Looking at a Ficus microcarpa as a bonsai, it’s hard to believe it’s the same plant as the towering Chinese Banyan. However, it’s well-suited as a houseplant.
The Ficus microcarpa is easy to grow, whether you keep it inside or as a shade tree in your yard. The key to keeping it healthy is to provide its preferred living conditions. That will reduce stress. The plant can concentrate its energy for growth.
The Ficus is a tropical plant in the wild. It is native to many countries in Asia. It’s also been introduced to several places around the world, including Australia and Central America. That information provides valuable clues about its care. Outdoor plants can tolerate conditions in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 9b–11.
While Ficus is humidity-tolerant, it doesn’t like standing water. Overwatering it or planting it in low-lying areas can cause root rot. Proper drainage is imperative for the plant’s health.
Signs of rot include deterioration of the trunk that may become soft. You’ll likely notice an odor. The excess moisture deprives the Ficus of oxygen. The rot can also spread quickly and encourage bacteria growth.
You should remove the plant from its pot. Trim away as much of the rotting roots as possible with minimal handling. Clean out the container with warm, soapy water and dry it thoroughly. Repot and monitor it.
Leaf drop is a symptom instead of a disease. However, it means something is wrong. Things that can cause it include:
- Dry soil
- Season changes
- Environmental changes
When a plant has everything it needs, it invests its energy in growth and reproduction. If it lacks something, photosynthesis and growth cease. Like other plants, Ficus will drop its leaves.
It’s essential to strike a balance between overwatering and underwatering. Ficus is somewhat drought-tolerant. We suggest letting the soil surface dry out a bit between waterings.
Not enough light can also cause leaf drop for the same reason. Ficus fares best with bright, indirect light. Its native habitat is forested areas, so it’s something that it prefers. I
t’s normal for a plant to drop leaves when the seasons change to fall. It’ll likely go dormant until the spring.
The Ficus is a hardy plant. However, it also has its share of pests that many other houseplants have.
The most common pests you may encounter include spider mites, mealybugs, and scale. You may see the insects or at least the damage they cause. We recommend isolating the plant. Follow up by removing any severely infested foliage.
It’s essential to use an insecticide specific to the pest. That’s one way manufacturers avoid harming non-targeted species. Spraying your plants with a dishwashing soap solution is also an effective treatment.
You must act quickly once you’ve noticed a problem. Typical signs of an infestation include:
- Leaf drop
- Yellowing leaves
- Failure to thrive
- Stem damage
You should repeat the treatment as per the pesticide label’s instructions.
The Ficus is a striking plant that will make a unique addition to your collection. Its attractive form and easy maintenance make it an excellent choice for beginners. With proper care, you’ll enjoy your bit of the tropics for years to come.