How to Care for a Ficus Tree as an Indoor or Outdoor Spectacle

In this article, I’ll be guiding you on how to care for a ficus tree, or in particular, a Ficus Benjamina (Weeping fig) and other types of Ficus, including the commonly-grown Benjamin Ficus and Ficus Audrey, both indoors and outdoors. This super easy guide is for you to make your plant thrive! If you want to learn more about Ficus care then read on! 

Origin of Benjamin Fig or Ficus Tree

Ficus is a large genus of about 800 species of trees, many of which are commonly grown as houseplants. They are native to tropical regions all around the world and they hold special significance in many Southeast Asian religions and cultures. 

Also known as the Weeping Fig or Weeping Chinese Fig, or by its botanical name Ficus Benjamina, the Benjamin Fig is what gardeners think of as a basic Ficus tree, often referred to just as Ficus. It’s native to a large area from India to northern Australia, but it’s cultivated in many regions across the world, both indoors and outdoors. The nickname comes from the branches which tend to droop. 

How to Care for a Ficus Tree, caring for ficus tree
How to care for a ficus tree – Ficus Benjamina or Weeping fig

Their leaves are smaller and more numerous than those of other Ficus, which gives them a bushy appearance. Care of the Benjamin Fig is similar to other Ficus varieties but it’s more forgiving when it comes to watering and light requirements. 

Ficus Species Identification – How to Identify a Ficus

Members of the Ficus family all look very similar. Here’s how you can tell them apart: 

caring for ficus tree, fruit of ficus tree
Fruits of Ficus Benjamina (Weeping Fig)

Read more:

Overview on How to Care for a Ficus Tree

The care of different types of Ficus indoors is much the same across the board, with minor differences between species. For Weeping fig, there are some key takeaways on caring for them:

Ficus Light Requirements

ficus light requirement, how to care for a ficus tree,
Light requirements – Caring for ficus tree (Weeping fig)

The amount of light a Ficus needs is bright but indirect sunlight. They are tropical plants and are adapted to living in bright light conditions underneath a forest canopy. 

Watering a Ficus

watering a ficus, how to care for a ficus tree
Watering a Ficus Benjamina

How often you should water a Ficus depends on the humidity of the space you have and the specific type of Ficus.

Soil for a Ficus Tree

caring for a ficus, how to care for a ficus tree
Caring for a ficus tree – soil should be well-draining

Temperature and Humidity

how to care for a ficus tree

Ficus trees are strictly warm weather plants that require humid air to stay healthy. 

How to Fertilize Ficus Properly

Ficus trees need regular fertilizing in order to stay healthy. 

How to Care for a Ficus tree: Potting & Repotting 

how to care for a ficus, potting and repotting ficus

Ficus repotting is necessary every so often when growing them in pots. 

Ficus Tree Care Outdoors

How to Care for a Ficus Tree as an Indoor or Outdoor Spectacle

Outdoor ficus tree in Vietnam. Photo: Edward Nguyen, 2023.

In warm climates, Ficus trees can be grown outdoors. 

Pruning a Ficus Tree (How and When To Do It)

Pruning is necessary for indoor Ficus trees in order to keep them down to size. 

How to Propagate a Ficus Tree

There are two main methods for propagating a Ficus tree: through stem cutting and air layering. 

how to propagate a ficus from stem cuttings

Stem Cutting: 

  1. Cut a stem that has at least 3 leaves on it so it can photosynthesize. You can use cuttings you get from regular pruning. 
  2. Place the cut end of the cutting in a jar of clean, chlorine-free water. In a few weeks it will start to grow roots. 
  3. Place the cutting into a pot with soil. 
  4. An alternative to using a jar of water is to dip the cutting in a rooting hormone and then place it directly into the soil from there. 

Air Layering: 

  1. Pick the branch you want to remove for propagation, one with at least 3 leaves on it. 
  2. Make two circular cuts an inch apart, cutting down until you reach the center of the stem. 
  3. Connect the two circular cuts and remove the soft tissue of the outer layers. 
  4. Pack a bit of sphagnum moss around the cut area and secure it in place with some clear plastic wrap
  5. Once you can see roots forming, you can cut the branch off and plant it. Roots should form in 90 to 120 days

Caring for a Ficus tree: Common Pests and Diseases

In caring for a Ficus tree, you may encounter diseases and pests that affect indoor and outdoor Ficus alike. 

  • Anthracnose: a fungus which causes greasy yellow spots on the leaves, caused by overmisting. Remove any affected leaves and apply a fungicide. 
  • Bacterial Leaf Spot: a bacterial infection which produces yellow and black spots on the leaves. Stop misting the plant and remove infected leaves immediately. 
  • Branch Dieback: a fungus that causes the leaves to turn brown and die off, followed by the branches. It’s caused by waterlogged soil. Prune away any branches that begin to discolor. 
  • Scale Insects: small brown insects that cause the leaves to yellow and die. 
  • Mealybugs: long insects with a waxy coating that group up on the undersides of the leaves. Wash them off or apply an insecticide. 
  • Whitefly: small white flies that dry out the leaves. They lay rice-like eggs under the leaves and if you shake the tree, a cloud of flies will come off. 

5 Common Types of Ficus

There are over 800 types of Ficus trees, of which a few varieties are commonly cultivated. Here are 5 of the most common ones: 


Ficus Lyrata

Types of Ficus trees: Fiddle-Leaf Fig

Known for its leaves that look like small violins. It’s one of the most commonly grown ficus houseplant types. 

Ficus Lyrata - Fiddle-Leaf Fig
AppearanceSlender, brown trunks with large leaves
CharacteristicsThrives in full sunlight, large leaves up to a foot long
LeavesViolin-shaped, dark green, heavily veined
FruitsSmall green balls in clusters of 2 or 3. Edible but unappetizing. 
Overall ShapeTall and slender

Fiddle Leaf Fig Pruning For Beginners in 6 Easy Steps


Ficus Benghalensis

Types of Ficus trees: Ficus Audrey

This is the national tree of India and also the largest tree in the world in terms of ground area. 

Ficus Benghalensis
AppearanceSimilar to the Fiddle Leaf but with round leaves
CharacteristicsCan tolerate light inconsistencies better than the Fiddle Leaf
LeavesDark green, medium-sized, oval-shaped leaves with veins
FruitsSmall red or orange balls in large clusters. Edible but unappetizing. 
Overall ShapeTall and slender as a houseplant

Ficus Benjamina

Types of Ficus trees: Weeping Fig

This is the type of Ficus plant that is grown most commonly as a houseplant. 

Ficus Benjamina - Types of Ficus trees: Weeping Fig
AppearanceTall with a slender trunk. Trunks can be braided due to softness. 
CharacteristicsLikes bright, indirect light. Grows up to 6 feet tall indoors. 
LeavesLong, pointed green ovals. Sometimes variegated. 
FruitsSmall orange or red balls
Overall ShapeTall with uniform foliage 

Ficus Elastica

Types of Ficus trees: Rubber Tree

This tree’s sap contains latex which is used in making rubber, hence the tree’s name. 

Ficus Elastica Rubber Tree
AppearanceThin trunks with large leaves
CharacteristicsDoes not like direct sunlight. Needs pruning to prevent overgrowth. 
LeavesSmooth, glossy, dark green pointed ovals
FruitsSmall yellow-green balls. Barely edible. 
Overall ShapeSingle stalk with large leaves as a houseplant

Ficus Retusa

Types of Ficus trees: Retusa Bonsai

This species is native to the Malay Archipelago in the Pacific. It’s a small Ficus tree compared to its relatives on the mainland, but not a rare Ficus, and so it’s often grown as a Bonsai tree.

Ficus Retusa - Types of Ficus trees Retusa Bonsai
AppearanceShort with medium green leaves 
CharacteristicsLikes full, direct sunlight. Can endure lower humidity but prefer it high
LeavesDark green ovals, smaller than that of Ficus Audrey or Fiddle Leaf
FruitsSmall, red ball-shaped figs. 
Overall ShapeShort with a thick, twisted stump

FAQs About Caring for a Ficus Tree

How long does a Ficus tree live?

As a houseplant, they can live about 20 years. Ficus trees that grow in the wild can live from 100 to 200 years old! 

How big does a Ficus tree get?

As a houseplant, they typically get from 5 to 10 feet tall, or up to only a few feet tall if grown as a Bonsai. Outdoors, they can achieve a height of up to 100 feet.

How to Care for a Ficus Tree: Conclusion

Caring for a Ficus tree is fairly straight forward once you know what it needs. Since they’re so commonly grown as houseplants, there is a lot of help online and at nurseries if your plant gets sick or drops its leaves – there are plenty of experts that know how to care for a Ficus tree. They’re impressive and elegant looking trees whether grown indoors or outdoors, no matter which type of Ficus you pick. You can even eat the fruits if they’re prepared correctly – just make sure yours is an edible species like the Benjamin Ficus. Best wishes and happy growing!