Also known as the 'Weeping Fig', and a species of fig tree, the ficus benjamina is a popular houseplant because of its features of shinny leaves and attractive trunk, which imparts a tropical character to the house. However, although this tree species is popular among many hobbyists, it holds the reputation of being one of the most notorious plants to grow and care for. According to what experts have found out, this reputation of the plant is because of its high sensitivity to light and watering.
How to Care for A Ficus Benjamina
Given the sensitive requirements of the plant, afternoon sun or direct sun must be avoided. The plant does well when placed in an area that receives filtered or indirect sunlight. Experts advice morning and late-afternoon sun for the plant. Also know that the leaves of the plant are extremely responsive to even small changes in light. If the plant is turn around, or its location gets altered, then it may react by shedding off its leaves. However, these leaves will be replaced by new ones, which would then adjust to the new light intensity. So, considering this feature of the plant, choose a location such that it does not have to be relocated for a long time.
After sunlight, it is the soil type that is an important consideration. A well-drained soil does good for the plant's growth. Also, it is recommended that the plant must be repotted every year, as with time, the soil becomes compacted and loses its draining feature.
One has to remain extremely careful about watering a ficus benjamina. During the warmer months moderate watering is required. And how do you know if your plant is thirsty? Feel the top soil by digging your finger 2-3 cm into it. If it feels dry, then it is time for watering. Otherwise, check the soil again the next day. In this way, you can avoid over watering your plant. During the colder months, water but only to keep it from drying out.
When it comes to fertilizing the ficus benjamina, experts recommend doing it every two weeks to a month, in the summer. A dilute, water-based fertilizer is generally recommended. Winter does not warrant the use of any fertilizer on the plant. Providing the plant with a well-rotted compost would be an added benefit. Needless to say, always follow the instructions provided by the manufacture of the fertilizer that you may intend to use.
Ficus benjamina pruning is also important. This is because, the plant can attain a growth too large for its space indoors. However, pruning should be done only when required. The advantages of pruning include removal of dead branches, controlling the size of the plant, and encouraging stronger growth by getting rid of the weaker parts of the plant. A ficus benjamina bush also looks great indoors. This can be achieved by pruning which not only makes the plant take a bushier look, but a more shapely appearance, as well.
So these are some of the most important requirements you need to fulfill for taking care of a ficus benjamina. Although they may seem easy on black and white, these steps must be followed with adequate knowledge and caution to help your plant live longer, and add warmth and beauty to your house.