Scientific name: Ficus benghalensis
Synonyms: Ficus Audrey, Bengal Fig, Strangler Fig, Banyan tree
Ficus Benghalensis is a highly sought after ‘it’ plant right now and it’s easy to see why: its striking appearance combined with its easy care requirements makes for effortless ownership. Those deep green velvet leaves really make it a conversation piece and will look great in your living space.
Note: Please be aware that the plant is not pet friendly and is harmful if eaten, so keep out of reach of children.
- Sudden loss of leaves: There are a few potential causes for leaf drop with Ficus plants, the most common is overwatering! They can also go into shock if moved from one environment to another (especially if the room conditions are different). Don’t panic - they will adjust over time. The other potential cause is over fertilizing, so make sure to read the dilution instructions carefully.
- Yellowing leaves: A natural part of the life cycle of this plant, older leaves at the base of the plant will yellow and drop.
- Brown edges on foliage: A number of issues can manifest themselves in this way but the most common cause is dry air; if your Ficus Audrey is near a heat source, air conditioner or draught. Inconsistent watering is another potential problem.
- New leaves are small: If your plant is producing continuously small leaves, it’s likely it’s not be getting enough light/humidity so move it to somewhere brighter. It can also signal the plant needs repotting.
- Spots/patches on leaves: There are potentially a few reasons here; if the spots are brown and soft the likely cause is over-watering. Lighter coloured patches can signal shock from cold water; tepid (room temperature) water is always best.
- Scorched foliage/ dry shrivelled leaves: Your plant is getting too much direct light, or the compost has been allowed to dry out; move to somewhere more shaded and water regularly.
- Pests: Incorrect care and lack of humidity are the main reasons pests may appear on your Ficus, red spider mite and scale are ones to be particularly aware of in warm, dry conditions. Keeping the humidity up is the main deterrent, but if pests are present, this houseplant can be treated with insecticidal soap or neem oil. Repeat weekly and keep plant in isolation until completely pest-free.
- Origin: Native to Southern Asia, found growing in the tropical forests of the subcontinent.
- Height: Approximately 2 metres height / 1 metre spread potted indoors. In their natural habitat, Audrey is one of the largest canopy in the world! She can grow to over 30m tall and an even larger spread.
- Light: A bright spot is ideal, as is indirect filtered light near a window. Protect from very harsh sun which can scorch the foliage. In darker conditions growth will slow and leaves will be small.
- Water: Water moderately during the growing season, allowing the top layer of soil to dry out between watering. In their rest period (winter), water lightly to prevent the plant from drying out but don’t overwater.
- Humidity: Moderate humidity and regular misting during Summer will be beneficial. A good level of humidity contributes to healthy growth and larger leaves on your Ficus Audrey.
- Temperature: Ideal temperatures range between 16-25°C, try to avoid sudden drops in temperature and be wary of draughts and open windows.
- Soil: A free-draining organic potting mix with added perlite which allows breathability for the roots is ideal, and this houseplant also grows extremely well in coco chips or bark.
- Fertilizer: This houseplant responds well to regular fertilising during the growing season. Use a balanced fertiliser twice a month during Spring and Summer and be sure to dilute correctly as over-feeding can cause some damage to the plant. If the potting medium is particularly dry, water lightly before feeding to avoid fertiliser burning the roots.
- Repotting: Ficus Audrey doesn’t require frequent repotting, and quite likes being slightly root-bound. Once every two years or so is completely fine; the ideal time to re-pot is early Spring when the plant has actively started growing after its winter rest. Roots ‘circling’ around the bottom of the nursery pot is an indication that repotting is needed. Increase pot size by just a few centimetres.
- Pruning: Pruning is rarely required with these houseplants, but you can cut the top off the plant to encourage branching, in turn creating a bushier ‘tree-like’ plant. You can then propagate the cutting…(read below!)
- Propagation: There are two options here. The most popular way is using stem cuttings; place in water to root and wait until the roots are a few centimetres long before potting on. This can be a fairly slow process! If the stems are very woody you can air layer them (a more advanced propagation process).
If in stock, shop for Ficus Audrey here.