How to Grow Ficus benjamina Plants in your Garden

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Weeping Fig / Benjamin Fig

Unless you are living in the tropics then Ficus benjamina is usually grown as a Houseplant. You can take it outside in the summer as long as the temperature does not drop below 5°C (41°F) at any point. For extra safety then bring back indoors when night time temperatures drop to about 10°C (50°F).

It is able to grow outdoors in more tropical regions such as Australia, SE Asia, and Florida.

Although many gardening centers, and especially department stores, will simply label the plant as being Ficus or as a Ficus Tree, it is more commonly known as the Weeping Fig or Benjamin Fig.

Weeping Fig Fruit

photograph by Forest and Kim Starr, CC.

As an evergreen tree, Benjamin Fig usually can reach a height of around 50 feet (15m), and sometimes close to 100 feet (30 m), when growing natively in warm areas of Asia and Australia. However, it is seldom grown to more than 5 to 9 feet tall (150 to 270 cm) when grown indoors as a houseplant.

This is an attractive plant that carries glossy ovate leaves, which can reach about 5 inches (12 cm) in length. The flowers are tiny, but produce a showy fruit.

Ficus benjamina Cultivars

'Danielle' Thick strong leaves, weeping.

'Starlight Variegated leaves.

'Exotica' Light green leaves. Twisted.

'Golden King' Yellow and cream margins. Glossy, Grey or Green at the center.

'Indigo' Performs well in poor light. Compact form. Thick leaves, dark Green.

'Variegata' Juvenile leaves are white, turning green as they age. White and greyish green leaf edge.

'Too Little' Dwarf, Glossy leaves

'Natashja' Used for Bonsei. Light green leaves.

Ficus benjamina Photograph

photograph by Forest and Kim Starr, Creative Commons.

Ficus benjamina Houseplant Care

One of the reasons that Ficus is such popular houseplant because it is very easy to look after, or more to the point it can handle being neglected.

That said a little care could make a big difference to how the Weeping Fig plant will grow indoors, especially if you want to retain leaf shininess and prevent leaves from dropping off.

Benjamin Fig

photograph by Robert Couse-Baker, CC..

Soil is not overly important; just use a standard potting mix. Good drainage is essential.

Leaf drop often occurs when changing the plant's location. Although the plant will generally recover within a couple of weeks it is important that you locate it in an area that receives plenty of morning light.

In general the sunnier the place you grow Ficus, the better. But you may need to provide shaded relief from the afternoon sun in very hot and bright areas. Alternatively grow the plant in indirect light.

Be sure not to let the temperature in the room drop too low, as cold air will lead to leaf drop. Likewise be sure to water the plant with warm water.

Ideal room temperatures for Ficus Trees are 18 to 21°C (65 to 75°F) over night. This should be slightly higher in the daytime, from about 24 to 29°C (75 to 85°F).

As a plant that naturally grows in humid areas it is a good idea not to grow the plant close to a source of dry air, such as a radiator.

Do not overwater, as this can also have a negative effect on the roots and cause rot. Ideally the topsoil should be dry to a depth of about 1 1/3 inch (3 cm) before you water the plant.

Use a lime-free water (use a water softener or filter to remove calcium from the tap water).

The plant can usually be put outside in the late spring through to the middle of autumn in many places (depending on local climate).

The roots must also be protected from the cold. So supply a warm mulch with cork or wood chips if transferring your container plant outside for the summer.

As Ficus is a tree it will be no surprise that you will need to prune it to prevent it growing through your ceiling. Ideally prune outside of the growing season in late autumn or winter.

At this time you should also prune Ficus lightly, with a focus on dead and decaying leaves and branches.

Ficus benjamina Video Growing Guide

Quick Growing and Care Guide

  • Scientific Name: Ficus benjamina
  • Common Name (s): Benjamin Fig, Ficus Tree, Weeping Fig, Java fig, Tropic laurel, Small-leaved rubber plant.
  • Growing Zone (USA / UK Hardiness): 10 to 12 / H1c (Outdoors only when temperatures remain above 5°C)
  • Best used for: Houseplant, Tropical gardens, Containers, Low Maintenance, Ornamental Tree.

Plant Details

  • Life Cycle / Plant Type: Evergreen tree or shrub.
  • Plant Height: 8 to 50 feet (2.5 to 15 m)
  • Plant Spread: 5 to 30 feet (1.5 to 9 m)
  • Blooms: Summer (Outdoors only, seldom flowers indoors).
  • Flower Details: Tiny, green, monoecious.
  • Leaf Foliage: Glossy. Simple. Green (getting darker as the plant ages). Smooth. Ovate to Lanceolate
  • Fruit: Figs. Orange, red. About 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter.

Growing Conditions

  • Best Light Conditions: Full sunlight or partial shade
  • Suitable Soil Types: Indoors: use a potting soil. Outdoors: Any soils with good drainage - mix in sand or organic matter to improve drainage if necessary.
  • Suitable Soil pH: Slightly acidic; 6 to 6.5.
  • Soil Soil Moisture: Fairly moist during growing season. Dryer when dormant.
  • Sowing, planting, and Propagation:
    Seeds Seed grown plants seldom bear fruit. Following a 24 hour soak in water, imbibe in the fridge for two months. Sow on the surface (potting mix). Germinate at 21 to 27°C (70 to 80°F) in indirect sunlight. Germination can take a year.

  • Cuttings Semi hardwood cuttings in spring, or from a leaf bud (dip in rooting hormone powder).
  • Care: Water when soils has dried out during the growing season. Occasional watering at other times. Bring indoors when the weather begins to cool if growing in containers in a temperate area. Supply a light replenishing fertilizer for outdoor plants: 10 Nitrogen - 20 Phosphate - 20 Potassium blend a couple of times a year (Following shoot formation and at the end of summer). Feed Ficus Houseplants once a month with a regular houseplant blend during the growing season.
  • Pests and Diseases: No major problems. May attract Aphids, mealy bugs, Scale insects, thrips, and red spider mites if grown in a greenhouse.

Further Information

  • Miscellaneous: Drought tolerant. Genus named after the edible Fig fruit. Requires wasps to pollinate.
  • Further Reading and References: Plantopedia care guide; The Spruce
  • Family: Moraceae (Mulberry)
  • Closely Related Species to Ficus benjamina: Ficus carica (Fig), Ficus elastica (Rubber Tree), Ficus lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig), Ficus microcarpa (Chinese banyan / Indian laurel), and Ficus pumila (Creeping fig).

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Ficus Benjamina plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ tree growing guides: How to grow Jacaranda mimosifolia and Pistacia chinensis plants.