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How to Care for an Indoor Ficus Tree

The ficus tree, a relative of the fig tree, is a low-maintenance, tropical tree that provides glossy green leaves in profusion on arching stems atop a straight, pale taupe-gray trunk. Ficus trees living indoors require bright, indirect light, even moisture and light fertilizing, but not much else. They do not need to be pruned when healthy and are not highly attractive to pests.

Provide your ficus tree with bright, indirect light daily. Rotate the position of a ficus tree that is near a window to keep light exposure, leaf coloration and growth even.

Water your ficus regularly so that the soil feels evenly moist an inch below the surface. Do not let the soil dry out below this level, because drought can cause leaves to shrivel and drop. Leaves that yellow without shriveling could indicate overwatering.

Fertilize your ficus once a month with a general-purpose, water-soluble houseplant fertilizer diluted in water. Use half of the recommended dose of fertilizer to a full ratio of water and apply over the soil and roots only.

Groom your ficus lightly every month or so when watering. Look for dead, diseased or dying branches or leaves stuck in the canopy and pull them out or trim them with pruning shears. Remove fallen leaves. Add or top off any mulch to keep the soil from being disturbed or drying out.

Once a year, place your ficus tree under a gently flowing, tepid shower to rinse dust off the leaves. Jiggle the stem slightly to shake off the excess water before placing the tree back in its usual position.

Indoor Ficus Tree Plant Care

The Ficus family includes a large number of species including the rubber plant (Ficus elastica), weeping fig (Ficus benjamina) and fiddle-leaf fig (Ficus lyrata). Turn the plant occasionally so all the growth does not occur on one side. Water weekly during the summer with room-temperature water. Adjust the watering for your particular plant. If the leaves turn yellow and begin to drop, you may need to increase or decrease the amount of water. Prune out dead branches any time throughout the year. Make cuts just outside the branch collar to avoid damaging the trunk. Yearly pruning can help build a fuller canopy. Use a general-purpose fertilizer diluted to half strength and fertilize every three or four weeks until the active growth period ends. Place the plant in bright, indirect light during the frost-free months. Or, it may be reacting to an increase or decrease in its watering frequency. For an indoor ficus tree plant, many of these diseases, such as anthracnose or branch dieback, occur when overhead watering. To reduce the potential for disease, simply add water at the base directly into the soil.

Tip

A ficus can tolerate some direct light if it is restricted to the less intense morning and late afternoon sunlight.

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