Ficus weeping fig

CC flickr photo by Michael Johnson

If you’re lucky enough to live in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 12, you can grow Ficus trees (Ficus Benjamina) outdoors year-round. Elsewhere, ficus trees are grown as houseplants year-round or overwintered indoors and brought outside for summer only after the last frost.

Ficus trees are native to India, Australia and the South Pacific, where they’re often grown as specimen trees or planted in groups as hedges. In the tropics, they can grow to heights of 50 feet or more. When grown as houseplants, they generally grow to 10 feet tall.

Ficus trees are related to figs and do produce flowers and fruit in warm climates. Indoors, they rarely flower and never fruit because they lack a pollinator. The broadleaf evergreen leaves are glossy, elongated ovals, while the bark is gray or white. Some ficus trees have multiple branches that have been braided together for an interesting texture.

Planting a Ficus Tree

To grow ficus trees outdoors, plant them in well-draining, loamy soil of average fertility. Plant them in a location that gets full sun or partial shade. Fertilize ficus trees in the spring with ½ cup 10-10-10 fertilizer per tree. Although ficus trees are somewhat drought tolerant, they do best with moderate soil moisture. Water them when the soil dries out 2 inches beneath the surface and allow the soil to dry again before watering. Overwatering is one of the most common reasons ficus trees to decline.

Prune ficus trees during the winter to remove dead, diseased branches or branches that rub against each other. You can also prune to control size. The stems and leaves contain a milky sap.

Ficus Trees as Houseplants

To grow ficus trees as houseplants, plant them in a container that holds at least 5 gallons of soil. Use a lightweight potting mix that contains perlite or vermiculite to retain moisture. Do not use garden soil, which is too heavy to drain well and often harbors diseases.

Place the ficus tree near a sunny window or in an area that gets morning sunshine and afternoon shade. If you have a skylight, that’s also an ideal place for a ficus tree. Water the soil every few days, but allow it to dry out between watering. Fertilize indoor houseplants once every six weeks during the growing season with a diluted all-purpose, granular fertilizer.

As winter approaches, reduce watering and fertilizing. The dry heat caused by heaters in the winter is hard on ficus trees. If possible, place the tree in a cool room and run a humidifier to increase humidity. As ficus trees adapt to winter conditions, they often lose leaves. In most cases, this is no cause for concern. Continue caring for the tree and it will soon adjust.

If you’d like to move your ficus tree outdoors, wait until two or three weeks past the last expected frost, since these trees can’t tolerate any cold. Place the ficus tree in a protected area first to slowly acclimate it to being outdoors once again. Follow the same process in the fall as you prepare to move it indoors. Move it to a shadier location two or three weeks before you bring it indoors. Time the move to happen at least two or three weeks before the first expected frost.

Ficus Tree Pests and Problems

Ficus trees are generally low-maintenance plants, although they do drop leaves during the winter and whenever they experience a change in growing conditions. Remember to give them well-draining soil and avoid overwatering them. Occasionally, these trees are afflicted by leaf spot diseases. Promptly pick up and discard leaf litter and remove infected leaves from the trees. Outdoors, use drip systems or water ficus trees by hand, rather than overhead sprinklers, which can spread disease.

Both indoors and out, ficus trees are sometimes afflicted by aphids or mites. Outdoors, you can spray the leaves with a steady stream of water to dislodge these pests. Indoors, you may have to resort to an insecticidal oil or soap. Be sure to use one that is labeled for houseplant use.

Want to learn more about growing ficus trees?

Don’t miss these great resources:
Ficus Benjamina: weeping fig by the Missouri Botanical Garden
Rubber Trees, Weeping Figs, and other Friendly Ficus by the University of Minnesota Extension

P Allen Smith talks about growing ficus indoors on YouTube.

Learn when and how to prune your indoor ficus plant on YouTube.

Julie Christensen learned about gardening on her grandfather’s farm and mother’s vegetable garden in southern Idaho. Today, she lives and gardens on the high plains of Colorado. When she’s not digging in the dirt, Julie writes about food, education, parenting and gardening.

Ficus trees have been widely used in Southern California landscaping and as street trees for the past several decades. Closely related to the common Fig tree, this non-native tree gained popularity because of its multi-season interest as an evergreen tree with versatile uses.

Problems with Ficus trees in California cities see these trees cracking sidewalks and invading neighboring properties. News accounts are widely documented about the expense that these trees are bringing to some cities. Although the bad publicity has removed the Ficus tree from many municipal planting lists, it doesn’t necessarily mean this tree is a bad choice for your property.

Choosing a Ficus Tree for Your Southern California Property

No plant is perfect. Each has a list of positive and negative characteristics, and each has a place where it is ideal. As a company that both designs and installs landscapes in the Los Angeles area, we understand that one essential part of tree selection is educating the property owner about potential challenges.

Don’t completely write them off. Ficus trees could be a good choice for your property. Species of these trees range in both shade trees to a variety that quickly grows into a hedge for screening. However, the plant has become a controversial plant in recent years leaving homeowners to wondering how to control Ficus tree roots.

If you love these trees and want one for your Southern California home, it’s important to know all about Ficus tree root problems and what can be done to prevent them from becoming a problem on your property.

Ficus Tree Root Problems

The Ficus tree’s root system is very invasive. Merely planting this tree without any guidance can later lead to buckling pavement on driveways, streets, curbs, and damaged underground utilities and drains.

If you have an existing Ficus tree on your property there may be little that can be done to stop Ficus tree root problems apart from removing the tree and its roots. However, with the right preventative measures, it’s very possible to control Ficus tree roots when planting a new specimen.

How to Control Ficus Tree Roots

Installing root barriers between a newly installed tree and potential damage areas is an effective way to prevent or reduce destruction. These barrier materials are made from various materials but installed primarily in the same manner.

When a Pacific Outdoor Living customer decides to have a Ficus tree installed on their property, we follow this procedure:

  1. Dig a trench directly next to the pavement where the Ficus tree may reach with its mature roots. The trench should be approximately 1’ deep. The top edge of the barrier material should be just above the surface.
  2. Make sure the trench is a minimum of at least 12’ long, extending 6’ or more past the outer edge of where the mature roots will spread, past the point where the tree branches will reach.
  3. Install the barrier material in the trench, and backfill the area with the removed soil to hold the material in its place.

Installing Ficus tree root barrier materials around a newly installed tree will help direct the root growth of your tree downward versus outward. This can prevent major damage that mature Ficus tree roots can cause to pools, house foundations, and other surfaces later in their lives.

Planting Trees & Installing Root Barrier at Your Southern California Home

Here at Pacific Outdoor Living, we’ve designed tens of thousands of unique landscapes for Southern California homeowners. Some of those beautiful landscape installations include Ficus trees. Whether you want a Ficus Natida hedge to border your property or a Ficus tree to shade parts of your lawn, we would love to talk.

Even if you decide against a Ficus tree, we would be happy to provide you with some other great alternatives. Feel free to contact us for a free consultation.

Do grafted Ficus have the same vigorous root system as others in the species? Could we safely plant a standard Ficus in the garden, 80 centimetres away from concrete edging?
Standard plants – or lollipop-style plants – are sometimes grafted but, generally, Ficus are not. Instead, they’re pruned to present a tall, straight stem and a ball-shaped head of foliage. All evergreen Ficus, or figs, have vigorous, invasive root systems and grow into large trees, making them unsuitable to plant in residential gardens. (Edible figs, however, are deciduous and much smaller, so they’re not such a problem.) In a pot, the standard Ficus is being contained, but when planted out they will quickly grow into something you don’t want – most of the species used for standards can reach a height of 20 metres in good conditions. Even in pots, they’re remarkable escape artists; unless the pot is elevated, the roots can grow out of the drainage holes and find the soil. And I’ve known them to penetrate paving, too. Don’t plant out standards in your garden – if you want them in that position for design purposes, keep them in large pots, elevated on pot feet, and check regularly for escaping roots.


Dangerous Roots

One of the most fashionable plants in Australia at the moment is Ficus benjamina, the weeping fig. Pots of standardised weeping figs clipped and shaped into balls on sticks can often be seen dramatically framing entrances or doorways; left unclipped they make attractive and graceful indoor feature plants. There are many new and improved varieties available, including the lovely ‘Midnight Beauty’, which has a dense growth habit and dark, almost black foliage. Weeping figs are easy to look after, and will tolerate moderately low light levels and some neglect.

Warning

Although weeping figs are very beautiful plants and their popularity is well deserved, it is important to remember that in their natural habitat they are rainforest giants. If you transfer your dainty little weeping fig from a pot to the garden and leave it unpruned it is quite capable of growing more than 15m (50′) tall x 12-15m (40-50′) wide. The root system of a weeping fig is extremely aggressive; it can crack footpaths and driveways and destabilise the foundations of houses.

What to do

We do not recommend planting weeping figs in suburban gardens. If you must plant a weeping fig, keep it at least 8-10m (25-30′) from the house as well as a fair distance from footpaths and driveways. There is a bit of flexibility if the trees are rigidly pruned, thus restricting their root growth and spread, however, we recommend alternatives such as lillypillies.
Potted outdoor figs can send strong roots down through the bottoms of their containers, and crack any paving or driveways nearby. It’s a good idea to stand the pots on bricks or pot feet to keep them raised off the ground. From time to time, tilt them over to reveal any roots that may be escaping underneath and to clean out accumulated leaf litter. The roots should be cut off with a sharp spade.
If you plant any variety of fig tree in the garden as a hedge and then sell your house, make sure to tell the new owners how important it is to keep the hedge pruned!

Tip of the Week: Caring for Weeping Figs

Posted in Gardening Tips on January 11 2010, by Sonia Uyterhoeven

Sonia Uyterhoeven is Gardener for Public Education.

During summer you will often find around the Botanical Garden weeping figs (Ficus benjamina) growing in decorative containers, as they look reliably good all season long.

Most of you, however, grow weeping figs as a houseplant. It is one of many favorite choices for the indoor gardener, even though it can be temperamental. One of my grandmothers (not the gardener…the other one) had very little interest in growing plants, yet she had a glorious weeping fig in her living room. In spite of several minor catastrophes during its lifetime, it was resilient and always rebounded to its former glory.

Ficus benjamina, a tropical plant from South Asia, is a member of the Moraceae family, which includes mulberry (Morus), Osage-orange (Maclura), and breadfruit (Artocarpus) trees. In tropical regions Ficus benjamina can grow into a huge specimen with aerial roots. In warm climates devoid of high humidity, the tree does not develop aerial roots but still grows to a respectable height. Weeping fig trees are commonly used as a hedge in California.

Indoors, the weeping fig grows much smaller. It can tolerate a range of light levels, but it likes consistency and looks its best when grown in bright, indirect light. (It is challenged by dramatic temperature and light-level fluctuations.)

One of the biggest problems homeowners encounter with this plant is overwatering. Plant your weeping fig in well-draining soil, and water it only when the top several inches of the soil are dry. Fertilize during the growing season once every two weeks with a half-strength dilution. With weeping fig, as with most of your houseplants, also avoid cold drafts, dry heat, and sudden temperature changes.

When a weeping fig is moved to a new location, it will need a few weeks to adjust to its new environment. In the meantime, some of its foliage may yellow and drop. Unfortunately, anxious owners see this and panic. They think the plant is suffering from water deprivation. They water…and water…and the plant starts responding to this overwatering by dropping more leaves. Hence, a vicious cycle begins.

If you are dealing with a new weeping fig plant, remember its recent history: It has been taken from a commercial greenhouse (presumably with ideal growing conditions), shipped and placed on the shelf of a florist or retail store (where it could encounter just about any type of care), and then finally brought into your own home. Shock and leaf loss are normal.

And let’s face it, your home—the ultimate resting place for the weeping fig—is typically not an ideal growing environment. Light levels generally could be brighter. Humidity levels, particularly during the winter, tend to be awful. Give the plant a few weeks to adjust to its new surroundings and to recover.

If your established weeping fig is losing some of its foliage, remember that some plants need an occasional resting period. Ficus benjamina is one of those plants. It is not uncommon for some of the plant’s foliage to yellow and drop off during the winter after an active summer of growth. Allow it to dry out a little bit more between watering, reduce fertilization, and let it rest.

Weeping Fig

Botanical Name: Ficus benjamina

Weeping fig is the most popular indoor tree from the Moraceae family. Its branches droop downward from woody stems, covered with glossy, pointed 2-4 in (5-10 cm) leaves which become darker green as the plant ages.

Give beautiful Weeping Fig lots of bright, indirect sunlight year-round.

Ficus Benjamina Varieties

This fig tree makes a statement in any brightly lit room. Growers sometimes braid its trunks for a decorative topiary look. Some nurseries offer fancy cultivars of this popular house plant: F. benjamina ‘Indigo’ and ‘Midnight’ have dark-green, glossy leaves. ‘Monique’ has wavy leaves.A few of the many variegated cultivars include ‘Starlight’ with dark-green leaves edged in creamy white…’Silver Cloud’ delicately edged with white…and ‘Variegata’ broadly variegated with creamy yellow.

Get to Know Your Weeping Fig Tree

These ficus trees are slow-growing, but can grow to 10 ft indoors. Dwarf varieties only reach 3 ft (90 cm) tall. You can prune tall branches to control the plant’s height. Some Ficus species are popular to grow as bonsai trees. Want to know more? Take a look at Ficus Bonsai.

Watering tip: Weeping fig tree is sensitive to chlorine, fluoride, and other chemicals often found in tap water, as well as the salt in softened water. Use only distilled or filtered water, or allow tap water to sit overnight so the chemicals will dissipate.

To repot…or not. Ficus plants like to be slightly pot-bound. And because this tree is slow-growing, repotting is only needed every 3-4 years. The best time to repot is in spring before new growth begins, using a pot only 1-2 inches larger.

Breathe Easier. Weeping fig is one of the best plants for improving air quality indoors. It has one of the top removal rates of toxins like formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene from tainted indoor air.

Dropped leaves? This is a plant that doesn’t like change. Place your ficus in bright, indirect light and leave it there. It’s known to drop its leaves when moved around. Keep it away from drafts. Blasts of hot or cold air from doorways or vents will also cause leaf drop. If this happens, don’t worry. With good care it will grow new leaves in spring and summer.

In early fall, expect it to drop quite a few leaves. This is normal. You can help prevent the tree from losing too many leaves by misting it to increase humidity. If your home is as dry as mine in fall and winter, you’ll probably want to use a room humidifier to raise the moisture around it. Also, don’t be tempted to overwater a shedding plant, which makes the problem worse.

Something bugging your plant? Scale insects may infest fig trees. They’re small and brown, often found on the stems and undersides of leaves. Treat any infestation right away.

Weeping fig is a long-lived house plant. Give it what it wants and you’ll enjoy it for many, many years.

Weeping Fig Care Tips

Origin: Southeast Asia and Northern Australia

Height: Up to 10 ft (3 m); dwarf cultivars will reach about 3 ft (90 cm).

Light: Bright, indirect light year-round. Trees that don’t grow much, are dropping leaves, or lose their variegation, probably aren’t getting enough light.

Water: Water thoroughly, then allow to dry out slightly between waterings. This plant will not tolerate soggy soil. Keep soil slightly drier in winter, when light levels are lower and growth is slower. Yellow leaves are a symptom of overwatering.

Humidity: Moderate to high. If the relative humidity drops below 40%, you’ll want to raise the humidity for your plant; the most efficient way is with a cool-mist room humidifier.

Temperature: Average to warm room temperatures (65-85°F/18-29°C). Weeping fig will tolerate a minimum of 50°F/10°C. Keep your plant away from drafts and heat/AC vents.

Soil: Soilless potting mix or any that drains well.

Fertilizer: Feed once a month spring through fall with a balanced liquid or water-soluble fertilizer diluted by half. Or drop time-release fertilizer granules on top of the potting medium before watering. Don’t feed weeping fig in winter when growth is slower.

Propagation: Take tip cuttings in spring.

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When walking through a rain forest, you would definitely come across the awesome Weeping Fig tree; that is their natural habitat, anyway. This awesome tree can grow very big when left in the wild or when grown outdoors.

They do, however, tend to be a bit smaller when grown indoors, so if you have high ceilings with skylights, expect it reach a 10ft tall maximum height or 3ft tall for the miniature varieties. With branches large and arching, and the leaves long and pointed, it is a very attractive plant to have in your yard or building. The Weeping Fig gets even more attractive when the flexible trunk is braided to create an awesome decorative look.

Away from the rainforests and the indoor planted Weeping Fig, they are also a favorite in parks and along wide roads because of how tall they can grow in natural conditions.

The F. benjamina is known as one of the plants that greatly improves the quality of air indoors. Formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and benzene are some of the toxins that a Weeping Fig will dispel from the area.

As much as it greatly improves the quality of air, it is also a major source of allergens found in the house. It ranked third globally after dust and pets.

Some of the symptoms of allergy linked to the Weeping Fig are allergic asthma and also rhino conjunctivitis.

The most affected people are those suffering latex allergy. This is because there are high concentrations of latex in the Weeping Fig. in very extreme cases, the sap from the plant might result in an anaphylactic shock to people suffering from the allergy to latex. The allergy to the plant is known to gradually increase over a period of time.

The allergy was first seen among workers who lived in occupational settings when they were regularly handling the Weeping Fig.

Results of the study, which was conducted on various workers in at least four plant firms, showed that 27% of them had developed particular antibodies as a response to how they were exposed to the plants.

It is, therefore, much safer not to plant the Weeping Fig close to people with an allergy to latex.

Quick Overview

Quick facts

Common name Weeping fig, Benjamin fig, Ficus tree
Scientific name Ficus benjamina
Family Moraceae
Origin Asia, Australia
Fertilizer Fertilize once a month between the months of April and September, no fertilizer the rest of the year
Max Growth 30 meters in natural conditions, 3 feet tall when grown indoors
Poisonous for Toxic to pets, such as cats and dogs
Light Bright light or partial shade
Water Moderate amount of water
Temperature Between 65°F and 75°F, not below 50°F
Soil Soil that drains quickly and is lightly mixed
Humidity Lightly mist the leaves during the summer
Propagation Propagation: Easily propagated during the summer with just a few inches of branch cuttings
Re-potting Should only be re-potted when it’s very necessary because the Weeping Fig doesn’t like to be moved
Pests & Diseases Aphids, mealybugs, scale, whitefly, thrips

When grown indoors the Ficus benjamina tends to grow very slowly. This is, however, a very different story from when it is planted outdoors.

According to gardening know-how, when planted as an outdoor plant and left unpruned, it quickly becomes gigantic. This shouldn’t be a problem, though, if you desire to have a smaller plant because it is very easy to tame, and it tolerates heavy pruning very well. This allows you to take off even a third of the growth found on the outer canopy of the plant.

When planted outside, the roots of a Weeping Fig grow as fast as the tree itself. The rapid growth can lead to the tree causing great damage to gardens, sideways, patios, and also driveways. To be on the safe side when planting it in its tree form, try planting it away from buildings or gardens.

It is because of this reason that experts advise that, in a residential setting, the F. benjamina should be kept as a clipped screen or hedge.

Plant Species

There are many different varieties of the Ficus benjamina plant, many of them commonly found in the wild. Here are the four most common species.

Midnight Beauty

Ficus Benjamina – Midnight Beauty

The midnight beauty is always linked to the Ficus indigo. It has very dark and bluish (almost black) leaves that have a bright glossy look. The leaves sit on the stem in close internodes. The growth pattern of the Midnight Beauty is upright, and it has a strong apex dominance.

Over the years, the plant has become a favorite among gardeners who prefer having their Weeping Fig plant indoors.

Starlight

Ficus Benjamina Starlight

This is a rather low-maintenance species of the Ficus benjamina. It is a shrub that is large and evergreen. The best way to identify it is by the leaves, which are very slender and have a creamy white/yellow margin. It is one of the most attractive varieties when kept indoors

Monique

Ficus Monique is a rather upright species of the Weeping Fig with a bushy kind of growth pattern. Its glossy leaves have ruffled edges that are bright green.

When exposed to lower light intensity, its ruffled leaves become accentuated and when mature, the leaves on Ficus Monique become hard and crispy.

Many people like it because of how resistant it is to shedding its leaves, a feature that greatly sets it apart from the rest of the Ficus Benjamina species.

Planting the Weeping Fig

When planting the Weeping Fig, you have to ensure that you have a loosely mixed soil that drains well.

The plant does very well when exposed to bright light, but it can also do considerably well in partial shade.

When grown indoors, you should select a convenient spot where you won’t need to move it very often. It doesn’t like being moved from one place to another. When moved, it reacts by shedding of all its leaves and replaces it with new ones. It immediately adapts to the light intensity of the new location.

Plant Care Instructions

You might be very discouraged when trying to grow the Weeping Fig indoors because of the level of care it needs. The fact that it responds to every problem with shedding off its leaves does not make the situation any better either.

However, with just these simple steps, it is one of the best plants you can keep indoors. It is also important to note that the plant highly tolerates growth in poor conditions.

Light

Weeping Fig needs lots of light

Light plays a big part in the life of a Weeping Fig. When you look at its origin, you’ll realize it came from the tropics where there is abundant sunshine. Though it has greatly evolved, light is still a major part of what makes it grow well.

Water

Keep it moderately watered at all times. The soil need not be soggy, but it is imperative that it is not too dry either. Too much water in the plant causes it to shed all the leaves, and it might cause root rot in extreme cases.

Another very important thing to note is that the Weeping Fig is very sensitive to most of the chemicals found in city tap water, such as chlorine and fluoride. Therefore, when watering, use only distilled water, or you can let the chemicals in the tap water dissipate by letting it sit overnight.

Soil

The Weeping Fig grows well in well-draining soils. Soils that retain a lot of water can cause the roots to rot.

Fertilizer

While the Weeping Fig is very wild when grown outside and also grows very fast, when grown indoors, it is the opposite situation whereby you will have to add fertilizer to it at least once a month between the months of April and September to enhance its growth.

Re-Potting

The growth levels of the F. benjamina are relatively low, so you might not have any need for re-potting for the first 4-5 years.

It is better to avoid moving the plant unnecessarily because as we have seen, moving the plant causes it to shed all its leaves.

Pruning

When you see that your Wedding Fig plant has overgrown than you want, or there are broken and dead growth of your plants, it’s time to do a renewal pruning.

It’s advised that your plant should be pruned after its active growth period. And always remove no more than a third of the branches. Make the cut near the trunk, the growth node, where the new growth will sprout.

Propagation

The Weeping Fig can be easily rooted just from the cuttings without using a rooting hormone.

We recommend taking the cuttings during the warmer seasons for them to have enough supply of moisture and warmth.

It is very hard for any a Ficus tree to grow from a seed. Also, it is not common to see plants grown indoors yield any fruit or seed.

Common Problems, Pests, and Diseases

Insects and Pests

The most common insects found on the Weeping Fig are thrips. Others include aphids, mealybugs, and whitefly.

There are various diseases that might attack your plant whether it is planted indoors or outdoors. This is irrespective of how good you are at gardening. Some diseases find their way to the plant no matter what you do.

Signs of Pests or Diseases

Brown or yellowish spots on the leaves or even dropping leaves are a typical sign of fungus.

Leaves getting stuck together or sticky liquid dropping off the leaves show an invasion of either scales or spider mites.

Pests can also cause the plant to have dry leaves that continuously fall off the plant.

How to Remove the Fungus

Using a cotton stick, rinse out the area that is contaminated with a fungicide. Neem oil is a favorite among many people because it is locally available, very effective, and also safe to use in the house.

When you realize one of your plants has an infection or that it has been infested by pests, immediately separate it from the rest. This will greatly reduce the chance of the infection or the pests spreading to the other plants.

Keeping the leaves dry and not overwatering also greatly reduces the risk of infections on a Weeping Fig.

Pruning the plant regularly, including taking away dead branches and picking up dead leaves, is very vital in ensuring that pests and even diseases are controlled.

Drought

Once it is established, the F. benjamina is highly drought and heat-resistant. It rarely dries up even during the summer unless there is a severe drought.

Hard Frost

Hard frost can damage Weeping Fig badly. It is, therefore, very important that the roots are protected during the winter because this is the only way for it to rebound once the cold season is over.

Strong Winds

Due to their arched branches, Weeping Figs are prone to breakage in the case of strong winds. The best way to counter this is by planting it where it is protected from the wind.

The best way to take care of a Weeping Fig planted outdoors is to keep the soil moist but not wet. During the winter, try to protect its roots from the harsh winter weather.

FAQs

1. My Weeping Fig has been shedding its leaves from the beginning of fall. What should I do?

Weeping figs tend to shed some of its leaves in the beginning of fall. This can be explained by its origin where they have to shed most of their leaves at the beginning of every dry season.

If you notice this, lightly mist it to increase the humidity, but don’t be tempted to overwater it as this might cause other problems.

2. My plant has very few pale and springy leaves. What could be the problem?

This shows a lack of enough light. Try changing its position to a place with more ample sunlight.

3. The leaves on my Weeping Fig are dry and are falling off. What should I do?

These kinds of leaves could mean that your plant is underwatered. Check the soil that it is planted in and if you find that it is very dry, try soaking the whole pot in lukewarm water for a few minutes. Then continue with an adjusted watering schedule.

4. How often should I prune my Weeping Fig

If planted outdoors, it is important that you prune it regularly. When planted indoors, however, you only need to prune it when you see dead leaves or branches.

5. There are yellowish spots on my Weeping Fig. What could it be?

Yellow or brownish spots on a Weeping Fig shows that it has fungus. Rinse it with Neem oil and make sure you separate it from your other plants to avoid spreading the infection.

Conclusion

The Weeping Fig is a very interesting plant to have around. It can live for a long time, and with the proper care, you will have it as a companion for very many years.

Growth, Physiological Response, and Quality Characteristics of Weeping Fig in Response to Shading Levels and Climatic Conditions

Discussion

The increase of the shading level significantly decreased the growth of weeping fig with different effects in relation to the growth period. This result could be attributed to the greater reduction of the irradiance, as produced by the shading nets, found in GP I with respect to GP II. However, for both of the growth periods, the relative reduction of the total dry weight resulting from shading was different from that found by other authors. In summer-grown weeping fig, Fails et al. (1982a) found a relative decrease of ≈37% from 0% to 75% irradiance reduction, and Sarracino et al. (1992) showed a higher variation than our results in plants grown in the fall to winter period (–63%) with the shading levels ranging from 0% to 92%. This difference could be explained by the different and not comparable experimental conditions of the studies, thereby highlighting the significance of comparing the different climatic conditions for the same experiment. Moreover, our results demonstrated that the temperature affected the growth of weeping fig more than shading: the total dry weight of the 80% shaded plants grown in GP I was similar to that of the unshaded or less shaded (20% and 40%) plants during GP II. According to Mortensen (1992a), the growth of some ornamental foliage species are stimulated by temperatures up to 24 °C also at low irradiance availability. The root growth was more affected by the shading than the shoots in accordance with Brouwer (1962), who observed that at a low irradiance, the shoots (and, in particular, leaves) retain more of the limiting amount of photosynthate, leaving less carbon available for root growth. This finding was also found by Veneklaas and Poorter (1998) for the growth of tropical trees at different PPF levels. However, these variations were more evident in the growth period characterized by the highest irradiance (GP I). A possible explanation of this result is the influence of the auxins produced under conditions of higher irradiance that could stimulate the root growth, as previously found by Fini et al. (2010) in Photinia ×fraseri.

As the shading level increased, the net rate of photosynthesis showed a lower reduction than the total DW production. This result shows an improved light-use efficiency of the shaded plants at the end of the growth period, as previously found by some authors (Fini et al., 2010; Miralles et al., 2011; Niinemets, 2010). The improvement of the light-use efficiency was in part confirmed by the rise of the Fv/Fm ratio at the increased shading, reflecting the potential quantum efficiency of PSII, which is used as a sensitive indicator of the plant photosynthetic performance. The values found in the more shaded leaves are similar to the optimal values of ≈0.83 proposed by Maxwell and Johnson (2000) and was in agreement with what found by Sarijeva et al. (2007) in the leaves of ginkgo grown under shaded conditions.

The other photosynthetic parameters were also affected by the shading levels. The increase of the Ci from 206 to 252 cm3·m−3 with the increase in the shading level and the unaffected gS indicate that photosynthesis at the low irradiance was not reduced by stomatal limitations (Li et al., 2009).

The quality of weeping fig could also be considered as an adaptation to the low light that is typical of an interior environment. According to Fails et al. (1982b), shade-grown weeping fig leaves had a photosynthetic advantage over sun-grown leaves at low PPF levels, whereas the sun-grown leaves assumed a competitive advantage at a high irradiance. In fact, the increase of shade resulted in a reduction in the light-saturated photosynthesis (Amax). According to Liao et al. (2005), plants grown for a long time at a low irradiance had lesser contents of electron transfer components and photosynthetic enzymes in comparison with those grown at a high irradiance. This result could also explain the more pronounced reduction of the parameter during GP I. However, the apparent quantum yield (Aqe) was significantly higher in the more shaded plants. Indeed, the reduction of the Amax in the more shaded plants was compensated by the highest light-capture surface per unit of DW (SLA), which represents an important physiological modification in the shaded plants to intercept the low irradiances better (Poorter and Nagel, 2000). Fails et al. (1982b) suggested that a low LCP also could explain the better use efficiency of plants grown at low irradiances. The LCP showed significant differences in our experiment with a reduction as the light increased, which was in accordance with the results of other authors for Ficus benjamina (Chen et al., 2005b).

According to Fails et al. (1982a), the light response of weeping fig plants is related to the modification of the leaf morphology and anatomy. Indeed, the leaf structure is modified by light and may contribute to the photosynthetic advantage found for shaded leaves in low light. Although the shading reduced the leaf number, the increase in the unit leaf area and SLA allowed the plants to benefit from a greater surface for the light interception with a reduction in the leaf thickness. This finding was confirmed by the leaf anatomical observations showing that the reduction in the parenchyma thickness resulting from shading led to a better light penetration to the chloroplasts (Evans, 1999). In addition, the horizontal leaf orientation of the more shaded plants, as determined by the higher values of the leaf lamina angle and bend, could be considered an important characteristic that determines the improvement of light interception (Knapp and Smith, 1997). The lower light intensity in GP II determined an increase of the unit leaf area and lamina angle to improve light interception (Fitter and Hay, 1987).

The morphological modifications for light acclimatization could modify the visual quality of the plants that is defined by attributes based on the plant architecture and principal aerial organs (Boumaza et al., 2010). In particular, the visual quality of weeping fig could be related to canopy characteristics (e.g., compactness) and/or leaf characteristics (e.g., greenness) (Dijkshoorn-Dekker, 2002; Wang et al., 2005). In our study, the shading resulted in an open habitus of the plants, as indicated by the modification of the internode length and/or branch insertion angle. However, these variations were different in relation to the growth period. In particular, the internodes of the more shaded plants were longer than the unshaded plants only in GP I. One interpretation of this result is that the low mean values of light and temperature during GP II, limiting the growth, caused less internode elongation (Assmann, 1992). This result was also found by Kubatsch et al. (2005) in Ficus benjamina with shorter internodes in the plants grown at a suboptimal temperature (15 °C) during the acclimatization process to low light. In contrast, the branch insertion angle increased with the shading in both of the growth periods with the highest values for GP I. Moreover, the shading resulted in a thin stem, as demonstrated by the more accentuated reduction of the diameter, a result that was observed by Miralles et al. (2011) in Rhamnus alaternus, suggesting that the branch was a low priority sink for photosynthates when compared with the foliage. The modifications of the canopy architecture resulting from the increase of branch insertion angle caused a reduction of the plant compactness, more evident in GP I than in GP II, and thus should compromise the appearance of the plants (Miralles et al., 2011). In weeping fig (Fails et al., 1982a) and Rhamnus alaternus (Miralles at al., 2011), the reduction in the compactness of the canopy under low light conditions was related to the lower number of the leaves that determined a decline of the plant leaf area. In our experiment, total leaf area of shaded plants was similar to the control because the reduction of leaf number was associated with the increase of unit leaf area. This modification represents an important parameter that influences positively the foliage plant appearance (Dijlshoorn-Dekker and Eveleens-Clark, 1999).

According to Mendes et al. (2001), the increase in the chlorophyll content in more shaded plants could been interpreted as an adjustment to low-light regimes. However, this result could influence the plant quality. Indeed, Wang et al. (2005) demonstrated that the chlorophyll concentration is directly related to the degree of leaf greenness, which represents another important parameter in determining the quality and marketability of the plants at the end of production (Dijlshoorn-Dekker and Eveleens-Clark, 1999).

The climatic conditions in GP I influenced positively certain canopy characteristics (stem diameter, leaf number, and plant leaf area) and then could improve the visual quality of the plants. These modifications are related to the positive effects of the higher mean light intensity and temperature in GP I than GP II on the growth of weeping fig (Dijkshoorn-Dekker, 2002; Mortensen, 1992a).

In conclusion, the shading significantly influenced the growth and quality of weeping fig with certain differences according to the climatic conditions. The quality, in terms of the adaptation to indoor conditions and leaf characteristics, was similarly improved by the increased shading under the two growth conditions. However, the highest decrease in irradiance (60% and 80% shading) reduced the plant growth and compactness more notably in the growth period characterized by the highest values of global radiation and temperature.

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