Ficus

With all the different sizes and shapes this houseplant comes in, you're sure to find the right look to liven up any room.

Colorful Combinations

The 850 species span a wide range of looks. Leaves grow dark burgundy on the rubber plant, diamond-shape on the weeping fig, small-as-a-pinky-nail on some creeping varieties, and as large as a football on others.

Ficus Care Must-Knows

Needs vary among the types of ficus, but generally, they prefer well-drained, fertile soil kept consistently moist. Although ficus can tolerate an occasional missed watering, allowing them to dry out regularly stresses the plant.

When it comes to lighting, ficus plants can be somewhat finicky. Ficus requires high light levels, especially for the best coloring of its leaves. But there are types of ficus that tolerate medium to low-light conditions. In low-light conditions, ficus tends to be sparser and can have poorer branching habits. They also tend to be much slower growing in less light. If abruptly moved to a new spot with different light levels than it's used to, ficus can drop many leaves. Though alarming, the plant recovers once it adapts to new conditions.

In the right conditions, ficus grows relatively fast. This can become troublesome if you've got a large kind because it can quickly outgrow its space. Regular pruning prevents this and promotes good branching. However, there is a limit to the amount of pruning larger species of ficus tolerate. Starting a new plant by air layering is the best option for woody types.

Air layering involves scarring or removing some bark and dusting the wound with rooting hormone. Next, wrap it in moist sphagnum moss and dark plastic to keep it damp, humid, and out of the light. In 2 to 3 months, roots will emerge. As these roots develop, keep the moss moist, and check every few weeks for root growth. Once roots begin to grow in the sphagnum, cut the stem below the new root and plant.

More Varieties of Ficus

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Ficus Overview

Description A versatile and tough group of plants often grown indoors, ficus comes in all sorts of forms, ranging from creeping vine to giant tree. Its glossy leaves grow in a variety of colors and patterns. And even though this cousin of the edible fig is a tropical plant, it survives in a wide variety of conditions.
Genus Name Ficus
Common Name Ficus
Plant Type Houseplant
Light Part Sun, Shade, Sun
Height 6 to 6 inches
Width 1 to 30 feet
Foliage Color Blue/Green, Purple/Burgundy
Special Features Low Maintenance
Zones 10, 11, 6, 7, 8, 9
Propagation Layering, Stem Cuttings
Problem Solvers Drought Tolerant
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Creeping fig

Creeping fig pot
Dean Schoeppner

Ficus pumila is a vining plant with small leaves and aerial roots that will cling to a wall or moss pole. It is sometimes used to cover topiary forms. It requires higher humidity and more frequent watering than most ficuses.

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Fiddle-leaf fig

fiddleleaf fig
Denny Schrock

Ficus lyrata can become a large tree with violin-shaped leaves more than 1 foot long. The stiff, waxy leaves are medium green on top and gray-green underneath.

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Mistletoe fig

mistletoe fig
Dean Schoeppner

Ficus deltoidea makes an interesting indoor shrub. It forms spreading branches covered with wedge-shaped leaves and many small, inedible green figs that turn red in bright sun. It is sometimes listed as Ficus diversifolia.

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Narrow-leaf fig

Narrow-leaf fig Ficus
Michael Thompson

Ficus maclellandii 'Alii' is a tree-type ficus with long, narrow, pointed leaves that give it a bamboo appearance. It is sometimes called Alii fig or banana fig and may be classified as Ficus binnendijkii.

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Rubber plant

Ficus Elastica
Marty Baldwin

Ficus elastica, also called rubber plant, has stiff, elliptical leaves, often tinged maroon. Grow it as a multistem shrub or a branched tree.

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'Starlight' weeping fig

weeping fig
Dean Schoeppner

Ficus benjamina 'Starlight' has the same arching plant form as regular weeping fig, but its leaves are ringed with a decorative white band. Variegation is most intense in bright light.

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'Too Little' weeping fig

Too Little weeping fig
Marty Baldwin

Ficus benjamina 'Too Little' is a semidwarf, a slower grower than regular weeping fig. Individual leaves are smaller and rolled or curled, and distance between branches is less, resulting in a more compact tree.

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Variegated creeping fig

variegated creeping fig
Dean Schoeppner

Ficus pumila 'Variegata' is a small-leaf creeper with a narrow band of white on leaf edges. Like regular creeping fig, it likes high humidity and moist roots.

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Variegated Indian laurel Fig

Variegated Indian laurel fig
Marty Baldwin

Ficus microcarpa is similar to weeping fig but has slightly larger and more leathery leaves. It is also less likely to drop leaves with changes in light levels or temperatures. The plant is sometimes classified as Ficus retusa nitida.

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Variegated rubber plant

detail variegated ficus
Blaine Moats

Ficus elastica 'Variegata' has tricolor leaves of creamy white, gray-green, and green with maroon overtones. Its coloration is most intense in bright light.

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Weeping fig

Weeping Fig
Mike Jensen

Ficus benjamina is the most widely grown ficus. Often several are planted in the same pot and braided into a decorative trunk. Avoid moving the plant around once you find a suitaable location; leaves drop readily in response to environmental changes.

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