The genus Ficus encompasses a huge range of plants, each with unique characteristics. Ficus have a reputation of being finicky, but with some understanding of their needs they are reliable houseplants.

Ficus don’t cope well with change, so other than regular rotation for uniform growth, avoid moving them too often. When the plants are moved the majority of the leaves might yellow and drop.This may happen the first time you take your ficus home from the nursery, but be patient. Though it may take several weeks, they will adjust on their own as long as they’re in a suitable environment.

Proper watering practices are crucial for a healthy ficus. They generally like to dry out completely in between watering. Since many ficus are in tree form, they tend to be in large pots. Remember that although larger pots take longer to dry out, they also require more water to moisten all the roots. The best way to water is to wait until soil has dried below the soil surface. Check this by sticking your finger into the soil, up to your second knuckle. If the soil that sticks to your finger is dry and crumbly, it’s time to water. If there’s any moisture, wait a few more days. When it’s time to water, give it enough so that the water drains all the way through and some comes out the holes at the bottom of your pot into a saucer. It’s ok to leave the water in the saucer as long as it is absorbed by the roots or evaporated within a day or two.

Most ficus prefer bright sunlight. Rotate your plant regularly so it grows evenly. Consider rotating and fertilizing at the same time, once a month, to keep on a regular schedule. Feed with a balanced, all purpose fertilizer (like 10-10-10).

Fiddle Leaf Fig

Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata) This is our absolute favorite houseplant for interior decorating. Giant, bright green, fiddle-shaped leaves broaden toward the sunlight. Don’t rotate this variety; the leaves will turn on their own. They grow slowly and are long-lived. After many years, they can grow up to 12 feet or more inside a home.

Rubber Plant

Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica) This variety is selected for its large, glossy leaves. There are a couple different color combinations, including a deep black with new shoots of bright red, variegated red and white, and variegated green and white. They can grow up to 12 feet tall inside, but they’re slow growers.

Benjamin Fig

Benjamin, or Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina) This is the ficus that usually comes to mind when you think of the genus. Smaller leaves in shades of emerald green emerge against a pale trunk. Trunks can be standard, braided, or woven. It’s natural for this plant to shed up to 20% of its leaves in late summer or fall. Fresh leaves will replace the ones that drop. Benjamins grow slowly and respond well to shaping and pruning. Depending on the cultivar, these can get up to 10 feet tall.

Allii Ficus

Alii (Ficus binnendiijkii ‘Alii’) Alii is a newer cultivar of ficus. It takes a similar shape to Benjamin, but has long, tapered, dark-green leaves. Like Benjamins, Alii can reach up to 10 feet tall, and are slow growers. It doesn’t have the tendency to drop leaves as dramatically as the Benjamins.

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