Ficus (Fig) (Moraceae)
If protected from draughts, ficus will tolerate both low and high temperatures, but they are happiest in a temperature of 55 to 60° F. (13 to 16° C). They will. Grow in all positions, but if in a light position should be moved to shade when new leaves emerge, as too much light, especially sunlight, will cause the leaves to be hard and small. They prefer to be evenly moist in spring and summer, but take care not to over-water in winter. Sponging the leaves not only benefits the plants, but also improves the glossy appearance of the leaves.
Ficus benjamina (weeping)
origin: India, Malaya.
An attractive and highly individual plant. Its upright, woody stem and numerous branches covered with small dark green leaves give the impression of a graceful weeping tree. It requires a minimum temperature of 50° F. (10° C.) and should always be kept moist in summer, but allowed to almost dry out between waterings. Prefers a semi-shaded position out of direct sunlight. Some yellowing and dropping of the leaves may occur naturally in winter, but this loss will be more than replaced in the growing season.
F. elastica decora (rubber plant)
A highly decorative and popular house plant. The dark green, leathery leaves grow spirally from an upright stem, each leaf being attached by a thin stalk about l in. long. The leaves are about 9 to 12 in. in length and 5 to 7 in. wide. During the growing months, the sheath containing the furled new leaf at the growing tip of the plant is coloured bright red, but it turns brown and falls off when the new leaf emerges. Remove it if it becomes lodged, as it may cause the new leaf to rot.
F.e. Doescheri (variegated rubber plant)
The only large-leaved variegated ficus. Similar in appearance to F.e. Decora, but the leaves are longer and narrower. The young leaves have broad, irregularly shaped cream markings round the edges, which become narrower as the leaf matures. The centre of the leaf is of two shades of green in irregular patches. A striking and highly decorative though delicate plant, which requires warmth and humidity. Keep in a light position out of direct sunlight. Keep moist in summer and rather dry in winter; if the soil becomes really dry, however, the leaves will droop and may fall off. Take care also not to over-water this plant, or the edges of the leaves will turn brown. If this should happen, trim off the brown edges with scissors, and allow the plant to dry out almost completely before attempting to water it again.
F. pumila (creeping fig) origin: China, Japan. This climbing, creeping or trailing plant, with its thin stems and thick growth of elongated, heart-shaped leaves, is quite unlike other members of the family. The leaves are about 1/2 in. across and 1 in. long. Unlike most house plants, it should always be kept moist. Never let the soil dry out. An occasional spray over the leaves and regular feeding during the growing season are beneficial. The plant will withstand moderate to cool temperatures, and in a coolwill climba wall rapidly, supported by its aerial roots. It prefers a shaded or semi-shaded position.
F.p. Variegata. This variegated form is dainty and highly decorative. The leaves are blotched with white, and although they tend to revert to green during the winter, the new growth in spring and summer will be variegated. Treatment and conditions as for F. pumila, but with more light (not direct sunlight).