How to Grow and Care for Ficus benghalensis 'Audrey' Indoors


Ficus Audrey, Ficus benghalensis 'Audrey'

Botanical name: Ficus benghalensis 'Audrey'
Family: Moraceae
Common names: Ficus Audrey, Bengal Fig, Banyan Fig, Banyan Tree, Indian Banyan, Strangler Fig

Description

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.

Size

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.

Origin

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'.

Where to Buy

Healthy Ficus Audrey are readily available online at Etsy. Purchase Ficus benghalensis 'Audrey' online from Etsy.

Ficus Audrey, Ficus benghalensis 'Audrey'

Ficus benghalensis 'Audrey' Care Indoors

Ficus benghalensis 'Audrey' thrives in bright light with some direct 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 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.

Light Requirements

Ficus Audrey grows best in bright light with some direct morning or late afternoon sunlight. It can also grow under a grow light where natural light is inadequate.

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. Check out this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

Watering

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.

Reduce 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. Read more on how to water houseplants.


Temperature

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. Read more on understanding temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

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 raise humidity. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

Regularly clean the leaves by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to get rid of dust and discourage pest infestation. Read more on how to clean houseplants.

Fertilizer (Feeding)

Feed Ficus Audrey monthly during the growing period with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer. Do not feed Bengal Fig during the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time can lead to fertilizer burn. Read more on how to feed houseplants.

Repotting

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.

Soil

Ficus Audrey soil should be rich in organic matter and free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients.

Most multi-purpose potting mixes are ideal for the plant. Buy quality potting mix from Amazon for Bengal Fig.

Pruning

Pruning Ficus Audrey is easy. Remove dead and yellow leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy.

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. Read more on how to prune houseplants.

Propagation

Ficus Audrey can be propagated during the growing season by air layering or by stem and stem-tip cuttings.

How to Propagate Ficus Audrey by Air Layering

Air layering consists of notching the stem of a healthy Ficus Audrey and coating the notch with a rooting hormone.

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.

Ensure 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.

Place the new Bengal Fig in a warm, brightly-lit place and maintain the soil moist until the plant is well established after which you can begin routine care.

How to Propagate Ficus Audrey from stem cuttings

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 acclimatize 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 Bengal Fig routine care.

Ficus Audrey, Ficus benghalensis 'Audrey'

Ficus benghalensis 'Audrey' Problems Indoors

Ficus benghalensis 'Audrey' problems indoors are caused by cultural faults (improper care). These problems 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 fix them.

Leaf drop (loss)

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 direct sunshine, warm conditions and water it liberally during the growing season while allowing the top 2-3 in. of soil to dry out between waterings. It may loss a few leaves but will eventually settle.

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 The plant 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. Read more on understanding light for houseplants.

Ficus Audrey is very similar to Ficus elastica (Rubber Plant) in its requirements and is thus affected by similar problems.

Read more on 14 reasons why Rubber Plant is dropping leaves and how to fix them

Loss of lower leaves

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

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.

Reduce watering during the cold season but do not allow the soil to dry out completely; maintain the soil moderately moist at all times.

Read more on 13 Reasons Why Rubber Plant Leaves are Drooping & How to Fix Them

Brown leaf tips and edges

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. read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

You can also grow Bengal Fig in the moist areas in the home like the bathroom and laundy area if the lighting is adequate.

Yellow leaf edges

Yellowing leaf edges in Ficus Audrey are due to underfeeding. Feed the plant monthly with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer during the growing period. Read more on how to feed houseplants.

Pests

The common pests in Ficus Audrey are Aphids, Mealy Bugs, Scale Insects 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 hiding places for these pests.

Diseases

Ficus Audrey is prone to root-rot disease which is enhanced by soggy soil. Ensure there is free drainage of both the soil and the pot and also reduce watering during the cold season.

Is Ficus Audrey toxic?

Ficus Audrey (Ficus benghalensis 'Audrey') is toxic to humans and pets according to 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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