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Okay, we all know how finicky the fiddle leaf fig tree is, and maybe it has passed on. But the good news is that another tree is close relative to this one.
We introduce a more accessible growing, caring tree, the Ficus benghalensis or the ficus Audrey. The plant grows easily indoors, and you can grow it outside as well as you prefer.
But a note of warning is that ficus Audrey is a toxic plant for pets.
What is Ficus benghalensis?
As the name implies, a fun fact is that the Ficus benghalensis is the national tree of India, known as the Banyan tree. These Ficus plants can grow very long in the wild, with their aerial roots reaching from up to the ground, creating supportive trunks. This Banyan tree is known to be drought and frost mild tolerant.
For this reason, the tree can grow more expansive than what it is tall, growing up to 100 feet tall. You can find a Ficus tree stretching for miles. Another familiar name is the Banyan Fig, and it belongs to the Moraceae family.
It is a sacred tree you find at the temples, and the foliage is enormous and leathery with a lateral venation. The leaves have an oval yet elliptic shape. It is also one of the largest trees in the world.
When displayed in a garden or container, the woody trunks make for a magnificent display. The bark is white, and the fig is fleshy with a hollow-ended stem with multiple flowers. It produces fig fruits growing in pairs, turning red when ripe.
Yet, pollination does not occur as it needs fig wasps to reproduce, and you cannot find the fig wasp outside the regions of India. But it still makes for a beautiful houseplant, and the best, it is considered sacred.
Banyan Tree Care
While the Banyan tree is more accessible to care for than the fiddle leaf fig, it is not your average beginner plant. The Ficus trees still need some extra tender loving care with proper light and water.
Another thing this houseplant benefits from is some pruning. A pro tip is to dust its leaves as it is a dust trap, and by keeping it clean, it can photosynthesize well. You only need a damp washcloth and give it a gentle TLC.
Ideal Soil Mix for Banyan Fig Aerial Roots
Fertile soil is the ficus Audrey friends, and it needs to be well-draining. You can use a combined mix of indoor potting soil with sand and perlite for this tree. When grown in pots, it also helps to provide enough drainage holes for the water to run freely from the soil.
Sunlight For The Evergreen Tree
The Banyan fig thrives in bright indirect light like your other rubber trees. Your ficus Audrey will love standing in a south or west-facing window as it can tolerate more direct morning and evening sun. Nonetheless, the tree does not enjoy low light conditions or full sun for extended times as it results in leaf loss.
Depending on where you live, an east-facing window also works.
Watering Requirement for Ficus benghalensis
While it flourishes in the monsoon and rain forests, this fig species does not like it when you overwater it. We recommend checking the soil regularly to see if it is dry before watering. Your Banyan fig grows well in consistently moist soil with some drought between watering.
Temperature and Humidity Need
The recommended growing regions for the ficus Audrey is in the USDA hardiness zones 10 to 12. Whether a houseplant or outdoor plant, it does not tolerate low temperatures or drafts. The ideal temperature is above 60°F (15°C).
Where possible, provide it with temperatures above 70°F. Also, stay clear from placing your Ficus plants close to doors, windows, air-conditioners, or any drafty spot. Another big thing about the ficus Audrey is that it flourishes in a humid environment.
You can occasionally mist the leaves or use a humidifier or a pebbled tray instead.
Food for Ficus benghalensis
During its growing season, a regular feed of balanced NPK fertilizer is necessary for your Indian Banyan tree. The Ficus plant is a fast-growing tree and only needs to be provided once a month during spring and summer. During winter and fall, you can withhold from feeding them.
Propagating Ficus benghalensis Plants
In the Indian Banyan, when growing in its native range, it propagates through offshoots and seeds. But for indoor plants using stem cuttings is easier. A note of warning is that when you plant to propagate your Banyan fig lay down a sheet and always wear gloves before you start.
The tree has a sticky sap that can irritate the skin.
Look at the stem and take a cutting with two to three leaves.
Use sharp, sterilized pruning shears to separate the stem cutting from the parent plant.
Prepare a pot with well-draining soil and use a spray bottle to moisten it.
Dip the cut end into some rooting hormone and push that end into the soil.
Next, cover your stem cuttings with a plastic bag to create a humid environment.
Place the cutting in a bright indirect light spot and water to moisten the soil.
You should notice a new plant growing in about four weeks. Once you see new growth, you can remove the plastic.
Ficus benghalensis Varieties
As with most Ficus species, you can find some great companion plants to place with your Banyan fig-like these unique plants here:
The Ficus cotinifolia is another tree with wide-spreading branches and crowns. The tree also produces aerial roots from the crown and develops new woody trunks to support the canopy.
Krishna’s Butter Cup
According to legend, Lord Krishna loved butter, and he would even steal it. So, as the parable goes, he tried to hide the butter by rolling it up in the tree’s leaves, and since then, the foliage has retained this shape. It is a fast-growing evergreen tree with a wide-spreading crown and many aerial roots.
Fiddle Leaf Fig
This is a popular indoor plant with large leaves that are heavily veined. The foliage grows upright on a very sleek trunk. It will become the focal point of your home, but it takes a lot of TLC to keep it that way.
Ficus benghalensis Diseases & Pests
The Banyan fig is prone to sap-sucking insects as it loves the milky latex sap when it comes to pests. Therefore, we recommend looking for fungus gnats, aphids, scale, and mealybugs. You can check for these insects during your routine to catch them early.
To treat infestations, we recommend using neem oil or insecticidal soap. The other concern is overwatering, leading to root rot, and some signs to look out for are leaves turning yellow or dropping leaves. For yellow leaves, it can be from different problems.
If one or two older leaves change color and drop, it can be part of the natural cycle. But if you notice new leaves turning yellow, it is a concern. Again, this can result from over or underwatering.
Another problem with dropping leaves is that the watering schedule is not as expected. The likeliness is underwatering, but it can also be from cold drafts.
Frequently Asked Questions
These are some of the largest trees in the world, but you can grow them as indoor plants. It takes a lot of pruning to restrict the height and width to keep them controlled.
The tree has several names, including Ficus Audrey, Banyan Tree, Banyan Fig, and Indian Banyan. It thrives in warm temperatures but is temperamental to cold.
No, Ficus Audrey is not a rubber plant but has the exact resemblance. Still, it has glossy to burgundy foliage that is smaller with a matte emerald green tint. The woody trunks are dark and leggy.
Whether you want to buy, sell or simply reach out to other plant enthusiasts, Plantly is the right place to be!