This is a huge tree growing to 60 feet tall and 60 to 100 feet wide. The dense, rounded canopy and gracefully drooping branches of weeping fig made it quite popular as a landscape tree until recently. The thick, shiny, two to four-inch-long, evergreen leaves generously clothe the long branches, and the tiny figs eventually turn a yellow, orange, or dark red when ripe. Branches will weep toward the ground forming a canopy so dense that nothing grows beneath it.
Scientific name: Ficus benjamina
Pronunciation: FYE-kuss ben-juh-MYE-nuh
Common name(s): Weeping fig
USDA hardiness zones: 10B through 11 (Figure 2)
Origin: native to Asia
UF/IFAS Invasive Assessment Status: Not considered a problem species at this time, may be recommended (North, Central, South)
Uses: trained as a standard; indoors; container or planter; hedge; Bonsai
Availability: not native to North America
Height: 40 to 60 feet
Spread: 60 to 100 feet
Crown uniformity: symmetrical
Crown shape: weeping, round, spreading
Crown density: dense
Growth rate: fast
Leaf arrangement: alternate
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: undulate, entire
Leaf shape: narrowly lanceolate to ovate
Leaf venation: pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen
Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches
Leaf color: dark to medium green and shiny on top, paler green underneath
Fall color: no color change
Fall characteristic: not showy
Flower color: unknown
Flower characteristics: not showy; emerges in clusters within syconium produced by the tree
Fruit shape: round
Fruit length: 1/3 to 1/2 inch
Fruit covering: fleshy fig
Fruit color: turns from green to yellow, orange, or dark red when ripe
Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; not showy; fruit/leaves a litter problem
Trunk and Branches
Trunk/branches: branches droop; showy; typically one trunk; no thorns; broken branches excrete a milky sap
Bark: gray to pale brown, smooth
Pruning requirement: needed for strong structure
Current year twig color: gray
Current year twig thickness: thin
Wood specific gravity: unknown
Light requirement: full sun to partial shade
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; alkaline; acidic; occasionally wet but well-drained
Drought tolerance: high
Aerosol salt tolerance: moderate
Roots: can form large surface roots
Winter interest: no
Outstanding tree: no
Ozone sensitivity: unknown
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: susceptible
Pest resistance: resistant to pests/diseases
Use and Management
Fruit can stain cars and sidewalks, so the tree should not be planted close to streets, walks or parking lots. It also makes quite a mess around the tree as the fruit fall to the ground. The tree is much too large for residential planting unless it is used as a hedge or clipped screen, but can be seen growing into massive trees in parks and other large-scale areas. Aerial roots descend from the branches, touch the ground and take root, eventually forming numerous sturdy trunks which can clog a landscape. Trees can grow to be quite large and spreading in this fashion. Roots grow rapidly invading gardens, growing under and lifting sidewalks, patios, and driveways.
There have been recent reports of fertile fruit germinating in some landscapes in south Florida. This is of concern since this could give the tree the potential of spreading and perhaps becoming a pesky weed, something which is definitely not needed in south Florida.
Able to tolerate severe pruning, weeping fig can also be successfully used as a clipped hedge or screen and is probably best used in this fashion, or can be trained into an espalier or topiary. Young trees are often grown in containers, appearing on patios, at entranceways, or indoors.
Weeping Fig will grow in full sun or partial shade on any well-drained soil. Plants should be carefully watered when young and later during droughts. Plants are very frost-sensitive.
The cultivar `Exotica' has wavy-edged leaves with long, twisted tips. There are other Ficus species such as Ficus rubiginosa which do not produce aerial roots and are much better suited as landscape trees for shade because they will not take over the landscape as will weeping fig.
Propagation is by cuttings or layering.
Weeping fig may be infected by scales, but is resistant to leaf thrips which will distort new leaves on some other figs.
No diseases are of major concern.
Koeser, A.K., Friedman, M.H., Hasing, G., Finley, H., Schelb, J. 2017. Trees: South Florida and the Keys. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.