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We all know and love the fiddle-leaf fig for its gorgeous foliage, but the truth is, they're finicky plants. Luckily, its cousin—ficus Audrey—has similar broad, veiny leaves and the same sculptural tree shape, but is so much easier to care for. Miss Audrey is pretty beginner-friendly, too, so it's the perfect choice for both new plant parents or those who are green-thumb pros—just keep it away from curious hands and paws as it's toxic to people and pets. Add some modern, minimal vibes to your plant collection with this striking beauty.
- Botanical Name: Ficus benghalensis
- Common Name: Ficus Audrey, Banyan tree
- Plant Type: Tree
- Mature Size: 5 to 10 feet tall indoors; 65 to 98 feet tall outdoors
- Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light
- Soil Type: Well-drained potting mix
- Soil pH: 6.5–7.0
- Toxicity: Toxic to people, toxic to pets
When it comes to water, always go with less rather than more. The ficus Audrey prefers to dry out a bit between waterings, so only give it a good soak when the top two or three inches of the soil are dry. However, if you let the soil completely dry out, expect some of the leaves to drop—this isn't a plant that can tolerate being dry for too long. Continually check the soil to see when those couple of inches at the top are dry, and before you know it, you'll make a pretty routine watering schedule.
Just like other plants, you want to make sure your Audrey's leaves are free of dust and debris so they can photosynthesize correctly. Using warm water and a couple of drops of dish soap on a microfiber cloth is the best way to wipe down the leaves.
Never use leaf shine on your ficus Audrey. The leaves have a tiny layer of fuzz on them, which can be damaged by a leaf shine solution.
Not unlike its cousin the fiddle-leaf fig, ficus Audrey prefers bright, indirect light, so place it in front of an east-facing window or a couple of feet from a south- or west-facing window. Once you find the sweet spot in your home, let your ficus stay there for as long as possible, giving it the occasional turn to keep the foliage coming in evenly.
To keep your tree lush throughout the year, fertilize it during growing months (spring through fall) with an organic houseplant fertilizer. This will help your plant put out more foliage and grow a strong, healthy trunk and roots. As it ages, you may even notice some aerial roots on your plant, which will eventually wrap around the trunk or main stem.
Best Growing Conditions for Ficus Audrey
Fun fact: Ficus Audrey is the national tree of India. Because it comes from a warm, humid climate, it's best to try and mimic that to make it feel at home. Try to keep it away from drafty windows, AC units, and heaters, which can cause the plant to either catch a chill or dry out too quickly. If you want, you can even add a humidifier to up the ante and keep your Audrey especially happy.
If you don't want to invest in a humidifier, placing other humidity-loving plants and bowls or trays of water nearby can also increase the humidity around your plants.
Normally, Audrey starts as a small little plant with a few leaves, similar to the fiddle-leaf fig. As it gets taller, you can choose to keep the plant bushy, or you can remove some of the lower leaves to encourage it to grow more like a tree. It's all about what look you prefer!
How to Propagate Your Ficus Audrey
There are two ways to go about propagating ficus Audrey. Thankfully, propagating in water is rather easy. If you're feeling ambitious or are trying to save a very leggy ficus, you can also try air layering. Here's how to accomplish both:
How to Propagate Ficus Audrey in Water
Step 1: Fill a glass or jar with clean water.
Step 2: Take a cutting near the main stem (one with three or four leaves). Note that this plant produces a toxic sap, so wear gloves and wipe the sap away with a paper towel. In fact, you can even place a piece of paper towel over the area you cut on the mother plant, using it as a sort of bandage to stop the sap from dripping.
Step 3: Place the cutting in the jar of water, submerging the cut end but ensuring no leaves are in the water. Sit the jar near a sunny window and wait for roots to sprout.
Step 4: Once the roots are at least two to three inches long, plant in a pot with fresh soil and care for as usual.
How to Propagate Ficus Audrey by Air Layering
Step 1: Examine your Audrey's stem or a healthy side branch and identify the spot where you’d like the roots on your new plant to grow. If you’re air layering before pruning the leafy top of a too-tall specimen, choose a spot that’s at least six inches below the lowest leaves.
Step 2: Using a clean, sharp blade, carefully make an upward diagonal cut about one-third of the way through the stem or branch at the point you chose.
Step 3: Insert a toothpick sideways into the cut to keep it open. To speed the process, you can apply rooting hormone to the cut surface of the stem at this point, but new roots will still grow without it.
Step 4: Moisten a big handful of long-fibered sphagnum moss and tie it around the cut on the stem using twine or twist ties. This will give the new roots a medium to grow into.
Step 5: Tie the plastic around the stem or branch just above and below the cutting so that it’s completely covering the ball of moss. This will hold in moisture.
Step 6: When you see new roots within a few months, remove the plastic wrap, and cut through the stem or branch just below the new root growth. Plant your new ficus tree—leaving the moss on the roots—in an appropriately sized pot with fresh soil, and then care for it as usual.
Common Problems With Ficus Audrey
While your ficus Audrey won't be nearly as needy as its cousin the fiddle-leaf fig, there are still signs of poor plant care to look out for. Luckily, it's pretty easy to tell if your Audrey needs some special attention.
Leaves Drying and Dropping
Keep an eye out for signs like lower leaves drying up and falling off, which can mean you're under-watering. Or, if you're lacking humidity, you may also notice the tips of the leaves starting to turn brown and crispy. This is a sign to give your plant a spritz or add some bowls of water around to up the humidity.
Leaves Yellowing and Dropping
On the opposite end, you can also give your Audrey too much water. In this case, leaves will often turn yellow and drop en masse. Always be sure to check the soil to see if your plant needs watered or not. If the soil stays wet all the time, that can lead to root rot, which will kill your plant.
As with any plant, always give the leaves, especially the undersides, a good check every once in a while. Pests like to hide out under there, and they can be easy to miss if you don't look closely. If you find any, treat them as quickly as possible by gently rubbing the leaves with rubbing alcohol.
Potting and Repotting Your Ficus Audrey
Ficus Audreys like to stay in their pots once they are comfortable. Until you notice roots popping out of the top or bottom of your plant's pot, it can stay there. When the time comes, repot in early spring into a slightly larger container with fresh soil.
Of course, every plant is different, but moving it into a bigger pot too quickly can actually shock a plant. Try to stick to this rule: only repot most plants in a vessel that is no more than two inches larger in diameter than its current pot. This will ensure they have space to grow, but that they aren't overwhelmed in their new environment.
Is ficus Audrey easy to care for?
Yes and no. If you've had bad luck with the fiddle-leaf fig, you'll likely have better luck with ficus Audrey. It's less picky but may still be prone to leaf drop from moisture and environmental issues. Audrey is beginner-friendly, though, if you're willing to keep a close eye on it.
How fast does ficus Audrey grow?
With the right care, ficus Audrey is actually a pretty quick grower, especially during spring and summer. Fertilize about once a month spring through fall to maximize these growing seasons.
How long can ficus Audrey live?
Like other ficus trees, Audrey can live for at least 10 to 20 years indoors, but maybe even longer if your plant is really happy.