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Ficus benjamina is more popularly known as the weeping fig. It is a very popular houseplant that forms a small tree indoors in temperate climates. This tree is very common in malls and indoor offices. It generally grows into a huge tree in tropical climates, to which it is native. Also known as Benjamin’s fig, this tree is part of the fig family, known scientifically as Moraceae.
The weeping fig gets its name from its drooping, glossy leaves. They are usually 2-5 in (6-13 cm) long, and come to a pointed tip. As a houseplant, it prefers bright light, but may need protection from the sun during the summer. It should be planted in soils that drain well, and be repotted every few years. Ficus benjamina should be watered thoroughly and then left until the soil feels dry when touched. Over-watering is often the biggest problem with indoor trees.
The weeping fig should be fertilized once a month during the summer. It prefers daytime temperatures of 75-85° F (24-29.4° C), and 60-70° F (15.6-21.1° C) at night when grown indoors. While Ficus benjamina is generally easy to grow indoors, it does have a tendency to drop its leaves if conditions are not to its liking. This can happen due to changes in light conditions, drafts, watering schedules, or heat. These dropped leaves generally grow back.
In the tropics, the weeping fig forms large, stately trees and is grown in parks and by roads. It can grow to be almost 100 ft (30.5 m) tall. Containment is a problem under the plant’s ideal conditions. In some areas, such as Hawaii, it forms Banyan trees — giant trees with aerial roots that cover large expanses of ground.
Weeping figs are frequently grown outside in Mediterranean-like climates, such as southern California in the United States. There they do not attain the giant size as in the tropics, and can be used as hedges or topiaries. Under these climate conditions, they can tolerate full sun and are drought tolerant. They are hardy to 28° F (7.6° C), when outside.
Ficus benjamina bonsai is one of the most popular types of bonsai in the West. It is very easy to take care of, but needs more water than the larger tree. Such a plant should be repotted every two years, and the roots should be pruned each time it is repotted.
The weeping fig can be easily reproduced from cuttings. The stems of several cuttings can be intertwined to create decorative displays. The trunks generally will not suffer any damage from this twisting.
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