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I am completely obsessed with ficus! Over the last few months, I've been slowly collecting different ficus varieties and learning how to help them thrive. There's just something about the colorful leaves, sculptural shapes, and tree-like growth that makes me love this plant genus. I love my ficus collection and feel like this genus has been overlooked, with the fiddle leaf fig (Ficus lyrata) getting most of the hype. But there are so many gorgeous, easy-to-grow ficus species that make excellent houseplants. I have spent the last few months cultivating a variety of ficus so you can grow these beautiful plants at home.


In this episode, we learn:

  • [00:43] We’re all about ficus today!
  • [02:49] Reasons to love ficus
  • [04:03] Did you know Michael Scott from The Office has a Ficus benjamina in his office?
  • [05:06] How about a Boston fern in Will & Grace?
  • [05:48] Why Ficus elastica is a good beginner plant
  • [07:08] How do you care for ficus?
  • [08:09] Ficus care #1: Light
  • [09:11] Story about Figaro, my Ficus lyrata, before and after grow lights
  • [11:11] Variegated/color = more light
  • [12:27] Ficus care #2: Water
  • [13:40] Why it’s important to make sure their leaves are clean
  • [14:58] Ficus care #3: Humidity
  • [15:56] Ficus care #4: Fertilizer
  • [16:34] Ficus care #5: Pruning
  • [17:52] Why you should wear gloves when pruning ficus
  • [18:07] How to troubleshoot your ficus
  • [18:15] Troubleshoot #1: Leaf drop
  • [19:35] Troubleshoot #2: If it's not growing, it needs more sun
  • [20:12] Get quality ficus plants that are resistant to leaf drop from Proven Winner Leafjoy!
  • [22:37] Ficus lyrata
  • [23:09] Ficus benjamina
  • [24:00] Ficus benjamina ‘Twilight’
  • [24:27] Ficus benjamina ‘Anastasia’
  • [24:40] Ficus cyanthistipula
  • [26:07] Ficus elastica
  • [26:32] Ficus elastica ‘Abidjan’
  • [27:22] Ficus elastica ‘Tineke’
  • [27:50] Ficus elastica ‘Chloe’


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Reasons to Love Ficus

Ficus are one of the best bets for having a tree inside your house. Many people want a large, sculptural plant taller than a typical houseplant, and ficus is the perfect choice! Properly cared for, they grow quickly into huge plants.

I'm also a huge fan of The Office, and Michael Scott's Ficus benjamina (weeping fig) in the corner of his office inspired me to create my own workplace tree. Now my goal is to grow mine as tall and full as the one on the show!

I'm obsessed with the gorgeous variegation and colors available in the rubber plant (Ficus elastica). I currently have varieties that are cream, pink, lime green, and dark green—so much texture and personality. My favorite is the bright pink Ficus elastica ‘Belize' that looks like it was dipped in Kool-Aid!



Caring for Ficus

Light – Ficus thrives in bright light—or at least bright indirect light. Variegated varieties may need a bit more light (since they have less chlorophyll). If you decide to use grow lights, keep an eye out for leaf scalding.

Water – These trees don't like wet feet, so water thoroughly until it drains freely from the pot, then allow the top inch or two of soil to dry before watering again. Wipe dust off the big leaves to maximize light absorption.

Humidity – Humidity between 60-80% is ideal. Luckily, they tolerate average indoor humidity quite well too. I try to keep my humidifier running to create a tropical environment but have found Figaro, my Ficus lyrata, survives my dry office conditions too.

Fertilizer – I fertilize every 2-4 weeks during the growing season with a balanced liquid fertilizer. Pushing out new leaves and branches takes a lot of energy, so supplementing with fertilizer really helps.

Pruning – You can train ficus like bonsai trees for desired shape by strategically pinching and pruning new growth. I’m training my ficus belize into a bushy shrub. But beware—they ooze a toxic, latex-like substance when injured, so wear gloves when pruning. That ooze can irritate skin and harm pets, so handle with care!


Troubleshooting Ficus

Ficus drop leaves easily if conditions change, like light level, temperature, location, etc. My Ficus Benjamina is dropping leaves currently because it dried out when I was away – but I just have to fix the cause and it will recover. 

No growth means it likely needs more light. Brown spots usually indicate too much light. Be mindful where you place your ficus and keep an eye on it in case you need to make an adjustment. 


Different Ficus Species

Ficus lyrata: This fiddle leaf fig remains one of my favorites. It's fussy but worth it! Mine has survived my slight neglect for years and grows quickly with enough light.

Ficus benjamina: This comes in gorgeous variegated varieties like Ficus benjamina ‘Anastasia' (white splashed leaves) and Ficus benjamina ‘Twilight' (minty variegation). I'm shaping some into small bushes while allowing others to grow into trees.

Ficus cyathistipula: This lesser-known “African fig” has huge, dark green leaves that contrast beautifully with my more colorful plants. It's also quite hardy – an unfussy, sturdy addition to my ficus family.

Ficus elastica: I cannot believe I never had a rubber plant until now! The leaves of Ficus elastica ‘Abidjan' are almost black with a bright red sheath—very goth! I also love the multicolored Ficus elastica ‘Tineke' and the subtle pink leaves of Ficus elastica ‘Chloe'. And of course, the bright pink diva that is Ficus elastica ‘Belize'. Obsession! These plants are so easy to care for and come in a rainbow of colors.


So there you have it – everything you need to know to grow glorious ficus trees right in your home. I hope all these tips help you succeed with growing ficus indoors!


Mentioned in our conversation:



Thank you to our episode sponsors:

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