Ficus is a popular indoor plant or tree, with over 800 species and 2,000 varieties to choose from. Related to the mulberry, fig trees are also part of the ficus family. Ficus are tropical trees, and will not survive temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Most ficus prefer humidity levels of at least 25 to 30 percent, but they can tolerate longer periods of lower humidity, in the 10- to 15-percent range.
Ficus make good bonsai trees. Bonsai is the art of growing miniature trees in small pots. Bonsai originated in China, but transferred to Japan through Buddhism. Contemporary bonsai in the West is most closely associated with Japanese forms and pots. Ficus makes a good indoor bonsai tree in temperate climates. In warmer climates, ficus bonsai can grow outdoors. Ficus make good bonsai, but needs to dry out between waterings. If you are using a soil specifically designed for bonsai, water your ficus every three to seven days, depending on how quickly it dries out. Bonsai can make good informal upright or cascading trees. However, it does not respond well to driftwood or jinning techniques. Ficus bonsai need to be root pruned once every 18 to 24 months.
A number of ficus can grow very well as houseplants. By growing ficus in a pot and pruning the roots every 1 1/2 to 2 years, you can manage the size of the tree to keep it from growing larger than your room. Potted bonsai need to dry out between waterings, but should be watered until the water runs from the holes in the bottom of the pot. Ficus do best in bright, but indirect light. They can also grow well in full or partial sun. Water your tree more often in summer when it receives more light, and less in winter.
Ficus is a tropical tree. It grows outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) hardiness zones 10B and 11. The only place it can grow outdoors in the continental United States is southern Florida and a small section of the southern California coast. It can also grow in Hawaii. Outdoors, ficus can grow to differing sizes, depending on the variety. Ficus Benjamina can grow to between 45 and 60 feet tall with a spread of 60 to 100 feet. It grows well in most soil types, as long as they drain well, and in full sun, partial sun or partial shade.