The ficus (Ficus benjamina), also called weeping fig, is a graceful and impressive house plant that has a reputation for being finicky. It helps to remember that the ficus is native to parts of southeast Asia where there are two seasons, dry and rainy. In its natural environment, ficus naturally sheds its leaves during the dry season; during the rainy season it sends up new growth and rapidly fills out with leaves. In fact, according to the University of Minnesota's Master Gardener Program, it is normal for a ficus to shed 20% of its foliage when it is adjusting to a change in its environment.
Ficus can grow quite large, so be sure you have enough room for the growing plant. Mature plants can be pruned and shaped to control for growth in the spring. Use the same pruning techniques you would use for any deciduous shrub.
Find a location away from doorways and drafty windows, as ficus are sensitive to cold temperatures. The ideal spot has bright medium light throughout the day.
Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Be careful not to over- or under-water your ficus, as both of these can cause leaf drop.
Check the soil before watering by sticking your finger into the soil an inch or two. This is a more accurate gauge of the plant's water needs than just looking at the soil's surface. In general, the ficus requires more water during times of the year when it is receiving more light.
Fertilize ficus with an all-purpose plant food during its active growing season.
Check the plant's root system periodically to be sure it has not gotten potbound. The root system can become so dense that water goes right through without penetrating the roots. If this happens, replant the ficus in a slightly larger container.
Ficus will benefit from being placed outside in a shady spot for the summer once the nighttime temperature is above 50 degrees. Be sure to bring it back inside before nights get too cold, and expect it to shed some leaves as it adjusts to the move. Placing it in your brightest window will help it adjust.
Try giving your ficus more light if it is losing leaves, particularly in the darker winter months. A window with full sun is fine in the winter.
Monitor your plant carefully for any insect problems, particularly if it has been outdoors. If you see a few bugs, hosing the plant with a forceful spray of water before bringing it inside may be sufficient. Ficus is rarely affected by pests, but if you see yellowing leaves, it may be an indication of spider mites, scale or mealybugs. Treat the plant with insecticidal soap spray according to package directions.
Wipe dust from the leaves when the plant is indoors to keep it looking healthy. This will also allow it to take in as much sunlight as possible.