How to Train a Weeping Ficus

Overview

The weeping ficus, also called the weeping fig, is one of the most popular indoor trees. It used to be common in outdoor landscaping, but its aggressive root system can cause problems. Rapid growth and easy maintenance make the weeping ficus extremely suitable inside. This tree does require training to maintain an attractive shape, but is relatively simple to trim and shape. The stems of a weeping ficus can be trained into twisted, braided, and other beautiful forms with a small amount of effort.

Step 1

Decide what shape you'd like your ficus tree to assume. You can leave the ficus relatively natural, train it to assume a vertical "tree-like" shape, and even bonsai and twist a ficus. Determine which limbs should be trimmed away to encourage the desired shape.

Step 2

Prune away excess branches. True to their name, weeping ficus tend to grow horizontally and become droopy. This can be inconvenient in an indoor plant. Remove horizontal branches and limbs that interfere with traffic or objects around the plant. To limit the spread of the plant, cut limbs back to the for where another limb is growing upward. This directs the plant's energy to the vertical limbs and trains the plant into the desired shape.

Step 3

Trim dead, damaged, or spindly limbs. This growth is unsightly, and takes up extra energy from the main plant. Your ficus should be composed of just a few main limbs, not a forest of "sucker" limbs.

Step 4

Bring up the canopy. Ficus trees tend to a low canopy, which will need to be reduced from time to time. Trim the ends of the lends back to branches growing upward, the same way you would trim horizontal branches to encourage vertical growth. Avoid removing whole limbs, which can create an empty space in the canopy.

Step 5

Wire branches as appropriate. To create twisted or braided branches, gently wire shoots while they are still green, as older branches are too stiff. You can wire the shoots to other branches, or use stakes to support the ficus. Take care to prevent the wire from biting in, and monitor the tree regularly to make sure it is growing correctly.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always cut to the natural collar where the limbs meet, never flush with the main stem. Ficus latex may cause a skin reaction - wear gloves while pruning.

Things You'll Need

  • Weeping ficus plant
  • Pruning shears
  • Wire
  • Stakes

References

  • Ficustree.com: Ficus Benjamina The Weeping Fig
  • Bonsai-bci.com: Fig
  • Garden Guides: How to Trim a Potted Ficus Tree

Who Can Help

  • GardenWeb: Training a ficus
Keywords: training weeping ficus, train weeping fig, train ficus plant

About this Author

G.D. Palmer is a freelance writer and illustrator living in Milwaukee, WI. She has been producing print and web content for various organizations since 1998, and has been freelancing full time since 2007. Articles have been published throughout the web. Palmer holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in writing and studio art from Beloit College in Beloit, WI.

Article provided by eHow Home & Garden | How to Train a Weeping Ficus