I think just about everybody wants a ficus. They are beautiful, have glossy foliage and look super chic, but are not the easiest plants to care for. Most ficus species are overly fussy and too picky, especially for the new plant parent. If you love this genus of plants but don’t want to commit to extreme plant parenthood, try a Ficus triangularis.
If you’re looking to dip your toes into the finicky, ficus waters, the Ficus triangularis is a great start. It is a charming species of ficus that is significantly easier to keep alive than other species, such as the Fiddle Leaf Fig. Keep reading to learn how to provide top notch Ficus triangularis care!
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The Ficus triangularis is a stunning species native to South Africa that boasts bright green waxy leaves in the shape of, you guessed it, a triangle. These uniquely shaped leaves grow on sturdy, woody stems that reach upwards and branch out into long arms. This plant can be kept small and pruned into a pleasing shape or left to grow large and bushy, either indoors or out (if you live in the right environment!).
The simplest advice I can give you is that consistency is key when it comes to Ficus triangularis care! Once you have found a place in your house and a routine that it likes, do not change ANYTHING. With that said, let’s jump in!
- Common Name: Triangle Ficus
- Scientific Name: Ficus triangularis
- Mature Size: 4 feet to 8 feet tall and 4 feet wide
- Sunlight: bright, indirect light exposure for the majority of the day
- Water: when top ⅓ to ½ of soil is dry to touch
- Soil: well-draining soil
- Temperature: a consistent 60°F-75°F
- Propagation: stem cuttings
- Hardiness Zone: 12-13
- Toxicity: toxic to humans and pets
Growth Patterns and Habits
To better provide Ficus triangularis care, it is important to understand its characteristics and how it grows. The Ficus triangularis is a slow growing, and rather uncommon, member of the ficus genus. It can take up to ten years to reach a mature height of eight feet tall and four feet wide.
As its name implies, this plant has triangular leaves that grow from branching, woody stems. If left to its own devices, a Ficus triangularis will grow into a magnificent bush. It can, however, be pruned and trimmed to maintain an upright, tree-like shape.
A Ficus triangularis has bright, solid green leaves that are waxy and boast a sturdy quality to the touch. These characteristics allow the Ficus triangularis to be more tolerant of drought than other usual household plants.
There is a variegated variety of the Ficus triangularis very aptly named the Ficus triangularis ‘Variegata’. This variety has leaves that are a lighter green bordered by creamy margins that create a heart shaped pattern. The variegated Ficus triangularis is stunning and a must buy if you happen to see one in stores.
Ficus triangularis care and Ficus triangularis ‘Variegata’ care are almost identical. There are some slight differences that I will point out along the way.
Expert Tip – To keep your Ficus triangularis happy, mist its leaves weekly with lukewarm water. Then, gently wipe off the excess water with a cloth to remove dust and dirt particles.
The Ficus triangularis craves lots and lots of light. The most optimal light for your Ficus triangularis is bright, indirect sunlight with moderate intensity for the majority of the day. This plant does great in large east or west facing rooms with a lot of windows. It can also be positioned in a southern facing window that is draped with a sheer curtain or if the plant is placed just outside of the reach of direct afternoon rays.
Expert Tip – When determining the best place for your Ficus triangularis, take a look at the shadow it casts throughout the day. You want to be able to see a strong shadow cast on the floor for the majority of the day. If you don’t see this, consider a brighter area of the house!
The Ficus triangularis ‘Variegata’ especially needs bright light exposure all day to maintain its colors. When a Ficus triangularis ‘Variegata’ does not receive enough light, it will begin to lose its creamy margins and revert to solid green.
Remember, bright light does not mean direct sunlight. Avoid exposing your Ficus triangularis to direct sunlight during the hottest times of the day as this can cause the leaves to scorch.
Because of its waxy leaves, the Ficus triangularis is actually quite tolerant to dry spells. Water your Ficus triangularis when the top ⅓ to ½ of the soil is dry to the touch. You should not water this plant if you feel any level of moisture in this area of the soil.
Expert Tip – It is always best to underwater rather than overwater a Ficus triangularis or a Ficus triangularis ‘Variegata’.
Using room temperature to luke warm water, thoroughly saturate the soil until water runs out the bottom drainage hole. At this point, stop watering and allow all excess water to drain from the pot before placing your Ficus triangularis back in its normal home.
A Ficus triangularis should be grown in well draining, nutritious soil. It will be happy in regular, all-purpose potting soil that is mixed with additional perlite. Perlite improves drainage and helps protect against overwatering.
If you want to make your own soil, I suggest the following recipe made with equal parts:
- Sphagnum moss or peat moss
- Pine bark
Temperature and Humidity
Like I said before, consistency is everything when it comes to Ficus triangularis care. This plant likes temperatures between 60°F-75°F with minimal variation and definitely no sudden, drastic changes.
Average household temperatures keep a Ficus triangularis happy. It is very important, however, to keep your plant away from any vents. House vents significantly increase or decrease the immediate temperature around your plant whenever your thermostat turns on.
Ficus triangularis plants like to be kept on the more humid side, upwards of 70% humidity. Placing your Ficus triangularis on a pebble tray or near a small humidifier is a good way to increase the humidity around your plant.
To provide well rounded Ficus triangularis care, it is ideal to fertilize this plant every six weeks during times of active growth. Use a balanced fertilizer and dilute with water to a ¼ strength. I do this because the Ficus triangularis is sensitive to changes. Be sure to dilute it with lukewarm water.
You may also choose to mix in a couple tablespoons of worm castings into the top portions of the soil two to three times per year. This adds additional nutrients that support growth.
Stem cuttings are used in Ficus triangularis propagation. All you need to propagate a Ficus triangularis is a healthy plant, sterile scissors, fresh soil and water! It is a great time to propagate your Ficus triangularis after pruning so the stem cuttings don’t go to waste.
- Using sterile scissors, cut stems that are at least a couple inches long and have at least one pair or leaves.
- Place the cuttings in soil. Plant deep enough so the cuttings are stable but avoid burying the leaves.
- Keep the soil moist. I like to mist my cuttings instead of using a watering can because misting is less disruptive to the soil and plant.
- Roots should form within four to six weeks after Ficus triangularis propagation. You can test this by gently pulling upwards on your cuttings. If you feel resistance, roots have formed!
- At this time, position your newly rooted Ficus triangularis cuttings in their final home and begin to transition to mature Ficus triangularis care.
Use the same steps detailed above to propagate a variegated Ficus triangularis!
Let’s touch on a couple issues you may have when growing a Ficus triangularis and how to go about fixing them!
This is a problem for most of the species in the ficus genus. A Ficus triangularis dropping its leaves can indicate a couple of things. Remember that this plant likes a consistent environment. Relocating your Ficus triangularis to a different place in your house can cause enough stress for this plant to drop its leaves.
Inconsistent watering is another factor that should be considered. Only water when the top ⅓ to ½ of soil is dry to the touch. When watering, completely drench the soil in one go, pouring water until you note water running out the drainage hole.
Too little light is a third culprit to consider. When troubleshooting, only change one aspect of care at a time so you can identify the problem.
While not as common in the Ficus triangularis as in other houseplants, root rot is still a concern if you tend to overwater your plants or they aren’t in proper soil. A Ficus triangularis with root rot will display sagging leaves that rapidly turn yellow and eventually develop brown spots.
Healthy roots are firm and a whitish-yellow. Root rot will cause the tissue to be dark and mushy. If root rot is suspected, remove your Ficus triangularis from its pot and gently shake away the soil. Inspect the roots and remove those which appear affected. Rinse the remaining healthy roots and allow to dry overnight. Repot in a container with a drainage hole and in proper soil.
Brown, Curling Leaves
Too much direct sunlight and/or too little water!
A variegated Ficus triangularis needs an abundance of bright light throughout the entire day. It does not tolerate low light or shady environments. Too little light will cause a Ficus triangularis ‘Variegata’ to lose its unique coloring and turn to a solid green.
The two most common pests that can wreak havoc on a Ficus triangularis are aphids and mealybugs. Both are small insects that feed on the sap found in the leaves and stems of the plant. Aphids are small and can be brown, green, tan or gray. Mealybugs tend to cluster in groups and resemble small tufts of cotton.
To treat, remove all pests using an alcohol soaked cotton ball. Then treat the entire plant with neem oil. Spray your Ficus triangularis with neem oil every other day until the problem is gone. It is always advisable to isolate any infected plants to prevent the spread of pests.
The Ficus triangularis (and the variegated Ficus triangularis) is toxic to both humans and pets so consider housing your plant in a place that won’t entice curious passersby. Signs of ingestion include but are not limited to vomiting, decreased appetite and diarrhea. If you suspect that anyone (or any pet) has ingested any part of your Ficus triangularis, contact the appropriate emergency services.
It is also recommended that you wear gloves when pruning a Ficus triangularis as the sap can cause irritation.
While it can be fussy at times, a Ficus triangularis is an absolute gem of a plant to add to your collection. Have fun!