For those who have loved and lost the finicky fiddle leaf fig, we introduce ficus Audrey (Ficus benghalensis). A close relative of the fiddle leaf fig, ficus Audrey is easier to grow and care for indoors and has a similar growth habit and appearance. However, it can be distinguished from the fiddle leaf by its smaller, slightly fuzzy oblong leaves and smooth, light-colored trunk. Similar to fiddle leaf figs and other relatives in the Ficus genus, ficus Audrey is considered toxic to pets so be sure to keep it out of reach of any curious fur babies
|Botanical Name||Ficus benghalensis|
|Common Name||Ficus Audrey, banyan tree, strangler fig|
|Mature Size||5-10 ft. indoors, 65-100 ft. outdoors|
|Soil Type||Moist but well-drained|
|Hardiness Zones||9-11, US|
Ficus Audrey Care
While it is easier to grow than the fiddle leaf fig, ficus Audrey usually isn't considered a beginner plant as it still requires some specific attention and care. Proper light and watering are the most important elements to get right when it comes to keeping this tree happy indoors. Plus, it benefits from regular pruning to help keep its size and shape in check.
Choose a location that receives several hours of bright, indirect light for your ficus Audrey, such as a south or west-facing window. This indoor tree can tolerate some direct morning and evening sun, just be sure to avoid extended periods of direct sunlight during the afternoon as it may burn the leaves.
Plant your ficus Audrey in a moist but well-draining soil mixture. A combination of indoor potting soil, perlite, and sand is a good option for this tree.
Allow the top 2 to 3 inches of soil to dry between waterings and then water thoroughly. Ficus Audrey does best in consistently moist soil and should never be allowed to dry out completely.
Temperature and Humidity
Native to India, ficus Audrey is accustomed to warm, humid conditions. It does well in typical household temperatures, just ensure that it is not exposed to temperatures below 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Standard household humidity levels are also usually fine, although be sure to keep this tropical plant away from drafty windows or AC/heat vents that may dry out the air around it. If your ficus is showing signs of drying out (such as browning edges on the leaves) placing a humidifier nearby or moving the plant into a humid room such as a bathroom or laundry room will help.
Ficus Audrey appreciates regular fertilizing during its active growing period. Fertilize once a month from the early spring to early fall with a balanced liquid fertilizer. You can also add natural fertilizers such as compost, worm castings, or bone/blood meal to the soil of.
Since ficus Audrey can grow up to 10 feet tall indoors, pruning is a necessary part of caring for this indoor tree. Not only will pruning help to control the size of your plant, but it encourages the tree to branch more vigorously which will make it more aesthetically pleasing and structurally sound.
It is best to prune in the spring or summer months when the ficus Audrey is in its active growing period. Before you start, make sure that you lay down a protective sheet below the plant. Similar to its cousin the rubber tree, pruning causes this ficus to expels a thin latex-like sap that is extremely sticky. Keep any stem cuttings that you remove during pruning and repurpose them for propagation!
These indoor trees do not need vigorous pruning every year, but pruning a few branches will control the shape and encourage a fuller appearance. Target any branches that are leggy or give your plant a lopsided appearance. If your tree doesn’t have any branches yet and is just a single tall stalk, you can cut the top of the stalk off wherever you would like branching to start.
Propagating Ficus Audrey
In the wild ficus Audrey propagates readily through seed and offshoots, but indoors it is easiest to propagate this tree by stem cuttings. If you have ever propagated a fiddle leaf fig or rubber tree the process for this ficus is pretty much the same. Make sure that you lay down a sheet and wear protective gloves before getting started to avoid getting the Audrey’s sticky sap on yourself and the surfaces around you. Follow these simple steps to propagate ficus Audrey.
- Identify a spot along the stem that you would like to propagate. Ensure that each stem cutting will have at least 2 to 3 leaves.
- Using a pair of sharp, sterilized pruning shears or scissors, cut the stem to separate it from the main plant.
- Prepare a small pot with well-draining potting soil and moisten it slightly with a spray bottle.
- Add a rooting hormone to the end of each cutting and push the end of the cutting into the soil mix.
- Place a plastic bag over the pot to create a greenhouse-like environment and put the cutting(s) in a location that receives bright, indirect light. Water as needed to ensure that the soil stays moist.
- After 3 to 4 weeks roots should begin to grow, and you can remove the plastic bag.
Potting and Repotting Ficus Audrey
Ficus Audrey does not require regular repotting and does well in the same container for 2 to 3 years at a time. It doesn't mind being a bit rootbound, and should only be repotted once you see signs that the roots are outgrowing the container (such as roots growing through the pot's drainage holes).
Once you have determined it is time to repot, it is best to do so in the spring or summer months. Choose a new pot for that is around 2 to 3 inches wider. You want to avoid increasing the pot size by more than 3 inches as this can lead to overwatering. Remove the tree from its previous container and gently loosen some of the old soil around the roots before moving it to its new pot. Add fresh well-draining soil to the pot, keeping the rootball at the same level as in the original pot. Then water your freshly planted ficus Audrey well and return it to its original location.
If you are trying to control the size of of the plant and do not want it to grow any taller, you can choose to refresh the soil but not increase the pot size. You will need to prune back the roots at this time so the tree can continue to grow in its original container.
Ficus Audrey is prone to sap-sucking pests that love its sticky sap. Keep an eye out for pests like mealybugs, scale, and aphids. Although they aren’t a sap-sucking pest, fungus gnats can also be a problem as they love to lay their eggs in moist soil. Check for pests as part of your regular care routine in order to catch potential infestations early.
Common Problems With Ficus Audrey
The most common problems with growing a ficus Audrey indoors usually come from improper watering. Compared to other ficus trees, the Audrey is relatively resilient to some occasional over- or under-watering. However, it will suffer over the long term if it is not cared for properly. Here are a couple of things to watch out for.
Leaves Turning Yellow
Yellow leaves can be the result of a couple of different problems. First, if you notice one or two older leaves yellowing and falling off this could just be a natural part of the tree’s life cycle. It is normal for older leaves to fall off eventually. However, if you notice newer or an unusual number of leaves turning yellow and falling off, this is likely due to either over- or under-watering.
While ficus Audrey is less fussy than its relative, the fiddle leaf fig, they both share the habit of dramatically dropping leaves if their watering schedule is off. If your ficus Audrey is dropping leaves it is most likely because it is under-watered. While these trees can tolerate a short period of drought after each watering, they should not dry out completely and will start to drop leaves if they dry out too much. A good watering should stop leaves from dropping.
How big does a ficus Audrey get?
Indoors, a ficus Audrey normally tops out at around 10 feet tall, and 3 to 4 feet wide. This is dependent on its growing conditions and environment. Its ultimate height and width will also be affected by pruning. In its natural environment, a ficus Audrey (or banyan tree) can grow over 100 feet tall and several acres wide.
Is ficus Audrey a fast grower?
With the right conditions, ficus Audrey is considered a moderate grower indoors. A lack of light or water will cause its growth to slow.
Can you grow ficus Audrey outdoors?
You can grow ficus Audrey outdoors although it requires warm, humid conditions. It can grow year-round in USDA zones 9 to 11, or you can move it outdoors in the summer months if you choose. Just ensure it does not get exposed to temperatures below 65 degrees Farenheit.Learn More: State Maps of USDA Hardiness Zones for Planting
Pet Poison Helpline. “Ficus.” Petpoisonhelpline.com. N.p., n.d. Web.