The small-leaved shrub Ficus benjamina is a member of the mulberry family. It is very popular among flower growers. In this case, the plant got its name in honor of Jackson Benjamin Dadon, a botanist from Spain. However, many people mistakenly believe that it was named after American President Benjamin Franklin. This plant is characterized by its unpretentiousness, and it is worth noting that the first 3 months of life in a new place are the most difficult for it.
If the ficus does not get sick or die during this time, it means it will be relatively easy to care for in the future.
Peculiarities of Benjamin ficus
In nature, Benjamin ficus is found in India, South China, Philippines, Malaysia and North Australia. The size of the bush depends on growth conditions and the variety, and it can range from 50 to 300 centimeters. On average, the shrub grows 20 centimeters tall in one year.
You will not see this shrub blooming when grown at home.
However, in greenhouses it can form syconias, which are ball-shaped flowers, similar in appearance to berries.
This shrub is a perennial that is unpretentious in its care and undemanding to the conditions of cultivation. It is cultivated as an ornamental deciduous plant.
- Temperature. During the summer, the optimum temperature for shrub growth and development is 18-25 degrees.
During the winter months, you can move the bush to a cooler place (not below 16 degrees).
- Air Humidity. The bush needs increased air humidity. For this reason, it should be systematically moistened with a sprayer. Particular attention must be given to spraying in winter, when the air humidity is very low because of working heating devices.
- Lightness. The bush grows well on a sunny window sill, but it is recommended to protect it from direct sunlight. In winter it is recommended to arrange for backlighting.
- Pouring. Humidify the substrate in the pot systematically: in summer twice a week and in winter once every 7 days.
Make sure that the surface of the potting soil dries out between waterings.
- Mixed soil. A nutrient substrate should include components such as: sand, leaf and sod soil, and a small amount of charcoal.
- Fertilizer. Ficus fertilization is done from spring to fall.
Liquid fertilizer is used for this, and it is applied to the substrate twice a month. Experienced flower growers recommend feeding the bush alternately with organic and mineral fertilizers.
- Transplantation. While the shrub is young, it is transplanted annually. An adult plant can do without transplanting, but it must be planted in a pot that reaches more than 30 centimeters across.
In this case it only has to have the upper 30mm layer of substrate replaced every year.
- Repropagation. By apical cuttings, by grafts and by seed.
- Trimming. There are several ways of pruning the ficus, with which the crown of the bush can be given a bent or bush-like shape.
Ficus Benjamin in room conditions. Care, watering, overview
Home care for Benjamin ficus
Most florists are not aware that the Benjamin ficus is actually a flowering plant. The fact is that it does not flower when grown at home. But even in nature and in greenhouse conditions during flowering on it form not flowers, but syconias, which are modified inflorescences that look like round peas.
If when growing in a greenhouse on a weakened bush there are such flowers, then experts recommend, they must be removed.
The fact is that the ficus spends a lot of energy on flowering.
This room culture belongs to heat-loving plants. It does best at 18-25 degrees in the summertime. Note that some of the mottled varieties need higher air temperatures.
In winter time, it is recommended to keep the ficus in a place where the air temperature does not drop below 16 degrees.
The shrub is moved to a different room for the duration of airing.
The shrub needs increased air humidity for normal growth and development, so it should be moistened systematically with a sprinkler. Particular attention should be paid to humidifying the foliage during the heating season in winter and on hot summer days.
Another method can also be used to increase the humidity level. You can do this by putting some expanded clay material in a tray and pouring some water in.
Place a pot with the plant on top.
The bush needs plenty of bright sunlight, which should always be diffused. It feels best on western and eastern windowsills. If you put the ficus on the southern window, it will need shading from the direct rays of the sun (you can use ordinary tulle for this). If it's placed on a northern window sill, it will need less light to grow.
When growing varieties with a variety of spots, look at the color of the leaves to find the best spot. The more light spots on the leaf plates, the more light the plant needs. The fact is that light-colored foliage contains minimal chlorophyll.
Special attention should be paid to watering the ficus. It reacts negatively both to too much potting soil and to stagnant water in the roots.
Please note that you should only water after the top layer of substrate has dried out. You only need to insert a finger 30mm deep into the top layer to see how dry it is. If the substrate is dry it must be moistened. If only the surface is dry, watering should be delayed.
Young Ficus is growing rapidly.
This is why it needs to be re-potted each year. The old pot should be 20-30 mm smaller in cross-section than the new pot. Once the bush is four years old, regular pot changes are no longer necessary.
To avoid liquid stagnation in the soil mixture, choose a pot with holes for drainage at the bottom. The pot can be made of any material such as plastic or ceramic.
Suitable potting soil
Material such as
- sand, leaf and sod soil, charcoal
- sand and leaf soil, sand and peat must be used for the Benjamin to grow and develop properly.
When planting or transplanting, remember to make a good layer of claydite drainage at the bottom of the pot.
Feed the plant during the growing season, which begins in March and ends with the onset of October. Liquid mineral fertilizer is used for this purpose. Apply it to the substrate once every 15 days.
You can make alternating organic and mineral fertilizer.
Fertilizing can also be carried out on the leaves. Prepare a mild mineral fertilizer solution for this. Remember not to give too much nitrogen to the bush as this can make its variegated leaves simply turn green.
A young ficus has a very fast growth during its first four years.
As a result, it will need to be transplanted systematically once a year. Bushes older than five years can be not replanted at all, but only every spring to replace the top layer of substrate. But this is only if the plant is not overcrowded in the pot.
Pot transplant an adult ficus if:
- his root system has completely covered the ground;
- the potting soil dries out very quickly after watering;
- the roots can be seen from the holes in the bottom of the pot.
Pot transplanted by transplanting.
How to transplant a Benjamin Ficus 🌿
Benjaminus is often used in the art of bonsai. The fact is that with proper pruning and trimming, you can give the crown of the bush the shape you want.
The easiest way to give the crown a shrub-like shape. To do this in spring, shorten the main shoots to around 15 centimetres and the side shoots to around 10 centimetres. An overly dense crown needs thinning.
To do this, cut out all branches pointing inward. Cut back all side shoots to create a bent shape.
Trimming the Benjamin Ficus
Can I leave it untended during my vacation?
Moving flowersmen worry about whether the plant will die during their absence. It should be remembered that this plant can normally exist without the owner's attention for a maximum of 7 days. Before going away, however, you place it inside the room, away from the window.
If you are going on vacation for a long time, you better ask a friend to come over from time to time and water your plant.
Benjaminus to grow indoors can be propagated by cuttings. To obtain them, use a very sharp knife that should be disinfected beforehand. The cutting should be semi-tree-ripened, not young or very old. Remove any milky sap that has run out of the cuttings with water.
If you want the roots to come out as quickly as possible, make an incision at the base of the cutting. Place the cuttings in a jar with water and cover them with a transparent cover to maintain an optimal microclimate. As a rule, the cuttings give roots after 7-15 days. The rooted cuttings should be planted in a permanent pot with a transparent plastic bag on top for the first time.
This method of propagating Benjamin Ficus is the easiest and fastest.
Propagating Benjamin Ficus.
How to propagate by grafts
To obtain a graft, a ring-shaped cut must be made on a single wooded trunk. Carefully remove the bark and wrap moistened moss around this area, which is then covered with plastic film. After a while, roots will form on this spot. When this happens, cut off the offshoot and plant it in a permanent pot.
Growing from seed
Handy florists advise soaking the seed in clean water for 24 hours before sowing the ficus. Fill the pot with a moistened mixture of peat and sand, then sow the seeds. Only submerge the seeds in the substrate by 5 mm. To allow the seeds to warm up well, cover them with foil from above and place them on a hot radiator. Seeds need systematic airing and moistening from a sprayer.
The first seedlings should show after one to two months.
Diseases and pests
Fruit growers often encounter the following problems when growing Benjamin ficus:
- Flattering of the lower leaf plates. This can be a quite natural process in which older leaf plates gradually die off. But sometimes it can also be due to too little light or to overcooling.
- Wilting and curling of the leaves.
This is the case if the room is too cold.
- The tips of the leaf blades turn brown. This is due to too little humidity.
- New shoots grow too thin. This is due to too little light and a lack of nutrients.
- Yellowing of the leaves. This is due to rotting of the roots due to constant fluid stagnation in the substrate.
- Leaf plates become soft. This is due to overcooling of the plant.
- The appearance of brown or yellow spots on the leaves.
Excessive light causes sunburn on the leaves.
Pests such as the scale, powdery mildew and spider mite can settle.
Pests of the Benjamin Ficus! How to deal with Ficus pests!
Benjamin Ficus varieties with photos
The Benjamin Ficus has several varieties. In each of them flower growers distinguish their own features.
This variety is characterized by its unpretentiousness and compactness.
The bush is decorated with dark green leaf plates that have a wavy edge. Specialists recommend this cultivar to beginners in floriculture because it is easy to care for.
It looks almost the same as the Exotica cultivar. The only thing is that it has a larger, dark green foliage (about 60mm).
This variety is quite popular in room culture.
But there are 2 very similar cultivars: Monique and Golden Monique with gold colored leaves. Compared to the previous two varieties, this plant is more demanding to care for.
This variety is the most popular with florists. And it is beloved for the mottled color of the leaf plates. On the surface of the greenish leaves there are chaotically placed not very big pale green spots.
The edges of the plates are flat.
The dark green leaf plate has a greenish border. The leaves are no more than 50 millimeters long. This variety needs regular pruning and shaping. Its crown can be shaped into almost any shape.
This variety has the most unique leaf pattern. The plate itself is of a dark green hue and is adorned by a relatively wide border of pale green.
This variety is remarkable because its leaf plates are almost completely colored in white. As the foliage contains a small amount of chlorophyll, the shrub needs plenty of light.
The small leaf plates of this plant are very effectively curled, making it have a rather unusual appearance.
SORT OF Ficus Benjamin. Description and photos of varieties of Ficus Benjamin.
Superstitions and omens
Few flower growers believe that any plant has special magical properties. The Benjamin ficus has a rather unenviable reputation. The fact is that it is considered a persecutor of men, or mugger.
Since ancient times superstitious people believe that if this shrub grows at an unmarried woman in the house, she is unlikely to marry. If a married woman would bring this plant into her house, it would first ruin the man's character and then drive him out of the house altogether.
However, only the Slavs had such an opinion about the Benjamin ficus. As for the inhabitants of China and Thailand, on the contrary, they believed that this plant was the guardian of the home and the family..