Ficus lyrata is a plant belonging to the Moraceae family . It is a species native to tropical western Africa which, in our latitudes, is grown indoors as an ornamental plant, similarly to its close relative Ficus benjamina .The specific attribute lyrata is the Latin translation of the ancient Greek word λύρα = lira, and is due to the similarity between the leaves of the plant and the homonymous musical instrument. The vulgar nomenclature of ficus with violin leaf emphasizes the similarity of the leaves with this other stringed musical instrument. Whether for similarity to the lyre or the violin, one cannot help but be enchanted by the beauty and harmonious shape of the leaves of this tropical plant.
In this article we discover the botanical characteristics of Ficus lyrata in its natural habitat, the form it assumes in the cultivation in the apartment and the care to be devoted to the plant for a healthy and luxuriant development
Description of the Ficus lyrata in nature
Ficus lyrata is a tropical tree adapted as an indoor ornamental plant. In its natural environment it is a tree that easily exceeds 15 meters in height, with an erect trunk that divides into 2 or more branches from the bottom. The crown is not too expanded and dense with branches, the development trend is vertical (considering the branch individually).
The glossy and leathery leaves of Ficus lyrata are very large, reaching up to 50 cm in length. As mentioned, they have a very characteristic shape reminiscent of that of a string instrument, or the violin, with an auricular base above which the sheet narrows and then widens again. The upper margin is obtuse, with a short cuspid tip in correspondence with the central vein, the margins are wavy.
The color is dark green on the top page, lighter on the bottom.
In the lower part of the leaves, almost fleshy veins are clearly visible, which reflect the furrows drawn on the upper part.
Flowers and fruits
The inflorescences, typical of the genus Ficus , are pear-shaped, with unisexual flowers enclosed in hollow receptacles which give rise to infructescences of the syconium type, with green peel dotted in white.
How does Ficus lyrata develop indoors
In our latitudes, Ficus lyrata can only be grown indoors, as it does not tolerate the cold with temperatures below 13 ° C. Therefore it does not develop as in the natural environment, it does not become arborescent for example. It grows to a maximum of 2 m in height, on a single stem from which the leaves rise upwards supported by short branches. The leaves maintain their characteristic shape and beauty, even if the size, although relevant, remains a little more contained than a ficus plant in nature. It also fails to develop flowers and bear fruit.
In general, the appearance is lush, sculptural and slender, it lends itself perfectly to cultivation as a green piece of furniture, both in the apartment and in the office.
Varieties of Ficus lyrata
It should be borne in mind that over the years different varieties of Ficus lyrata have been created , each with peculiarities that differ from the type species. For example, we have the variety ficus lyrata Bambino , of limited size, in fact it does not exceed one meter in height. Or the variety ficus lyrata Variegata with foliage that has cream-colored edges.
How to grow Ficus lyrata
The first fundamental trick in the cultivation of this plant of tropical origin is where to place Ficus lyrata at home. To grow healthy and luxuriant, this plant absolutely needs a bright exposure, that is a lot of light available. Be careful, because this does not mean direct sun, which could turn yellow and burn the leaves.
The ideal is therefore to place it in a very bright room, with large windows, where, however, it receives sunlight not directly on the foliage or at least shielded, for example by a curtain.
Many place the plant with a wall behind it, in this case the advice we give is to periodically rotate the pot, so that the leaf surface receives the light as uniformly as possible.
TheFicus lyrata suffers from excessive temperature changes, so avoid placing it near heat sources (radiators) and direct cold air currents.
Ficus lyrata is sold in pots in plant stores . Obviously, the larger the pot, and therefore the grown plant, the higher its cost, which can reach hundreds of euros. In order not to face huge costs, we usually start with a potted plant of 12-14 cm in diameter. The question that arises is therefore this: when is the time to repot?
The Ficus lyratait should be transplanted into a larger container when the roots of the plant have occupied all their available space. At this point the plant is extracted from the pot with the clod of earth and moved into a container of about 2-4 cm in diameter larger. This means that it is wrong to repot a plant purchased in a 14cm pot into a much larger one, for example 28cm. The adaptation of the plant to the new space must be gradual and proportional to the size of the area and the root system.
The ideal soil for growing Ficus lyrata should be light and draining. We recommend using a mix of peat and perlite (mix that you find ready here ). Be sure to provide additional drainage to the plant by placing expanded clay at the bottom of the container.
How to water the Ficus lyrata
Ficus lyrata likes regular, but moderate wetting of the substrate. Touch the soil, when it is completely dry in the surface layers given the water, possibly removing the surplus that remains in the saucer. It is essential for the health of the plant not to leave standing water in close contact with the roots.
How is Ficus lyrata treated?
In nature, Ficus lyrata grows in tropical environments, therefore very humid. Good environmental humidity is therefore important to have healthy and shiny leaves on the plant. To improve this factor, it is advisable to periodically spray the vegetation, possibly using rainwater or distilled water.
In spring-summer the nebulizations must be frequent, in the other more sporadic seasons, especially if the home environment tends to be colder.
Another suggestion is to periodically clean the leaves from dust, gently wiping with a damp cotton cloth. To avoid are the polishing products.
As regards the fertilization of Ficus lyrata , it is recommended to administer an organic liquid fertilizer for green plants once a month .
Normally potted Ficus lyrata plants do not need special pruning. The plant can be left free to grow upwards, following its natural posture.
The plants tend to turn yellow and lose the lower leaves on the stem, so an operation to do is to periodically cleanse the dry leaves.
For aesthetic or space reasons, it may be preferable to grow plants that are shorter and with wider and more compact vegetation. In this case, an apical topping can be carried out, which will block growth upwards and push the plant to emit new shoots in the underlying part.
With the top cut you can take the opportunity to reproduce the Ficus lyrata plant with the cutting technique . The portion of the stem must be cleaned of the lower leaves and placed, in correspondence with an internode, in a small vase filled with a mix of peat and perlite. The new plant must be taken care of by keeping the soil always well moist and by nebulizing the aerial part frequently.
As far as parasites are concerned, pay attention to the presence of cochineals on the leaves , in particular the cottony cochineal of citrus fruits which also usually affects indoor plants. Frequently inspect the violin leaves of your Ficus lyrata and at the first signs of infestation intervene with manual removal, using a cotton swab soaked in water and Marseille soap.
If the infestation is already at an advanced stage, use more specific products allowed in organic farming , such as white oil.
Potted plants of Ficus lyrata can suffer from fungal attacks, especially those that cause root or collar rot. The presence of these fungi is almost always due to an excess of irrigation which results in stagnation of water. By eliminating this condition as we have explained above, yours should not be at risk. Also be careful to use good quality soils, sterile and not recovered from previous pot crops.
Why do the leaves of Ficus lyrata turn yellow?
If the environmental and cultural conditions are not optimal, the leaves of the plants may begin to turn yellow or lose turgor. Usually this is due to poor lighting in the canopy, so you might want to try moving the plant to a brighter spot.
Another cause of leaf yellowing can be attributed again to an excess of water. If you notice that the soil is difficult to dry when watering, decrease the frequency of wetting.