How to Grow and Care for Ficus Alii (Banana Leaf Fig) Indoors


Ficus Alii, Ficus maclellandii 'Alii'

Botanical name: Ficus maclellandii 'Alii'
Family: Moraceae
Common names: Ficus Alii, Banana Leaf Fig, Banana Leaf Ficus, Long Leafed Fig, Narrow Leafed Fig

Description

Ficus maclellandii 'Alii' also called Ficus Alii, Banana Leaf Fig, Banana Leaf Ficus, Long Leafed Fig or Narrow Leafed Fig is an evergreen, perennial plant with glossy, long, slender, willow-like, medium-green leaves which hang downwards.

The new leaves are reddish-bronze and change to medium-green as they mature. The plant has two type of leaves where leaves on lower leaves are narrower than the leaves on higher branches.

Banana Leaf Ficus is considered more tolerant of indoor growing conditions than its cousin Weeping Fig as it rarely sheds leaves and tolerates lower light better.

Size

Banana Leaf Fig can grow to a height of 9-10 ft and 3-5 ft wide when grown indoors which make it ideal for filling the large spaces or an empty corner.

Origin

Ficus maclellandii 'Alii' is native to Asia, India and China. Ficus Alii is a cultivar which was originally introduced in Hawaii and was given the name, 'Alii'.

It is often labelled as Ficus binnendijkii or Ficus longifolia in plant stores.

Another cultivar of Ficus maclellandii is Ficus Amstel King which was developed in Holland and is considered more hardy than Alii.

Where to Buy

Ficus Alii is readily available online at Etsy. Purchase Ficus Alii from Etsy.

Ficus Alii, Ficus maclellandii 'Alii'

Ficus maclellandii 'Alii' Care Indoors

Ficus Alii (Ficus maclellandii 'Alii') indoor care is easy when provided with the right growing conditions. It requires bright light with some direct sunlight, warm conditions and moderately moist well-drained soil which is rich in organic matter. Keep on reading for a detailed account on these growing conditions.

Light Requirements

Ficus Alii grows best in bright light with 4 hours of direct morning or late afternoon sunlight. Where natural lighting is insufficient it can grow under a grow light.

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

Banana Leaf Fig can adapt to lower light conditions but it will grow much slower and may lose its variegation. If light is too little it may cause yellowing and leaf drop.

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

Watering

Water Ficus Alii 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 room temperature water to water Long Leaf Ficus as cold water can cause reduced growth and leaf drop.

Long Leafed 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 Ficus Alii indoors is an average warmth within the range of 16-250C. Keep Banana Leaf Fig away from drafts to prevent sudden changes in temperature as they can cause leaf drop. Read more on understanding temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Average room humidity is ideal for Ficus Alii. 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 also discourage pest infestation. Read more on how to clean houseplants.

Fertilizer (Feeding)

Feed Ficus Alii every 4 weeks during the growing season with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer. Do not feed Long Leafed Fig 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 Ficus Alii 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 Banana Leaf Fig 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

Ficus Alii 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 Banana Leaf Fig from Amazon.

Pruning

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

When Long Leafed Fig 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

Ficus Alii (Ficus maclellandii 'Alii') can be propagated during the growing season by air layering or by stem and stem-tip cuttings.

How to Propagate Ficus Alii by Air Layering

Air layering involves notching the stem of a healthy Ficus Alii 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 Banana Leaf 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 Ficus Alii from stem cuttings

Take non-woody stem or stem-tip cuttings about 6 in. long from a healthy Ficus Alii. 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 Long Leafed Fig routine care.

Ficus Alii, Ficus maclellandii 'Alii'

Ficus maclellandii 'Alii' Problems Indoors

Ficus Alii (Ficus maclellandii 'Alii') problems are brought about by cultural faults in watering, feeding, lighting, temperature and others.

The main problems in growing Banana Leaf Fig indoors include leaf drop, brown leaves, drooping leaves, diseases and pests among others. Keep on reading on for more details on these problems and how to fix them.

Leaf drop (loss)

There are many and varied causes of leaf drop in Ficus Alii. 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 Alii 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 Long Leafed 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 Banana Leaf Fig is extremely cold or hot temperatures due to drafts. The plant requires average room temperatures within the range of 16-250C 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 Alii is too little light The plant requires bright light with some direct sunlight for optimum growth.

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

Ficus Alii 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 Alii. 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 Banana Leaf Ficus.

Drooping leaves

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

Water the Banana Leaf 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.

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

Brown leaf tips and edges

Ficus Alii 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.

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 Long Leafed Fig in the moist areas in the home like the bathroom and laundy area if the lighting is adequate.

Pests

The common pests in Ficus Alii 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 Long Leafed Fig properly pruned at all times to reduce the hiding places for these pests.

Diseases

Ficus Alii 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 Ficus Alii toxic?

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

Banana Leaf Fig 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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