Introducing Ficus Audrey! I’m sure you’ve seen her around the internet constantly compared to her more popular cousins the Fiddle Leaf Fig -- Ficus Lyrata -- or the Rubber Plant -- Ficus Elastica. This plantie is making a name for herself and is quickly coming for The Must-Have Plant title.
If you know of the struggle to keep a Fiddle Leaf Fig alive and happy, then Ficus Audrey will be a breath of fresh air! This species is a beautiful statement piece for any plant collection and is much more forgiving to environmental changes and bouts of under- or over- watering than its other ficus cousins.
Photo by Alec Perez
GET THE GREEN: Ficus Audrey, a.k.a Ficus Benghalensis, is the national tree of India and goes by many names like Banyan Tree and Bengal Fig. This species has quite the hallowed history as legend has it that The Buddha meditated under a Ficus Audrey tree and attained enlightenment.
These plants are increasing in popularity which makes them more difficult to find! I went to three nurseries before finding my precious Ficus Audrey at Yamaguchi Bonsai Nursery on Sawtelle.
WATER: Water your plantie when the top 2 to 3 inches of soil are dry. You can do this by using a moisture meter or simply by getting your hands dirty and digging into the soil. When it’s time to water, give your Ficus Audrey a slow and thorough soak to saturate the soil.
Or bottom water the plant by placing it in a tray and filling it with water. Over time the soil will absorb the water from the bottom up and you’ll know when it’s completely saturated once the topsoil is moist.
FERTILIZER: Fertilize your plantie during the spring and summer months with a balanced fertilizer twice a week. As always dilute the fertilizer to half the strength of the recommended serving to prevent over-fertilizing the plant.
TEMPERATURE: Ideal indoor temps of 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit, or 21-26 degrees Celsius.
HUMIDITY: Humidity is her best friend so give your plantie as much humidity as you can. This can be done by placing her with high humidity plants near a humidifier, daily misting, or sitting her on top a pebble tray with water -- make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the pot! If you notice the edges of the leaves browning or turning crisp that is a sign to give her more humidity.
SUNLIGHT: Queen of bright indirect light, place your Ficus Audrey in a south-facing window with a sheer curtain or western-facing window to give her ideal lighting conditions. Strong direct light will cause her leaves to burn and drop. Make sure to rotate your plantie every time you water it so that it gets an even distribution of light to all its leaves!
PLACEMENT: Ficus Audrey is a statement plant! It’s best to display her and give her the stage to shine. My Ficus Audrey is almost 6ft tall, so I’ve placed her in a corner with a tall ceiling to make the room feel even bigger.
Place this plant away from heaters or drafts! The change in conditions will cause the plant to drop its leaves.
Photo by Alec Perez
PROPAGATION: Water propagation is simple with a Ficus Audrey! Prepare your materials first by cleaning your garden shears, gloves, and paper towels. Cut a young branch with 4 to 5 leaves at the base right up against the trunk of three. Be careful as the cuts will produce a sap that is a skin irritant. Use a paper towel to catch the sap and keep it there until it scabs over. Once the cut branch has stopped producing sap you can place it in a glass of water. The cutting will grow roots and once they are 2-3 inches in length it is ready to be potted in soil.
You can also try air layering by making an incision where the branch meets the trunk then placing moss in the cut -- extra credit: use rooting hormone in the cut to encourage roots faster! Secure the moss with a tie, rope, or plastic wrap and over time the branch will develop its own roots that will peek through the moss. Once you see those roots the branch is ready to cut off the tree completely. Plant the cutting in soil and you have a new plantie!
EXTRA CREDIT: Routinely clean the leaves of your Ficus Audrey with a damp towel or sponge, and be mindful as they don’t take well to leaf shine as their leaves have a furry texture.
CAUTION: Like other ficuses, this plantie produces a sap that is an eye and skin irritant and is mildly toxic to dogs and cats.