How to Clean a Ficus Tree

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Ficus trees are a popular choice among indoor plant enthusiasts. Unfortunately, however, these trees can get a bit "ratty" in appearance due to dust, cobwebs, dead leaves and the formation of aerial roots. Ficus trees have an abundance of small leaves that are difficult to clean and they tend to drop their leaves very easily, which makes it impossible to simply hose down the foliage to remove dust and cobwebs. When cleaning a ficus tree, a gentle approach is required.

Things You'll Need

  • Razor blade
  • Spray bottle or steam machine
  • Old sock (to use as a rag)
  • Water
  • Lightweight duster wand

Cleaning a Ficus Tree

  • Place an old sheet or a couple of old towels under the ficus tree to catch drips of water, dust and other debris.

  • Remove any dead foliage from the branches. Dead leaves will fall off with the slightest tap. Any leaves that do not fall off easily should be left in place, as this means the ficus tree is still withdrawing nutrients and moisture from the dying foliage.

  • Sweep away cobwebs using a gentle, lightweight duster wand like a Swiffer Duster. Run the duster wand between the branches, moving from the center of the tree out toward the branch tips.

  • Remove superficial dust from the ficus tree leaves one branch at a time by placing one hand under the foliage for support, and use a lightweight duster to sweep away the dust by moving from the base of the branch toward the tip.

  • Generously mist all of the ficus tree leaves with a spray bottle or steamer, moving from the top of the tree down. The water should be dripping off the leaves.

  • Place a damp sock over your hand and wipe each leaf individually to remove any grime that was not removed by the water. Start at the top of the tree and work your way toward the bottom.

  • Remove any dead branches or unwanted aerial roots. The dense foliage of the ficus tree makes it difficult to use pruners, so using a razor blade instead allows for easy removal of dead branches and aerial roots.

  • Remove new growth from the base and trunk (below the level of the first primary branch) using pruners or a razor blade. This will promote growth and development of the tree canopy.

  • Remove dead leaves and debris from around the base of the ficus tree.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the tree is not been cleaned on a regular basis, the dust will not rinse away completely and the leaves will require hand wiping. Monthly cleaning is recommended to avoid the hassle of hand wiping the ficus tree's foliage.
  • Be very gentle when wiping ficus tree leaves, as they will detach very easily, particularly when the tree is stressed. Do not clean a ficus tree that has recently experienced stress. Ficus trees experience leaf drop in times of stress, and handling the foliage will result in even more dropped leaves.

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