O'Brien County's Bell-Times-Courier -

"Clippings" from Iowa State Extension

The Weeping Fig


January 24, 2019

Years ago, I had a weeping fig otherwise known as Ficus benjamina. The genus Ficus includes a large group of plants that come in a variety of shapes and sizes and leaf forms. The weeping fig is a popular tree form of Ficus that indoors can grow up to 20 feet tall under the right conditions. The weeping fig has gracefully arching branches and a densely leafed canopy. Its eye-catching look and size makes it a favorite for homes and offices with open space to fill.

My tree reached a good five feet, which made it work well in a living room space that needed something to pull it together. Sadly, due to its grand size, my weeping fig did not make it through all my moves to new dwellings and ended up being gifted to a friend. But recently, I was thinking that my current living room needs a tree. That may sound odd but I am a big fan of creating a natural landscape indoors.

So, I went out and purchased a weeping fig. My new plant is small so it will take some time to reach the five foot mark of its predecessor. Unlike my earlier weeping fig that had lush, dark green leaves, this one is variegated. Its light green and cream colored leaves add a nice effect nestled among other plants that have solid, deep green foliage.

However, the one thing I forgot about weeping figs is that they can be a bit temperamental when it comes to being moved to a new location. In this case, the plant was moved from a greenhouse to a room lit by a big north window. The weeping fig prefers bright, indirect light so the greenhouse was ideal. The good news is that it can adjust to lower light conditions but I anticipate some leaf loss while it acclimates to its new home.

The biggest issue with the weeping fig is leaf drop, which is its natural reaction to stress. Stresses can include overwatering, underwatering, being in drafts and low light. I am hoping to minimize stress brought on by the lower light condition in my home by providing some artificial light. Luckily, I have grow lights that I use when I start tomato seeds indoors so I can give the tree some supplemental lighting.

If the growing conditions are good, once the weeping fig adjusts to its new location it will stop dropping leaves, and new growth will emerge. Keep in mind, weeping figs will naturally drop their older leaves from time to time.

Besides being an attractive addition to one's indoor décor, the weeping fig also offers the benefit of keeping indoor air healthier. It is considered an excellent plant to help remove indoor air pollutants. (For more information on houseplants that help filter indoor air, see How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 House Plants that Purify Your Home or Office by Dr. B.C. Wolverton, published by Penguin Books. 1997).

I am very pleased with my new plant and am thinking of getting another. I already have the perfect spot picked out for it.

Margaret Murphy, Horticulture Educator and Regional Food Coordinator

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

712-472-2576 or mmurphy@iastate.edu


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