When we are talking about ficus tree, we are talking about 850 species of woody trees, shrubs, vines, epiphytes, and hemiepiphytes. Ficus is a genus in the Moraceae family. Well. Don’t get worried or bored. I am not going to give you science lesson on those floral kingdoms. Rather than, I will focus on ficus and its impacts on health and environmental surroundings. I will take you through their types, characteristics, methods of cultivation, maintenance procedures, etc.
And what about those species of ficus! They are adding to the beauty of our home decors. I will also talk about them to let you know that it is an easy task to grow them as houseplants. Let’s go into the world of ficus.
Ficus Tree: Types & Individual Characteristics
Different types of ficus trees have been making statements in the home for years. The ficus genus has hundreds of species. Many of those species are increasing the beauty of our home decors. Ficus trees usually have the relative ease of care, drastically varying foliage, and impressive tree-like heights at their maturity. Many homeowners are fond of them because of these properties. As a matter of fact, they are basically bringing a tree indoors.
There are many types of ficus trees. In this section, I am going to introduce the different types of trees and their general characteristics.
Audrey Ficus/ Banyan/ Ficus Benghalensis
You probably know and have seen the pictures of Audrey Ficus as the Indian banyan. It is the traditional banyan tree. Though many people use the name banyan for several other species of fig trees, but it is the Audrey Ficus which is the actual banyan tree. Because of its growing process, people also call it strangler figs.
Characteristics of Audrey Ficus
You can identify the giant tree with its velvety, deep green leaves featuring prominent veins. However, the leaves are less finicky. Audrey Ficus can grow to massive heights and widths. You can find them sprouting in the holes and cracks of an established tree. And, over the time they will grow around the trunk and will be strangling the other tree.
Audrey Ficus is epiphytic. The branches from the roots stretch towards the ground and take the hold. This makes the tree spread out over a massive area.
Other facts about Audrey Ficus
|Latin Name||Ficus benghalensis|
|Popular Names||Banian, East Indian fig, Bengal fig, strangler fig, Indian fig|
|Native Region||India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh|
|USDA Zones||10- 12|
|The height of the tree||Over 100feet tall. Many varieties spread out over several acres of area|
Bonsai/ Chinese Banyan/ Ficus Microcarpa
Chinese Banyan or Bonsai is a tree in the fig family Moraceae. People also call it the Fig & Pancetta Saladstrangling fig. In the tropical area, they commonly use it as a street tree.
Characteristics of Ficus Microcarpa
This species is actually a winding aerial root. Leaves grow directly on the root whether it is small or large it looks like a miniature tree. It grows up to 16 inches to 3 feet.
Other facts about Ficus Microcarpa
|Latin Name||Ficus Macrocarpa|
|Popular Names||Laurel fig, Malayan Banyan, laurel rubber, Cuban Laurel, Indian laurel, Indian laurel fig, curtain fig, strangling fig|
|Native Region||Malaysia, India, China|
|USDA Zones||9- 11|
|The height of the tree||50 inches to 60 inches tall|
Cluster Fig/ Ficus Congesta
You will see the fruits of this species growing in clusters on the trunk as well as on the branches.
Characteristics of Ficus Congesta
The new leaves of this tree are reddish in color when they are unfurling. The fruits grow in clusters.
Other facts about Ficus Congesta
|Latin Name||Ficus Congesta|
|Popular Names||Congested fig, Satterthwaite fig, red leaf fig|
|Native Region||Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea|
|USDA Zones||10- 11|
|The height of the tree||10 feet to 50 feet tall|
Typical Fig/ Ficus Carica
Ficus Carcia is an Asian species of flowering plant in the mulberry family. The fruits of this tree are known as fig. They are very rich in vitamins and minerals.
Characteristics of Ficus Carica
People grow this plant both for its fruit and ornamental value. Many of the trees are capable of growing fruit without pollination. The name of this process is parthenocarpy.
Other facts about Ficus Carica
|Latin Name||Ficus Carica|
|Native Region||Western Asia|
|USDA Zones||8-10. But, it is possible to grow them all the way down to Zone 5, if you choose the right cultivar.|
|The height of the tree||10 feet to 30 feet tall|
Creeping Fig/ Ficus Pumila
Ficus Pumila is also a species of flowering plant in the mulberry family. It is a fast-growing woody vine.
Characteristics of Ficus Pumila
The juvenile foliage of this woody evergreen vine is much smaller and thinner than the mature leaves. For pollination, it needs the help of the fig wasp Blastophaga pumilae.
The vine can attach itself to the walls of buildings, and it will be hard to remove them. They are drought tolerant. You can train the plants around the wireframes to create topiaries.
Other facts of Ficus Pumila
|Latin Name||Ficus Pumila|
|Popular Names||Climbing fig|
|Native Region||East Asia|
|The height of the tree||10 foot to 20 feet+ tall|
Weeping Fig/ Ficus Benjamina
Ficus Benjamina is the classic and one of the most popular types of ficus. As a houseplant, they are famous for being finicky.
Characteristics of Ficus Benjamina
Ficus Benjamina has shiny green leaves, dark or mottled colors. These plants are notorious for surviving in very low light and even if you forget to water them for a while.
If you move or stress them in some other way, they will drop their leaves. However, they will get it back in time.
You can also braid or plait their trunks to allow the wood to grow together.
Other facts about Ficus Benjamina
|Latin Name||Ficus Benjamina|
|Popular Names||Benjamin’s fig|
|Native Region||Australia and South Asia|
|The height of the tree||If it is in its native region, it can grow up to 100 feet.|
Ficus Daniella is one of the cuter varieties of ficus trees. It is also known as the ficus Moclame.
Characteristics of Ficus Daniella
It has very thick, waxy, oval-shaped leaves. Ficus Daniella can grow to immense heights in nature. Less water and plenty of bright, filtered light can keep it happy.
Other facts about Ficus Daniella
|Latin Name||Ficus Daniella|
|Popular Names||Ficus Moclame|
|Native Region||Western Africa|
|The height of the tree||If it is in its native region, it can grow into very tall trees.|
Fiddle-Leaf Fig/ Ficus Lyrata
This species is the genuine eye-catcher. You probably find their images in the home decoration blogs and magazines once in a while. Fiddle-Leaf fig is indeed the most popular ficus tree right now.
Characteristics of Ficus Lyrata
Fiddle-Leaf fig or Ficus Lyrata is familiar because of the small tree and the gigantic leaves. The leaves have a shape like a violin. In the native habitat, it can work like a strangler fig.
Lyrata also has some same tastes like another ficus’. Apart from the aesthetic assets, they love luminous spots which aren’t in direct sunlight.
Other facts about Ficus Lyrata
|Latin Name||Ficus lyrata|
|Popular Names||Banjo fig, Fiddle-leaf fig|
|Native Region||Western Africa|
|The height of the tree||In the wild, they can grow up to 100 feet|
Rubber Tree/ Ficus Elastica
Well, even the rubber is a fig tree! Once, people use the latex sap from Ficus Elastica in the rubber-making process. Now this tree is serving as a houseplant around the world.
Characteristics of Ficus Elastica
Ficus Elastica has some large shiny leaves. Those leaves can take a mottled shape sometimes. Like another ficus’ it needs simple care. Probably, it is one of the most easygoing types of ficus.
Other facts about Ficus Elastica
|Latin Name||Ficus Elastica|
|Popular Names||Rubber fig|
|Native Region||Indonesia and India|
|The height of the tree||In the wild, they can grow up to 100 feet|
Ficus Alii is a newer variety of ficus. Most of the silky ficus trees are the mimics of this plant.
Characteristics of Ficus Alii
This is an oriental looking tree and has narrow leaves or braided trunk. The clustered and pointed olive green leaves give it a tropical flair. It has many things in common with the other ficus’. However, it doesn’t throw leaves everywhere when you move them to new locations.
Other facts about Ficus Alii
|Latin Name||Ficus Alii|
|Native Region||Hawaii, Southeast Asia|
|The height of the tree||In the natural habitat, they can grow up to 10 feet|
So, you want to grow ficus?
A nearby relative of the fig tree, ficus trees are indigenous to tropical regions. They indeed enjoy a long history of decorative and even religious importance. The sacred and popular tree under which Buddha gotten enlightenment was believed to be a member from the Ficus class!
While ficus trees are generally simple to grow, but there are some special needs that you need to take care about. Here are a few things to remember while considering growing a ficus tree as a houseplant.
Try to place your ficus tree near a sunny window. Or you need to choose an area that gets the morning sunshine and afternoon shade. If a place has a skylight, that will be the ideal place for the ficus tree.
In winter, do not allow the temperature to fall below 55ºF and try to avoid exposing the plant to cold drafts.
When you are growing ficus as houseplants, you need to plant them in a container that can hold at least 5 gallons of soil. To retain the moisture of the soil you need to use a lightweight potting mix which contains perlite or vermiculite.
Never use the garden soil, since they are too heavy to drain well. On the other hand, they often harbor many diseases. You need to use soil that is rich, humusy and well-drained.
Water equitably all through the summer but allow the soil to dry out between watering. Reduce watering as the winter approaches. In dry homes, give a lot of encompassing dampness by moistening regularly. Try not to let the root ball dry out.
Ficus does enjoy bright, indirect sunlight and loads of it. They will love to be outside during the summer. However, you need to protect your plant from direct sunlight unless it is accustomed to it.
You need to fertilize your indoor houseplants once every six weeks during the growing periods. At the beginning of the season, you should feed with slow-release pellets. Try to use diluted all-purpose, granular fertilizer. Reduce fertilizing as the winter approaches.
With rooting hormone, you can root ficus from tip cuttings. You should use only the non-woody stems as cuttings. On the other hand, you can follow the air laying method for the larger plants.
A healthy ficus plant grows very quickly. They can easily outgrow the pot and your house as well. So, to keep the growth in check, you have to limit the repotting. You need to repot only every other year to keep the plant in a manageable size. Moreover, don’t forget to use high-quality potting soil for repotting.
Ficus is a very low maintenance plant. However, when you are growing ficus indoors, you need to keep certain things in mind. You require maintaining a relatively high humidity around the plant. By setting the tree on a pebble tray filled with water or regular misting is a way to increase the humidity. However, don’t forget that ficus doesn’t like overly wet roots. So, prior watering the plant check the topsoil. If it is wet, then don’t bother to water. When it is dry, you can go with watering.
Since ficus is a rapid grower, they need plenty of nutrients to grow well. In the spring and summer, fertilize the plant once a month. In addition, reduce it to once in two months in the fall and winter season.
Diseases & Pests
Leaf spot diseases are not very common with ficus plants. They are rarely inflicted by them. If affected, you need to discard the infected leaves from the tree.
Sometimes, they are vulnerable to pests like aphids or mites. You have to use an insecticidal oil or soap to get rid of it. But, make sure that you are using the product that has a label for houseplant use.
Dealing with common issues
The most common problem that ficus owners deal with is dropping leaves. They do it a lot. Dropping leaves is some kind of standard reaction of ficus to stress. For example, they can do it for the following reasons:
- Low watering or excess watering
- The lower level of humidity
- Lack of light
- Change of location or repotting
- Too hot or cold temperature
- Inflicted by pests
Try to focus on the above-mentioned causes. And, you will probably get your solution.
Uses of ficus
Sweet and delicious fig fruit is one of the most popular fruits around the world for centuries. With their delicious taste, they also have high nutritional value. In fact, some recent studies have revealed that they might be useful in treating a scope of medicinal worries, from diabetes to dermatitis.
Consider adding figs to your shopping list. Here is a portion of the advantages that this organic product may give you.
Health benefits of ficus
Figs are famous for their sweet, mild flavor and multiple uses. They are very low in calorie and do not contain any fat. As a matter of fact, one large and raw fig does have just 47 calories. If you are thinking to reduce some weight, then it can be a better replacement for your unhealthy snacks.
Not only the raw but also the dried figs have some good in it for your health. A dried fig of one ounce contains three grams of fiber. Fiber can control the blood sugar level and can lower the cholesterol too. In addition, fibers are good to alleviate constipation. It can also keep you feeling full for longer times.
Fig is the best plant source of calcium. They can help you fighting calcium related health issues like osteoporosis.
A 2005 study showed that dried figs indeed contain super quality antioxidants. And we all know that antioxidant reduces cell-damaging free radicals in the body. Nutrition experts always recommend having fruits like figs to up the antioxidant intake in the body.
To add more to your astonishment, I am going to present the nutrition data of figs in the following section. They are just no short of vitamins and minerals.
Nutritional facts of figs
|Principle||Nutrient Data||RDA percentage|
|Dietary Fiber||2.9 g||7%|
|Total Fat||0.30 g||1%|
|Vitamins||Nutrient Data||RDA percentage|
|Vitamin A||142 IU||5%|
|Vitamin C||2 mg||3%|
|Vitamin E||0.11 mg||1%|
|Vitamin K||4.7 µg||4%|
|Pantothenic Acid||0.300 mg||6%|
|Electrolytes||Nutrient Data||RDA percentage|
|Minerals||Nutrient Data||RDA percentage|
|Selenium||0.2 µg||< 1%|
|Phyto-nutrients||Nutrient Data||RDA percentage|
|Carotene- ß||85 µg|
*Nutrition Value per 100g/ Source: USDA National Nutrient data base
A man needs to intake 38 g dietary fiber a day. While the recommended intake for a woman is 25 g, in fact, figs contain a huge amount of dietary fiber in it. They have 15 g of dietary fiber per cup, which is pretty higher than any other fruits. Fiber can help you in promoting regularity in your bowel movements. On the other hand, it can also help in to prevent constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, hemorrhoids, fecal impaction, ulcerative colitis, and colon cancer.
It’s not simply the fruits of this bush are healthy. Some proof likewise recommends that the leaves of the fig bush can help regulate diabetes indications. A 2016 report in rats demonstrated that ficusin, a concentrate from fig leaves, enhances insulin affectability and has other antidiabetic properties.
Another 2003 study on animal demonstrated that fig concentrate could add to diabetes treatment by normalizing blood fatty acid and Vitamin E levels.
Talk with your specialist to check whether figs may be a decent expansion to your general diabetes management program. Remember that they aren’t a substitute for good dieting, blood testing, or medication.
Skin and hair
In many traditional folk medicines, figs are the part of treating an assortment of skin issues, for example, dermatitis, vitiligo, and psoriasis. There haven’t been any decisive, logical examinations of this. However, much circumstantial evidence and initial research show promise.
A 2007 study showed that fig tree latex might evacuate warts. According to the study, fig tree latex was simply insignificantly less viable than cryotherapy and caused no reactions.
You can use raw figs to make an antioxidant-rich and nourishing face mask. Just pound the figs and apply to your face in a round movement. In addition, include 1 tablespoon of yogurt for extra saturating advantages. Leave the mask on for 10 to 15 minutes, and rinse completely with tepid water. Try not to utilize figs on your skin in case you’re allergic to latex. Pounded or mashed figs are additionally a prevalent home solution for acne. However, there’s no logical proof that they work.
Figs are a great source of many enhancing nutrients, cancer prevention agents, and minerals. Enhancing your general health regularly balances your skin and assists with your circulation.
Many shampoos, conditioners, and hair masques use figs as an ingredient. It can promote hair growth. In addition, figs can moisturize and strengthen your hair. Scientific research on the advantages of figs for hair is not conclusive. However, the vitamins and minerals what figs have in it may help keep your hair sound.
A study result confirmed that zinc deficiency is the cause of hair loss. Well, the fig has loads of zinc in it.
Figs contain a high quantity of potassium, while the amount of sodium is very low. Compared to the 14.9 mg of sodium, one cup of fig has 1,013 mg potassium. This ratio of potassium and sodium is beneficial to maintain healthy blood pressure. It can also improve heart efficiency.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that if you have more sodium and less potassium in your diet, then you are 50 percent more likely to die from those cause. It may also twice the risk of death from heart attacks.
Potassium helps to clean or wash out the toxic deposition in the kidneys. And, you know figs contain huge amounts of potassium. The figs also reduce the concentration of uric acid in the blood. In addition, figs help lower the chances of kidney damage and the formation of renal calculi in the kidney.
High amounts of the dietary soluble fiber pectin are there in the figs. According to a research publication by the National Cancer Institute showed that pectin consumption is helpful to inhibit the spontaneous metastasis of prostate adenocarcinoma cells in rats. On the other hand, a combination of galectin 3 protein and fragments of pectin can be vital in all stages of cancer.
Copper and iron help to format new blood cells. Iron and copper deficiency can lead to anemia. Figs have 17% and 21% of the recommended value of the iron and copper respectively in one cup.
Fresh and dried fig fruits usually don’t have that kind of side effects. It is possibly safe for most people while using in food amounts.
Fig leaves are also safe for most of the people while taking it by mouth as medicine. But, taking it for longer than one month and high doses may create some trouble. However, fig latex and the sap from the tree can be the cause of bleeding in the digestive tract in some people.
Applying fig leaves to the skin can make the skin very sensitive to the sun. It is also allergic to some skin sensitive people. Skin contact with the fig fruit may also cause a rash in the skin of those people.
There are some risk factors you should take into account about figs.
It is very common for some people to have allergic reactions to natural rubber latex, mulberry, or weeping fig. If you have any try to avoid skin contact with those plants, leaves, and fruits.
Blood sugar Level
As you know, that fig may lower the blood sugar level. If you have diabetes and you are taking fig by mouth, keep an eye on the blood sugar level. It can lower the level to a great extent.
Since figs lower the blood pressure, it may interfere with the blood sugar control during and after surgery. So, it will be wise to stop taking fig as medicine at least 14 days before a scheduled surgery.
Pregnancy and Breast-feeding
Dried or fresh figs are possibly safe in food amounts. But, it’s not sure whether it’s safe as medicine during pregnancy and breast-feeding time. Consult with your physician and follow the suggestions.
Figs may help to treat constipation, but eating too much of them can cause loose stools and diarrhea. It may also have laxative effects on some people.
Interaction with drugs is the less-known thing about figs. But, still, in some conditions, it can interact with the medicine you are taking. Specially, if you are, diabetes patient and you are taking insulin and antidiabetes drugs then figs can create some problem for you. Insulin and antidiabetes drugs are prescribed to lower the blood sugar level. On the other hand, figs do the same thing. So, this might lead you to drop the blood sugar level to a great extent.
Figs are full of Vitamin K. They are the natural blood thickener. If you are using blood thinning medications, then you must consult with the doctor about fig consumption.
There is no conclusive scientific data that may determine the appropriate range of doses for fig. In addition, the appropriate doses may vary on many factors like user’s health, age, and several other conditions. However, natural products are relevantly safe, but still, dosage is important. Consult with your physician or pharmacist before using.
Bonus: A few recipes for you!
Figs are not only good for their health benefits, but also they can take some place in your diner too. Fresh and ripe figs are full of flavor with a savory taste. Try the following recipes to make the most of fresh figs!
Blue Cheese-Stuffed Figs
- First and foremost, take figs and cut a slit in the side of the figs.
- Then stuff the fig with your favorite blue cheese. I will recommend the creamier and softer blues like gorgonzola dolce.
- Brush the stuffed figs with canola or vegetable oil.
- Put them in a hot pan or on a hot grill.
- Cook for about 8 minutes and see the figs are hot and cheese is melting down. You need to turn the figs once in between those 8 minutes.
Fig & Pancetta Salad
- In a simple tossed green salad add some chopped figs.
- Add some chopped and cooked pancetta or bacon in it too.
- For dressing, whisk 3 tablespoons of olive oil with 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.
- Firstly, take a blender or food processor.
- Then whirl the figs in it.
- To make the puree pourable add splash of balsamic or sherry vinegar and enough olive oil.
- Next, add freshly ground pepper and salt to taste.
- Heat the puree gently to serve it with chicken, turkey, duck, or pork. You can also use it as a spread.
- Take the figs and cut them to halves lengthwise.
- Melt a tablespoon of butter in a small frying pan and add one tablespoon of honey in it.
- Add the figs in the pan cut-side down.
- Cook until everything is bubbling and the figs are turning brown.
- During the cooking, spoon the melted butter and honey on the top of the figs.
- Serve the figs with ice cream, yogurt, cream, or whipped cream on the side.
Figs with Goat Cheese and Pine Nuts
- Take some sweet ripe figs.
- Plop a small dollop or two of fresh, creamy goat cheese and toasted pine nuts.
- A rich and savory treat is on your table.
Ficus tree is there for many years, and people have been using it for various reasons. With those amazing health benefits and their appeal as home décor, it is up to you how you are going to use these trees. And, don’t forget about the savory dishes I mentioned with their fruits. Be healthy and live happily!