Banana Leaf Ficus Care: Learn About Banana Leaf Fig Trees

Banana Leaf Ficus Care: Learn About Banana Leaf Fig Trees

By: Teo Spengler

If you’ve ever watched your favorite weeping fig drop its leaves like tears when the light changed a little, you may be ready to try banana leaf ficus tree (Ficus maclellandii sometimes labeled as F. binnendijkii). Banana leaf fig is much less temperamental than its cousin ficus species and adapts more readily to changing illumination in your home. Read on for information about growing banana leaf ficus.

Ficus Banana Leaf Plants

Ficus is the Latin word for fig and is also the genus name of about 800 fig species. Figs are woody trees, shrubs, or vines native to Asia, Australia, and Africa. Those species cultivated for home gardens or backyards either produce edible fruit or are grown for their ornamental value.

Banana leaf ficus trees are shrubs or small trees with long, saber-shaped leaves. The leaves emerge red, but later turn dark green and become leathery. They droop gracefully from the tree, adding an exotic or tropical look to your home. Ficus banana leaf plants can be grown with one stem, multiple stems, or even braided stems. The crown is open and irregular.

Growing Banana Leaf Ficus

Like the weeping fig, the banana leaf ficus tree grows into a small tree, up to 12 feet (3.5 m.) tall, and is usually grown as a houseplant. As a tropical fig, it can only grow outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone 11.

Growing banana leaf ficus plants successfully is mostly a matter of finding the correct location for the shrub. The banana leaf fig needs an indoor location with bright filtered light that is protected from drafts. Use well-drained soilless potting mix for growing banana leaf ficus plants.

When it comes to banana leaf ficus care, your temptation may be to overwater the tree. However, you must resist. Keep the soil slightly moist and avoid overwatering. If you apply an inch (2.5 cm.) of organic mulch, like wood chips, it helps keep that moisture in.

Fertilizer is a part of banana leaf ficus care. Feed your ficus banana leaf plant with a general, water-soluble fertilizer every other month in spring, summer, and fall. Do not fertilize the plant in winter. You can prune the plant a little if you think it is necessary to shape it.

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Banana ficus dropping yellow leaves

I was given a banana ficus and about 2 weeks after moving it into my office, some (but not all) leaves are turning a mottled yellow color and are dropping off. Is this normal for these when moved? Does it need more/less water? Fertilizer? Thanks!

I'm not familiar wtih banana ficus and I can't see your picture well enough to really see if it's a plant I know or not, but other species of ficus do tend to drop their leaves when they're moved, so it wouldn't be unreasonable for this one to behave the same. I would definitely check your watering though, too much or too little water can cause those symptoms too so I'd hate for you to think it's just the move when it turns out there's something else going on as well (overwatering is probably more likely than underwatering).

Thanks, I've been watering once a week, but I may be giving too much water. I'll try cutting back, here is a better picture, taken prior to the yellowing. Thanks.

I wouldn't necessarily cut back on watering unless you test whether or not you're watering too much--your problems could just be because you moved it. Depending on the type of potting mix you have and how much root mass the plant has, once a week could be too much water or it could be too little. Next time you would normally water, stick your finger down a few inches into the soil and see if it still feels moist. If it does, then hold off on watering, but if it feels dry then go ahead and water (and if it feels really dry, I'd check for your next watering after 4-5 days instead of a week.)

I'm not familiar with Banana Ficus either but if it's like every other ficus I've ever seen or owned, they go into shock if you move them from one location to another . I can move my weeping fig (ficus benjamina) just two feet from one place to another and it begins to go into shock right away and does exactly what you describe with leaves yellowing and falling off. New leaves always grow back. My ficus trees stay out on my back deck year round and will also lose a lot of leaves in the winter but always sprout new growth come spring!

hmmm . just found it in Plant Files: http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/62921/ and I DO have this plant! I've known it as Ficus Ali.

Supposedly, the advantage to growing the banana leaf ficus is they don't drop leaves like ficus benjamina, but my banana leaf is doing the exact same thing as yours is. I recall the same thing happened last year, but by the middle of May it had filled in completely. I put mine outside in part sun around April 15th and watered it freely. This year I will do the same, but I will fertilizer it before setting it outside. You may also want to check for spider mite, I can't tell from the picture above, but I do know spider mite damage causes a mottled yellow look to the leaves. You didn't ask, but in case you're wanting additional plants, they propagate very easily. I now have 3 plants from the original plant.

This message was edited Apr 3, 2008 12:11 AM

I agree with all the above, also if it was new to you, how long has it been in the same pot, it may need re potting into new compost for indoor plants, a feed every 2 weeks is also good for a growing plant, once a few weeks have past, any move/shock to the plant will have given time for it to re settle again, dont have it too close to the cooler if inside and I would give it a misting over every few days to give it some air moisture, when you mist the plant, this is a good time to see any red spider mite webs as they are like silk threads they are hard to notice, but when you mist, the tiny particles of water stay on the webs and are easier to see, if you find this, then you need to treat the plant for red spider mites, AND any other plants in the same room. good luck. WeeNel.

Indian Banyan (Ficus benghalensis)

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The traditional banyan tree commonly seen in landscapes is the Indian banyan, though the same name is also applied to other species of fig trees. Banyan trees are one of the species sometimes called strangler figs because of the way they grow—they can sprout in the holes and cracks of an established tree and over time grow around the trunk, gradually strangling it. Other common names for this plant include Bengal fig or Indian fig.

These trees are epiphytic—they absorb moisture from the air. The trunks are massive, fluted structures with smooth light-gray bark. The dark green, leathery leaves are elliptical, 4 to 8 inches long. The branches form roots that stretch towards the ground to penetrate and take hold, forming alternate trunks. This effect can make the tree spread out over quite a large area some specimens are among the largest trees in the world in terms of canopy coverage, covering several acres. This is a common street plant in tropical Asian countries, occasionally grown as a interesting specimen tree in large private landscapes.

  • Native Area: India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan
  • USDA Growing Zones: 10 to 12
  • Height: Over 100 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun

How to Grow Banana Trees in Containers

Last Updated: October 16, 2020 References Approved

This article was co-authored by Lauren Kurtz. Lauren Kurtz is a Naturalist and Horticultural Specialist. Lauren has worked for Aurora, Colorado managing the Water-Wise Garden at Aurora Municipal Center for the Water Conservation Department. She earned a BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies from Western Michigan University in 2014.

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If you love bananas, you'll be ecstatic to learn that you can grow banana trees yourself. While many people in subtropical climates tend to grow these trees outside in their yard, banana trees can actually thrive in a pot or container inside of your house. If you get the correct materials and plant and care for your tree properly, you can grow your very own banana tree right at home. Within a year of planting, you can have fruit growing on your new banana tree!

Does the ficus tree have any particular problems?

Keep an eye out for an infestation of scale insects. These insects have a waxy exterior appearance, and you might see them attached to leaf surfaces. There’s also a sticky substance called honeydew, which you’ll find on your table or floor, that’s excreted by the scale when feeding. Try controlling a minor infestation by using a soft cloth dipped in warm, soapy water to wipe these insects away, says Pleasant. If that’s has too much work, treat an insecticidal soap or neem oil. Retreat in 10 days.

Ficus are sensitive to changes in their environment. They react to these changes by dropping leaves. The leaves turn yellow and fall off. If you have just moved your ficus to a new location, expect leaf drop. The leaves will grow back when the plant adjusts. If it has not been moved, it may be reacting to a change in lighting conditions as the seasons change. Or, it may be reacting to an increase or decrease in its watering frequency. Be aware of the ficus' regular habits and try not to deviate from them to avoid leaf drop.

As with all living plants, the potential for disease increases with improper care. For an indoor ficus tree plant, many of these diseases, such as anthracnose or branch dieback, occur when overhead watering. Overhead watering simply means getting the leaves wet. To reduce the potential for disease, simply add water at the base directly into the soil. In addition, maintain an even soil moisture, not too wet or too dry.

Jill Kokemuller has been writing since 2010, with work published in the "Daily Gate City." She spent six years working in a private boarding school, where her focus was English, algebra and geometry. Kokemuller is an authorized substitute teacher and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Iowa.

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