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Ficus Tree: Varieties and Indoor Growing Guide

Learn how to choose and care for an indoor Fig Tree

Ficus tree, Fig Tree, Houseplant

What is a Ficus Tree?

A ficus tree, belonging to the genus Ficus, is a diverse family of over 800 species, ranging from woody trees to shrubs and vines. Many are popular as indoor plants due to their attractive foliage and ability to thrive indoors.

Ficus trees are prized for their robust growth and varied forms, including the well-known Ficus benjamina (weeping fig), Ficus lyrata (fiddle-leaf fig), and Ficus elastica (rubber plant). These trees typically feature lush, glossy leaves and can significantly enhance indoor air quality.

Adaptable to a range of environments, they require consistent care, including adequate light, water, and humidity, to thrive. Their versatility and aesthetic appeal make them a favored choice for adding greenery and a natural touch to indoor spaces.

Toxicity:  Ficus plants contain a sap that is toxic to pets and humans when ingested. The sap irritates the mouth and stomach. Contact with its sap can also lead to skin irritation for some individuals.

Ficus Tree: Indoor Growing and Care Guide


  • Pick a Suitable Pot: Choose a pot with drainage holes to prevent waterlogging. It should be large enough to accommodate the root ball with some extra room for growth but not so large that the soil stays wet for too long.
  • Use Well-Draining Soil: Plant your ficus in well-draining soil. You can use a general-purpose potting mix or a mix designed for indoor trees.
  • Planting: Gently remove the ficus from its nursery pot, being careful not to damage the roots. Place it in the new pot and fill around it with soil, pressing down lightly to eliminate air pockets. Ensure the tree is planted at the same depth it was in its original pot.

Light: Fig trees need plenty of light. Place them near a sunny window where they can receive at least 6-8 hours of indirect bright light daily.

Temperature: They prefer warmer temperatures, ideally between 70-85°F (15-29°C). Ensure the temperature remains above 60°F (15°C) to avoid cold stress or damage. Avoid placing them in drafty areas.

Humidity: Indoor fig trees thrive in moderate to high humidity. If your home is dry, consider using a humidifier, misting leaves regularly, or placing a water tray near the plant.

Watering: Water when the top inch of soil feels dry. Over-watering can lead to root rot, while under-watering can stress the plant.

Fertilizing: Use a balanced, all-purpose liquid fertilizer at half-strength monthly during the growing season (spring and summer). Reduce feeding in fall and winter.

Pruning: Encourage denser growth if your ficus plant is too tall and leggy by cutting back the stem tips. Make sure you trim just above a growth node. This will result in quick leaf regrowth. The ideal time for pruning is in winter when growth is slow. Regularly remove any dead or damaged leaves. When pruning ficus plants, remember to wear gloves to prevent skin irritation from the sap.

Repotting: Repot every 2-3 years to provide fresh soil and more room for growth. Choose a pot that is slightly larger than the current one.

Pests and Diseases of Ficus Trees

Fig trees, like any plant, can be susceptible to various pests, diseases, and other common problems.


Aphids: They are small, sap-sucking insects, often green or black, which cluster on new growth and undersides of leaves. They excrete sticky honeydew, leading to sooty mold. Treatment includes washing them off with water or using insecticidal soap.

Spider mites: These tiny pests can cause yellowing or speckling on leaves. You may also see fine webs. Increase humidity around the plant and wipe the leaves with a damp cloth. If infestation persists, use insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Mealybugs: These small, white, cottony pests suck sap from the leaves, weakening the plant. They can be removed with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or treated with insecticidal soap.

Scale insects: These look like small, brown, bumpy spots on stems and leaves. They can be scraped off gently or treated with neem oil or insecticidal soap.


Root rot: Overwatering can lead to root rot, a serious condition that can kill the plant. Signs include yellowing leaves, wilting, and a musty smell from the soil. Prevent it by ensuring proper drainage and allowing the soil to dry between waterings.

Leaf spot: This can be caused by either fungal or bacterial infections, leading to brown or black spots on the leaves. Improve air circulation, avoid wetting the leaves, and remove affected leaves. Fungicide or bactericide may be needed in severe cases.

Ficus Tree Common Problems

Stunted Growth or Sparse Leaves: Often due to insufficient light or improper fertilization.

Yellowing Leaves: Overwatering, under-watering, or poor drainage can lead to yellowing leaves.

Leaf Drop: Sudden changes in temperature or light can cause leaf drop. Try to maintain a stable environment.

Brown Leaf Tips: Usually a sign of dry air or irregular watering.

Ficus Tree Varieties as Decorative Houseplants

Choosing and Buying an Indoor Fig Tree

When choosing and buying an indoor ficus tree, consider the following tips:

Select the Right Species: Different ficus species have varying care requirements and appearances. Ficus benjamina is great for a classic look, Ficus lyrata suits those seeking bold foliage, and Ficus elastica offers a range of colorful leaves. Choose based on your aesthetic preference and ability to meet their care needs.

Assess the Light Conditions: Ficus trees generally prefer bright, indirect light. Evaluate the lighting in the space where you plan to place the tree. Some ficus varieties can tolerate lower light, but most thrive with more light.

Check for Health: Look for a tree with vibrant, healthy-looking leaves. Avoid plants with yellowing or drooping leaves, signs of pests, or extensive leaf drop, as these could indicate poor health or inadequate care.

Consider Size and Growth: Think about the available space in your home. Ficus trees can grow quite large, so choose a size that fits well in your space, both currently and as it grows.

Pot and Soil Quality: Ensure the tree is in a well-draining pot and has good quality soil. This will reduce the risk of root rot and other issues associated with overwatering.

Understand Care Needs: Familiarize yourself with the watering, humidity, and fertilizing requirements of the ficus species you choose. This knowledge will help you maintain the health and beauty of your tree.

Ask About Return Policy: Some nurseries offer a return policy if the plant doesn’t adapt well to your home environment. This can be helpful, especially for first-time ficus owners.

Shop from Reputable Sources: Buy from a reputable nursery or plant store to ensure you’re getting a healthy, well-cared-for plant.

Transport with Care: When transporting your ficus, protect it from extreme temperatures and wind, as abrupt changes can stress the plant.

By carefully selecting a ficus tree that fits your space and lifestyle, and understanding its care requirements, you can enjoy the beauty and benefits of this popular indoor tree for many years.

Ficus benjamina, Benjamin Tree, Java Fig, Java Tree, Small-Leaved Rubber Plant, Tropic Laurel, Waringin, Weeping Fig, Evergreen Fig, Evergreen Plant

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Ficus a Good Indoor Plant?

Yes, ficus trees are excellent indoor plants. They are popular for their attractive foliage, air-purifying qualities, and ability to adapt to indoor environments. Varieties like Ficus benjamina, Ficus lyrata, and Ficus elastica are commonly grown indoors.

Are Ficus Easy to Keep Alive?

Ficus trees are relatively easy to care for, but they do require attention to their specific needs. They can be sensitive to changes in their environment, such as shifts in light, temperature, and watering. With consistent care, they can be quite hardy and long-lived.

Does Ficus Need a Lot of Water?

Ficus trees do not require excessive watering. The general rule is to water when the top inch of soil becomes dry. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so it’s important to ensure the pot has good drainage.

How Tall Do Ficus Trees Get?

Indoors, most ficus trees can grow to between 3-6 feet tall, depending on the variety and the conditions they’re grown in. Some varieties, like the Ficus benjamina, can grow taller if given enough space and proper care.

What Are Ficus Plants Good For?

Ficus plants are excellent for improving indoor air quality by filtering out pollutants. They also add a natural, aesthetic element to indoor spaces and can have a calming, stress-reducing effect.

How Much Light Does Ficus Need?

Ficus trees prefer bright, indirect light. Direct sunlight can scorch their leaves, while too little light can lead to leaf drop and poor growth. A spot near a window with filtered light is often ideal.

When to Bring Ficus Indoors?

If you keep your ficus outdoors during the summer, it should be brought indoors before temperatures drop below 60°F (15°C). They are sensitive to cold and should not be exposed to frost.

Best Soil for Ficus?

The best soil for a ficus is a well-draining, rich potting mix. A general-purpose potting soil mixed with some perlite or sand to improve drainage works well. The soil should retain moisture but not remain soggy.

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Ficus (Fig)
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

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