Ficus benjamina, also known as the weeping fig tree, is a beautiful and beneficial tree that comes from Southeast Asia and Northern Australia.
In this guide you’ll learn exactly how to grow a weeping fig plant in your home, as well as the beneficial properties it has for your health.
Weeping Fig Tree Overview
|Common Name(s)||Weeping fig tree, benjamin fig, weeping fig plant|
|Scientific Name||Ficus benjamina|
|Origin||Asia and australia|
|Height||Up to 10 ft|
|Humidity||Mist leaves in the summer|
|Fertilizer||Only 1x monthly|
|Propagation||Few inches of branch clippings added to soil|
The weeping fig tree is one of the best plants to have in your home when it comes to remove formaldehyde from the air. It also purifies air of toluene and xylene. In fact, it was studied by NASA as a plant to include in space flight due to its toxin-cleansing properties.
It can grow up to 10′ (3m) in doors, but can also be grown outdoors where it gets considerably taller. They’re staples of landscaping for hospitals, parks, and playgrounds around the country. Some of the tallest ones can reach over 100′ tall!
As the plant ages, the leaves will turn a darker green. The leaves have a glossy look to them, almost as if they have been polished.
Ficus Benjamina Care
Overall, weeping fig plants are easy to care for. They love high humidity areas, so placing them in a bathroom so they can take advantage of the shower mist is a good idea.
Once you decide where to place your weeping fig, try not to move it. They do not do well adapting to different environments and may start to drop leaves.
Weeping figs like at least 5-7 hours of bright, indirect sun per day. Even with this much light, they’re still slow growers but they’re worth the wait.
Make sure that wherever you place your weeping fig tree is free of strong drafts of air — both cold and hot. It doesn’t like too much drafty air, and prefers around 65-75°F temperatures.
Benjamin figs are very sensitive to chemicals that appear in most tap water. Fluoride, chlorine, and the salts that are in tap water can harm the plant. For best results, water only with filtered or distilled water. If you don’t have a filter, you can leave a jug of tap water out overnight so chemicals like chlorine dissipate.
Weeping figs don’t like soggy soil at all, and will quickly drop leaves and die if they are watered too often. The soil should try to at least 1-2″ deep before you water them again.
In the winter months, you can water even less often as the plant is dormant for most of this time and needs less water.
A well-draining soil is best for weeping figs. If you are planting into new soil, be sure to bury the stalk at least 3″ deep in the soil.
These houseplants don’t need a lot of fertilization. Fertilize about once a month with a standard houseplant fertilizer. Dilute the mixture by at least 50% to avoid burning the leaves.
Due to how slowly they grow, they don’t need to re-potted often. Once every 3-4 years is about as often you should consider repotting them.
When you do re-pot, be careful with the root systems. Unlike many plants, they need their root systems to be unharmed during re-potting or they may suffer for some time.
Pick a pot that is three times larger than the size of the plant so the roots have time to spread and grow without worrying about root rot.
Weeping fig trees are tolerant to heavy pruning. If you inherited an unruly weeping fig, you can even prune it all the way down to the main stem. It will take some time to recover, but eventually you’ll see new shoots coming out of it.
Weeping figs are best propagated by cloning from cuttings. You will create a plant with the exact same genetics as the mother plant by propagating in this way.
In the beginning of spring, take cuttings from your tree and place them in water for about a week or so.
After a week, place cuttings directly in a soil made up of peat moss, perlite, and coarse sand.
After 2-4 weeks, roots should be well-established. You can double-check this by gently tugging on them and seeing if they hold on to the soil.
One of the best things about benjamin figs is that bugs or diseases hardly ever attack, but in some rare cases you may have some problems.
Scales are super-annoying bugs that suck out the juice of your weeping fig tree. If they’re not spotted and removed early they can decimate your plant.
The best way to get rid of them is to take your fig tree outside and give it a good hosing down. You will need to repeat this process 2-3 times to make sure you get rid of all of them.
If you have a heavy infestation, you will need to go with a horticultural oil or insecticidal soap.
These annoying pests show up on the underside of your leaves and can be hard to spot at first. Go with an insecticidal soap for multiple applications to rid your plant of these.
Thrips are difficult to get rid of, and even harder to see as they’re less than 1/20″ long. You can spot them by looking for the small dark dots of waste they leave on your leaves.
To get rid of them, wash your ficus off with water and go with a neem oil or predatory thrip to fight them off if you have a more serious infestation.
Whiteflies attack your benjamin figs in a similar manner to the pests above. You can tell if you have a whitefly problem by shaking your fig tree and looking for a cloud of flies to pop up.
To prevent them, you should use neem oil sprays multiple times to be sure you’ve killed them all off. Standard yellow sticky traps are also a good way to get rid of them.
For the most part, weeping figs don’t suffer from too many diseases. In fact, most of the ‘diseases’ I will list here are caused by the gardener!
If you notice leaves starting to drop in the fall, don’t worry. This is completely normal and there’s no way to prevent it.
However, there are other reasons for leaves to drop that you can prevent. Weeping figs can stress easily and respond by dropping leaves, so try to keep them in the same location once you place them in your home. You should also make sure they have the perfect growing conditions to prevent further stress.
This is a more rare disease to run into, but it will cause the tips of new ficus benjamina shoots to die off. The culprit is high humidity, so to prevent this you should make sure that you aren’t bathing your figs in too much mist. To treat it, just remove the blighted tips by cutting below them.
Root rot is caused in two ways: having poorly-draining soil, and / or watering too often. Either one of these situations will cause the roots to be in too much water and begin to soften and rot away.
Preventing this is easy: water less often and add more sand to your soil so it drains better.
This disease is caused by pruning with non-sterile equipment. It’s a fungal disease that enters the plant via pruning cuts. You can tell your tree has it by looking for cankers near the pruned sections.
If you notice it, you should prune that branch off completely, as there is no chemical treatment of phomopsis canker on the market.
Q. My weeping fig is losing leaves and the leaves are yellow. What is happening?
A. The most likely problem is over-watering. Weeping fig trees like to dry out before getting more water, and not letting them do this will cause root rot and the problems that you are describing.
Q. How do I properly prune my weeping fig tree? Mine is in need of some serious cutting back.
A. The good thing about ficus benjamina is how tolerant they are of being neglected. If you need to aggressively prune, they will even survive being pruned back to only their main stem. However, a good rule of thumb is to prune back any branch with over 5 leaves back to only 2 leaves.
Q. I heard I can braid or train my weeping fig tree. How do I do that?
A. Because weeping fig trees have hanging branches like a weeping willow, you can actually train them to grow how you want them. By carefully braiding the branches as they grow, you can create just about any shape you want.