Is it possible to have a ficus in a pot?

Ficus can be potted

If we bear in mind that the vast majority of ficus species are trees that become very large, more than one may think that it is unfeasible to keep them in a pot throughout their lives. I thought so myself… until one day I realized that I already had a collection of four different types: F. benjamina, F. microcarpa, F. maclellandii 'Alii', and the last to arrive was F. elastica ' Abidjan', which differs from the typical elastica by having very dark green leaves, almost black.

And of course, it was no longer the same. Now, yes or yes, I would have to think carefully about whether or not it was possible to have a ficus in a pot throughout its life because, one: in the garden there is no place for them; and two, it can never be ruled out that this collection will not be expanded in the future. So I'm going to tell you how I care for my container grown trees.

Are ficuses indoor or outdoor?

The Ficus indoors suffers a lot from drafts

First of all, it is important that we clarify this first, since this will make it easier for us to decide where to place them. And what we have to know is that what will determine whether a plant -regardless of which one- is considered indoor or outdoor is whether it can withstand the cold and frost in our area. Namely, if we want to have a ficus, the ideal is to know its rusticity, and based on that, think about whether we are going to have it outdoors -something that would be the most ideal-, or if we will have to protect it when the cold arrives.

Therefore, below we are going to tell you what the cold resistance of the most common ficus is:

  • Ficus benjamina: cold tolerant, but starts to lose leaves if temperatures remain below 10ºC for a few days. Does not support frost. See file.
  • ficus carica: withstands frost down to -7ºC. It is the most resistant ficus species, but yes: unlike the others, it is deciduous. See file.
  • Ficus elastica: it withstands the cold quite well, and can even withstand occasional frosts of up to -2ºC if it is a little protected. See file.
  • ficus lyrata: it is very sensitive to low temperatures. He doesn't like the cold at all. See file.
  • Ficus maclellandii 'Alii': we can say that it is one of the most delicate. It should not be kept outside if the temperature drops below 12ºC. See file.
  • Ficus microcarp: resists cold, but not frost. If the temperature drops below 0 degrees, it must be protected. See file.

Sun or shade?

If there is something that all ficuses like, it is direct sun. Well, it's not that they like it, it's that in dark places they can't grow. They do well in those places where there is a lot of light, that is, where you can see well during the day, without problems, without the need to turn on a lamp or flashlight for example; but let me tell you that the best trees that I have seen and see every day -in my town there are many in patios and gardens- are the ones that are in full sun.

In the event that you have to go inside the house, you have to find a room with windows facing east, which is where the king star comes out, and in which, I insist, there is a lot of light.

When to water the potted ficus?

The ficus must be watered frequently

Ficus are not plants that can go a long time without receiving a single drop of water (except for the ficus carica, which does resist drought somewhat), but you have to be careful with irrigation, since it would not be good to overwater them either. That's why, It is important that we water them about 2-4 times a week, that is, every 2 or 3 days during the months that the good weather lasts.; while the rest of the year we will do it once a week.

We will use rainwater if possible, since it is the most suitable for watering any plant. But if we can't get it, we can use bottled water as long as it's fit to drink.

How to prune the ficus?

Pruning is something that we will have to do whether we like it or not if our intention is to keep it in a pot. Fortunately, they are plants that recover quite well from these tasks, healing their wounds quickly and resuming their growth in a short time. But beware: we cannot give them drastic pruning. As I like to say, well-done pruning is one that cannot be seen with the naked eye; that is, it is the one that respects the plant.

And it is that, for example, a thick branch cut, apart from looking ugly, it also looks unnatural. That's why it is better to do small pruning of young branches (thin, tender), even if that means having to prune the tree every year. There's nothing wrong with doing it that way. In fact, it is the most ideal if we are interested in having a healthy and beautiful plant.

Young Ficus
Related article:
How to prune a Ficus?

Now, when should you prune it? Ficuses like it hot, so we will prune ours when spring has finished settling, and minimum temperatures remain above 15ºC. When the time comes, we will have to do the following:

  1. The first thing will be to move a few steps away from our tree, in order to better identify the main branches, see what development it has, how it is growing, and what style we could give it without the pruning being noticed much. To find out what style to give it, I invite you to read our article on bonsai styles, since even if you do not want to have it as a bonsai, the styles that are recommended for these little trees can also be given to ficus grown in pots; it only changes the size that it will have.
  2. Now, we will remove the dry branches and those that are broken. Also, if we see some that are a bit dry, we can cut that part, leaving the live part intact.
  3. Next, and keeping in mind the style that we are going to give it, we will proceed to cut the branches that are very long. If our trees are very young and/or have few branches, I advise simply removing the newest leaves from each of the above to get them to branch.
  4. Finally, if we have cut a semi-woody or woody branch, we will seal the wounds with healing paste that you can buy here!.

How often do you have to change the pot?

When the ficus is young, we will have to plant it in a bigger pot every 3 or 4 years, in spring. But there will come a time when it will be impossible for us to do it unless we ask someone for help since it will weigh a lot. For this reason, I like to follow this schedule, and transplant it at certain times:

  • Just bought: move it to a pot about 10-15cm wider and higher.
  • At 3-4 years: plant it in a larger one, about 40 to 60cm in diameter (depending on the size of the previous one, since it would not be good to move it from a 20cm pot to a 60cm one, since it could have a hard time watering because it has too much soil moist at its roots).
  • After about 3 more years: if it is in one of about 60cm, transfer it to the final pot, 80 to 100cm in diameter; Otherwise, it is changed to a 60cm one and, after about 3 or 4 more years, it is planted in the definitive one.

As a substrate you can put universal soil for plants like this one from here!. There is no need to complicate this.

We hope that these tips will be useful to you in caring for your potted ficus.


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