Botanical name: Ficus benghalensis 'Audrey'
Common names: Ficus Audrey, Bengal Fig, Banyan Fig, Banyan Tree, Indian Banyan, Strangler Fig
Ficus benghalensis 'Audrey' commonly called Ficus Audrey, Bengal Fig, Banyan Fig, Banyan Tree, Indian Banyan or Strangler Fig is an evergreen, fast-growing tree-like plant which bears green, oval leaves with a fuzzy surface and a smooth light-colored trunk.
Bengal Fig has a high tolerance to drought and frosty conditions but prefers high humidity conditions to thrive. It is considered much easier to grow indoors than its cousin Fiddle Leaf Fig.
Indian Banyan is the National Tree of India where it is considered sacred as it is believed that Buddha received enlightment while under this tree.
Temples are often built near a Banyan Tree and it also provides shade in hot climates. The tree can grow very huge in its natural habitat.
Banyan Fig can grow to a height of 65-100 ft and can fill acres of land in width in its native habitat but indoors the growth can be controlled by pruning to 5-10 ft high and 3-4 ft wide.
Ficus benghalensis 'Audrey' is native to the Indian Subcontinent in India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan where it grows as an epiphyte on trees but ends up suffocating its host hence the common name, 'Strangler Fig'.
Various Ficus Audrey are readily available online at Etsy. Buy Ficus benghalensis 'Audrey' online from Etsy.
Ficus benghalensis 'Audrey' thrives in bright light with some morning or late afternoon sunlight, warm and humid conditions and moderately moist, rich, well-drained soil coupled with monthly feeding during the growing season.
Bengal Fig requires regular pruning to keep it neat, reduce pests and diseases and also encourage a bushy growth. Repotting is only needed when it becomes pot-bound. Keep reading for more on these growing conditions and how to achieve them.
Ficus Audrey grows best in bright light with some morning or late afternoon sunlight. Keep it away from hot direct sunlight as it can scorch the leaves.
Bengal Fig can adapt to lower light conditions but it will grow much slower and too little light may cause yellowing and leaf drop.
For uniform growth, turn the pot regularly to ensure that the plant receives light on all sides.
Banyan Fig can also grow under a grow light where the natural lighting is not sufficient.
Water Ficus Audrey liberally during the growing season until water comes out through the drainage holes and allow the top 2-3 in. of soil to dry out between waterings to keep the soil moderately moist.
Cut down on watering during the cold season to maintain the soil barely moist as growth is reduced at this time but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.
Ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to leaf drop and root-rot.
Use tepid, chlorine-free water to water Ficus Audrey to avoid spots on the leaves.
The best temperature for growing Ficus Audrey indoors is an average warmth within the range of 16-260C. Keep it away from drafts to prevent sudden changes in temperature as it can lead to leaf drop.
Average room humidity is ideal for Ficus Audrey. However, if the air is too dry especially where temperature is high, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier to elevate humidity. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.
Occasionally clean the leaves by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to get rid of dust and discourage pest and disease infestations.
Feed Ficus Audrey monthly during the growing period with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer for a lush growth.
Do not feed Bengal Fig during the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time can lead to fertilizer burn.
Repot Ficus Audrey at the beginning of the growing season only when it has become pot-bound. Repotting every 2-3 years is adequate for this plant.
Avoid frequent repotting as it prefers to be pot-bound. Repot only when it has outgrown its current pot; when roots begin to grow through the drainage holes.
Use a pot 1-2 size larger and one that has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy.
Never allow the roots to sit in soggy soil as it may lead to leaf drop and root-rot.
For a large Bengal Fig which may be difficult to handle, annually replenish the top 2-4 in. of soil with fresh soil.
Ficus Audrey soil should be rich in organic matter and free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients.
An all-purpose potting mix is ideal for this plant. Buy quality potting mix for Bengal Fig online from Amazon.
Pruning Ficus Audrey is easy. Remove dead and yellow leaves to maintain the plant neat and minimize pest and disease infestations.
When Bengal Fig has reached maximum height or it has become leggy, cut back the branches to rejuvenate growth and also encourage a bushy, compact growth.
The foliage emanating from the pruning can be used to propagate new plants.
Ficus Audrey can be propagated during the growing season by air layering or by stem and stem-tip cuttings.
Air layering consists of notching the stem of a healthy Ficus Audrey and coating the notch with a rooting hormone to hasten rooting.
Surround the notched area with damp moss and cover the notch with a polythene film or clear plastic wrap.
Once the roots have formed, sever the stem just below the covered part. Remove the polythene or plastic wrap and carefully pot the rooted cutting in moist free-draining soil.
Make sure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to rotting.
New shoots will sprout from the shortened stem of the old plant into a beautiful bushy plant.
Position the new Bengal Fig in a warm, brightly-lit place away from direct sunlight to prevent scorching.
Maintain the soil moist until the new plant is well established after which you can begin routine care.
Take non-woody stem or stem-tip cuttings of about 6 in. long from a healthy Ficus Audrey.
Strip off the lower leaves from the cutting and retain 2-3 leaves on top.
Allow the sap to dry and then dip the lower cut end cutting in a rooting hormone to hasten rooting.
Insert the cutting in moist rooting soil. Ensure that the rooting container has adequate drainage to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to rotting.
To enhance rooting of the cutting, create a mini-greenhouse by covering the set up with a clear polythene bag or sheet.
Ensure the leaves do not touch the bag or the sheet too much by propping it up with sticks.
Place the set up in warm, brightly-lit spot and maintain the soil moist through out until new growth emerges.
New growth indicates that the cutting has rooted. In about 3-4 weeks, rooting will have taken place.
Gradually over a period of two weeks, remove the plastic cover to acclimate the new plant.
In 4-6 months, there will be adequate root development and you can transplant the new plants into individual pots after which you can begin routine care.
Ficus benghalensis 'Audrey' problems are caused by cultural faults (improper care) and include leaf drop, drooping leaves, yellow leaves, brown leaf tips, pests and diseases among others. Continue reading for more on these problems and how to solve them.
There are many and varied causes of leaf drop in Ficus Audrey. One possible cause of leaf drop is sudden changes in the growing conditions.
This is likely to occur when you bring the plant home or when you move it to a new location in the home.
When you bring the Ficus Audrey home, place it in bright light with some sunshine and average warmth.
Water the new Benjal Fig liberally during the growing season while allowing the top 2-3 in. of soil to dry out between waterings.
Keep the soil moderately moist during the growing season and reduce watering in the cold period to keep the soil slightly moist.
The plant may lose a few leaves but it will eventually settle once it adapts to the new growing conditions.
If you need to move the Bengal Fig to a new location in your home, do so gradually to acclimate it to the new conditions.
For instance, if you want to take it outside, move it to a shaded place first before you can take out under bright light.
The second possible cause of leaf drop in Banyan Fig is extremely cold or hot temperatures due to drafts.
The plant requires average room temperatures within the range of 16-260C inorder to thrive.
Extreme temperatures; either too high or too low (outside the above range) will affect the normal functioning of the plant systems.
Too high temperatures will cause excessive loss of water leading to wilting and leaf drop while too low temperatures cause the plant to stop growing and begin to die. Leaf drop is one of the signs of a dying plant.
The third possible cause of leaf drop in Ficus Audrey is too little light as it requires bright light with some direct sunlight for optimum growth.
Move the Bengal Fig to a brighter spot and ensure it is receiving bright light with some direct sunshine or instal a grow light if the natural lighting is not adequate.
Ficus Audrey is very similar to Ficus elastica (Rubber Plant) in its requirements and are thus affected by similar problems.
Loss of lower leaves is a normal occurence in Ficus Audrey. As it matures, it losses the lower leaves leaving a bare stem with a crown of leaves at the top.
Cut back the stem at the desired height to rejuvenate growth. New growth should sprout just below the cut into a new bushy Bengal Fig.
Drooping leaves in Ficus Audrey are due to a number of varied reasons. One reason is incorrect watering; either underwatering or overwatering.
Water the Bengal Fig liberally during the growing season while allowing the top 2-3 in. of soil to dry out between waterings.
Decrease watering during the cold season but do not allow the soil to dry out completely; maintain the soil moderately moist at all times.
Ficus Audrey will grow in ordinary room humidity but a humid environment is necessary for lush growth especially where the temperatures are very high.
Too low humidity (little air moisture) results in dehydration which causes the leaves to develop brown leaf tips and edges.
Set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier to raise humidity.
You can also grow Bengal Fig in the moist areas in the home like the bathroom and laundy area if the lighting is adequate.
Yellowing leaf edges in Ficus Audrey are caused by underfeeding. To promote a healthy growth, feed the plant with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer monthly during the growing period only.
The common pests in Ficus Audrey are Scale Insects, Aphids, Mealy Bugs and Spider Mites. Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to other plants and treat with Neem oil or Insecticidal soap. Keep the plant properly pruned at all times to reduce the breeding places for these pests.
Ficus Audrey is prone to root-rot disease which is promoted by soggy soil. Make sure that there is free drainage of both the soil and the pot and also reduce watering during the cold season.
Ficus Audrey (Ficus benghalensis 'Audrey') is toxic to humans and pets as outlined by Pet Poison Helpline.
The plant produces a milky white latex which is an irritant to the eyes and the skin.
If ingested it can cause irritation in the mouth, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite and abdominal pains.
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