Ficus Alii Indoor Plant Care

Ficus Alii doesn't exist in the wild. 'Alii' is a newer cultivar and makes a handsome indoor tree.

It's also an easy-care houseplant. With this guide, you'll discover how to grow this Ficus tree indoors. Find out how much light and water it wants year-round, when to repot, and how to prevent leaf drop.

Get to Know Ficus Alii

Known botanically as Ficus binnendijkii 'Alii' this member of the fig family is a fairly new cultivar. It's popularity is booming -- and it's easy to see why. 

Care is easier than for many of its relatives. You'll find it's less temperamental than F. benjamina, that drops its leaves when it doesn't get what it wants. However, leaf drop is possible with 'Alii' if it doesn't get enough light and regular waterings.

The long, narrow leaves are naturally glossy and taper to a point. As this ficus tree grows, it may drop its lower leaves revealing a bare woody trunk, giving this tree a palm-like appearance. Sometimes its trunks are braided by growers making it look like a topiary. It makes a bold statement in any brightly lit room.

How big does it get? Ficus Alii can grow up to 10 ft (3 m) tall, confined to a pot and grown indoors. It is slow-growing and may take years to reach that height. Want a shorter houseplant? Pruning Ficus will control its size.

Repot only when necessary, using the smallest pot that will contain its roots. Ficus plants are slow-growing and prefer to be slightly pot-bound. Use a pot with drainage holes to prevent soggy soil. Spring is the best time to repot a plant, when it is beginning its most vigorous time of growth.

You'll find alii ficus plants for sale in garden centers or online nurseries in spring and summer. Although this exciting hybrid has only been available in recent years, it is popular for its adaptability to growing indoors. 

And good for you, too. Ficus are among the best for improving air quality indoors. They're triumphant in removing toxins such as formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene from tainted indoor air.

Ficus Alii, Ficus HouseplantPhoto: vspn24 / istockphoto

Ficus Alii Problems, Solutions and Special Helps

Something bugging your houseplant? Ficus Alii seems resistant to pests. However, watch for whiteflies and scale insects that tend to bother ficus plants. Treat any infestation immediately.

Is Ficus Alii toxic to cats and dogs? Yes. According to the ASPCA, this member of the fig family (Moraceae) contains proteolytic enzyme and psoralen that can cause gastrointestinal and skin irritation. 

Brown leaf tips are usually a symptom of dry air, dry soil or a build up of mineral salts in the soil. The most efficient way I've found for raising the humidity for houseplants is a cool-mist room humidifier. Leach pots at least once a year to remove excess salts. It's easy to do: pour tepid water over the soil and allow water to drain; repeat 2 or 3 more times. 

Brown leaf tips with yellow halos is a symptom of over-watering. Use a container with drainage holes to prevent soggy soil. See "Water" tips below.

Leaf drop is caused by low light, dry soil, or excess salts that accumulate in the soil. Some dropped leaves is normal, especially for plants that have been moved. Protect your houseplant from cold drafts, heat vents or sudden changes in sunlight. The good news is that Ficus 'Alii' will eventually replace lost leaves.

Ficus Alii Care Tips

Light: Give Ficus Alii bright, indirect sunlight year-round. It's not as fussy about being moved around as other Ficus houseplants, such as the weeping fig, but it may drop leaves if suddenly moved into a shady corner or full sun.

Water: Water soil thoroughly, then allow top 1 in (2.5 cm) to dry out between waterings. Use lukewarm water because cold water may cause leaf loss. Avoid using softened water -- it contains salts which can harm ficus plants.

Humidity: Average room humidity (around 40-50% relative humidity). Take a look at these easy ways to increase humidity for your houseplants.

Temperature: Average room temperatures 65-75°F/18-24°C. Keep your Ficus houseplant away from cold drafts and heat/AC vents, which may lead to leaf drop.

Soil: Good-quality potting mix.

Fertilizer: Feed every other month spring through fall with a balanced (such as 10-10-10 NPK) liquid fertilizer diluted to half-strength. Fertilize after watering to prevent burning roots.

Propagation: Stem tip cuttings and air layering. Propagating ficus trees is not easy for the amateur to do at home. These trees are slow to root from either method.

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