A lot of houseplant newbies and even more experienced indoor gardeners might feel nervous about the idea of caring for fig trees. After all, are fig trees good indoor plants, or are they more trouble than they’re worth?
They are trees, after all, and trees usually get big. Ficus trees also need lots of sunlight and have pretty precise requirements for water and nutrients.
Sure, a nice pothos, succulent, or snake plant might be a much easier indoor plant to care for, but we think fig trees are excellent indoor houseplants for beginner/intermediate to advanced indoor gardeners.
Here’s what we love about fig trees!
Are Fig Trees Good Indoor Houseplants? Here’s Why We Think So!
Reason #1: Fig trees have a BIG impact in indoor spaces.
If you’re talking sheer size, indoor trees like fig trees are a great bang for your buck! A single, good-sized tree can beautifully fill a whole corner or be the centerpiece for an entire room, while it would easily take several smaller plants to create the same impact.
You can buy a young tree and keep it pruned to control its size if you have a smaller space, or you can let it grow large over time. Ficus trees can easily reach 10 feet indoors or even larger if you have high ceilings and lots of light.
Trees bring a lot of light, grace, and beauty into any room, and you only have to care for one plant instead of lots of smaller ones. (Though you could always mix big and small plants for an even wilder, more dynamic look!)
Reason #2: Fig trees are great for indoor air quality.
All plants take in carbon dioxide and other chemicals from the air and put out clean oxygen. While it’s commonly believed that trees respirate through the leaves only, about half of a plant’s air-cleaning qualities stem from the soil, microbes in the root system, and even the roots themselves.
According to BC Wolverton’s (author of the The NASA Clean Air Study of 1989) books How to Grow Fresh Air and Plants: Why You Can’t Live Without Them, fig trees are some of the highest ranking plants for effectively removing harmful chemicals like benzene, formaldehyde, and ammonia (the most common chemicals found in indoor air) from the air.
Fig trees tend to have a lot of leaf surface area, high soil volume and surface area, and a high transpiration rate, which means they’re taking in a lot of carbon dioxide and chemicals and expelling a lot of clean oxygen.
For a boost in air quality in your home or office, you can’t pick a better plant!
Reason #3: Fig trees come in lots of different varieties and shapes.
Ficus trees like fiddle leaf figs (Ficus lyrata), rubber trees (Ficus elastica), weeping fig (Ficus benjamina), and ficus audrey (Ficus benghalensis), and even a bonsai ficus are all stunning in their own unique ways.
Fiddle leaf figs are known for their massive, lyre-shaped leaves and lollipop shape (which doesn’t grow naturally, by the way, but can be created with pruning and shaping).
Weeping figs sport long, graceful, lance-shaped leaves and a more relaxed shape.
Rubber trees have beautiful, oblong, waxy leaves that stick up at a perky angle, and they’re known for their beautiful shine!
Ficus audrey has large, rounded leaves similar to those of a fiddle, but with a fun, fuzzy texture to boot!
Many of these ficuses also come in variegated or dwarf varieties (or even bonsai!), so there’s a fig tree out there for everyone to fit your taste and decor style.
Reason #4: Fig tree care is easier than you think!
Once you figure out what a fig tree needs to thrive indoors, you can provide those conditions!
While specific care requirements can vary from variety to variety, here’s a general rundown of what keeps a fig tree happy, healthy, and beautiful:
Fig trees are tropical plants, so they enjoy lots of bright, indirect sunlight. Most fig trees will be very happy in an east-facing window where they’ll get some direct sun in the morning and indirect sunlight for the rest of the day. A south- or west-facing window can also work if you place the tree a few feet back where the harsh midday and afternoon sun won’t shine directly on the leaves.
If your home has poor lighting, no worries! You can successfully grow a healthy fig tree with a well-placed grow light or two.
Soil and Potting
Proper drainage is KEY for keeping a fig tree healthy. Make sure to select a pot with drainage holes, and that’s about 2-3 inches larger than the root ball of your fig tree. Choose a light, fast-draining soil like Fiddle Leaf Fig Soil so your tree’s roots aren’t sitting in water.
This is where a lot of people struggle with fig trees, because they don’t like being overwatered!
The trick to watering a fig tree is to keep tabs on the soil and water when the top few inches feel dry to the touch, or better yet, when a moisture meter reads 3-4. (We prefer using a meter because it tells you what’s actually going on in the root ball instead of just below the surface of the soil.)
You should be watering every 7-10 days. If it takes longer than that for the soil to dry out, make sure your pot and soil drain properly, and that your tree is getting enough light!
Fig trees need the right balance of nutrients to grow healthy roots, sturdy trunks, and lots of beautiful leaves. Fertilize regularly during the spring and summer with a balanced liquid fertilizer like Fiddle Leaf Fig Food (it works great for all ficuses!).
Can Fig Trees Fruit Indoors?
Some fig trees, like the fiddle leaf fig, do produce fruit, but it’s mostly inedible. While these figs aren’t toxic, they are fairly hard and quite tasteless, and not exactly appetizing. This is why these trees are grown primarily as ornamentals. It’s also very difficult to get these trees to fruit indoors.
If you are looking to grow edible figs indoors, your best bet is the Negronne fig, which is a self-pollinating variety that’s well-suited for growing indoors. That way, you won’t have to get two trees or pollinate manually. The fruits of this tree are also quite tasty!
Make sure to place your tree in a warm, sunny place but not necessarily direct sunlight. (Though fig trees can be acclimated to direct sun, and it’s actually really good for them! You just don’t want to do it too quickly and risk leaf scorch.) Make sure the tree gets at least 6 hours of bright light per day, and don’t let temperatures drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Water as we described above and fertilizer regularly, but once the fruit starts to develop, stop fertilizing and let them grow.
Keep a very close eye on the soil to ensure that your tree is getting enough water because it won’t fruit if it’s underwatered. We highly recommend a moisture meter if you’re trying to get fruit.
Once figs turn deep purple or brown, they’re ready for harvesting! Figs only last a few days once they’re picked, so eat them fast!
Are you ready for an indoor fig tree?
The only way to know is to try!
If you’re nervous to jump in head first with a large fig tree, you can try a bambino or dwarf variety to ease into caring for these gorgeous plants.
When you’re ready to pull the trigger and get an indoor fig tree for yourself, here are some of the most valuable resources we’ve created to help you take the best possible care of your new planty friend!