Sacred ficus or religious ficus (Ficus religiosa) is a semi-deciduous or deciduous tree belonging to a genus such as ficus and the mulberry family (Moraceae). In nature, it is found in the southwestern part of China, in Sri Lanka, Burma, India, Nepal, as well as in the areas of Indochina.
This tree is quite powerful and in the wild it can reach a height of 30 meters. It has strong branches, a wide crown and spectacular leathery leaves of a sufficiently large size. Simple leaves in length can reach 20 centimeters, their edges are straight and slightly wavy. Their base is wide-hearted, and the apex is very long, elongated into a thin “tail”. Green smooth leaves have a bluish tint and pronounced pale veins. Regularly located leaves have petioles, the length of which is equal to the length of the leaf plate itself.
Inflorescences are axillary and have the form of small, smooth, spherical Siconia, which are also paired. They are colored green, which over time changes to dark purple. You can’t eat them.
Most often, sacred ficus begins to grow, like an epiphyte. He can settle on the crevice of the building or on tree branches. Then he takes out long aerial roots that rush to the surface of the earth. Having reached it, they take root and turn into a rather strong trunk, which becomes a support for the plant. It happens that with the growth of the trunk takes the form of a banyan tree.
Also, this species distinguishes its interesting feature. If the humidity is very high, then small droplets of water form at the ends of the leaves. This phenomenon is called gutting. You may get the impression that the ficus is "crying."
This plant got its specific name due to the fact that Buddhists consider it sacred. There is a legend which says that sitting under this plant Siddhartha Gautama was able to achieve enlightenment and become a Buddha. For hundreds of years, such a ficus has necessarily been planted near Buddhist temples, and pilgrims still tie colorful ribbons on its branches.
Ficus sacred care at home
Sacred ficus is quite easy to grow indoors, as it is not very whimsical and not capricious. However, in order for the plant to be strong and healthy, you should know a few simple rules of care.
It grows well in bright but diffused lighting, but it feels quite comfortable in a slightly shaded place. A suitable level of illumination is 2600-3000 lux. Ficus is recommended to be placed near a window of western or eastern orientation.
If the plant lacks light, then leaves may fall.
He loves warmly. So, in the warm season, it is recommended to grow it at a temperature of 20 to 25 degrees. In winter, make sure that the room is not colder than 15 degrees. A dormant period is not necessary for such a plant; it can normally grow and develop in the winter in a warm room. But it should be borne in mind that it must be removed away from heating appliances.
It does not tolerate sudden changes in temperature, drafts. With a sharp change in conditions of detention, foliage can fly around.
How to water
We need a systematic and fairly plentiful watering. However, make sure that no water stagnates in the soil. As a rule, a plant is watered only after the top layer of the substrate dries out a little. Water for irrigation must be well-maintained and room temperature.
High air humidity is completely optional, but in these conditions the plant feels best. For large ficuses, conventional methods of increasing humidity are not suitable. If the room is too dry air, then you can use the "artificial fog generator." And even if there is an artificial reservoir, you can put a ficus near it.
If the humidity is too low, then all the leaves may fall on the plant.
Suitable soil should be loose, enriched with nutrients with a pH of 6–6.5. You can buy ready-made soil mix for ficus. And if you want, you can cook it yourself. To do this, you need to connect peat, turf and leaf soil, as well as coarse sand, taken in equal proportions. Do not forget about a good drainage layer, which will help to avoid acidification of the soil.
Top dressing is performed 2 times a month. For this, mineral and organic fertilizers are used, which should be alternated. Fertilizers should have a lot of potassium and nitrogen.
This is a fast growing plant. So, as a rule, in 12 months a small seedling can become a two-meter tree. In this regard, young specimens need frequent transplantation (1 or 2 times a year). In this case, a transplant is usually carried out after the root system ceases to fit in the pot. Too large ficuses do not transplant, but only replace the top layer of the substrate.
You need to regularly trim young stems in order to restrain plant growth and form a neat crown. Pruning is carried out before the beginning of a period of intensive growth, and later it will be possible to pinch the tips of young branches.
In addition to pruning branches, there is another no less effective way of forming a spectacular crown. The shoots of the sacred ficus are highly elastic. With the help of a special wire frame, you can ask young stems any direction.
A very popular way of forming young plants is to weave their trunks into a pigtail. But for this, 3-4 ficuses should be planted in one container at once.
Holy ficus can be propagated quite quickly and simply using seeds. This method is most popular among gardeners. Sowing seeds must be done exactly according to the instructions indicated on the packaging. As a rule, the appearance of seedlings occurs after a week.
This plant can also be propagated by cuttings, but very often cuttings do not root.
Pests and diseases
Aphids , mealybugs , scale insects or thrips can settle on a tree. If you notice pests, then the ficus will need to be treated with special chemicals as soon as possible. Processing must be carried out very carefully so as not to poison yourself.
Most often, the plant is sick due to the fact that it is improperly looked after. So, due to some change in care, the entire foliage may fall.
However, we must remember that the leaves of the ficus fall off themselves, reaching two or three years of age. In this regard, falling leaves can be a completely natural process.