Caring for birch figs — everything you need to know about the popular Ficus benjamina

Caring for birch figs — everything you need to know about the popular Ficus benjamina

Weeping figs are popular houseplants, also known as Ficus benjamini. Botanically, the plants belong to the mulberry family. Typical of the Ficus benjamina is the milky sap that escapes when cut. The birch fig Ficus is a very good room climate plant. The many, mostly lush green leaves have the property of filtering out the toxic formaldehyde and other pollutants from the air. Selection, breeding and horticultural craftsmanship have resulted in a large number of varieties and growth forms, all of which make a good impression as decorative houseplants for many years. During the summer, the green plants can stand outdoors in a sheltered spot. Ficus benjamina can also be cultivated in hydroponics.

Worth knowing Location care Watering Fertilizing Pruning Types of pests & diseases FAQ

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Worth knowing about the birch fig

Botanical name: Ficus benjamina
Other names: Weeping fig, Ficus, Benjamini
Use: houseplant, interior greening, room climate plant, bonsai, container plant from May to September
Origin: Nepal, northern India, southern China, Burma, Malaysia, northern Australia
Flower colors: only on old plants possible, spherical flowers, flowering period between August and November, there are male and female flowers
. Special features: Attractive thanks to the shiny leaves. Serves as a natural air filter. Location should have no direct sun and never be cold. Milky juice can cause allergic reactions on the skin.

In which location does the birch fig feel most comfortable?

The genus Ficus comes from tropical areas and the demands on the right location are accordingly. A place that offers sufficient light and high humidity at 18 to 25 °C all year round is ideal. However, the houseplant should not be exposed to the blazing sun, as direct sunlight can quickly burn the leaves. From the end of May to September, the popular plant can also be planted in a partially shaded spot in the garden or on the balconystand. However, it is important that the green plant is gradually accustomed to outdoor conditions, otherwise unsightly burns will occur. The best time to clear outdoors is an overcast day with 20 °C. The pot should also be protected from rain. Staying outdoors is often beneficial for the Benjamini, but a change of location can initially lead to leaf fall. After a few weeks, the houseplant has established itself in the new location, forms new leaves and no longer sheds leaves.

Fact: The birch fig is a real dust filter plant. In a natural way, the houseplant helps to improve the indoor climate.

How do I properly care for my birch fig?

Ficus are grateful plants, they are wrongly called sensitive. If the site conditions are right, all Ficus Benjamini will grow and thrive. In addition to need-based watering and regular fertilizing, there is hardly any work involved in caring for the birch fig. Small plants can be sprayed with lukewarm water once or twice a year in the shower or outdoors. If the plants are too large and unwieldy for this, wiping the leaves with a damp cloth will help. This removes the dust and supports a good development of the plant. Yellow leaves on the plant need not be a cause for concern as the plant regularly sheds old leaves. If the leaf fall is increased, drafts, drought, waterlogging or pest infestation can be the cause. Strong temperature fluctuations are often responsible for the plant losing a large number of leaves. Every 2-3 years we recommend repotting in a larger planter and fresh indoor plant soil. Spring is the right time for this. Make sure that the new pot is first provided with a drainage layer at the bottom. Use high-quality green plant soil for repotting.

How do I water my Ficus Benjamina correctly?

Weeping figs need even soil moisture. With waterlogging, the roots quickly suffer and the plant shows this by losing leaves. It is also unfavorable if the soil dries out completely. Here, too, a leaf fall can be the result. The frequency of watering essentially depends on the size of the plant and the room temperature. You can also dive small specimens weekly. Here you place the houseplant in a bucket filled with water and immerse the plant until no more air bubbles rise. The advantage of the immersion method is that the root ball is completely soaked. Excess water is removed from the flowerpot saucer or planter. Larger plants are watered weekly, checked after 15 minutes and excess water poured off.

How do I fertilize my birch fig correctly?

Ficus benjamini need regular fertilizer for good development and growth. A special green plant fertilizer that contains important growth and vital substances and thus helps the plant to look healthy and fresh is ideal for fertilizing. Weekly fertilization from March to October is optimal. Dose the special liquid fertilizer according to the instructions on the package and water the ficus with the fertilizer-enriched water. Fertilizing once a month is sufficient in autumn and winter. If there is a lack of fertilizer, the foliage turns yellow and there is less growth.

Our care tip: Fertilizing with fertilizer sticks is easy to handle. With this convenient long-term fertilization, your ficus is supplied with all the necessary nutrients, minerals and trace elements for 3 months. Here, too, it is important that the soil and roots never dry out completely.

How do I prune my ficus?

Ficus benjamini tolerate pruning well and sprout well from the old wood. If your ficus gets too big, you can cut it with secateurs. A cut in the spring is optimal. In addition to the length limitation, a shape cut is possible. Cut back the branches evenly all around. Within a few weeks, the plant forms new shoots with fresh greenery. It is up to you which shape you choose for the cut. Also cut dried shoots and twigsaway. A visible birch fig stem is the result of regular pruning. Bonsai can be grown excellently from small-leaved representatives. The shoot tips that occur when cutting can be used for propagation.

Tip: Gardening gloves should always be worn when cutting. The white milky sap contained in all parts of the plant is sticky and can cause skin irritation. Also make sure that the floor is covered, as the dripping milky juice can leave unsightly marks. Also, you should wear older clothes when trimming back branches.

What varieties, types and forms are there?

Discover the variety of species in our online plant shop.

Ficus Varieties

Ficus benjamina is available in different shades of green and various leaf patterns. In addition to the lush green leaves, there are varieties with delicate green or variegated foliage. Basically, all Ficus benjamina are to be cared for in the same way, but specimens with variegated leaves have reduced chlorophyll surfaces and should be a little lighter. But here, too, direct sunlight should be avoided.

ficus forms

Ficus benjamina can be grown in different forms. Complex cutting and shaping results in individual trunks, twisted or multiply braided structures. The care of the special forms is identical to ordinary specimens.

ficus species

Ficus elastica

Ficus elastica, known as the rubber tree, is also a popular houseplant. The leaves are significantly larger, the growth is more upright, but the care is comparable to that of Ficus benjamina.

Ficus pumila

Known as a climber, hanging plant or ground cover, the Ficus variety is extremely hardy and versatile. The leaves are small and the growth is strongly branching. As a climbing plant, this species needs a moss stick or trellis. Without a climbing aid, the climbing ficus grows flat as a ground cover. The heart-shaped leaves are variegated dark green or green-cream. A bright place in the conservatory or on the window sill is ideal, in summer also outdoors, but here protected from the intense sun.

What pests and diseases can Ficus benjamini get?

The birch fig Ficus benjamina is a robust green plant, which is rarely attacked by diseases and pests when cared for properly and in the optimal place. The notorious leaf fall is usually a result of wrong location, dry air and improper care. The following problems can occur:

spider mites

The affected leaves have silvery dots on the upper side and webs are visible on the underside of the leaves. It is usually sufficient to spray the plants with water and treat them with plant strengtheners. These organic active agents contain natural plant extracts that contribute to the vitalization of the plant.

scale insects

There are brown, slightly curved knobs, especially in the leaf axils. The scale insects are safely hidden under these protective shields and are therefore difficult to combat. As soon as you discover the infestation, you should wipe off the scale insects or cut back the plant. The pests can be controlled biologically with oil-based agents. It is important that the application is carried out several times.


Especially in phases with less light and weakened specimens, the probability of an infestation by aphids is high. The pests pierce the leaf tissue with their mouthparts. At first, the infestation can be seen on young twigs. The fight is analogous to the spider mite infestation.

Are you looking for more information about pests and diseases or do you have questions about a plant problem? Our plant doctors will be happy to help you – in person and online!

FAQ – Frequently asked questions about Ficus benjamina

What can be the reason for brown leaves?

Due to stress, the Benjamini ficus can drop leaves. Brown leaf tips are often a sign of too much water. In addition, leaf damage can occur due to dry heating air in winter. Regular spraying with lime-free water can help to prevent brown leaf tips. The ficus can lose leaves, especially in autumn. If the location is too dark, leaf loss can be the result. As with any other tree, the foliage will be shed from time to time. If there are large amounts of leaves, the cause must be found quickly.

How can Ficus be propagated?

The easiest method of propagation is to obtain cuttings. The top cuttings can be obtained directly when pruning large plants. Let the sap dry a bit and put the plant tips in the potting soil. New roots form within a few weeks in a nursery tray with a cover. The substrate should be kept evenly moist and the temperature constantly above 20 degrees Celsius. Especially young plants do not tolerate cold.

What is the cause when young leaves fall off the ficus?

Ficus leaf drop can have a number of causes. If young leaves in particular are affected, it is often a result of draughts, a change of location or fluctuating soil moisture. Brown spots on the older leaves (necrosis) often indicate a disturbance in the water supply. It is important that the underside of the leaf is checked for pest infestation.

Can ficus plants be grown hydroponically?

The classic can be kept as a hydro plant. It is important that the water level indicator is always at the minimum. Too much water damages the plant.

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