What is a Ficus?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 28 October 2019
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Ficus is a large genus of plants native to the tropics of the world. This genus is incredibly diverse, with a wide range of representatives from the edible and beloved common fig to the decorative weeping fig, also known as a Benjamin fig. This genus has tremendous commercial value, thanks to the assortment of uses to which its representatives can be put, and it is also valued culturally in many regions of the world, with figs playing a role in mythology and history in the tropic and temperate regions of the world.

Because this genus is very diverse, it's difficult to make generalizations about figs. Figs can be shrubs, bushes, or vines, with simple to lobate leaves. Many produce aerial roots, which can be used as an identifying feature, and they also have distinctive fruits known as figs. Depending on the species, the fruits may be edible, with figs being cultivated throughout the Middle East for consumption.

Some well-known representatives of the ficus genus include the common fig, sacred fig, banyan tree, and weeping fig. Common figs come in a number of cultivars developed to meet various needs and tastes, from tiny tart green figs to large, soft Mission figs which are so dark that they are almost black. The sacred fig is important to followers of some Asian religions including Buddhism, with specimens being preserved in many Asian communities for people who wish to meditate near a sacred fig.


Weeping figs are commonly kept as houseplants in many regions of the world, and in some places, when people say “ficus,” people think not of the fig genus, but of the weeping fig. This plant can be trained to grow as a small tree, and it is infamous for its indestructibility and relatively boring appearance. In fact, weeping figs can be quite pretty, especially when shaped and trained, and they are not indestructible.

A ficus plant likes lots of bright indirect light, and an area free of cool drafts. These plants are highly susceptible to root rot, and they need to be planted with a layer of gravel or rock to promote drainage. Many people also overwater their ficus plants, causing the leaves to yellow and drop off. These plants like to be watered when the soil is dry, and it's a good idea to stick a finger into the soil to confirm that it really is dry underneath, not just dried out on the surface.


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Post 4

@grumpyguppy: I would like to add that pruning is crucial in order for your tree to survive.

First, is to maintain the shape and aesthetics of the tree. Then you need to allow enough light into the branches for healthy growth and development. While you are in the growing season make sure to keep some green growth on its branch. This will ensure the sap flow through the branches and re growth. The majority of trees will tolerate the thinning foliage in order to allow the light inside the branch structures to receive back budding.

Temperatures for this tree should remain on the warm side. They can become extremely damaged by cold weather. Mild frost can be harmless to the

outdoor tree. When bringing it inside make sure it doesn’t become to dry.

Finally, repotting is important to ensure growth. Don’t allow your tree to become root bound. The tree will die or get a disease due to lack of oxygen.

Post 3

@grumpyguppy: There are a few basic steps in taking care of a bonsai tree. First, is properly watering the tree. They need to be kept moist. When you have them in a larger pot they tend to dry out faster. You should only submerge the tree if it is completely dry.

Secondly, feeding is essential in the tree growth and development. Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium are the key to help your tree survive. Nitrogen helps with leaf, stem and soft branch development. Phosphorus ensures good root and flower development. Potassium builds the tree sugar to help with flowering and hard wood.

Thirdly, positioning is crucial in development. When they have the proper amount of light it helps them be healthier and increases the branch structure. If the tree is indoors, make sure it doesn’t become very dry if near a window.

Post 2

My husband loves bonsai. I would love to get a couple of bonsai trees but I am not sure how to care for one. Does anyone have any info on the proper care?

Post 1

The ficus tree is a popular form of bonsai. Ficus bonsai, though less interesting in appearance compared to some other forms of bonsai, are easy to take care of. They would certainly be a good choice for someone just getting started in trying to grow and maintain bonsai trees.

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