus Plant


Ficus plants range from the delicate, leafy Ficus benjamina to the sturdy Ficus elastica, or rubber tree plant. Although both can be grown indoors, the former is one of the most popular indoor trees grown by home gardeners, according to information published by the University of Minnesota. Ficus plants are desirable houseplants because of their attractive, evergreen leaves and generally hardy nature. Although ficus plants can vary widely in appearance, they do have the same care needs when grown indoors.

Step 1

Place your ficus in a location where it will receive at least a half-day's worth of bright but filtered or indirect sunlight. A south-facing window or a window where the light is filtered through an opaque curtain works well. Too much direct sunlight can scorch the leaves of ficus plants. Turn the plant occasionally so that all sides are exposed to the sunlight.

Step 2

Keep the soil of your ficus plant moist but not water-logged or soggy. Never let standing water develop on the surface of the soil or in the water catch-tray underneath the plant. Empty the water tray immediately after the ficus stops draining. Overly wet soil can lead to the development of root rot, a fungal disease that attacks the roots of the plant.

Step 3

Fertilize your ficus plant with a water-soluble fertilizer formulated for indoor evergreens. Apply the fertilizer once per month during the growing season (spring through early fall). Cease fertilizing in the winter so the ficus can go through a dormant period.

Step 4

Keep the temperatures in your home consistently warm, in the 70s Fahrenheit. A common complaint is that ficus trees drop leaves at a rapid rate. This happens for a number of reasons, but one of the most common is that the plant is chilled, according to information published by the University of Illinois. Keep ficus plants away from drafty areas, such as air-conditioning vents or leaky windows.

Step 5

Prune each spring to keep the plant to a reasonable size. Ficus plants can tolerate heavy pruning. Remove dead branches and top off the tree if it is as large as you want it to grow. Wipe the leaves each spring with a damp rag as well to remove dust or other debris that might have collected on the tree over the winter.

Step 6

Monitor your ficus plant carefully for common indoor insect pests such as spider mites, white flies and scale. If you see signs of any insect activity, take your ficus outside and hose it down with a strong stream of water to rinse off the bugs. Scale are stubborn (they cling to the wood of the plant) so you may have to use an insecticide if you see scale on your ficus.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid moving your ficus around in your home or office. These plants are sensitive to changes in the environment and will drop their leaves in response to a move to a new location.

Things You'll Need

  • Watering tool
  • Fertilizer for indoor evergreen plants
  • Pruning shears
  • Garden hose
  • Insecticide (optional)


  • University of Minnesota: FAQ: Ficus
  • Purdue University: Indoor Plant Care
  • University of Illinois: Houseplants: Ficus
  • University of Florida: Ficus Benjamina

Who Can Help

  • North Dakota State University: Questions on Ficus
Keywords: ficus benjamina care, growing ficus trees, indoor ficus plants

About this Author

April Sanders has been a professional writer since 1998. Previously, she worked as an educator and currently writes academic research content for EBSCO publishing and elementary reading curriculum for Compass Publishing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in social psychology from the University of Washington and a master's degree in information sciences and technology in education from Mansfield University.