How to water a Ficus
The Ficus plant is one of the most common indoor plants in the UL. The popularity of the Ficus is easy to understand, they are easy to grow and their beautiful glossy-green leaves bring a wonderful touch to your home.
Ficus plants are also a very adaptable species that will thrive in most conditions if given their basic needs. However the one way that the ficus is not great at adapting too is watering. In this guide we will take you through everything you need to know about watering a Ficus and how to overcome any issues.
Why is watering so important to a Ficus?
Water is important to all houseplants, but to the Ficus it can be the one factor that affects its growth and health. This is because the Ficus is a tropical plant that lives in areas with a defined wet/dry season cycle. During the wet season the moisture that the Ficus receives is pretty consistent, and it has adapted to using it efficiently whilst saving some up for the dry season. To prepare for the dry season the Ficus has developed the habit of going into a semi hibernation where it will completely shed its leaves to preserve energy.
In the home, the dropping of a Ficus’s leaves can be triggered by under watering or watering at the wrong time.
Keep a consistent watering routine
The most important thing to consider when watering your Ficus is to maintain a constant and consistent routine when you water your plant. This will help to mimic the wet/dry cycle of it’s natural environment. If you go some time without watering your plant your Ficus will assume it is entering a dry season and will shed its leaves. This can be annoying to house plant growers as it makes the plant look bad and can make it seem like this easy to look after houseplant is more difficult to care for than it is.
How often should I water my Ficus?
The key to getting the watering of your Ficus right is to water little and often. Overwatering your Ficus is just as bad as under watering as they are susceptible to root rot and fungal growth. To walk this balance only water your Ficus when the top inch of the soil has become dry. When you water, apply the water directly to the soil and continue only until it begins to seep out of the drainage holes in the pot.
Whilst you need to maintain a routine when watering your Ficus, remember that this routine will change subtly throughout the year. In the spring and summer, you will find that the soil dries quicker and will need watering more frequently. This will slow during the autumn and winter until picking up again in early spring. Make sure you are paying attention to the clues your Ficus is giving you to adapt to its needs.
How does light affect how much I should water my Ficus?
All house plants use water to grow, and the speed of this growth is directly related to how much sun the plant is getting. The Ficus is a particularly fast growing houselant and will grow much faster if it has more light as it has the energy to support a lot more leaves.
Ficus trees thrive in bright, but indirect light and can adapt to shadier positions. Just make sure to take into account the effect that lighting will have on the watering needs of your plant when changing its location.
Ficus trees come from high-humidity, tropical environments and have adapted to take in some of its moisture through its leaves and aerial roots. This makes the Ficus an ideal plant to put in a bathroom or kitchen. If not in a humid room, don’t worry you can easily humidify your plant yourself.
The easiest way to add humidity to your plant is to regularly mist the leaves, this applies moisture directly to the plant and keeps it looking glossy. You can also add humidifiers to a room or use a pebble tray.
You should make sure that you are watering your Ficus with room temperature water instead of cold water. This will lessen any shock to the roots and will more easily replicate the water temperature it would be receiving in the wild.
Should I water my Ficus with distilled water ?
It is a common debate amongst houseplant owners if you should water your plants with distilled water or not. Distilled water doesn’t have a lot of the chemicals in it that tap water does. This will help to improve root health and can encourage better leaf growth. A downside to watering with distilled water is that it doesn’t add any nutrition to the soil so you may need to fertilize more.
Should I water my Ficus with rainwater ?
Rainwater is a great way to water any houseplant. It contains a lot of nutrients and minerals that other types of water do not have and it is often free of chemicals that are dangerous to your plants. The main problem you will encounter when watering with rainwater is keeping a big enough supply to keep your watering routine. If you have a waterbutt to collect rainwater and store it through dry periods then you may be able to water exclusively with rainwater, just remember to supplement with other types of water if you begin to run out.
How does pot size affect how often I water my Ficus?
Pot size is a big factor in how often your plant needs to be watered. The Ficus is a fast growing plant that will need to be repotted every two years or so. When your ficus is put into a bigger pot it will require more frequent watering as it develops more roots and grows bigger. However this can cause some issues in your watering routine.
When upgrading your pot, you should only choose one that is about one inch bigger in diameter than your existing one. If you go any larger than this, your ficus will not be able to absorb all the water around it, leaving the soil wet when the plant needs watering. This can lead to you unintentionally under watering your plant which will trigger it to shed its leaves.