Some classic plants never lose their popularity, and with the Weeping Fig, it is easy to see why. Most indoor plants are exotic looking, but hardly ‘trees’ as most of us see them. The Weeping Fig is different – a handsome, evergreen tree with attractive oval leaves, it really looks like the tree it is, and brings the outdoors inside in a way no other indoor plants can. As well, it is tough, easy to grow and adaptable, so is it any wonder that so many people continue to grow one of the most popular and attractive houseplants available?
The Weeping Fig Tree (Ficus benjamina) grows wild all the way through southern Asia, from India to northern Australia. There are many kinds of figs, including the edible Brown Turkey Fig, but although all figs can produce some kind of fruit, the Weeping Fig Tree normally will not do this if grown indoors. The fruits are not edible. Our trees are produced from branch cuttings taken from the best-quality forms of this tree, not grown as cheaper random seedlings.
Growing Weeping Fig Trees
If you live in warmer places, such as southern Florida or southern California, you can grow this tree outdoors all year round, and it makes a magnificent shade or specimen tree, as well as beautiful hedges (with regular clipping). For everyone else, it will greatly benefit from spending the summer outdoors, if you have a garden or terrace, but it can, and is, also easily grown indoors all year round. So, wherever you live, and whatever kind of space you have, the Weeping Fig is definitely a tree you can grow and enjoy.
Indoors, the Weeping Fig will grow into a small tree, about 6 feet tall, or taller over time if you do not trim it. It will be perhaps 3 feet wide or a little more. The branches grow upwards, but then curve over at the tips, so that they gently weep, which of course is where this plant received its name. The leaves are smooth, glossy, rich-green and oval. They are 2 to 4 inches long, with an elegant slender tip. They hang from the branches in a graceful, arching fashion, so that the whole tree has an classic beauty, and it is not stiff and upright at all. The stems are an attractive pale brown color, giving a light appearance to your tree.
Most people will grow this plant indoors, and there it will grow well in any bright place, in full sun, or in shade. This tree adapts to different light conditions by becoming denser in growth, or more open when in lower light. This means that if you move your tree into a darker place, some older leaves may yellow and fall off. This is a normal part of the plant’s adaption to its environment, and you do not need to be concerned. The densest foliage will form in higher light conditions.
Outdoors this tree will grow large, reaching 40 or even 50 feet tall and around 25 feet wide. It will naturally develop several trunks, but it can also be trained into a single trunk, with a higher crown as a shade tree. Planted in a row, these plants can also be clipped into a beautiful hedge of almost any size, and its glossy foliage makes it very attractive in the landscape. Since it is evergreen, it also makes an excellent screening tree, and it is fast growing.
Growing in Pots
To grow your Weeping Fig in a pot, choose one several inches larger than its present pot and make sure the pot has a drainage hole. Cover the hole with a single stone, or a piece of screening, and plant your tree at the same depth it is in the present pot, using any tropical plant potting soil. Water thoroughly after planting, so that the soil is completely wet and water comes through the drainage hole. Do not leave the tree sitting in a saucer of water. Let the soil become noticeably dry between each watering, and then water thoroughly until water drains from the pot.
When to Bring Outdoors
During winter let the soil become drier than you do in summer. When the temperature outdoors at night is above 50 degrees, place your plant outside in a warm place, sheltered from afternoon sun. You will probably need to water more often when the tree is outdoors, especially during hot, dry weather. Bring it back inside again when the temperatures fall back to 50 degrees. Use a liquid fertilizer for tropical foliage plants from spring to late summer, as directed on the packaging of the product you use.
Care and Maintenance
You can prune your tree as needed, but late winter is the best time. Always trim back to a leaf or an upward growing side-branch, and try not to leave bare stumps. This tree has no serious pests or diseases, and if placed outside in the summer, insects and birds will usually remove any pests that may have developed. A regular shower with cool water will keep the leaves clean and glossy, and also remove some pests. In very hot, dry indoor locations, regular misting with water is beneficial in deterring pests.