Do You Know the Genus Ficus?

Well, after the great contamination of 2017, about all that I am left with is house plants. It’s a good thing that I have so many!

We haven’t had rain so I can still smell fertilizer so even I haven’t wanted to walk anywhere on my property with the exception of occasional forays to see what else might have been caught by pesticide drift and might now be dying.

So I am tidying up the house plants, re-potting those that might need it before they come in in the fall and taking apart mixed planters of house plants, annuals and perennials.

In so doing, it occurred to me how many different varieties of ficus I have. I have the traditional weeping fig, I have rubber plants or trees, I have creeping or climbing figs, I have mistletoe figs. I even have a struggling fiddle leaf fig which may become compost shortly. I hate to look at struggling plants.


Most people have trouble with this plant, the weeping fig, or ficus bejamina. These plants really aren’t terribly problematic if you understand that they are like cranky old people–they don’t like to be moved and if you move them, they are going to react by dropping a lot of leaves (I count myself in the cranky old person category–if I had leaves, I too would drop them upon being uprooted with too much change. So please don’t take offense at that last statement!)

Of course, who likes to look at a plant with few–or no leaves? What do we do when this happens? We say, “oh it’s dead,” and promptly throw it away, particularly if we have taken the plant outside in the spring and then brought it back inside in the fall. It takes a long time to re-leaf after that upheaval.

Don’t despair. Have patience, particularly  if the branches are still pliable, and the plant will leaf out again.

There’s really no way to avoid this leaf drop. If you buy one, just the mere transport from the garden center or box store atmosphere to your home will trigger the same thing. You can minimize it by buying the plant in the spring, when the plant is more likely to put out new leaves more quickly. That’s the best you can hope for.

But of course, this is your reward. Once your plant is up and growing, it will reward you with lush growth for many years. I often joke that I will need to cut a hole in my ceiling next.

If all this is too much work for you, I’ll discuss some of the easier care member of this genus on Friday.

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