How to Repot Ficus Benjamina : Planting Basics
How to Repot a Ficus Tree
Ficus trees are a family tropical plants, vines, and shrubs that make adaptable potted plants both indoors and outdoors. To keep your ficus plant healthy, transplanting it to a new pot or planter every few years is recommended. If your ficus tree has outgrown its old pot, prepare a new container for the tree in a suitable climate. Making the transplant as easy as possible on the ficus will help it thrive in its new environment and avoid trauma following repotting.
Prepping the Pot and Ficus
Repot your ficus tree in springtime, if possible.This is your ficus tree's strongest season—in winter, spring, and fall, your ficus tree may be less adaptable. If you can wait until spring to replant your plant, leave the plant in its current pot until then.
- Most ficus varieties thrive best if you repot them about once a year.
- Indoor ficus trees are generally more adaptable to repotting, even if the season isn’t ideal.
Repot your plant immediately if it has become pot-bound.Pot-bound plants are more prone to developing diseases or becoming starved of nutrients. If you notice any of the following signs, repot your plant as soon as you can:
- Stunted foliage growth
- Roots growing through the drainage holes
- Weak or wilting foliage
Remove the ficus carefully from its existing pot.Instead of tugging on the ficus, squeeze both sides of the container and turn it upside down. Tap the bottom of the pot until you loosen the plant and pull it out gently at the base.
- Tugging on the ficus tree can damage or remove its leaves and flowers.
- Have a friend stand near the upside down ficus to catch it if it falls out of the pot.
Choose a pot that is the same size or larger than the root system.Inspect your plant's root system after you pull it out and transplant it a pot with the same depth. This will give your plant enough room to adapt without constricting the root system. If your plant's root system is too large, you can also cut back up to 20% of the root system.
- Trim along the outer areas of the plant's root system to keep the center roots intact and avoid cutting too much. Ficus plants prefer to be root-bound in their pots.
- Avoid choosing a pot that is significantly larger than the root system, as this can stunt the plant's growth.
Put a layer of rocks in the bottom of the pot.Place a 1 in (2.5 cm) layer of small rocks into the new pot. This will aid the pot in water drainage and prevent soggy soil.
- You can buy rocks suitable for plant containers at most garden centers or nurseries.
Transplanting the Ficus
Fill the pot partway with well-draining soil.Your ficus needs well-draining soil, preferably peat mix, to prevent it from becoming waterlogged. Add soil until the pot is about 1/4 to 1/2 of the way full—you will fill it up completely as you transplant the ficus.
- You can buy well-draining soil mixes at most nurseries or garden centers. Check the packaging for "well-draining" or ask an employee for assistance.
- To check soil drainage, dig a 1 foot (0.30 m) hole into the dirt and fill it with water. If the soil drains completely within 5-15 minutes, it is well-draining soil.
- Make sure that the new pot also has a few holes in the bottom to aid drainage.
Loosen the roots before replanting the ficus.Use your hands to loosen the root ball as much as you can without breaking it. This will help the ficus absorb more water and nutrients when you transplant it and adapt better to its new container.
Place your ficus into the pot and fill it with soil.Position the ficus tree upright into the pot. Fill the rest of the pot with soil until you reach the soil level of the plant's original level.
- Don't make your soil level any higher than the original container, which can suffocate the roots.
Place the pot in a spot with mild temperatures and bright lighting.Ficus trees prefer temperatures of around 60–75 °F (16–24 °C), or around room temperature. They also prefer bright, but not direct, sunlight. Whether you place your ficus tree indoors or outdoors, choose a spot with with moderate temperatures and lighting.
- Avoid spots with sudden temperature changes or cold drafts. Near a closed window, for example, is better than by an open door.
Caring for your Repotted Ficus
Water the ficus tree if the soil's top feels dry.Stick your finger into the soil—if the first inch or several centimeters feel dry, water your plant until the soil is moist. Check the soil every day for dryness. How often you need to water the plant may fluctuate based on the temperature, season, and humidity.
- Water your ficus immediately after planting or whenever you notice the top layer of soil drying out.
- During spring or summertime, fill a spray bottle with water and mist the ficus’s leaves daily.
Fertilize your plant 1-2 times a month during the spring and summer.During warmer seasons, spray a fertilizer over your ficus tree once every 2-4 weeks. In colder seasons, cut back to fertilizing the plant once monthly.
- Avoid fertilizing your plant more than once a month in winter when the tree is dormant.
- Diluted liquid fertilizers work best with ficus plants.
Clean your ficus leaves with a soft cloth.If your ficus leaves look dusty, dip a washcloth or sponge in lukewarm water. Gently wipe the surface of the leaves to keep them glossy and lustrous.
- Do not use dish soap or other cleaners to clean your ficus.
Prune the ficus in spring and early autumn.Use pruning shears or loppers to cut back excessive growth or deadwood. Avoid pruning near the tree trunk, which can damage your plant.
- Prune either before or after winter, the tree's dormant season.
QuestionHow can I encourage root growth after transplanting my ficus?
HorticulturistHorticulturistExpert AnswerTransplant your ficus during the spring. Use a well-draining, nutrient-rich soil that includes compost. Fertilize your ficus with a balanced liquid fertilizer. With some minor pruning of both leaves and branches, you can encourage new root growth after transplanting.Thanks!
QuestionIs okay to trim my ficus' roots where they have emerged through a hole in the bottom of my pot? This ficus has been in the same pot for 8 years.
HorticulturistHorticulturistExpert AnswerIt’s time to up-pot your tree. Gently remove a small amount of the roots growing out of the bottom of the pot and transplant them into a larger pot. Do this sooner rather than later to preserve the health of your ficus. Use a pot slightly larger than the root ball. Going forward, repot your ficus once a year or every other year.Thanks!
QuestionDo I separate the roots?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, you can tease out the roots, being careful not to damage them. At this time it is a good idea to trim roots that are root bound. Trim the hardened roots not the fibrous roots. This will promote branching of the roots and promote fibrous root growth.Thanks!
QuestionHow tightly should I pack the soil? Should it be tightly packed, drizzled on or somewhere in between?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou should lightly pack the soil without much force. Tap on the side of the pot to settle the soil as you go instead of using your hands to press it down. After the first time you water it you may need to add more soil as that will pack it in even more.Thanks!
QuestionWhat can I do when the water is not draining into the soil?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerStab a pencil into the soil in a couple of different places. This will loosen the soil and let the water penetrate. Water the soil as normal; the water will seep into the holes.Thanks!
QuestionWhat do I do if it starts to die?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerClear all dead leaves from the soil. Add soil if needed. Thoroughly water until the soil is completely drenched. Wait about 15 - 30th minutes for the soil to drain. Then put the tree in a bright and warm place and only water it when needed. Phylis does not like being moved and has no problem showing it when she is.Thanks!
QuestionHow do you remove a ficus tree from the ground?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerRemove it by carefully digging around it. Find all the roots, and carefully pull it out. If you feel a tug, then stop.Thanks!
QuestionI just repotted my ficus plant.. It gets all day sunlight but not direct and is losing 10-12 leaves a day. Is this a cause for concern?Andy WinderCommunity AnswerMost likely not! Ficus plants thrive in bright, but not direct sunlight and generally lose leaves following replanting. As long as the plant's leaves grow back in the coming months, it adapted well to repotting.Thanks!
QuestionCan you cut the growth back to reshape the tree?Andy WinderCommunity AnswerYes! Ficus plants can be pruned in spring and fall months, preferably before or following its dormant season. Avoid pruning too close to the trunk, focusing instead on overgrown leaves and branches.Thanks!
- Smaller ficus varieties also thrive well in hanging baskets. If your variety does, consider putting it in a basket instead.
- Try not to move your ficus tree more than once or twice a year, as they grow best in stable conditions.
- If some of your tree's leaves fall off after repotting, don't worry. Your ficus should adjust quickly and grow new leaves in the following weeks.
- Enrich your existing soil with compost every year, especially if you don’t plan on re-potting the ficus. Adding new soil replenishes nutrients and keeps your plants healthy.
Video: Ficus tree: not a fickle plant. Repot to make happy.
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