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Ficus Audrey Care (Ficus Benghalensis)

Learn all about Ficus Audrey care! Otherwise known as Ficus benghalensis, Ficus Audrey is best known as the national tree of India. Learn how to keep it happy as a houseplant with my care guide.

How do you care for Audrey ficus?

This post was a lot of fun to write because I got to dive into some history! I love learning about where plants come from and seeing what they look like in their natural habitat. And Ficus Audrey is definitely one of those plants that is simply breathtaking in the wild.

If you’re a fan of fiddle leaf fig plants (Ficus lyrata), Rubber plants (Ficus elastica), and the yellow gem ficus (Ficus altissima), you’ll love Audrey. So let’s start with a bit of background, because this plant has a lot of history! Then we’ll get into Ficus Audrey care.

ficus audrey plant on a table with other houseplants

Is Ficus Audrey a banyan tree? Where is it from?

Ficus Audrey/Ficus benghalensis is native to the Indian subcontinent and is the national tree of India, where it is also referred to as the banyan, banyan fig, Indian banyan, and the strangler fig. It is called the “strangler fig” because it begins as an epiphyte that grows up other trees, ultimately suffocating them.

These plants grow in tropical environments, where they can reach up to around 90-100 feet tall and produce figs that are eaten by birds. In fact, these trees are some of the largest in the world by canopy coverage, spreading widely and growing dense crowns. 

Humor me for a moment—the largest Ficus benghalensis/banyan tree in the world is in Andhra Pradesh, India. Its canopy covers over 200,000 square feet, and it has been growing for over 500 years.

Ficus benghalensis is considered sacred in India, with temples even built near the trees. It has a strong association with Buddhism and achieving spritual enlightment (the tag on my plant even said that).

Large banyan tree in India
Banyan tree at Gaia, Auroville, India; Wikimedia Commons; Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0

Why is it called Ficus Audrey?

Despite my best searching efforts, I could not find why the plant is now referred to (likely mostly by Westerners) as “Ficus Audrey.” My guess is that it has something to do with a white person going to the Indian subcontinent and “discovering” the plant, naming it Audrey. 

It’s also possible that Ficus Audrey is simply a cultivar of Ficus benghalensis, and Audrey is the name given to that cultivar. This is often done to give a producer rights to the plant, but I’m not entirely sure how all of that works. If you know where the name comes from, please tell me!

shiny ficus benghalensis leaf

Is Ficus Audrey an indoor plant?

Yes! Despite being the national tree of India and growing in the wild many places on the globe, Ficus Audrey makes for a fantastic indoor plant. It has adapted quite well to life as a houseplant and is generally very tolerant of indoor growing conditions. In fact, some say it is easier than other popular Ficus plants (e.g., fiddle leaf fig and rubber plant—both pictured below).

I certainly see a lot of similarities between Ficus Audrey and fiddle leaf figs/rubber plants. It appears to me that the leaves look a lot like fiddle leaf fig leaves in color, sheen, and veining. They are medium green with lighter green veining and a thick, glossy sheen.

However, while the leaves emerge very glossy and bright green, they adopt a deeper green color as they mature. And the glossy sheen also fades to peach fuzz. Their shape is also more like a rubber plant’s leaf shape—longer and more oval-shaped. And the stem and growth pattern reminds me of a rubber plant, too.

fiddle leaf fig
Ficus lyrata, aka fiddle leaf fig
beautiful large rubber plant
Ficus elastica, aka rubber plant

How much light does a Ficus Audrey need?

Ficus Audrey will do best in bright, indirect light. It can tolerate direct morning sun as well, but make sure to monitor the plant for signs of sun stress or scorching. Too little light will lead to stunted growth and leaf size.

I’ve had no issues with my Audrey next to the sunniest window in my house. I’m planning to move it to my sunroom in the future and foresee no issues there either—but I will certainly update this post if I experience any.

Can I put ficus Audrey outside?

This question always makes me giggle because—of course you can! All plants came from outside 🙂 Whether or not you can put it in the ground outside is the real question. If you live somewhere that never gets below 60 degrees F—sure!

But if you’re like me, Audrey will need to summer outside in a pot. Make sure she has exposure to only dappled sunlight, is shielded from direct sun by a shade cloth, or is under a covered patio or dense tree canopy. Ficus Audrey care is generally easiest when you let mother nature do her thing outside, IMO.

beautiful ficus audrey foliage

How often should I water my Ficus Audrey?

Water Audrey when the top few inches of soil dry out. Generally I tend to stretch my plants between watering sessions—but that isn’t a good idea with this one.

Ficus Audrey is happiest when she is kept in moist soil. Never let the soil dry out completely, but letting the top few inches of soil dry out can help prevent overwatering and pest issues like fungus gnats (since they lay eggs in the top few inches of moist soil).

Speaking of soil, a well-draining mix will work just fine! Something will coco coir in it would be lovely. Coco coir is a great alternative to peat moss and helps to retain moisture without being too heavy.

Regular well-draining houseplant soil mixes will already come pre-mixed with things to facilitate drainage and help with light moisture retention. So you shouldn’t have any issues using one of those.

Oh—and when I do water my ficus plants, I like to rinse off the foliage with a shower head, hose, or faucet. This helps to keep the leaves clean since they are large and attract a lot of dust.

ficus benghalensis plant

Ficus Audrey care: Temperature & humidity

As with most tropical plants, Ficus Audrey enjoys a higher-than-normal humidity level. However, the plant will likely do just fine in average household humidity. I find that even with our central air con on in the summer, the home still stays more humid than it is in the spring, fall, and especially winter.

So typically for plants like these, I do not add a humidifier since I am generally lazy about humidifiers. But you may want to depending on the conditions in your climate and home.

Ficus Audrey can live outside in zones 9–11 (U.S. growing zones). I have all four seasons where I live, so while Audrey can summer outside, she needs to come in for the fall and winter. Ficus Audrey needs temperatures at least in the 60s F, and it will do best with temperatures into the 80s.

ficus audrey leaf

Is ficus Audrey fast growing?

Ficus Audrey is a relatively normal grower as far as her pace. If the plant is well taken care of and in ideal conditions, it will throw out new leaves from its growth points every few weeks.

If you notice the plant’s growth is slower in the fall and winter, that’s totally normal. Less light and lower temperatures—even indoors—can impact Ficus Audrey’s growth rate. If the plant is slowing down or throwing out smaller leaves in the spring and summer, give it more light and see if that helps.

ficus audrey plant in a white pot

Repotting this plant

When it is time to repot this plant, size up only about an inch or two in pot size. And make sure to use fresh well-draining soil to replenish nutrients. 

Wondering how you’ll know when it’s time to repot? In good growing conditions, you’ll probably need to repot every few years. Check to see if the roots are circling the bottom of the pot a bunch (you can usually lift a plant out of its pot to see if it is). Or if the roots are growing out of the drainage holes.

How tall does the Audrey ficus get?

I mentioned that this plant can grow to be up to 100 feet tall in its natural habitat with an even wider canopy. However, you can expect it to grow up to 8–10 feet max indoors. And this is with ideal care, too.

How do you make Ficus Audrey bushy?

I love pruning ficus plants because it encourages branching and creates a bushier-looking plant. You can make your Ficus Audrey bushier by pruning off the plant at its growth tips (my plant currently has only one).

When you cut the plant off at its growth tip, it will sprout a new growth point from just below the cut. The new growth will grow slightly to the side, filling in more space and eventually giving your plant a bushier appearance.

Think of this like you probably used to draw trees in elementary school. First you’d draw a Y…then two V’s off of the tip of the two stems on the top of the Y, making 4 branches. Then four V’s off of all of those tips, making 8 branches. Similar concept, except a lot slower 🙂

shiny ficus benghalensis leaf
ficus audrey plant

Propagating a Ficus Benghalensis plant

Propagating a Ficus Audrey is pretty much exactly like propagating a Ficus lyrata (fiddle leaf fig). I’ll include a few photos of that process below since it is so similar. 

You’ll want to take a cutting that has a few leaves. Don’t make it too big, though. It will be harder to root. Take the cutting using a clean knife or pair of garden shears. 

Make sure to protect your skin and the surrounding surfaces from the milky white sap that will seep out when you make a cut. This can be a skin irritant. 

Let the cutting harden over for a few hours, and then either put it in water or in a small pot with soil. If you put it in water, change the water out every week or so. Eventually you’ll get roots, and you can transition the cutting to soil.

If you plant the cutting directly in soil, make sure to keep the soil evenly moist and the humidity high. (You can use a plastic propagation box or just a plastic bag.) Once you can tug on the cutting and get some minor resistance, the means the cutting is rooting.

I have not personally rooted ficus cuttings in LECA yet, but I think it would be a great option for strong root development. Have a look at my LECA propagation 101 guide for more!

ficus lyrata cutting rooting in water
ficus lyrata cutting rooting in water
Ficus lyrata (fiddle leaf fig) cutting rooting in water
fiddle leaf fig roots on a propagated cutting
Ficus lyrata (fiddle leaf fig) roots on a propagated cutting

Other questions & issues

Below are a few extra things you might want to know about Ficus Audrey care, including info about potential pests, toxicity, and troubleshooting issues.

1. Is Ficus Audrey toxic to pets?

Ficus plants are not intended to be ingested. Ingestion can lead to gastrointestinal issues, so it’s best to keep this plant away from pets and children who might eat it. See my post about 16 Non-Toxic Plants to Add to Your Collection for safer choices.

2. Is Ficus Audrey rare?

No, Ficus Audrey is not rare. It’s easy to find this plant for affordable prices at many independent nurseries. If you don’t live near a well-stocked nursery, you can purchase the plant online (affiliate link) for reasonable prices, too.

ficus audrey leaf against a black wall

3. Is Ficus Audrey a rubber tree?

Ficus Audrey is a rubber tree in that a lot of people refer to many different types of Ficus plants as “rubber trees.” The “rubber tree” is generally used to refer to Ficus Elastica, a relative of Ficus Audrey.

Its leaves look a bit like rubber, but its milky white sap was used many years ago to make rubber! And since Ficus Audrey has a similar milky white sap, it’s fair to see that this plant could also adopt the name “rubber tree.” But generally when people say rubber tree or rubber plant, they are referring to a Ficus elastica.

4. Why are my plant’s leaves turning yellow and dropping?

I generally don’t encounter this problem with my Ficus lyrata (FLF), but I do encounter it with my Ficus elastica (rubber plant)! Generally, the oldest leaves will yellow and die off with age. If it’s just one here or there, don’t worry. It’s normal.

However, if several leaves on a plant are yellowing and falling off at the same time, it’s likely a result of overwatering. It can also be underwatering…but it’s pretty simple to figure this out by how wet or dry the soil is.

Remember that soil should be well-draining and light so that the plant can retain some moisture without being too wet. Make sure you let the top few inches dry out before watering the plant again.

ficus audrey plant in a white pot

5. Why do Audrey Ficus leaves curl?

If Ficus plants go too long without water, you’ll notice that they will begin to curl inward and droop. Generally you don’t want to wait until your plants get to this point, but they should respond well to a good deep watering and rebound.

If the soil has gotten so dry that it is caked and shrinking away from the edges of the pot, aerate it before watering. You can do this with something as common as a kitchen fork. Gently break up the top few inches of soil to ensure the water gets down to the roots.

6. Is this plant vulnerable to pests?

Ficus Audrey is about as vulnerable to pests as other Ficus plants. Especially in indoor conditions, your plant can be vulnerable to spider mites, scale, and mealybugs. All can be treated using an over-the-counter insecticide spray.

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image of a ficus audrey with text that reads: how to care for ficus benghalensis "audrey"

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