Botanical name: Ficus benjamina
Weeping Fig is a popular houseplant due to its elegant growth and tolerance to poor growing conditions. However it does not like sudden changes in the light conditions. Sudden changes lead to excessive leaf fall but it settles down after getting used to the new light conditions. Weeping Fig is native to Asia and Australia. In its native habitat, it produces small fruits favored by some birds like doves and pigeons. When grown indoors, it can grow to a height of 6 ft but in the natural habitat it grows into a large tree. It bears gracefully drooping branch-lets and glossy leaves, oval with an acuminate tip. The bark is light gray and smooth but the bark of young branches is brownish. It is a relatively small-leaved fig. The young foliage is light green and slightly wavy, the older leaves are green and smooth. The inflorescences are spherical to egg-shaped and shiny green. The inflorescences has three types of flowers; male and fertile and sterile female flowers. The ripe figs are orange-red and are edible. The NASA Clean Air study determined that the Weeping Fig is effective at removing common household air toxins like xylene, toulene and trichloroethylene.
There are many varieties of Weeping Fig like Variegata, Starlight, Nuda, Hawaii, Natasha and Gold Princess among others.
Weeping Fig prefers bright light with some direct sunlight. An east- or west-facing window is ideal. However, the plants can adapt to lower light but they grow slower. The variegated Weeping Fig require bright light to maintain their variegation. Learn more on how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.
Water Weeping Fig thoroughly during the growing season and allow the top 1-2 in. of soil to dry out between waterings. Reduce watering during the cold season to maintain the soil barely moist. Avoid waterlogging as it can lead to leaf drop and root-rot. Learn more on how to water houseplants.
Average warmth with a minumum of 120C is ideal for Weeping Fig. Protect it from draughts. Learn more on temperature for houseplants.
Average room humidity is ideal for Weeping Fig. Occasionally clean the leaves by washing them under a steady stream of water from a hose to get rid of dust and discourage pest infestation.
Feed Weeping Fig monthly during the growing period with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer. Withhold feeding in the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time can lead to fertilizer burn. Find out more on how to feed houseplants.
Repot Weeping Fig at the beginning of the growing season only when it has become pot-bound. Avoid frequent repotting as Weeping Fig prefers to be pot-bound; repot only when the plant has outgrown its current pot, when roots begin to grow through the drainage holes. Use a pot 1 size larger and one that has drainage holes. The soil should be free-draining and rich in organic matter. Never allow the roots to sit in waterlogged soil as it may lead to leaf drop and root-rot. Use a heavy pot as the plant can become top-heavy. For large Weeping Fig Plants which may be difficult to handle, annually replenish the top 2-4 in. of soil with fresh soil.
Pruning Weeping Fig is easy. Remove dead and yellow leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy. When the plant has reached maximum height or it has become leggy, cut back the branches to rejuvenate growth. The foliage emating from pruning can be used to propagate new plants. Learn more on how to prune houseplants.
Weeping Fig can be propagated during the growing season from stem-tip cuttings.
Propagation of Weeping Fig from Stem-tip Cuttings
Take stem-tip cuttings of about 6 in. long, strip off the lower lower leaves leaving at least 2 sets of leaves on top, dip the cut end of the cutting in a rooting hormone and insert it in moist rooting soil. To hasten rooting, create a mini-greenhouse by covering the set up with a polythene bag. Ensure the leaves do not touch the bag too much by propping it up with sticks. Place the set up in warm, well-lit spot and maintain the soil moist through out until new growth emerges. New growth indicates the cutting has rooted. In about 2-4 weeks, rooting will have taken place. Gradually remove the plastic bag cover to acclimatize the plant over a period of two weeks. In 4-6 months, there will be adequate root development and and normal care can begin.
Any changes in the growing conditions of a Weeping Fig like waterlogging will cause the sudden drop of the leaves. Other causes are low temperature and cold draughts, too little light and overfeeding.
This is a normal occurence in Weeping Fig. As the plant matures, a 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.
Underfeeding Weeping Fig is the reason for this. Feed monthly with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer but only during the growing period.
Common pest in Weeping Fig are Aphids, Mealy Bugs, Scale Insects and Spider Mites. Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to other plants. Keep the plant properly pruned at all times to reduce the hiding places for these pests.
Weeping Fig is prone to Root-rot Disease which is enhanced by waterlogging. Ensure there is free drainage of both the soil and the pot and also reduce watering in the cold season.
The foliage of Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina) contains latex which may be of particular concern to latex allergy sufferers; keep the plant away from latex sensitive persons. If part of the plants are ingested, it can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pains. However, the fruits are edible.