The Ultimate Guide to Growing and Caring for a Ficus Audrey
The national tree of India is the Ficus Audrey. The plant gives the fiddle leaf fig a run in the commercial houseplant world. It’s a relative of the demanding species, but it’s easier to grow with a similar appearance. Here’s everything to know about the Ficus Audrey as an alternative with its benefits and a complete care guide.
What is the Ficus Audrey?
The Ficus Audrey’s scientific name is Ficus Benhalensis. It’s a tree in the family Moraceae. Plantify explains that it’s also called Bengal Fig, Banyan Tree, Banyan Fig, and Strangler Figs. The beautiful houseplant is ideal for beginners because of its easy care requirements. The beautiful foliage is deep green with lighter veins running throughout the leaves. The backside of the oblong-shaped leaves is lighter. The leaves have a light fuzz with smooth grey stems. It grows to heights between 5 to 10 feet indoors and from 65 to 100 feet outdoors.
Ficus Audrey figs grow wild in the countries of Pakistan and India, where the climates support the best growth conditions. You’ll find them growing on other trees where they attach for support. This unique growing situation is where they got the name strangler fig. The plant can spread significantly in an area when left to grow unchecked.
How finicky is the Ficus Audrey plant?
The Spruce confirms that the Ficus Audrey plant is not the best for a beginner as it does have some specific care requirements. Compared to the fiddle leaf plant, it’s not nearly as fussy. The most important thing to remember is to keep the watering and light elements consistent. It needs regular pruning, or the size and shape could grow out of control.
The best soil conditions
The best soil is a mixture of perlite and commercial indoor potting soil mixed with sand. It’s like the natural soil conditions where ficus Audrey grows in the wild. The roots need a semi-porous texture to grow and expand outward. Soil conditions must be well-drained as the root system does not tolerate standing in water for long periods. Suppose you live in a climate where you can plant outdoors, avoid places where the soil is compacted or where there is clay, as it will smother the root system. Light and loamy is the best type, and ensure it is rich in nutrients. Most commercial all-purpose potting soil mixtures will suffice when grown as a houseplant. This exotic tree also does well in sandy soil.
How do you water the Ficus Audrey?
Check the moisture content of the soil by sticking your finger into the soil near the roots. The plant has enough moisture if there is moisture at the 2-3-inch depth. When dry to the touch a few inches deep, it’s time to water the Ficus Audrey. You can allow this plant to become slightly dry, but it does need regular watering and should never go completely dry for extended periods. Avoid overwatering because it will not tolerate sitting in wet soil for long periods. The Ficus Audrey can develop root rot when it’s kept too moist. Frequency depends on the room temperature or outdoor temperature and humidity levels.
If you plant the Ficus Audrey outdoors, it requires several hours of indirect yet bright sunlight. Direct light can burn the leaves, leading to the failure of the plant to thrive. It does best when planted under a canopy of trees and receives about 6 hours of filtered sunlight. If you’re growing it as a houseplant, place it in a window that faces the south or west, but keep it back slightly, so the light is indirect. You can also place it directly in the window with sheer curtain panels pulled to filter the sunlight. If the plant gets a few hours of direct light in the morning, it should tolerate it well. Anything more than a few hours of mild direct sunlight can cause sunburn on the leaves.
What is the best humidity and temperature?
Plant Care Today explains that the Ficus Audrey is sensitive to cool drafts and temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Ideally, consistent temperatures of 70 degrees and higher are healthiest. Keep the plant away from cold, drafty doors and windows during cold months. Also, protect from potential frost damage from being near a window that is not insulated to keep the cold outside when temperatures drop below freezing in the winter. Cool drafts from air conditioners can also cause harm to the plant.
The Ficus Audrey prefers a humid environment. If the climate in your home is dry, you can alleviate stress on the plant by misting the leaves with water in a spray bottle weekly. A pebble tray with water added to the bottom of the pot can also help raise the humidity in the vicinity of the plant. Ficus Audrey is only hardy in zones 10-12. The environment is probably too dry if you notice brown edges on the leaves. You can raise the humidity by placing the plant in a more humid area like a laundry room or bathroom or by placing a humidifier nearby.
Does the Ficus Audrey need fertilizer?
Yes. This plant benefits from natural fertilizers such as worm castings, bone and blood meal, or compost. You can also use a commercial plant fertilizer. Dilute according to the directions on the package. Only water the Ficus Audrey during its growing season. It usually starts early in the spring until the middle of Fall. These plants do not need fertilization when they’re not putting on new growth.
Since the Ficus Audrey is a tree, does it need pruning?
Yes, the Ficus Audrey is a tree that can grow to ten feet as an indoor houseplant. Pruning is not only recommended, but it is a requirement. The vines and leaves can grow out of control if left to grow without grooming. Pruning helps to avoid spindly branches that are weak and whippy. New growth comes in thicker for greater stability. It is also necessary to shape the plant to make it more aesthetically pleasing.
When to prune the Ficus Audrey?
The best time to prune the Ficus Audrey is its active growing period. Anytime from early spring through late summer months are best. It’s necessary to place a plastic sheet under the plant before pruning. When cut, the tree produces a sap that has a sticky quality that is hard to remove from the floors. You may also wish to wear gloves to avoid getting the sap on your skin as its sticky, latex texture adheres to most things it touches.
Also, sterilize the blades of the pruners before you start to avoid introducing bacteria to the wounds made on the plant during the pruning process. Only prune or trim this tree when it needs shaping or when the excess growth needs removal. If you want to make your Ficus Audrey tree bushier, trim the top of the stalk. It causes the plant to produce branching.
When should the plant be repotted?
Ficus Audrey is a fast-growing plant. The roots grow larger and spread, filling the bottom of the pot. When the plant becomes rootbound, and there is no more room for the roots to continue spreading and growing, it’s essential to make more room in the pot. Greenery Unlimited explains that there are two ways to accomplish the task. The first is to transfer the plant into a larger pot. Ideally, choose a new pot that is two to four inches larger in diameter than the root ball.
It should be large enough for continued growth for another 18 to 24 months. The second way to solve the problem is to unpot the plant and trim the roots. A light trim of the roots and foliage is all that is necessary. Change the soil in the pot, replant with the roots covered with the fresh potting soil. Water the plant thoroughly, making sure to plant it in a pot with holes in the bottom for drainage. If you choose the latter method, you will maintain the size of the plant. It’s the best way to keep the Ficus Audrey from growing too large too fast.
How do you propagate Ficus Audrey?
This exotic tree is not difficult to propagate. It’s ideal to start the propagation process when you prune the plant. Plant Care Today confirms that there are two ways to propagate the tree. You can grow the tree from seeds or take cuttings of the branch tips. It’s a good idea to take cuttings when you prune the tree. If you take cuttings from non-woody stems, dip the cut end of the cutting with commercial rooting hormone.
Take the cutting a minimum of a half inch of stem above and below the leaf. Your cutting will be one to two inches long. After you dip the end in the rooting hormone, plant it in a container filled with potting soil. Water thoroughly and care for the plant as you would a mature tree, exposing it to indirect sunlight. Within two weeks, the roots will begin to develop. Watch for signs of new growth, including the development of new leaves. When the plant starts to put on new growth, it’s time to plant it in its permanent container or location in an outdoor garden.
If you grow new Ficus Audrey plants from seeds, allow them to dry after harvesting them from the tree. Plant them in a mixture of moist potting soil just below the surface. Watch for the new sprouts to develop. Keep them moist until you see the plant emerge from the seeds. Keep seedlings watered, but do not overwater them. Keep the young plants in an area that receives indirect sunlight. Transfer to a permanent container when the plant grows to the four-leaf stage. Remember that this plant takes longer when you grow them from seeds, so be patient until the plants break through the soil.
Other tips for caring for your Ficus Audrey Tree
Ficus Audrey’s leaves attract dust and debris from the environment. For the best growing results, mist the plant with clean water with a spray bottle weekly. It helps to remove the dust. You may also gently wipe the leaves with a soft, moist cloth to allow photosynthesis to occur.
Common problems with the Ficus Audrey
Ficus Audrey attracts some pests more than other houseplants. The most problematic are Ficus mealybugs, spider mites, root-knot nematodes, and thrips. These issues are more common in the winter months. The best option for controlling these pests is to use Neem oil. If you notice outward signs of blight, leaf spots, or other bacterial or fungal infections, treat the plant immediately with antifungal and antibacterial treatments.
What are the most common uses for the Ficus Audrey Tree?
Ficus Audrey is an ornamental plant popular as a houseplant in cooler climates and grown in gardens in tropical or hot zones. It’s a beautiful and decorative plant, but some revere it as a sacred plant in India for religious purposes. It is also popular in gardens and parks for shade. The Ficus Audrey is also grown for its timber in some regions of India.
The Ficus Audrey is among the easier species of Ficus to grow, unlike its cousin, the Bengal Fig. Although easier to grow, for the best results, follow the guide provided to avoid some common pitfalls. Ficus Audrey thrives under warm and humid conditions with indirect sunlight, regular watering, and annual pruning. You can shape and resize the tree by trimming and pruning the branches and leaves. It will grow out of control if you don’t prune the tree. It’s best to prune during its growing season and allow it to rest during the winter months.