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Bringing Ficus Inside for the Winter

I have full ficus trees that have been summering outdoors.  They are too big for any spot in my house.  How can I reduce their size, leave the bugs outside and keep them looking good all winter long?

You have your hands full.  I usually reserve pruning for late winter when the plants seem to recover more quickly, but when space is limited you have no choice.  Prune back longer branches to shorter ones or shorten stems by making cuts above a healthy bud.  Try to limit pruning.  Remove one third or less of the total volume of the plant.  Move the plants to a sunny window in a room where you can isolate them from your other houseplants.  Monitor for insects and treat as needed.  Insecticidal soap and Neem are good eco-friendly products that are safe to use indoors on most houseplants.  Water soil thoroughly and often enough to keep the top few inches moist and crumbly.   Don't worry about yellowing leaves.  This is normal as the plants adjust to the lower light, drier air, and generally more stressful indoor growing conditions.  Consider using artificial lights to supplement natural light.  Fertilize only if the plants are showing signs of new growth.  And don't give up on the ficus too soon.  They can lose 90% of their leaves and still make a full recovery.


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