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Ficus benjamina

Phonetic Spelling
FY-kus ben-jah-MEE-nah
Description

An evergreen shrub or tree with drooping branches, the leaves are alternate, simple, long-tipped, and glossy.  The flowers and fruits are enclosed in a fleshy sac that turns from green to orange-red to red and then purplish black.

Ficus benjaminia is a very popular houseplant because of its tolerance of poor growing conditions.  It performs best in bright sunny locations but will also survive in shade.  It is very sensitive to light so if the plant is moved, expect it to drop leaves and produce new ones that are accustomed to the new light conditions.  Water regularly to keep soil from completely drying out.  The plant does not require misting.  It is intolerant to cold and should be kept away from drafts.  It has been shown to effectively remove indoor air pollutants.  

Miniature cultivars like "Too Little' are popular for bonsai.

Quick ID Hints:

  • Leaf is elliptic with long, acuminate tip
  • Interior tree has drooping branches
  • Stems are flexuous and are often braided/trained

Evergreen to semi-evergreen tree to 30', graceful and upright. 

Used as a small tree in interior settings; potential to overgrow ideal locations, thus dwarf forms may be better suited; environmentally sensitive and may drop leaves as a response to change in light, heat, humidity, wind gusts, etc; variegated leaf forms are also available; sap drips when pruned (messy); stems are flexuous and can be braided or trained to arch; older specimens may have numerous aerial roots. 

Common tree in commercial interior landscapes or in large pots; common house pot tree. 

Prefers medium to high light, a bright spot; prefers dry soil and medium relative humidity with a temperature of greater than 55 degrees F; withstands heavy pruning; water with care, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings, applying very little during winter months; pest/disease problems.

 

VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for "Edibles, Bulbs, and Houseplants" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.   

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Danielle'
  • 'Exotica'
  • 'Golden King'
  • 'Naomi'
  • 'Too Little'
  • 'Variegata'
'Danielle', 'Exotica', 'Golden King', 'Naomi', 'Too Little', 'Variegata'
Tags:
#small tree#houseplant#container plant#bonsai#low light#tough plant#bright light#interiorscape#fantz#problem for cats#ebh#ebh-h#problem for dogs#problem for horses
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Danielle'
  • 'Exotica'
  • 'Golden King'
  • 'Naomi'
  • 'Too Little'
  • 'Variegata'
'Danielle', 'Exotica', 'Golden King', 'Naomi', 'Too Little', 'Variegata'
Tags:
#small tree#houseplant#container plant#bonsai#low light#tough plant#bright light#interiorscape#fantz#problem for cats#ebh#ebh-h#problem for dogs#problem for horses
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Ficus
    Species:
    benjamina
    Family:
    Moraceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Tropical & Subtropical Asia and Northern Australia
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Houseplant
    Poisonous
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Multi-trunked
    Weeping
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Drainage:
    Very Dry
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Green
    Orange
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Description:
    Flowers and fruits are enclosed in a fleshy sac that turns from green to orange-red to red and then purplish black. A globose to slightly oblong fig, in pairs, green maturing to reddish then purple-black.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Black
    Green
    Orange
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Description:
    Flowers and fruits are enclosed in a fleshy sac that turns from green to orange-red to red and then purplish black. Minute, unisexual, enclosed in fleshy receptacle (fig), entered by apical orifice and pollinated by fig wasps.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Variegated
    White
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Oblong
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Alternate, simple, long-tipped, and glossy, 2-5 in. Ovate-elliptic to oblong, acuminate, rotund, entire, glabrous, coriaceous, 8-12 pairs of lateral veins. Folded in towards the midrib and droop down towards the ground. Variegated cultivars exist.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Brown
    Surface/Attachment:
    Furrowed
    Lenticels
    Bark Description:
    Raised lenticels, sometimes with adventitious roots. Newer stems have small furrows.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gray/Silver
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Drooping branches slender; older specimens with pendulous aerial roots.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Houseplants
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Heavy Shade
    Problems:
    Problem for Cats
    Problem for Dogs
    Problem for Horses