How to Grow and Care for Mistletoe Fig (Ficus deltoidea) Indoors


Mistletoe Fig, Ficus deltoidea

Botanical name: Ficus deltoidea
Synonmy: Ficus diversifolia
Family: Moraceae
Common names: Mistletoe Fig, Delta Fig, Fig Shrub

Description

Mistletoe Fig (Ficus deltoidea) also called Delta Fig or Fig Shrub is a slow-growing, evergreen, shrubby plant which bears glossy green leaves on top, golden yellow below with black spots and prominent veins.

The leaves in female plants are big and round while in male plants they are small, round and long.

The species name, 'deltoidea', is in reference to the leaf shape which resemble the Greek letter, 'delta'.

Delta Fig bears characteristic fig berries through out the year which start off white then turn red as they mature. The berries are inedible.

Fig Shrub is considered more drought tolerant and can withstand short periods of dryness.

Size

Mistletoe Fig can grow to a height of 18 ft in its native habitat. Indoors, it grows to a height of about 3-5 ft and the same width. It may take 10-20 years to reach this size.

Origin

Ficus deltoidea is native to South East Asia. It can grow as a terrestrial, a lithophyte or as an epipyhte. The epiphytic growth gives it the common name, 'Mistletoe', as it grows like a mistletoe.

Where to Buy

Mistletoe Fig is available online in various sizes at Etsy. Purchase Mistletoe Fig from Etsy.

Mistletoe Fig, Ficus deltoidea

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Ficus deltoidea Care Indoors

Mistletoe Fig (Ficus deltoidea) indoor care is easier than for most Ficus plants. It requires bright light with some direct sunlight, warm and humid conditions and moderately moist, well-drained soil which is rich in organic matter coupled with regular feeding. Keep on reading for more on these growing conditions and how to achieve them.

Light Requirements

Mistletoe Fig grows best in bright light with 4 hours of direct morning or late afternoon sunlight. It can grow under a grow light where natural lighting is insufficient.

Avoid exposing Ficus deltoidea to hot direct sunlight as it can cause sunscorch (brown) marks on the leaves and eventual leaf drop.

It can adapt to lower light conditions but it will grow much slower. If light is too little it may result in leggy growth, yellowing and leaf drop.

Turn the pot regularly to ensure that the Delta Fig receives light on all sides for even growth. Check out our guide on understanding light for houseplants.

Watering

Water Mistletoe Fig 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.

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 water that is at room temperature to water Ficus deltoidea as cold water can cause reduced growth and leaf drop.

Delta Fig is sensitive to chlorine and other chemicals dissolved in water. Use only chlorine-free water to water the plant to avoid spots on the leaves. Read more on how to water houseplants.


Temperature

The best temperature for growing Mistletoe Fig indoors is an average warmth within the range of 13-260C. Keep the Delta Fig away from drafts to prevent sudden changes in temperature as they can cause leaf drop. Read more on understanding temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Mistletoe Fig can grow in average room humidity but requires a humid environment to thrive. To raise humidity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier. 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 also discourage pest infestation. Read more on how to clean houseplants.

Fertilizer (Feeding)

Feed Ficus deltoidea every 3-4 weeks during the growing season with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer. Do not feed during the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time can cause fertilizer burn. Read more on how to feed houseplants.

Repotting

Repot Mistletoe Fig at the beginning of the growing season only when it has become root-bound. Repotting every 1-2 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 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 can result in leaf drop and root-rot.

For a large Ficus deltoidea which may be difficult to handle, annually replenish the top 2-4 in. of soil with fresh soil while taking care not to injure the roots.

Soil

Mistletoe Fig soil should be rich in organic matter and well-drained to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients.

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

Pruning

Pruning Mistletoe Fig is easy. Remove dead and yellow leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy.

When the Ficus deltoidea has reached maximum height or it has become leggy, cut back the branches to rejuvenate growth and also encourage a bushy, compact growth.

You can use the foliage emanating from the pruning to propagate new plants. Read more on how to prune houseplants.

Propagation

Mistletoe Fig (Ficus deltoidea) can be propagated during the growing season by air layering or by stem and stem-tip cuttings.

How to Propagate Mistletoe Fig by Air Layering

Air layering involves notching the stem of a healthy Mistletoe Fig 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 well-drained 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 Delta Fig in a warm, brightly-lit spot and maintain the soil moist until the plant is well established after which you can begin routine care.

How to Propagate Mistletoe Fig from stem cuttings

Take non-woody stem or stem-tip cuttings about 6 in. long from a healthy Mistletoe Fig. 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 to avoid rotting of the cuttings.

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 Delta Fig routine care.

Mistletoe Fig, Ficus deltoidea

Photo Credit: Garden Tags

Mistletoe Fig (Ficus deltoidea) Problems Indoors

Mistletoe Fig (Ficus deltoidea) problems indoors include leaf drop, brown leaves, drooping leaves, diseases and pests among others. Continue reading for more details on these problems and how to fix them.

Leaf drop (loss)

There are many and varied causes of leaf drop in Mistletoe Fig. 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 Delta Fig home, place it in bright light with 4 hours of direct morning or late afternoon sunlight and warm conditions.

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 Ficus deltoidea 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 Delta Fig is extremely cold or hot temperatures due to drafts. The plant requires average room temperatures within the range of 13-260C inorder to thrive.

Too high or too low temperatures (outside the above range) will affect the normal functioning of the plant systems.

Too high temperatures will cause dehydration which can lead 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 Mistletoe Fig is too little light The plant requires bright light with some direct sunlight for optimum growth.

Move the Ficus deltoidea to a brighter spot and ensure it is receiving bright light with some direct sunshine. Read more on understanding light for houseplants.

Delta Fig is 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

Drooping leaves

Drooping leaves in Mistletoe Fig are due to a number of varied reasons. One reason is incorrect watering; either underwatering or overwatering.

Water the Delta Fig liberally during the growing season while allowing the top 2-3 in. of soil to dry out between waterings to keep the soil moderately moist.

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

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

Brown leaf tips and edges

Mistletoe Fig will grow in ordinary room humidity but when the temperatures are too high it may develop brown leaf tips and edges due to too low humidity.

Little humidity (little air moisture) results in dehydration which causes 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 Ficus deltoidea in the moist areas in the home like the bathroom and laundy area if the lighting is adequate.

Pests

The common pests in Mistletoe Fig 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 Delta Fig properly pruned at all times to reduce the hiding places for these pests.

Diseases

Mistletoe Fig 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. Read more on root-rot disease and how to deal with it.

Is Mistletoe Fig toxic?

Like other plants in the Moraceae family, Mistletoe Fig (Ficus deltoidea) is toxic to humans and pets as indicated by Pet Poison Helpline.

Ficus plants produce 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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