How to Grow a Healthy Weeping Fig

If you’re looking for a small indoor tree to liven up your home, try a classic: Ficus benjamina, also known as the weeping fig. This elegant houseplant, easy to recognize with its small, pointy leaves, can live for years and grow fairly large with the right care.

Bookmark this guide for everything you need to know about Ficus benjamina and how to care for your weeping fig indoors!

About Ficus benjamina


It’s easy to see why houseplant enthusiasts have been growing Ficus benjamina in their homes for decades now. There’s a lot to love about this pretty indoor tree, a type of wild fig belonging to the mulberry family Moraceae.

One characteristic in particular that sets this Ficus apart from other tree-type houseplants, including its cousin, the popular fiddle leaf fig, is that F. benjamina has small leaves (usually up to 5 inches) rather than the big foliage you’d normally associate with a tree. The leaves on wild-type plants are a deep emerald green in color, pointy, and glossy.

The common name “weeping fig” is a reference to the fact that this species’ leaves and slender stems tend to arch downwards. Its droopy foliage doesn’t make this plant look sad, instead giving it an elegant look somewhat similar to a weeping willow tree.

There are different varieties of Ficus benjamina available, ranging from plants with braided stems to mini bonsai versions. I’ll talk about those in the next section. 

Natural habitat

This houseplant is naturally found in Asia, occurring in much of Southeast Asia (Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, and more) and beyond (China, India, Bangladesh, etc.). It also grows in coastal northern and eastern Australia.


In the wild, Ficus benjamina favors tropical rainforests. In regions with warm climates, it’s also popular as an ornamental in parks and gardens; it works particularly well for creating dense, low hedges.

As an invasive species

In some places, such as Florida, “escaped” weeping figs have managed to naturalize. The invasive plants apparently spread exclusively by means of asexual propagation, such as through root suckers or fallen twigs managing to root. 

The reason a Ficus benjamina can’t really produce viable seeds outside of its natural habitat is fascinating. Each fig tree species, including this one, is associated with one or a few specific type(s) of fig wasp(s). Only this or these wasp(s), rather than “regular” pollinators like bees or butterflies, can pollinate its flowers. 

As such, it’s important to ensure that the fig wasp associated with Ficus benjamina isn’t introduced anywhere outside of its natural range (like Florida). If it is, this plant would be able to spread a lot more rapidly.

Issues with this include it potentially crowding out important native greenery, damaging buildings and infrastructure with its roots, making messes when its fruits drop, and causing trouble when the trees inevitably fall when exposed to hurricane-force winds.

Ficus benjamina varieties

As is usual with houseplants that have been around for a long time, nurseries have created a whole bunch of selectively bred variations (cultivars) of Ficus benjamina. The original version has green foliage, but if you want something more interesting, you can also consider:

  • Ficus benjamina bonsai: Not technically a cultivar, but very popular. This mini form is kept small on purpose, meaning it fits on a windowsill and is ideal if you don’t have much space to offer.
  • Braided Ficus benjamina: Also not a cultivar, a braided Ficus consists of multiple stems in a single planter that are braided together when they’re still young and pliable. You can keep braiding at home as your plant grows.
  • Ficus benjamina ‘Exotica’: One of the oldest cultivars and the “parent” for many of those that have followed. The leaves can be either green or variegated, and the stems are often braided together.
  • Ficus benjamina ‘Kinky’: A variegated cultivar with slightly curled leaves and a compact growth pattern. There’s also a green version called ‘Green Kinky’, which was patented in The Netherlands in 2010.
  • Ficus benjamina ‘Anastasia’: A variegated cultivar that sports two different shades of green on its leaves. Often sold as a large, mature plant.
  • Ficus benjamina ‘Starlight’: A gorgeous variegated cultivar with loads of cream coloration on its foliage.
  • Ficus benjamina ‘Barok’: A rather strange variety with extreme leaf curl. 
  • Ficus benjamina ‘Twilight’: Somewhat similar to ‘Starlight’, but with more green.
  • Ficus benjamina ‘Danielle’: Extra dark green and shiny leaves.