Ficus microcarpa is a beautiful tree with attractive foliage and adaptability to various growing conditions. Let’s have a look at the Indian Laurel Fig!
Commonly known as the Chinese Banyan or Indian Laurel Fig, Ficus microcarpa is a versatile and popular evergreen tree in the Moraceae family. Here’s everything about growing it.
Ficus Microcarpa Information
Ficus microcarpa, also known as Chinese banyan, Indian laurel fig, or ginseng ficus, is native to East Asia, including China, Taiwan, and Malaysia. It has also been introduced and naturalized in other parts of the world, such as North America, Europe, and Australia.
Indian Laurel Fig is characterized by its dense canopy of glossy, leathery leaves. The leaves are small, oval-shaped, and usually dark green, though variegated cultivars with yellow or white markings on the leaves are also popular. Ficus microcarpa can reach a height of 15-25 meters (50-80 feet) in the wild, but it is often kept smaller as a houseplant or bonsai through pruning.
The trunk of Ficus microcarpa is usually thick and has a light gray or tan color, with aerial roots that can develop into additional trunks if they reach the ground. The tree produces small, round figs that turn from green to purple when ripe, although these fruits are generally not edible for humans.
It is widely popular as an indoor plant due to its adaptability to a variety of light conditions and its ornamental value. It is often used in offices, homes, and public spaces for its attractive foliage. The bonsai form of Indian Laurel Fig is particularly popular for its ability to be shaped into intricate tree forms.
Indian Laurel Fig is a favored choice for bonsai enthusiasts due to its small leaves, dense growth habit, and adaptability to pruning. It responds well to shaping and can be trained into various bonsai styles, including informal upright, cascade, and broom.
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How to Grow Ficus Microcarpa?
Growing Ficus microcarpa from seeds can be exciting. Here are the general steps to grow Ficus microcarpa from seeds:
- Collect fresh seeds from a mature Ficus microcarpa tree. The seeds are typically found inside the small fruits produced by the tree. Harvest the fruits when fully ripe, indicated by their color change from green to purple or black.
- Prepare a well-draining germination medium for the seeds. A mixture of peat moss and perlite or a commercial seed-starting mix can work well. Fill small pots or seed trays with the germination medium, leaving some space at the top.
- Once the stratification period is complete, remove the seeds from the refrigerator and sow them on the surface of the germination medium. Gently press them into the soil, but do not cover them completely. Ficus microcarpa seeds require light for germination.
- Place the pots or seed trays in a warm location with bright, indirect light. Maintain a temperature around 20-25°C for optimal germination. Ficus microcarpa seeds can germinate for several weeks to months, and the germination rate can vary.
- Once the seedlings have developed several sets of true leaves and are large enough to handle, they can be transplanted into individual pots or larger containers.
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Requirements to Grow Ficus Microcarpa
Ficus microcarpa prefers bright, indirect sunlight. It can tolerate some direct sunlight but may suffer from leaf burn if exposed to intense, full sun for extended periods. Place Indian Laurel Fig near a window with filtered light or provide partial shade if grown outdoors.
Indian Laurel Fig prefers consistently moist but not waterlogged soil. Water the plant when the top inch of the soil feels dry. Use your finger to check the moisture level or insert a moisture meter into the soil.
Ensure thorough watering, allowing excess water to drain from the pot or container.
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Ficus microcarpa thrives in well-draining soil. Use a high-quality potting mix that retains moisture while providing adequate drainage.
A blend of peat moss, perlite, and organic matter, such as compost, works well. Choosing a container with drainage holes is essential to prevent waterlogged soil.
Indian Laurel Fig prefers warm temperatures between 20-35°C. is not frost-tolerant and should be protected from temperatures below 10°C. Avoid placing the plant near cold drafts or in areas with temperature fluctuations.
Indoor temperatures within the typical household range are generally suitable.
Ficus Microcarpa Care
Feed Ficus microcarpa with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer during the growing season (spring and summer). Use a diluted fertilizer solution and follow the manufacturer’s application rates and frequency instructions.
Avoid over-fertilization, as it can lead to salt buildup in the soil. Reduce or stop fertilization during the dormant period (fall and winter).
Pruning Ficus microcarpa helps maintain its shape and size. You can trim back long or straggly branches to encourage bushiness and create a desired form.
Pruning is best done in spring or early summer when the plant is actively growing. Use clean and sharp pruning shears to make clean cuts and remove any dead, damaged, or diseased branches.
Pests and Diseases
Ficus microcarpa can be susceptible to pests such as mealybugs, scales, spider mites, and aphids. Regularly inspect Indian Laurel Fig for signs of infestation, including sticky residue, webbing, or discolored leaves.
Treat affected plants with an appropriate insecticidal soap or horticultural oil, following the instructions on the product label. Ficus microcarpa can also be prone to fungal diseases such as leaf spots and root rot if overwatered or exposed to prolonged periods of high humidity.
Avoid overwatering and ensure proper drainage to prevent waterlogged soil.