The evergreen tree plant Ficus microcarpa is a member of the Mulberry family. It is distinguished by an average rate of development and growth. Under natural conditions, such a plant can reach a height of about 25 meters. But it will take a very long time for it to reach this size. Often, such a ficus is an epiphytic plant that, having become powerful and tall, can literally destroy its support, strangling it.
In indoor conditions, the plant is a tree, the average height of which is about one and a half meters. It is distinguished by relatively thick air roots. As a rule, they do not reach the surface of the substrate and form unusual shapes. Thanks to the aerial roots, the tree feels more confident in the flowerpot. Its branches are decorated with glossy elliptical leaf plates. Ficus microcarpa blooms very impressively and unusually. During the flowering period, inflorescences are formed on gray shoots, which outwardly resemble a small ball. Inside this inflorescence are heterosexual flowers. However, it should be borne in mind that in room culture, flowers are not formed on such a tree.
This plant comes from the tropical latitudes of China and Japan. In nature, such a ficus can be found in the Philippines, Australia, and in the southeastern part of Asia.
Brief description of cultivation
- Air temperature. In the warm season – not higher than 23 degrees, and in the winter months – not colder than 16 degrees.
- Air humidity. It should be high at any time of the year.
- Illumination. Needs a lot of bright light to be diffused. Shading is required on the southern windowsill.
- Watering. It is necessary to moisten the soil mixture in the pot only after its surface dries. Make sure that no dry crust forms on the surface of the substrate.
- Substrate. To prepare a substrate suitable for planting, it is necessary to combine peat, sand, leaf and sod soil, taken in equal proportions. A ready-made commercial soil mixture for ficuses is also suitable.
- Fertilizer. Top dressing is carried out throughout the spring-summer period with a frequency of twice a month. To do this, use a special fertilizer for ficuses.
- Transplant. While the ficus is young, it is transplanted annually in spring, and adult bushes – once every 2.5 years.
- Reproduction. By seed method, cuttings, root cuttings and air layers.
- Features of care. Ficus reacts negatively to any rearrangements, because of this he experiences great stress. In summer, it is recommended to take the plant out into fresh air, while choosing a place for it that has reliable protection from gusts of wind. In springtime, all stems should be cut off, with 4 leaf plates remaining on each of them.
Caring for ficus microcarp at home
After you purchase the ficus microcarp, it will take some time for it to adapt. In order to accelerate the plant’s habituation to new conditions, it is provided with the most optimal conditions for growth.
Remember that such a plant needs reliable protection from sudden changes in temperature and exposure to drafts. Be sure to adhere to the optimal temperature regime. In the winter months, ficus is kept in a cool place (from 16 to 18 degrees). In the warm season, the plant feels best at an air temperature of 23 to 25 degrees. If the temperature in the room is above 25 degrees, then the bush needs to be provided with more frequent humidification from a spray bottle and watering.
If the plant is in a microclimate favorable for it, then its leaf plates shine effectively and are distinguished by high elasticity. The state of the ficus microcarpa is particularly influenced by the level of humidity in the room. He feels best in high humidity.
It is necessary to moisten the foliage from the sprayer regularly, while special attention should be paid to this procedure in the autumn-winter period. Make sure that no moisture gets on the trunk during spraying. Also, the level of humidity is increased with the help of household air humidifiers, and even a pot with a tree can be placed on a deep pallet filled with wet expanded clay.
In order for the ficus to be always effective and neat, simple hygiene rules must be followed. Provide the plant with regular wiping of the leaf plates with a pre-moistened soft cloth. This procedure is carried out once every 1.5 weeks. He also gets a warm shower from time to time.
Immediately after purchasing the ficus, you should choose the most suitable place for it. The fact is that he reacts extremely negatively to any permutation. For the normal development of culture, a large amount of bright and diffused light is needed. On the southern windowsill, the plant must be protected from direct scorching rays of the sun, as they can leave burns on the foliage.
In order to understand whether it is necessary to water the plant or not, take an ordinary match and stick it into the substrate. Pull out the match. If it is dry, then it’s time to moisten the soil mixture. If the substrate is still wet at a depth of 25 mm, then you should wait with watering. Please note that overdrying an earthen coma can cause foliage to fly around, and stagnation of moisture in the substrate can cause root rot.
If the room is cool, then the amount of watering should be reduced. After some time after moistening the substrate, be sure to drain the accumulated liquid from the pan. Water for irrigation should be well-settled and slightly warm. It is possible to reduce the evaporation of moisture from the soil mixture by mulching its surface with crushed bark.
The flowerpot should be low but fairly wide and also highly resistant. Several drainage holes should be made at the bottom. In diameter, the pot should be equal to 2/3 of the height of the plant itself. At the bottom, be sure to make a drainage layer of a decent thickness, and do not forget to leave enough free space so that the root system of the bush can fit in the pot.
Such a plant is very demanding on the composition of the soil mixture. To prepare the substrate with your own hands, combine leaf and sod soil, as well as sand and peat (1: 1: 1: 1). If desired, in a specialized store, you can purchase a ready-made soil mixture for ficus. Whichever soil you choose, it must be combined with a small amount of brick chips and vermiculite in order to improve its drainage properties.
Thanks to timely feeding, the plant’s immunity becomes stronger, and the bush itself becomes more effective. Throughout spring and summer, feeding is carried out twice a month, for this they use a universal mineral complex for ficuses. The nutrient mixture is dissolved in water and the substrate is poured into it, and this is done after watering in the evening. In addition, the culture needs regular foliar feeding. After feeding, the bush must be protected from direct sunlight for 24 hours. No feeding is carried out during the winter months.
Ficus microcarp transplant
While the bush is young, it is transplanted annually in the spring, and the old pot is replaced with a new one with a larger diameter. When the plant becomes an adult, its transplants are carried out less often, or rather, once every 2.5 years.
Remove the ficus from the container and carefully clean its root system from the old substrate. Then the roots should be shortened by 50–70 mm. The new pot should be 40 mm larger than the old one. Make a good drainage layer on the bottom of the container.
Cover the drain with a layer of substrate and place a bush in the container. Next, gradually pour the soil mixture into the pot and compact it around the roots. Please note that the root collar should be at the same level as before the transplant. Water the transplanted bush, and when the water is completely absorbed, add fresh soil mixture to the pot.
After transplanting, the plant is shaded for several days, while it is not watered for 7 days. The first feeding is carried out 2 weeks after transplantation. If the bush is very large, then it is not transplanted, but only the top layer of the soil mixture is replaced with a fresh substrate.
In order to give the crown a spectacular shape, you need to provide the plant with systematic pruning. All stems are shortened in the spring, with 4 leaf plates remaining on each of them. All sections of the slices must be blotted to remove the milky juice. Then they are sprinkled with crushed charcoal.
Also, prune the top of the bush, thanks to this, the trunk will become thicker, and the formation of side shoots will also be activated. After the young shoots appear, you can give them any shape that you like. This tree is grown in the form of a bonsai.
In this plant, the dormant period begins in mid-November and ends in the first spring days. During the dormant period, the plant should be at room temperature, while making sure that the room is not colder than 15 degrees. If the room is hot, then the ficus needs to be provided with additional lighting, for this, you can use a phytolamp.
Water the bush sparingly. If the room has low air humidity, then moisten the foliage with a sprayer. Also, the pot can be placed on a deep pallet filled with wet expanded clay.
On a flowering tree, you can see the formed syconia, which are small inflorescences and have the shape of a closed rounded plane. Inside the inflorescences, there are both male and female flowers. Pollination occurs with the help of small wasps, which enter the syconium through a not very large hole.
Immediately after the formation of the syconia, they have a golden color. However, after a while they change their color to cherry. After ripening, the formation of very small fruits is observed on the site of the syconium. It was this feature of the plant that gave rise to the choice of the name: “microcarpa” in translation means “miniature fruit”.
Growing from seeds
Ficus microcarp can be grown from seeds, but this method is not popular. The seed is very fine. It has a low germination rate, and the seedlings are extremely slow in growth.
Treat the seeds with a growth-promoting agent. Then they are sown in a mixture of sphagnum moss and peat. The crops are covered with a film on top, they are watered moderately, and they also provide bottom heating. When the first seedlings appear, the shelter is removed. When the seedlings grow up and get stronger, they are planted in separate pots, while they are buried to the first leaf plates.
When the plant is pruned, pick out all of the strongest woody stems. They are used for cutting cuttings, the length of which should be about 15 centimeters. Slices are made at an angle, then they are blotted, removing the milky juice. Then treat with a root stimulating agent. Then they are planted in a substrate of peat and sphagnum moss. Cover them with foil.
If the cuttings are provided with plenty of bright light, they will form roots in 1.5 months. For rooting, you can use a glass of water in which coal powder is dissolved. Remember to systematically replace the water with fresh water. When the cutting takes root, all leaf plates are cut off from it. Next, the cutting is planted in a permanent pot.
Propagation by root cuttings
Ficus is propagated by root cuttings during transplantation. Plant the stalk in the soil mixture, while leaving about 3 cm above the surface. Cover the stalk with foil, do not forget to ventilate it regularly. Moistening the substrate is carried out immediately after it dries. After about 3 months, the cutting should be rooted. When this happens, young shoots will appear. After 4 new sheet plates are formed, the film is removed. The bush is transferred to a well-lit place and is cared for like an adult plant.
Propagation by air layers
Step about 70 cm from the top of the stem. Make several small cuts at this point, 40 mm apart. Place matches in the cuts to prevent the cavity from closing. The area where there are cuts is covered with moistened sphagnum moss. The moss is wrapped with a film, in which several holes are made. Fix the film at the bottom and top.
Remember to regularly moisten the moss with a syringe filled with water. After about 4 weeks, roots should appear, after which the film is removed. Carefully cut the stalk under the roots and plant in a separate pot.
Remember that a bush grown from a cuttings does not form basal thickenings. They are formed only in a plant that has grown from a seed.
If you take care of the ficus microcarpa incorrectly, then problems such as:
- Thin stems with overly small leaf blades are formed. Too poor lighting and lack of nutrients.
- Suddenly, green foliage flew around. A sharp jump in temperature, stagnation of moisture in the roots, rearrangement to a new place, wetting the substrate with cold water, or the influence of a draft.
- The foliage turned yellow and flew around. Poor lighting, acute shortage of water, excessively low air humidity, or the plant needs urgent feeding.
- Yellowing of the leaf plates. The bush feels an acute lack of moisture, or it stagnates in the root system on the contrary, this may also be due to a lack of trace elements.
- Gray specks formed on the leaf blades. Due to the regular stagnation of water in the soil, rot has appeared on the root system. Cut out all the affected parts of the roots, treat the bush with a fungicidal preparation, then plant it in a fresh, well-drained soil mixture, and also make a better drainage layer.
- The foliage is curled up. The plant is sunburned.
- Pests. Mealybugs, scale insects, and aphids can settle on the tree. Give the infected plant a warm shower, and then treat it with an insecticidal solution.
Indoor ficus microcarpa helps to purify the air from various harmful carbon compounds, for example: phenol, benzene and formaldehyde.