Weeping Fig - Moraceae F. Benjamina

What You Need to Know About the Weeping Fig – Moraceae F. Benjamina

The ficus (or fig) genus encompasses some 800 species of trees (many of which contain a milky latex), shrubs, and woody root-climbing or stran­gling vines. They originate in tropical and subtropical areas and make good indoor plants because they are not particularly demanding.

The leaves are usually entire (one whole shape, with no lobes or teeth), and the tiny flowers are borne within a hollow, fleshy receptacle (a syconium or fig). They are pollinated by insects enter­ing the receptacle through a minute opening in the end.

Also called the weeping fig, this is a graceful tree originating in countries from southeast Asia to the southwest Pacific. It will grow to 6 ft. (1.8 m) or more and makes a beautiful specimen tree, or car be used as a centerpiece for a mixed planting. The branches droop downward as they grow, dripping with shiny, thinly leathery leaves, which change from mid- to dark green as they age. The little figs are borne in pairs and, if pollinated, mature to orange-red, scarlet, and finally purplish black.

Size: Height 6 ft. (1.8 m).

Light: Partial shade.

Temperature: Normal warm room.

Moisture: Keep just moist at all times.

Feeding: Provide standard liquid fertilizer every two weeks in spring and summer.

Propagation: Take tip cuttings, 4 in. (10 cm) long, m spring. The cutting will root better if the bottom ½ in. (1 cm) has become light brown and woody. To prevent the latex forming a cap on the base of the cutting, strip the leaves from the lower third and place in water for 30 minutes. Remove, shake off the water, and dip the cut surface only in rooting hor­mone, then insert into potting soil and seal into a plastic bag in a bright place, out of direct sun.

Special needs: All fig species will benefit from having their leaves cleaned at intervals to remove dust. Be careful not to damage young foliage because any marks inflicted will never disappear. Wounds to most figs result in the oozing of milky latex, often in large quantities. Applying powdered charcoal, a cotton ball, or a piece of paper towel to the wound will help the latex coagulate.