THE LEAFLET

Plant Care  |  August 21, 2019

Ficus Audrey Care

Placement

PRO TIP: A thin layer of fuzz lines the leaves of the Ficus Audrey. Do not apply leaf shine as it can damage the leaves. Instead wipe them down with water mixed with a tiny bit of dish soap.

The Ficus Audrey (Ficus benghalensis) is the national tree of India. In its natural habitat its canopy can cover a lot of ground and provide great shade in its warm climate.

Similar to most Ficus trees, the Ficus Audrey prefers a spot where it will receive high levels of bright, indirect light or direct sunlight. This plant will need to be acclimated to long periods of direct sun and it will not tolerate low light conditions. Ideally, place your Audrey directly in an eastern facing window, or a few feet removed from a southern or western facing window.

If you are unsure of the lighting conditions in your home or office, we have a guide for how to measure light in your space.

Ficus Audrey aka Ficus Benghalensis Leaf

As the Ficus Audrey matures it can develop beautiful aerial roots that will become part of the trunk over time if left to grow.

Routine Maintenance

PRO TIP: The Audrey has a thin latex-like sap which will drip rapidly from the tree when pruning. To keep this sap off of your furniture and floors, place small pieces of paper on the freshly pruned stems — like a shaving cut — and allow to dry overnight.

Always be sure to assess your plant’s watering needs upon receiving it. Before giving your plant a drink, it is best to check the moisture level in the soil first to ensure it isn’t moist right beneath the surface. Also, consider aerating the soil of your plant before the initial watering. We compact the soil to avoid shifting during transit, so aerating can help the soil breathe and allow moisture to be released.

Ficus Audrey prefer soil that is consistently and evenly moist, with small periods of drought between waterings. Allow the top 2”-3” of the soil to dry between waterings. Allowing the soil to dry more than a few inches will lead to leaf loss. In contrast, too much moisture in the soil can lead to root rot and also cause leaves to drop. Be sure to check in with the soil regularly until you develop a routine with your plant. These plants do particularly well in the self watering containers.

The best way we have found to obtain an accurate moisture reading is with the Soil Sleuth Soil Probe. With it, you can check the soil moisture in the different strata of the soil in your pot, while simultaneously aerating the roots and keeping your fingernails free of dirt!

Rotate your plant periodically to ensure even growth on all sides and dust the leaves often so the plant can photosynthesize efficiently. When dusting the leaves, also take the opportunity to inspect the undersides and keep an eye out for pests.

Remember each plant is a unique living thing and may have varying needs, especially in their individual locations. Pay attention to the condition of your Ficus Audrey and its watering needs and you will have a long and happy relationship.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Does my Ficus have a bacterial infection or root rot?

  • Probably not. Although the internet is ablaze with this diagnosis, we've found this affliction to be exceedingly rare in the thousands of Ficuses we've cared for through our sister company, Greenery NYC. It's probably another problem such as low light or overwatering. However, we have a guide on how to identify fungal and bacterial leaf spotting if you're interested in learning more.

 

Are Ficus Audrey difficult to care for?

  • The Ficus Audrey is easier than its sister, the Ficus Lyrata (fiddle leaf fig tree). It acclimates well to new spaces, is less finicky when it comes to water needs, and it doesn’t require quite as much light. We consider the care level to be moderate.

 

Why are the leaves of my Ficus Audrey dropping?

  • Typically this is caused by either over, or underwatering. If your tree is showing brown tips with yellow edging then you are likely over watering. If you see fully yellow leaves, and some crispy brown tips without yellow edging then it is likely due to underwatering. Always feel the soil to see if its conditions match your diagnosis, and consider the recent care you have given.

 

Can I place my Ficus next to an AC or heating vent?

  • It is best not to. Ficus are sensitive to hot and cold air drafts. They prefer humidity and warm temperatures, so anything to aid in maintaining a tepid environment will help keep your plant happy and healthy.

 

How often should I fertilize my plant?

  • In general, house plants will thrive when they are fertilized spring through fall. Fertilize once a month with an organic houseplant fertilizer, following the package instructions for dilution and administration. Greenery NYC uses an organic potting mix with a slow release fertilizer in the soil, so your plant will not need fertilizer within the first 6 months of receiving it.

 

How often does my plant need to be repotted?

  • For larger floor plants, we suggest repotting every 18-24 months. Typically you want to choose a potting vessel 2”- 4” larger in diameter to allow for growth. Don’t choose a pot much larger than the previous as this could drown the plants roots. If you prefer to maintain the current size of your plant, repot into the same vessel, providing new soil and trimming away some roots and foliage. Spring or summer is the ideal time to repot, as the plant is at its strongest.

Standard Planter Instructions

All of our Standard Planters include a removable drainage plug to give our customers the option of drainage. While no drainage is sometimes preferred for its aesthetic simplicity, we don't recommend this option for beginners as watering mistakes can be hard to rectify.

Whether you choose to use drainage or not, we always recommend using a layer of drainage (such as our Aeration Stones) at the base of the planter. A drainage layer allows the plant's roots access to oxygen in the pockets between the drainage medium, and a lack of drainage can cause anaerobic damage to your plant.

If you decide to utilize the drainage hole for your pot, make sure to include a Plant Saucer beneath your pot to collect excess water. For most plants in standard planters, we recommend watering about once a week. Water the soil mass until water begins pooling in your Plant Saucer.

With no drainage hole, you will need to be more precise in your watering. While we would love to give you a specific measurement of water to provide for your plant, the reality is that a plant's water requirements vary wildly depending on factors such as light exposure and the overall health of the plant. You will need to learn to tell when the plant is thirsty based on how its foliage looks. Droopy foliage is usually the first sign: when your plant looks a little slumped over that's usually a visual indicator that it's thirsty.

The best solution for checking your plant's moisture level, drainage hole of not, is to use a Soil Probe to determine the moisture content of the soil at the bottom of the planter.

Self Watering Planter Instructions

The Self-Watering Planters require a deep and thorough watering of the topsoil after they are first planted. This is important because the roots of the plants first need to grow into the reservoir in order to drink from it. Water your plant from the top for two to four weeks before using the reservoir. During the dormant seasons, or for plants that have slower growing habits, consider top watering for longer.

TEST: After the initial top water period, fill the bottom water reservoir. If the water in the reservoir is absorbed into the planter, it means the plant is ready for regular reservoir servicing. If not, be sure to continue top watering for a few more weeks until the plant has started drinking from the reservoir.

RESERVOIR SERVICING: Once the reservoir empties on its own, do not refill the reservoir right away. Similar to how humans need a breath of air between gulps of water, most plants require a drying out period. Allow for the reservoir to empty all the way between watering. All plants are different in their needs so the amount of time the reservoir sits empty will need to be determined, but know that for most plants this period is between 1-3 days. 

From here on out, you should rarely topwater the plant while using the reservoir system. Watering from below allows the plant to drink at its own pace, and can help combat certain issues like fungus gnats by allowing the top layer of soil to dry out more. Please note that if your plant's soil dries out too much, it can impair the wicking ability of the Aeration Stones in your planter. If your soil becomes too dry, we recommend giving it a thorough watering.

For more information on our Self Watering Planters include planting instructions, visit our blog post on How to Use Our Self-Watering Pots.

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