Apartment plants

Bengiamino - Ficus Benjamina


Ficus Benjamin


Ficus benjamina belongs to the Moraceae family. It is native to south-eastern Asia and Oceania. It is a tree that can reach 30 meters in height where it is endemic (or in areas with similar climates). It has many flexible and fine branches. The leaves are oval-shaped, dark green and shiny. They are 6 to 13 cm long. It is also characterized by interesting aerial roots that serve to distribute the weight of the foliage. In Europe it is widely used as a houseplant. In fact it can be very decorative and generally does not require excessive attention. In the southern regions of our peninsula it is also possible to make it grow outside for most of the year and in particular conditions it can also be planted in the ground. There are wonderful specimens of these plants in the Sicilian botanical gardens and in Ischia.

Generalities Ficus



The ficus benjamin it originates in the tropical areas of Asia but is also widespread in India, southern China, Malaysia, the Philippines, northern Australia and some islands in the South Pacific; It is an evergreen perennial plant. The ficus Benjamino is part of the family of the Moracee which contains many plant species that come from Asia and Africa; among the main varieties that we will explain below, we can mention: Ficus Benjamino Exotica, Ficus Benjamino Golden king, Ficus Benjamino Nuda, Ficus Benjamino Mini Gold. In the areas where it originated, the ficus Benjamino is an ornamental-decorative plant and is the most elegant. Being a plant of tropical origin, the ficus Benjamino needs a warm and humid climate and it would be advisable never to expose this plant to temperatures below ten degrees; like light but not direct sunlight. In the areas of origin the Benjamino ficus can reach a height of 25-30 meters, while if raised it can reach a maximum of two to three meters, therefore very suitable for cultivation in the apartment. The trunk of the Benjamino ficus is gray in color, the branches are thin, the leaves are light green when young and darker in later age, have small dimensions and give the plant a thick, smooth, egg-like foliage pointed at the end. There is a variety of Benjamino ficus that has creamy-white striped leaves, the starlinght. The fruits of this plant are called siconi, they have a black color and, after being fertilized, they give life to the seeds inside them. This plant flowers during the warm season. Ficus Benjamino has latex inside, a milky substance that comes out when certain parts of the plant are cut.
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Variety



As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the Benjamino ficus has many varieties, here are the most widespread:
Ficus Benjamino Exotica: this variety has shiny leaves with dark veins.
Ficus Benjamino Golden King: has leaves with white contours with gray-green spots.
Naked Ficus Benjamino: it has the characteristic of having narrow and undulating leaves.
Ficus Benjamino Mini Gold: it has very small leaves with white horns.

Soil and cultivation techniques


In general, the Bengamino ficus is repotted in the spring period, especially when it is noticed that the vessel that contains it is no longer sufficiently large and the roots will come out of it. The soil suitable for this type of plant must be soft, porous, slightly acidic and with good drainage because even the ficus, like many other plants described by us, fears water stagnation; to avoid this, pieces of broken earthenware can be placed, for example, to guarantee the rapid release of excess water. The ficus Benjamino loves warm and bright environments and can also withstand temperatures of thirty degrees, in summer it would be better to place our ficus bengiamino outside in a place rich in shade but, be careful, not subject to drafts.

Multiplication



The reproduction of the Bengiamino ficus occurs by cutting (apical or leafy with part of the stem) or by layering.
Both types of cutting should be taken from the mother plant between the months of April and August, they should have a length of about ten centimeters and the cut should be made below the knot with a sharp and clean knife. As explained several times for this type of multiplication, now the cuttings will be deprived of the lower leaves and will be introduced in a powder that favors the development of the roots. Now place the cuttings in a soil made up of peat and coarse sand (the latter will favor the correct water drainage), cover the container with plastic to maintain the right degree of humidity and place the container in a shady place at a temperature of 21-24 ° C. As soon as the first sprouts emerge, remove the plastic and increase the amount of light but keep the same temperature; by the time our plants have grown large enough, they can be transplanted. If you proceed with this operation and take the cuttings in June, you will not need to cover the container with plastic because it will already be sufficiently hot. The multiplication by layering is carried out in the months of May and June on the upper branches. This operation consists in making a cut in the bark of the branch chosen for the multiplication, at this point it will be necessary to wrap peat in the part to which we have made the cut and to cover everything with some film that will be pierced to allow the air to pass and to bring water.

Ficus fertilization and irrigation


The Ficus Benjamino should be fertilized every two weeks in the spring-summer period and every two months in the autumn-winter period. The fertilizer must be liquid and mixed with the water of watering, it must contain a good amount of nitrogen but also all the other elements necessary for an optimal development of the plant, such as: phosphorus, potassium, iron, manganese, copper, zinc, boron, molybdenum. As for watering, they should be greater in summer, about twice a week and less during the winter. If in winter the Benjamin ficus will be placed in a covered and heated place, water will have to be administered more closely, while if it was repaired but at a lower temperature, we could supply water even only once a month, however we must always check the degree of soil moisture before proceeding with new watering. To supply the water to the plant, if it will put a quantity in the pot but it will also spray on the leaves, they have openings that bring water to the plant that can decide whether to open or close based on the necessity of the same. Even in the summer period it would be advisable to wet the leaves of the Benjamino ficus as well, if this is kept indoors and covered, this operation would reduce the temperature of the leaves and allow them to be cleaned free of the dust that would slow down the plant's functions; it would be advisable to administer non-calcareous water. Always avoid excessive amounts of water that could cause root rot. The ficus to have a good vegetative growth need periodic administrations of a good specific fertilizer for green plants. In the warm season (and with the greatest growth) you can also proceed twice a month. In winter it is preferable to limit yourself to only one time.

Pruning ficus



The pruning of the Benjamin ficus takes place in the spring and is necessary to contain the growth of the foliage and make it more orderly and harmonious, with regard to large branches, it would be advisable to prune them during the winter period, because during this period the Milky substance produced by the plant is in smaller quantities. If we proceed only with the elimination of new-born sprouts then we will talk about topping. The topping is carried out to allow the plant to develop in a more compact way and to have a thicker crown. Naturally the foliage of the plant grows but the roots also grow, at this point it will be possible to carry out two operations: if the jar containing the Benjamino ficus will become too small we will proceed with the repotting, if instead the roots will have become too large for a pot already quite large, we will proceed with the partial pruning of the same. Repotting can be done at any time of year, while root pruning is best done around March-April. Always remember that when the plant is young, the roots develop quickly, so the repotting can be done about every two to three years, when it will be a little older and, consequently, the development will be less fast, the operation will be partial Pruning of the roots can take place even after six to seven years. Benjamines come from tropical or subtropical areas. In their natural environment the water supply is not given only by the rains, but also by the high atmospheric humidity. These plants have therefore adapted and can also absorb water, for example from leaves or aerial roots. To meet this need, we can implement various measures. First of all we can place a saucer under the container filled with expanded clay and water. The plant that we will support you will not have to come into contact with water (to avoid rotting). This expedient serves only to continuously have a quantity of water vapor in the air and to keep the environment around the plant well moist. It is also an excellent choice to proceed several times a day (especially in winter, as the heating makes the air very dry) extensively vaporizing the leaves. In these there are stomata that can be opened to absorb liquids. In the cold season we can also engage in periodic sponging of the leaves with the dual purpose of hydrating them and keeping them clean from dust and dirt.

Diseases and pests ficus


Also the ficus Benjamino can be attacked by various diseases caused by fungi, parasites and insects. Below we will explain the diseases, symptoms, parasites and insects of this plant.
The insects which most attack the Benjamino ficus are the thrips, cochineals and mites. The first are small insects that sting the plant and suck its nutrients, causing leaf deformation, discoloration and, in some cases, even slowing development. Mites, on the other hand, are insects that create white cobwebs in the lower part of the leaves and cause yellowing, discoloration and, like thrips, slow down their development; the multiplication of the latter is favored by a dry environment.
Also there brown cochineal and the floury one are part of the enemies of this plant, they attack both leaves and form dark spots and a cotton-like secretion on them respectively, leading to yellowing and drying up. Another mite that attacks this plant is the red spider, it causes yellow or brown machines on the leaves that will begin to turn yellow and fall. As mentioned in other articles the reproduction of this parasite is favored by an environment poor in humidity, therefore increasing the number of sprays to the plant and, in case of severe infestation, administered pesticides.
If you notice that your Benjamino ficus loses its leaves, this may be a symptom of lack or lack of light, insufficient intake of water or exposure to air currents, but if the leaves deteriorate and become floppy or turn yellow, this will be a symptom of an excessive intake of water, then proceed with a reduction in watering. If the leaves have a crumpled shape it means that the soil has not always had the right degree of humidity, in this case try to adjust the water supply. If it is dried or burned on the leaves, it means that they have been exposed to direct sun.
THE parasites most frequent are thrips, scale insects and red spider mites. The former manifest themselves with a discoloration of the leaf and dark spots on the back. They are fought with systemic insecticides or in any case by contact and ingestion. Cochineal is also very common. Usually it can be noted on the trunk. They can be hard animals or have a light white hair. They damage the plant by feeding on its sap. The ideal is to protect the plant in time with a systemic insecticide (those from contact do not always manage to penetrate the external part of this animal) and then intervene eventually distributing a mineral oil that prevents breathing. The intervention in the case of red spider is more difficult. Unfortunately, the products on the market at hobby level are not very effective. The ideal is to try in all ways to prevent the problem by always keeping the humidity high around our plant.


Cultivation


In the regions of origin the ficus benjamina can become a large tree and is widely used in urban parks or on the sides of roads. In temperate areas, however, it is mainly cultivated in pots. It has become very popular due to its airy and elegant bearing and its ability to tolerate adverse conditions.

Substrate and jar


Ficus benjamina are generally very adaptable plants. Even if they do not disdain a poor soil, they prefer and grow better in a rich and possibly sub-acid substrate. The ideal is to supply them with a mixture of forest earth mixed with manure and some clay. Otherwise you can also use a soil composed of decaying leaves or peat mixed with something heavier and richer. What absolutely must be avoided is water stagnation. These plants, as we will see, love to have their roots always moist and fresh, which does not mean however that they must be completely soaked with water. It is therefore important that the soil is not too heavy and that a thick draining layer composed of gravel and shards is prepared at the bottom of the pot. In the absence of these it is possible to use expanded clay even if at times it is accused of impregnating too much water and being the source before the proliferation of fungi. It is therefore good to use it for this purpose as much as possible in moderation. Furthermore, it must always be ensured that the drain holes in the bottom of the vessel are free and the water can flow off easily.

Exposure



Ficus benjamin loves very bright exposures, but without direct light. At home it is therefore good to keep it near a large window perhaps shielded by a light colored curtain.
Remember to periodically rotate the plant towards the light source so that the foliage can grow evenly. In the summer, as we have said, we can move the plant outside, but we must always keep this need in mind. It will therefore be excellent to place it in an area where the light is slightly filtered. The verandas, the pergolas or the shade of tall deciduous trees are therefore excellent. Direct light can cause serious problems such as leaf burns. In the height of summer, it may take just one day to heavily damage a beautiful specimen. It is therefore good to carefully evaluate the positioning.


Temperature


Benjamina finds in our homes, especially in winter, an environment very similar to that of its place of origin. In fact, it requires that there be at least 18 ° C during the day, even if the ideal would be from 20 to 22. At night the temperatures can drop as low as 13 ° C as it is one of the most adaptable fusus in this respect.
In any case, we must try to avoid abrupt changes in temperature and air currents that could seriously damage our specimen.

Ficus watering


We have emphasized that this plant needs an always moist substrate. However, the irrigations must be regulated according to the rhythm of the seasons. During the growing season, therefore from April to October, it is necessary to irrigate frequently. It is more difficult to give indications on the need for interventions during the winter months. It must certainly be commensurate with the environment in which the specimen is kept. If you live constantly in a heated apartment then you will have to water it quite frequently. If instead it winters in a rather cold environment (about 10 ° C) we will be able to intervene even only once or twice a month. However, there is nothing better than to personally notice the humidity of the substrate by inserting a finger in depth. It should be remembered that for water with ficus it is always better to be more parks than too generous, given that the only but frequent problem is root rot.

Humidity


The ficus benjamin come from tropical or subtropical areas. In their natural environment the water supply is not given only by the rains, but also by the high atmospheric humidity. These plants have therefore adapted and can also absorb water, for example from leaves or aerial roots.
To meet this need, we can implement various measures.
First of all we can place a saucer under the container filled with expanded clay and water. The plant that we will support you will not have to come into contact with water (to avoid rotting). This expedient serves only to continuously have a quantity of water vapor in the air and to keep the environment around the plant well moist. It is also an excellent choice to proceed several times a day (especially in winter, as the heating makes the air very dry) extensively vaporizing the leaves. In these there are stomata that can be opened to absorb liquids. In the cold season we can also engage in periodic sponging of the leaves with the dual purpose of hydrating them and keeping them clean from dust and dirt.

Playback



The most used technique for the reproduction of these plants is undoubtedly the cutting. It should be done in mid-spring. Apical branch portions of about 5-10 cm must be taken at the height of a knot. They must then be freed from the leaves in the lower part. Those higher up must instead be cut in half to reduce transpiration. They should then be placed in a mixture of sand and peat or peat and agriperlite which should always be kept moist. They must be placed in a greenhouse that constantly guarantees a temperature of at least 15 ° C with high and constant humidity. After two months, you can usually see the first cuttings that begin to vegetate.

Variety


As we have said, ficus benjamina is a very common plant in apartments all over the world. There has therefore been careful research to obtain interesting, varied and even more resistant and adaptable cultivars. Some very well known are: Danielle, Naomi, Exotica and Golden King. Some varieties may offer different shades of green for the leaves and also golden or silver variegations. The variegated "Starlight" cultivar has earned the Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit, one of the major awards worldwide. There are also miniaturized varieties, excellent for bonsai creation, such as "Too little".

Ideal for purifying the air


The air we breathe, at home or in the workplace, appears as a set of gases that, if polluting, can involve serious risks and seriously damage our health.
Precisely to improve the quality of the air in the environments in which we live and work, it is possible to use particular plants, which perform the function of emitting oxygen, ionizing the air and absorbing the polluted one.
Among these is also the Ficus beniamino plant, capable of emitting oxygen during the day, also absorbing and acting as natural fencing of the various electromagnetic fields and all those toxic gases released by electrical and printing equipment.
The ideal location of Ficus, for the air to be well purified, could be for this a study or an office.


Ficus with yellow leaves




One of the questions we are most frequently asked is that of the yellow leaves of the ficus. Many people in fact write to us to complain that their ficus are starting to have yellow leaves. The causes of this leaf yellowing can be different but it is important to recognize them immediately to prevent the problem from becoming larger and compromising the health of the plant.
Before offsetting the real cause of leaf yellowing, we must try to understand how and when these leaves are yellow. In fact it is not the same thing to have yellow leaves only in the part of the border or to have all yellow leaves.
The causes of foliar yellowing can be multiple and range from incorrect irrigation to a lack of nutrients in the soil but can also be problems related to light and plant exposure.
As for watering, the ficus is a plant that needs irrigation in the right quantity, which must not be too abundant or too scarce. Great care must be taken not to soak the soil with too much water and to let the soil dry between one watering and the next.
Almost all Ficus in Italy are grown in pots and therefore one of the possible causes of foliar yellowing could be the lack of nutrients in the soil. After 2-3 years with the same soil in fact the plant can deplete the nutrients going into decay. A good rule is therefore to carry out the repotting every 2-3 replacing a large part of the soil with new and quality soil. Alternatively, frequent fertilizations can be performed to replenish the nutrients lost from the soil.
Another possible cause of leaf yellowing may be an insufficient amount of light. If we give the plants too little light, in fact, the leaves can become yellow but not only in the edge area, but in the whole leaf. To avoid this problem, just put the ficus in a bright corner of the house where a lot of diffused light arrives.
Temperatures can also cause rapid leaf yellowing. If the ficus stays in a cold environment or takes a shot of cold air it can go against a rapid defoliation and it must therefore prevent this from happening.


Bengiamino - Ficus Benjamina: Ficus benjamin in winter


In winter the ficus benjamin, especially in northern Italy, is a plant that must be repaired or more often taken indoors. In choosing the location for the winter shelter of the plant it is very important to evaluate well some aspects that are fundamental for the survival of the ficus even during the bad season.
The first aspect to consider is the temperature: the ficus plant will be placed in a room with a temperature range between 10 and 18 ° C. This temperature is suitable for the maintenance of the plant and allows an excellent ficus vegetation even in winter.
The second aspect to take into consideration is the exposure as it is necessary to find an area of ​​the house that is sufficiently bright to guarantee adequate photosynthesis to the plant. The best areas are those near light sources, so close to glass doors and windows. However, you must be very careful in choosing the position to the third aspect to consider or avoid the cold drafts.
In fact, nearer to doors and windows, colder air currents are generated more frequently due to winter air exchange and therefore plants will have to be placed in areas of the home that we do not open often or in areas that are not directly affected by the air current that is generated in the home.
Stairs in general are not recommended and in particular the dark corners of the stairs, where in addition to the lack of light there will be the problem of air currents that could cause thermal shocks to our plants.

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