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Growing Indoor Ficus – A Full Guide

Introduction: Hello gardeners today we are here to provide the best information on growing indoor ficus plants. Ficus plants are common plant in the home and office. These are very easy to grow houseplants and offer a lot of variety, from low ground cover types to tall trees. Ficus offers a variety of textures, so there’s one for practically everyone’s style. But for all of their popularity, the ficus plants are finicky. However, if you know how to care for ficus plants, you’ll be better equipped with keeping it healthy and happy in your home for years. Ficus plants are one of the popular foliage plants suitable for growing as ornamental house plants.

A step by step guide to growing indoor ficus

Ficus can maintain their tree-like shape regardless of their size and makes them ideal for bonsais or massive houseplants in large spaces. The plant leaves can be either dark green or variegated. In recent years, some imaginative nurseries have started to take benefit of their pliable trunks to braid or twist the plants into different forms.

The Ficus plant is one of the most popular bonsai trees indoor. It is an excellent plant for beginners and pros alike. Virtually care-free; then ficus bonsai tree can tolerate the low light and humidity of a heated or air-conditioned house.

A Ficus plant can be found in almost any indoor situation. Some are climbers, some shrubs and some are trees that will produce spectacular specimen plants. Most ficus grown indoors is woody tree-like plants with single-stemmed or multi-stemmed trunks. When caring for indoor ficus tree plants, the proper light, soil, pruning, and fertilization are necessary for a healthy plant.

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A Guide for Growing Ficus Indoors.
A Guide for Growing Ficus Indoors.

Choosing a Ficus plants for indoors

Ficus trees are temperamental and can become stressed from simple actions such as being moved from one room to another. So it is essential to select a healthy specimen from the nursery before taking it home and immersing it in a completely new setting. When choosing a ficus plant, look for the following characteristics. The tree must have a straight, sturdy trunk free from scars or warping. A ficus should have rich green leaves with no signs of browning or yellowing, and no rips or tears. The soil must be moist, which indicates a well-watered plant. There must be no bugs in the leaves or soil. There must be no signs of recent leaf loss that would indicate plant stress.

Most ficus trees enjoy bright indirect or filtered light with variegated varieties happily able to get medium light. Bright, direct light could result in scalding of the leaves and leaf loss. Ficus trees cannot tolerate low temperatures or drafts. They need to be kept in the temperature range above 60 F and prefer temperatures above 70 F. Cold drafts from windows or doors will harm them, so make sure to locate them somewhere where drafts will not be an issue.

Maintaining the correct light and soil requirement for the ficus

Plant the ficus tree in a well-draining potting mix. Purchase a loamy soil with added vermiculite or perlite for good drainage, or mix your own. Use 3 parts loam 1 part peat and 1 part sand for a well-draining mixture and plant in a deep pot with drainage holes so the water can run out. Place the ficus near a window in a room that obtains bright light in the summer with more moderate light in the winter. Turn the plant occasionally so all the growth does not happen on one side.

Ficus plant varieties that have plain green foliage’ tolerate greater amounts of shade than do those with variegated foliage which must have bright light with a few hours a day of direct sunlight. Otherwise, the variegated plant leaves are unlikely to retain their coloring and sharp contrasts.

A ficus needs well-draining, fertile soil. Soil-based potting mixes should work well for this plant and give the nutrients it needs. Avoid using soils for roses or azaleas, because these are more acidic potting soils.

Importance of watering when growing indoor ficus plants

Water indoor ficus plants weekly during the summer with room-temperature water. Add water until it drains from the bottom of the pot or container. Discard the excess water if it flows into a pot. Adjust the watering for a particular plant. Allow the soil to dry slightly between watering. If the leaves turn yellow and begin to drop, you could need to increase or decrease the amount of water. Check the root ball and if the roots are soggy water the plant less often. If they are dry, then increase watering. Humidity and light levels affect the amount of water required.

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Water your ficus plant regularly during the growing season and always keep the soil evenly moist but never allow your plant to sit in water. You can allow the topsoil to become slightly dry between each watering and during the winter months, reduce watering.

Fertilization of your ficus plants

Feed your ficus plants with slow-release pellets at the beginning of the growing season. They are rapid growers and will advantage of monthly fertilization in the spring and summer and once every two months in the fall and winter.

How to prune ficus plants

Ficus Bonsai tree is a fast grower, trimming or pruning helps to keep your tree miniature. Pinch and trim back the new growth to the farthest safe point, prune between a plant leaves joint to maintain its original shape. Few ficus bonsai trees grow large leaves so pruning helps to reduce leaf size. 

Potting and repotting important for growing indoor ficus plants

A healthy ficus plant will rapidly outgrow both its pot and your house. Repot only every other year to slow growth and maintain the plant a manageable size. When repotting, then always use high-quality potting soil.​

Ficus bonsai tree is very tolerant of root- puring. Repot your ficus during spring every 2 years. Use a basic soil mix. Ideally, repot Ficus bonsai tree when their root system has filled the pot and you can remove the root or soil ball in one piece. Examine regularly and don’t allow the bonsai tree to become pot-bound. After repotting, water thoroughly and place a ficus bonsai tree in a shady location for a few weeks so new roots can grow.

Care required for growing indoor ficus plants

When growing ficus indoors, it’s very important to maintain relatively high humidity around the plant. Regular misting or setting the ficus tree on a pebble tray filled with water is a great method to increase their humidity, but keep in mind that while they like high humidity, they don’t like overly wet roots. So, when watering, always check the top of the soil first. If the top of the soil is wet, don’t water as this means they have sufficient moisture. If the top of the soil feels dry to the touch, this indicates that they require water. While caring for a ficus plant, be aware that they are rapid growers and need plenty of nutrients to grow well. Fertilize once a month in the spring and summer and once every 2 months in the fall and winter.

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All shiny-leaved Ficus must have their leaves cleaned regularly to free them of accumulated dust. Do this gently, particularly when dealing with sensitive new leaves that are easily damaged. Prune back ⅓ to ¼ of the total foliage to keep the plant from outgrowing its space and to encourage new growth farther back on the branches.

Common problems when growing indoor ficus plant

Losing bottom leaves – Most of the plant types will lose leaves after turning yellow.

Browning leaf edges – It is usually to do with lack of water, low humidity, lack of light or a combination.

Dry leaves – Dry leaves because of too much direct sunlight, artificial heating or low humidity.

Losing leaves all of sudden – This can be caused by sudden temperature changes, moving the plant, cold drafts but over-watering is the common culprit.

A ficus tree losing its leaves is the most common problem these ficus plants have. Leaf drop is a ficus tree’s standard reaction to stress, whether it’s from any of the following reasons;

  • Underwatering or overwatering
  • Low humidity
  • Too little light
  • Relocation or repotting
  • Drafts Change in temperature requirement (too hot or cold)


Ficus are prone to pests such as mealy bugs, scale, and spider mites. A healthy ficus plant will not see these problems, but a stressed ficus tree (likely losing leaves) will surely develop a pest problem quickly. Treating the ficus plant with neem oil is a good way to handle any of these pest issues.

List of the indoor ficus plants for growing indoors

The Ficus genus of ornamental plants is a range of species that are popular for growing indoors, in a house, office, or hotel. They are not hard plants to produce; most people just above beginner level can grow and maintain them very well. The two most popular ficus plants are the weeping fig (small tree) and the rubber plant (much larger tree).

Some of the indoor growing ficus plants are given below;

Creeping Fig – Ficus Pumila

Creeping fig ficus plants are climbing plants that are easy to care for and maintain. Small leaves and wiry-like stems will creep anywhere you allow them to. These are different plants compared to the tree type ficus. You’ll need to be prepared to do some pruning and give a suitable pot or even a moss stick.

Creeping fig plant is a many-branched, creeping plant with small heart-shaped, thin green leaves less than an inch long and slightly puckered. It will produce aerial roots when it has something moist to cling to or the ambient humidity is consistently high and looks attractive when grown on a moss-covered pole. Most growers use this plant as a trailing plant or as a ground cover in plant troughs or terrariums. Creeping fig plant will tolerate lower light levels and temperatures than most Ficus but requires more consistent water.

Fiddle Leaf Fig – Ficus Lyrata

The fiddle leaf fig plants with the largest leaves of all from this genus. This species is sensitive to low light and cold temperatures, so a grower should be cautious when growing the fiddle leaf ficus indoors. It grows up to 3 meters tall and which makes it a brilliant ornamental plant for rooms with tall ceilings.

Fiddle-leaf fig is so-called due to its violin-shaped and puckered leaves. These plant leaves are a glossy medium green and have wavy margins; they can be up to 15 inches long and 9 inches wide. This plant is fast-growing and, like F. elastic, tends to keep a single stem unless the growth point is pruned back to induce branching.

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Rubber Plant – Ficus Elastica
Rubber Plant.
Rubber Plant.

The rubber plant (ficus elastica) is another popular ficus variety. The most popular is the decora which has large green oval-shaped plant leaves and the robusta which has larger leaves. It is not as sensitive as the fiddle leaf fig and can tolerate lower light conditions. Make sure you don’t overwater this rubber plant. The rubber plant is one of the best-known indoor ficus plants. It has large, shiny, leathery foliage with prominent mid-ribs and a central stem that tends to produce unbranched unless pruned. New plant leaves emerge from a bright red protective sheath which drops off after the leaf unfurls. The rubber tree has several cultivars with differing leaf colors and patterns; however, all forms of this plant need at least a few hours of direct sun each day to maintain healthy compact growth.

Weeping Fig – Ficus Benjamina

Weeping fig plants are the most popular plants from the ficus genus and one of the most common of all ornamental house plants grown today. This is a small tree with several cultivars including the popular variegated type. Just like bonsai’s these require pruning regularly to create that full bush-like appearance.

The leaves are 2-4 inches long, apple green when young, darkening with age. The short, twig-like branches contain a stringybark that peels off. This bark can give a home for scale insects, the weeping fig’s most troublesome pest. This Weeping fig plant does not have much of a dormant period; however, towards the end of winter several leaves normally yellow and fall, to be replaced by new growth.

Banana-Leaf Fig – Ficus maclellandii

Banana-leaf Fig has a treelike form; its leaves are long, narrow, and drooping, giving the plant an almost bamboo-like appearance. The foliage color is a lovely muted gray or green and withstands direct sunlight better than most other species of tree Ficus.

Banana leaf ficus trees are shrubs or small trees with long, saber-shaped plant leaves. The plant leaves emerge red, but later turn dark green and become leathery. They droop gracefully from the tree, adding an exotic or tropical look to the home. Ficus banana leaf plants can be developed with one stem, multiple stems, or even braided stems. Growing banana leaf ficus plants successfully is generally a matter of finding the correct location for the shrub. The banana leaf fig plant needs an indoor location with bright filtered light that is protected from drafts. Use a well-drained soilless potting mix for growing banana leaf fig plants.

Ficus microcarpa Moclame (Indian Laurel)

Indian Laurel is a rapidly growing rounded shrub that tends to produce many aerial roots when grown in humid conditions. The small glossy green color leaves are oval-shaped and alternate up the stem. It can form a massive trunk up to 3 feet in diameter and has reddish or gray bark with noticeable horizontal flecks called lenticels, which help with gas exchange. Indian Laurel is one of the best Ficus varieties for bonsai. Keep an eye out for thrips which are tiny light brown insects and shaped like miniature grains of rice.

Indian Laurel is an ornamental, evergreen houseplant. It has lovely, glossy oval leaves and it filters airborne toxins from the surrounding environment and it thrives best in bright, indirect light but can tolerate some partial shade. Harsh, direct sunlight could scorch the leaves.

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