Trees indoors? 5 good reasons why the answer is yes!

Indoor trees are a hot décor item, great for creating atmosphere and mopping up stale air and toxins.

There’s probably more than 5 reasons why indoor trees work so well as an indoor décor feature, but here are five that come to mind.

  • Indoors or out, trees are a living sculpture. When grown indoors they add a finishing touch to a room or act as a focal point (much as they would do in the garden).
  • There’s nothing like living greenery to bring a room to life, especially in winter when everything outside is turning brown.
  • The texture of their stems and the various shades of green foliage complement rather than clash with indoor colour schemes. The secret is to match the tree (and its container) to your décor style’.
  • They provide height in airy, double volume spaces, fill awkward corners or frame a window.
  • Because of the volume of their foliage, indoors trees are particularly effective in purifying stale air and removing toxins.

Quick tip:

Whatever you choose, go for show. Let the trees dominate their space. Keep it simple and let there be plenty of air and light around them, so that they stand out.

Ficus trees for indoors

There is a growing range of Ficus varieties that can be used as indoor trees. They include the small-leaved weeping Ficus with some interesting variations, the eye-catching Fiddle Leaf Ficus and the many different coloured Ficus elastica, also known as the rubber tree. They are easy to manage, and don’t mind being trimmed, so there is no danger of them growing through the roof.

Ficus Benjamina variations.

Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina) 

This is the most popular Ficus, because of its graceful arching stems and glossy green leaves. It can grow up to 2m, or more but it responds well to trimming and can be kept in shape so that doesn’t get out of proportion to the space it needs to fill. Variations include variegated leaves and plaited stems. It can also be clipped into a lollipop shade.

It does best in a position that receives bright, indirect light, for instance on either side of a window, well-lit passage or patio. Once you find its ‘happy space’ keep it there. Plants tend to drop their leaves when moved or if there is a change in temperature.

It responds well to moderate watering, and liquid fertiliser once a month in summer. Spritz the leaves to keep them dust free. Light green leaves indicate a lack of nutrition.

Ficus Lyrata aka Fiddle Leaf Fig.

Fiddle-Leaf Fig Tree (Ficus lyrata)

This variety is also a great favourite, and is a dramatic plant for large spaces, next to a picture window or under a skylight. It has large, broad leathery leaves and long elegant stems. In winter, move it away from the window because it doesn’t like the cold. If it grows too high, cut off the top branches.

These plants need a warm room and consistently moist soil, but not soaked. Don’t let the pot stand in water. Feed with a liquid feed once a month in spring and summer. Over-feeding can cause the plants to grow leggy.

Umbrella Fig

Umbrella fig (Ficus umbellata)

Yes this is a ficus although you’d be forgiven thinking it is some kind of philodendron. This is a new arrival in the world of houseplants. Like the Fiddle-leaf fig, it has large leaves, but they are heart-shaped, thinner and glossier than the Fiddle-leaf. It is also a tall grower with thin stems. Like other ficus varieties, it can be cut down to size. It needs a bright warm position and regular watering.  It is a rather elegant, willowy plant.

Ficus elastica ‘Abidjan’

Ficus elastica

Remember the old rubber plant of old. It has been updated with much more interesting foliage. Ficus Abidjan has darkgreeen almost black leaves, Ficus Audrey has white-veined green leaves, Ficus Ruby has varigated red and dark green leaves and Ficus Tineke has variegated green, cream and pink leaves.

This variety also likes bright light but less water. Only water when the top soil starts to dry. It is this Ficus variety that is very effective at filtering airborne toxins from the atmosphere.

Tips for indoor trees

  • For even growth turn the container (1/4 turn) every week, to equally expose all sides to the light.
  • Re-pot every two years or so into the next sized pot until it reaches the right height, then trim to keep it in proportion to the container.
  • Don’t move trees too often as they acclimatise to their surroundings.
  • Use room temperature water when watering.


For more info on indoor trees, visit LVG Plants


Article and images supplied by Alice Coetzee.


For more on gardening, visit Get It Magazine.

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