Weeping figs (Ficus benjamina) are elegant trees with slender gray trunks and a profusion of green leaves. Weeping fig tree care depends on whether you are growing them indoors or outdoors. Let’s learn more about outdoor care for weeping figs.
Weeping Fig Plant Information
Growing weeping fig trees indoors and growing weeping fig trees outdoors are two completely different endeavors. It is almost as if indoor and outdoor weeping figs are different species.
Indoors, weeping figs are attractive container plants that rarely grow above 6 to 8 feet (2 m.). Outdoors, however, the trees grow into huge specimens, up to 100 feet (30 m.) tall and 50 feet (15 m.) wide and are often used for hedges.
That being said, weeping figs only thrive outdoors in USDA plant hardiness zones 10 to 11. Therefore, most weeping figs are grown as indoor plants. If you are fortunate enough to live in one of these warm, tropical-like areas though, caring for weeping figs outdoors is something you need to know.
Weeping Fig Tree Care Outdoors
As indoor container plants, weeping figs grow quite slowly, but outside, it’s a different story. This plant can quickly become a monster of a tree if not kept pruned, which it tolerates well. In fact, with regard to weeping fig tree pruning, it readily accepts severe pruning, so don’t hesitate to remove any dead foliage when you see it. If you want to do weeping fig tree pruning to shape or reduce the size of the tree, you can take off up to one-third of the outer growth of the canopy at a time.
Caring for weeping figs indoors is a matter of selecting an appropriate location. As its roots spread just as fast as it grows tall, the tree can potentially damage foundations. So, if choosing to grow outdoors, plant it well away from the home, at least 30 feet (9 m.).
If you read up on weeping fig plant information, you find that the plant prefers well-drained, moist, loamy soil and thrives in a location with bright, indirect sunlight indoors. Outdoors is pretty much the same with a few exceptions. The tree can grow well in full sun to shade.
Once established, weeping figs are fairly drought and heat tolerant. They are said to be hardy to 30 degrees F. (-1 C.), but just one hard frost can cause severe damage to the tree. However, when grown in areas with less harsh winters, most will rebound provided the roots are protected. Adding a 3 to 4 inch (8-10 cm.) layer of mulch can help.
Outdoor problems with weeping figs include freezing temperatures, severe drought, high winds, and insect pests, especially thrips. Weeping fig tree care can be tricky since issues are often hard to diagnose. No matter what the problem the tree reacts the same way: it drops leaves. Most experts agree that the number one cause of leaf drop in weeping figs is overwatering (especially indoors). A good rule of thumb is to keep your tree’s soil moist but never wet, backing off the watering in the winter.
You can provide the tree with liquid fertilizer about once a month during the growing season, but outdoors this isn’t usually necessary or advisable due to its faster growth.