One of the most popular houseplants is the weeping fig, also called Ficus benjamina”, normally just called “ficus”. Though related to the edible fig, it does not bear fruit, but it makes a beautiful display as an indoor plant. Thus, a bushy tree that might grow up to 50 feet in its native Malaya.
It can easily be kept to 6 feet or so or allowed to grow to ceil height, which it will do within a few years. Its 3 inches shiny, pointed leaves tolerate low humidity well, one reason why “ficus” is such a popular plant. Another oft-grown ficus is that old standby, the rubber plant (F. elastica). It looks almost like an artificial plant, with its large, dark green oval, and shiny leaves, and it can grow to the ceiling if you don’t pinch its tip.
Though now out of fashion because of overuse, F. elastica is still a good plant to grow if you need something big and green in a spot with little light. it will grow in bright light too. The variety “Decora” has very broad leaves, and there are variegated varieties as well, though these need more light in order to show their colors. “Ficus” plants like fairly warm rooms but will tolerate low humidity because their leaves are rather leathery.
F. benjamina requires more light than F. elastica filtered sun or bright, indirect light is best. Soil for both can dry out a bit between watering, but don’t overwater. F. elastica will get leggy, and F. benjamina will drop its leaves. Sudden changes in the environment, such as being moved or exposed to drafts, can also cause leaf drop in the latter, making it seem like a delicate fussy plant. But it will normally recover promptly with new growth.
Feed both regularly except in fall or winter and wash the leaves with warm water. They like to be rather pot-bound, and their size can be controlled by root pruning and putting them back into the same pot. Stems can also be cut back to the desired height and will produce new, compact growth.