Ficus benghalensis is an evergreen tree that is highly valued for its decorative qualities and useful properties. So, the plant is able to cleanse the atmosphere of harmful compounds, improves sleep, relieves stress, and is also used to create healing and care products. Even a beginner in floriculture can cope with the cultivation of indoor Ficus benghalensis, the main thing is to follow the simple rules of caring for the crop.
Description of the species
Ficus benghalensis is a perennial from the Mulberry family. The native land of the species is Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka. The plant prefers to live in the forests of the foothills. In its natural habitat, Ficus benghalensis can grow to a mark of about 40 m, but cultivated species that belong to the group of large indoor plants do not grow more than 3 m. The plant does not require special care at home, but it is able to decorate any office or House.
- large (up to 20 x 6 cm) fleshy leaves of rich green color, with a glossy surface and light green veins. The shape of the leaf plates is from oval and round to pointed (different leaves can grow on the same tree);
- the branches and trunk of the ficus are capable of forming multiple aerial roots that reach the surface of the soil and take root on their own. These roots are present only in ficuses that are more than 3 years old. Due to this feature, the culture received the name “banyan tree”;
- since aerial roots grow rapidly and cover huge areas, you can often find whole ficus forests. In the natural environment, the growth of the plant is about 100 cm per year;
- flowering of Ficus benghalensis at home is a very rare phenomenon. In the wild, the culture blooms with inflorescences that do not carry decorative value;
fruiting is represented by orange spherical berries with a diameter of 2-3 cm. Berries serve as food for birds and small animals;
- Thanks to pruning and flexible shoots, Ficus benghalensis can take on the most bizarre forms, which is why the culture is so often used in the art of bonsai.
It is worth noting that Ficus benghalensis is not the only one that can form a banyan tree. Also, science knows other plants that are capable of this. Nevertheless, it is the culture in question that is considered the brightest tree in this regard. The largest Ficus benghalensis in the world grows in the Kolkata Botanical Garden (West Bengal, India). The plant, together with all aerial and secondary roots, covered an area of about 1-½ hectares. It is more than 200 years old, and the trunk has a diameter of 12 meters.
Reproduction of Ficus benghalensis
At home, Ficus benghalensis can be propagated in three ways: seed, layering and cuttings.
This breeding method is only suitable for large Ficus benghalensises. Select a specific area on the tree trunk. Remove all branches and leaves from it. In the center of the plot, cut off a piece of bark in the shape of a circle about 1.5 centimeters wide. To get an even cut, make the following cuts: two transverse and one longitudinal between them. Then the cut site will need to be treated with a root growth stimulant. Next, attach a moss cloth to the area so that about 2 cm goes beyond the contour along the entire perimeter. Wrap the moss-lined trunk with transparent cling film. Open it up periodically to saturate the moss with water. When the layers hatch, and this will happen in a couple of months, they can be cut off and transplanted into a separate container.
To propagate Ficus benghalensis by cuttings, take only apical cuttings with a length of at least 15-20 cm. Cut them off carefully, at a slight angle. The leaves present on the bottom of the cuttings are removed, and the large upper leaf plates are rolled into tubes (this is necessary so that moisture does not evaporate so rapidly from their surface). The sections of the slices are wiped off the milky juice with ordinary water at room temperature. Then you need to wait until they dry. Next, we proceed to rooting the cuttings. To do this, you can use one of 2 methods:
- Rooting in water. Take a small reservoir and fill it with water and a pinch of charcoal. Coal in this case serves as a prevention of the appearance of rot. Place the cuttings in a container and place them in a bright, warm place. You can even build something like a greenhouse. Rooting will take place in about two to three weeks.
- Rooting in soil mixture. After processing the ends of the cuttings with a root growth stimulant, they are buried in the ground by 1-2 centimeters, and the entire pot is wrapped in a plastic bag. The soil in the pot needs a lower heat source, so the container is usually placed on a radiator or heater. In this case, the humidity in the room should also be increased. In the case of working with cuttings on which large leaves have already grown, it is recommended to cut off the middle part of the shoot with a couple of internodes.
Growing Ficus benghalensis with seeds is a fairly simple and effective process, but it will take you much more time to get the result. To speed up the germination of seeds, you can think of a kind of greenhouse.
- Select a container of the required size, fill it with soil for young plants and spread the seeds over its surface, deepening them literally by 1.5 cm;
- treat the substrate with water from a spray bottle, place the container in a bright, warm place and close it with a lid or transparent bag;
- periodically look into the container to moisten the soil and let the seedlings “breathe”;
- wait until the hatched sprouts get stronger and plant them in individual containers.
Ficus benghalensis care
Before purchasing a Ficus benghalensis seedling, think about whether your home is suitable for growing this crop. The same should be considered when choosing a plant for the office. The main requirement is a lot of free space in the room, since, as mentioned above, the ficus can grow up to 3 meters. And caring for this evergreen tree won’t give you too much trouble.
Location and lighting
Although ficuses are used to living in sunny regions, they are calm about lighting. Of course, putting a flower in the shade forever is not worth it, there must still be a window somewhere nearby. But, in principle, the LED lamp standing next to it will be enough for the plant. In order for the crown of Ficus benghalensis to grow evenly on all sides, the pot needs to be rotated from time to time around its axis.
The pot (or better the flowerpot) for the culture must be strong and stable. Large ficuses are usually planted in wooden boxes or ceramic pots. And young ficuses can temporarily grow and develop even in plastic containers. If you don’t want the plant to grow too much, plant it in a pot that is smaller than required.
For ficuses, a stable temperature of 18-25 ° C is required throughout the year. If there is even a slight deviation from these indicators, the leaves of the culture will most likely begin to fall off. Also, be sure to protect Ficus benghalensis from drafts.
Watering the ficus should be regular, but moderate (a couple of times a week). It is necessary to start moistening the soil when its top layer approximately 2 cm thick becomes dry. Make sure that there is no stagnation of moisture in the soil and each time after watering, drain the drops that have lingered in the pan. In winter, during the dormant period, the frequency of watering should be reduced to once every one and a half weeks.
Air humidity in the range of 50-60% is a prerequisite for the ficus to feel good. In this case, the humidity level must be kept at a given level constantly. There are several ways to create this indoor climate:
- spray the foliage with a spray bottle once a week, increasing the frequency if the ficus is near the home heating system or when the hot summer has come. Use purified or settled water at room temperature (or better, a little warmer) for spraying;
- Wipe dust off the leaves regularly with a non-abrasive damp sponge. Also, ficus can be “bathed” under a warm shower in the bathroom;
- place the pot with the plant on a deep tray containing wet pieces of expanded clay.
Ficuses prefer dense, fertile soil, the acidity of which will be neutral or weak. The soil for ficuses can be purchased at a specialized store, or you can prepare it yourself. In the second case, you will need turf soil, leafy soil, low-lying peat and river sand in equal parts. Before filling the pot with soil, do not forget about drainage.
For ficuses, complex mineral dressings in granules are suitable, but they must be applied with caution. So, try not to frequent too much and maintain a 3-4 week interval between the next portions of fertilizers. At the same time, gardeners recommend giving ficus only ½ part of the total dose.
Young ficuses need to be replanted every year. The first time should happen in the spring of the year when the ficus turns 2 years old. Pick a new pot for the plant that is slightly larger than the previous one. Older ficuses are transplanted every 5 years, but if the plant is already too large, you can simply update the upper layer of the substrate. The scheme of actions is as follows:
- put pieces of brick, expanded clay or bark on the bottom of the pot;
prepare a soil mixture of humus, leafy soil, sand, clay and peat (in equal proportions) or pour the finished purchased substrate into the pot;
water the ficus half an hour before the transplant;
- using the transfer method, move the plant to a new pot, before that, carefully cutting off a third of the rhizome.
Ficus benghalensis grows very rapidly, especially if it is properly cared for. But, gardeners know methods by which you can delay the growth of a green handsome man (for example, growing in a cramped pot).
By pruning, you can curb the rapid growth of the plant. As you know, only the main frame of the species extends upward, while lateral shoots are not formed. Because of this, the ficus may soon appear “bald”. It is necessary to start pruning as soon as the culture leaves the phase of winter dormancy, i.e. in the spring. Equip yourself with a sharp pruner and cut the branch however you want. Wipe the milky juice off the cut site and sprinkle with charcoal to disinfect. You will soon notice how undeveloped buds begin to hatch and give rise to new shoots.
As a rule, the culture in question does not have a dormant period as such. However, some subspecies of Ficus benghalensis still fall asleep against the background of a decrease in ambient air temperature and a decrease in the length of daylight hours.
It has already been said that the flowering of a cultivated home Ficus benghalensis is something beyond reality. But, there are still exceptions. Certain species that are grown in flower gardens and greenhouses bloom. Their inflorescences are round, light orange, small and not at all remarkable.
Diseases and pests
Ficus benghalensis has a strong immune system and staunchly resists a variety of parasites and pests. But ficuses that do not receive proper care or grow in poor conditions can still be infested with spider mites, thrips, mealybugs and scale insects. From time to time, carefully inspect your tree in order to determine in a timely manner whether the plant is healthy or not. In particular, carefully inspect the underside of the sheet plates. If you notice bumps, suspicious blotches or discoloration, then the parasites are already in the business. To get rid of insect pests, the first step is to move the ficus pot away from nearby plants. Take it to the bathroom and rinse with warm water from the shower hose. In this case, the leaves can even be wiped with a soft sponge (if desired, moistened with liquid soap). If such measures did not help, it is necessary to treat the trees with broad-spectrum insecticides. By the way, prevention also takes place. Periodic warm showers will only benefit the plant.
Also, Ficus benghalensis can be ill with non-parasitic diseases:
- the appearance of yellow spots on the leaves indicates that you water your green friend too often;
- wilting of foliage in young ficuses indicates that the temperature in the room is lower than it should be or the pot is in a draft;
- dull leaves and slow growth are signs that the soil is lacking nutrients;
- brown blotches along the edges of the leaves appear when the air in the room is too dry and the temperature is too high. The exact same symptom also manifests itself when the owners overdo it with fertilizers.
- the stem becomes too long and the leaves are small. Your ficus plant lacks lighting. Move it closer to the window.