How to Grow and Care for Oak Leaf Fig (Ficus montana) Indoors


Oak Leaf Fig, Ficus montana

Botanical name: Ficus montana
Family: Moraceae
Common names: Oak Leaf Fig, Oak-leafed Fig

Description

Ficus montana commonly called Oak Leaf Fig or Oak-leafed Fig is a vining plant with oval-shaped leaves which are covered with short hairs in form of bristles and resemble oak leaves.

The leaves on new growth are brown-green but they turn green as they mature. Oak-leafed Fig is a crawling plant which is ideal as a groundcover as it develops roots at the nodes.

Oak Leaf Fig is often mistaken for Ficus pumila quercifolia, the Oak Leaf Creeping Fig also called Miniature Oakleaf Fig or String of Frogs Plant.

Size

Oak Leaf Fig stems can grow 3-6 ft long. The plant is perfect for a hanging basket where the stems can cascade downwards beautifully. It is also ideal for a terrarium where it can act as a groundcover.

Origin

Ficus montana is native to mountainous regions of South East Asia where it grows along the banks of forest rivers and other water bodies as well as under the shade of stones. The species name, 'montana', means mountains, in reference to where it comes from.

Oak Leaf Fig, Ficus montana

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Ficus montana Care Indoors

Oak Leaf Fig (Ficus montana) indoor care requires bright light with some direct sunlight, warm and humid conditions and moderately moist well-drained soil which is rich in organic matter. Keep on reading for more on these growing conditions.

Light Requirements

Oak Leaf Fig grows best in bright light with at least 4 hours of direct morning or late afternoon sunlight. It can also grow under a grow light where natural lighting is not adequate.

Avoid exposing Ficus montana 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 can result in leggy growth, yellowing and leaf drop.

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

Watering

Water Oak Leaf 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 minimal 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 the plant as cold water can cause reduced growth and leaf drop.

Oak-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 Oak Leaf Fig indoors is an average warmth within the range of 15-260C. Keep Oak-leafed Fig away from drafts to prevent sudden changes in temperature as they can cause leaf drop. Read more on understanding temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Oak Leaf Fig 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 montana 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 Oak Leaf Fig at the beginning of the growing season only when it has become root-bound. Plants younger than 5 years should be repotted annually.

Thereafter, 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 montana 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

Oak Leaf 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 Oak-leafed Fig from Amazon.

Pruning

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

When the Ficus montana has reached maximum growth 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

Oak Leaf Fig (Ficus montana) can be propagated during the growing season from stem-tip cuttings.

How to Propagate Oak Leaf Fig from stem-tip cuttings

Take stem-tip cuttings about 6 in. long from a healthy Oak Leaf 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 that 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 Oak-leafed Fig routine care.

Oak Leaf Fig, Ficus montana

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Ficus montana Problems Indoors

Oak Leaf Fig (Ficus montana) indoor growing problems 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 Oak Leaf 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 Oak Leaf 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 montana 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 Oak-leafed 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 Oak Leaf Fig is too little light The plant requires bright light with some direct sunlight for optimum growth.

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

Oak-leafed 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 Oak Leaf Fig are due to a number of varied reasons. One reason is incorrect watering; either underwatering or overwatering.

Water the Oak-leafed 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

Oak Leaf Fig can grow in average 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 montana in the moist areas in the home like the bathroom and laundy area if the lighting is adequate or in a terrarium where high humidity can be maintained.

Pests

The common pests in Oak Leaf 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 Oak-leafed Fig properly pruned at all times to reduce the hiding places for these pests.

Diseases

Oak Leaf 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 Oak Leaf Fig toxic?

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

Ficus montana 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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