Plant Care  |  November 12, 2019

Ficus Moclame Care


PRO TIP: Rotate your tree once a month to keep it standing straight and tall. Ficus Moclame in particular like to reach towards the light, so if you don’t rotate you’ll notice them bending over time.

The Ficus Moclame (Ficus microcarpa) is native to southern Asia and Australia, and although frequently mistaken for its sister, the Ficus benjamina, the Moclame's thick rounded leaves make it uniquely identifiable. Its small branches are most conducive to hedge pruning, and with patience its outward appearance can be highly controlled.

A high light plant, the Ficus Moclame prefers bright, indirect light, but benefits from a few hours of direct sun, ideally from a southern or western facing exposure. Eastern exposure can also work as long as the plant is directly in the window and the space feels very bright. We do not recommend ficus for northern exposure as they will not thrive in low light locations. Keep the surrounding area as humid as possible, especially if the plant is placed in an area receiving over six hours of direct sunlight a day, and avoid placing it next air vents and drafts.

Ficus Moclame can be sensitive to environmental and transplant shock. It is normal to see some leaf loss in the first week or two of receiving your plant. If leaf loss and discoloration is excessive or persists, asses the water and light requirements. Please feel free to reach out if you need assistance! 

Ficus Moclame Plant Leaves

The Moclame's small branches are most conducive to hedge pruning, and with patience its outward appearance can be highly controlled.

Routine Maintenance

PRO TIP: Every three months, rinse your plant’s leaves with room temperature water. This helps remove any dust that’s accumulated, ensuring they’re able to photosynthesize sunlight more efficiently.

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 Moclame prefer soil that is consistently and evenly moist, not soggy. You want to allow the top 1” - 2” of the soil to dry between waterings. Allowing the soil to dry more than a few inches will lead to leaf loss, so be sure to check in with the soil regularly until you develop a routine with your plant. In contrast, too much moisture in the soil can lead to root rot and also cause leaves to drop. These plants do particularly well in the self watering containers!

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 Moclame 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.

Help! My new Ficus Moclame is dropping yellow leaves!

  • If you just received your plant and it is dropping yellow leaves, this is likely a cause of transplant and environmental shock. Ficus trees are particularly sensitive to these elements and can take a few weeks to adjust. Follow the care guide closely and monitor your tree. If new growth is forming while dropping leaves, that is a great sign that your tree will adjust soon. If the yellowing persists, there is likely an issue with light and/or water so refer to the care guide and see if you need to adjust anything.

My Ficus leaves are turning brown and crispy. What do I do?

  • This is likely a sign of underwatering. If you notice the leaves are turning brown, crisping, and shriveling up, feel the soil of your plant. If it feels dry in the top few inches then you should increase the water quantity or frequency.

The leaves of my Ficus Moclame are splotchy, with yellow and brown spots. What's going on?

  • If the leaves of your tree are turning a combination of yellow and brown on the same leaf, this is likely an issue of either overwatering or lack of light. Lack of light is especially common in the wintertime when the sun is in the sky for less time. If your Moclame ever becomes bare, it's OK to put it outside for a few months in the summer as long as you're watering frequently. These trees can re-foliate very quickly, especially in the full sun. 

How much light is too much light?

  • In extremely bright apartments (i.e. floor to ceiling windows) Ficus Moclame may get sunburned, and in this instance the safest bet is putting them in front of a sunny window with a sheer curtain. Do not block the light with a partial shade like a solar shade as they will block out the full spectrum of the sun’s radiation.

Can I put my Ficus Moclame next to an AC or heater?

  • Ficus Moclame are tropical plants that appreciate a humid environment. If conditions are too dry they will drop their leaves. While Moclames will thrive in an air conditioned apartment, always avoid putting them in the direct line of fire of either AC or heating units. If their leaves are wagging from the air, it’s best to find another spot.

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.

Additional Care Guides