Ficus Benjamina – New Varieties and Cultivars That Hold Leaves

Now you can learn the Secrets of Ficus Care.

Almost everyone that has ever purchased a ficus tree (benjamina that is) has had to drag out the rake, broom or whatever to clean up the leaves that have dropped. Today, new varieties are being introduced that hold their leaves and are more durable.

Most of these new varieties have their "roots" back in Europe. Of the hundreds of species of ficus world-wide, over 65 varieties of ficus are cultivated in Europe. In fact, Ficus has been the number #1 selling crop for the past five years in Europe.

One of the reasons for the success of these new varieties has been the constant search for new products and trialling.

If you search in any large group of plants growing, you are bound to find some variations. These plant variations don’t always mean that the plant will be better or that the market will except or notice the different features.

Some families of tropicals have had many new plant varieties or "sports" introduced with little or no trialing or testing. To introduce new varieties they must meet some criteria, and that is what the Europeans have done in selecting these new ficus varieties. In turn these new ficus introductions have been selected for meeting a criteria for the US market.

Here are a few of the guidelines for these new introductions:

  • They need to be unique in color, form and/or growth pattern.
  • Must perform well at both the grower level and be commercially viable.
  • Must have superior performance in the interior environment than ficus of the past.

Through a rigorous and highly critical trialing process some new varieties have emerged. Last week our focus was on Ficus leaf drop. The below 3 varieties are being marketed as "Ficus of the Future", and are highly resistant to leaf drop.

Ficus Monique

This plant is an upright Ficus benjamina type with a bushy growth pattern. Its leaves are a shiny, bright green and have ruffled edges that become more accentuated in lower light conditions. Its mature leaves are hard and crispy. ‘Monique’ will adapt to higher light levels where installations dictate.

One of the most outstanding features of this plant is its resistance to leaf drop. Several interior landscapers report such great success with ‘Monique’ in terms of resisting leaf drop.

To date, ‘Monique’ is the most popular of these new ficus varieties. It is grown in many forms which include standard tree, braided trunk, bush and topiary.

Ficus ‘Indigo’

This variety has very thick, dark leaves that grow under very low light levels. Its leaves emerge deep green and darken with maturity to almost blue-black with a high-gloss. As the outer leaves darkens, a slight variegation appears, radiating from the leaf’s midrib.

Its medium-to-long, irregular internodes give ‘Indigo’ an open, weepy appearance. It is grown as braided trunks, standard trunks, and topiaries.

‘Indigo’, which is the first in a series of dark-leaved Ficus benjamina types. It has shown top performance status during an independent dark box and simulated transportation tests conducted in Europe.

Ficus ‘Midnight’

A sister plant of ‘Indigo’, resulting from a multigenerational selection process. ‘Midnight’ has extremely dark, bluish to black, glossy leaves that sit along the stem with very close internodes. Its growth pattern is upright with a strong apical dominance. It also displays a compact, bushy habit.

The plant has performed very well in doors, growing for extended periods under 50, footcandles. This cultivar is recommended for use in commercial installations with 100 foot-candles to 150 foot-candles for optimal performance. Due to its compact habit, there may be some initial interior leaf drop during it final acclimation phase when placed on the job. However, new leaves will continue to emerge, refoliating and replacing any shedding that may occur.

Next time you’re at the local garden center/nursery ask about a ‘Ficus of the Future’, and give them a try.

Check out for other additional varieties and pictures to help identify what varieties you have or to look for.

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