If you’re looking for a new, whimsical plant to add to your decor in 2022, the Ficus Umbellata could be the one!
While the not-so-humble Fiddle Leaf Fig has had more of it’s share of the spotlight, 2022 could be the year that some of its lesser-known cousins take a little of the light.
Being in the fig (ficus) family, the Umbellata is of African origin but has popularity in Japanese culture as a houseplant.
This newcomer has some similar features to the Fiddle Leaf Fig, with large, heart-shaped leaves and thin stems. So if you’ve tried (or failed) growing a Fiddle, maybe it’s time to move on to the next big Fig (see what I did there?).
Ficus Umbellata Care
This house plant lands under easy to medium standards to care for. With the right environment, your new ficus will grow like crazy!
With all indoor plants in general, I cannot stress enough the benefits of giving them enough light. If indoors, the Ficus Umbellata prefers bright light. A location close to a window is best, and more growth will be evident when the plant is given more light. This plant can handle some gentle direct light, but make sure to acclimatise them before giving them more than a couple of hours of direct morning light to avoid any browning.
Mine gets a couple of hours of direct sun through a window in the morning, and it is constantly growing new leaves! Do be aware that they start to lean towards the light very quickly. To keep your Umbellata growing straight, make sure you rotate its pot once a week or when watering.
This plant prefers to dry out a little in between waterings. When watering, be sure to water the soil until the excess drains out the bottom. This is better than watering with small sips. When they’re more established they’ll also be able to handle longer periods of dryness.
I have found that my Ficus Umbellata does need more frequent waterings when compared to my Fiddle Leaf! When they’re starting to dry out, you’ll notice a slight droop starting from mid-leaf. My plant can get watered up to twice a week (and loves it!) while my Fiddle Leafs generally get watered every 7-10 days.
Most plants in the ficus family prefer a well-draining soil. This helps prevent issues caused by over-watering too. If repotting, consider using a cactus & succulent mix, or mix a handful of horticultural charcoal and pine bark mulch into the mix. These chunky particles will help the soil to drain. Horticultural charcoal also has a bunch of other benefits, including antibacterial properties.
While this is a fairly adaptable plant, once you’ve found a good position for your Ficus Umbellata it’s best to keep them in the one spot. Like their Fiddle Leaf cousin, this plant doesn’t like to be moved around too much.
These plants are also sensitive to drafts and cold air, so keep them in a warm position (especially in winter), out of the way of air cons and heaters.
A regular liquid fertilizer in the warmer growing months will help keep growth full and the leaves green. I’m using the same formula that my Fiddle Leaf Fig gets, and being in the ficus family they both seem to be loving it! While a regular houseplant fertilizer will do, see if you can find one with an NPK ratio of 3:1:2 (or 9:3:6), or use this version here.
Where to find a Ficus Umbellata
If you’re looking for a Ficus Umbellata, you may realise that they’re not the easiest plant to find! I found mine at a pop-up plant sale just by chance. Only recently have I come across them in Bunnings and my local nursery. If you’re unable to find one, I’d recommend asking a few boutique plant stores such as Home of Houseplants (in Australia), see if your local nursery can order one in or check out this seller on Amazon (for US customers).
Enjoy looking after your new Ficus Umbellata!
I just gave my son an Umbellata for his new apartment. He is pretty smitten by this plant. Should he prune this plant or just let it grow naturally.
They don’t need to be pruned unless they start to get too tall or you’d like to encourage branching! Glad your son is enjoying this plant, they are very unique 🙂
My Ficus Umbellata has about 8 leaves and they’re all still green but they seem to be drooping. Could this be from under watering or overwatering? Thanks. 🙂
Generally drooping is a sign the plant is dry!
Hi Emily, wondering if you have any tips on how to propagate the umbellata? We were given one by a friend and since moving to a new house it’s become very sad and dropped almost all leaves… we pretty much have 1m bare stem with 3 leaves at the top.
Hey Brett! Because they are a type of ficus (fig) plant, they should be relatively easy to propagate from. So you can use the same methods in this Fiddle Leaf Fig propagation post. I’d recommend trying water propagation.
Just bought one at the Flower Power nursery in Enfield! Thanks for sharing the info it will be very useful.
That’s so exciting Tessa! They can be a little tricky to find. Mine has doubled its height in under a year so they can be very fast growing given the right conditions! All the best 🙂
Any ideas where we can purchase one in the US? It won’t be the 2020 plant if its nowhere to be found 🙂
Hey Ittai, I’m actually in Australia so you may need to do some research on this one 🙂 I’d suggest checking out plant groups on facebook or asking if your local nursery can order one in. All the best!
Thanks, its only available in Australia and for some reason its on NAPPRA’s list of plants that can not be imported from Australia to the US… You are lucky!
Finally managed somehow to bring one from Australia 😀
So exciting!! Enjoy 🙂
Ittai, how did you manage to do this?! so jealous! 🤩
A friend ordered 2 to his friend in Australia who then shipped them over to California and they both arrived in great condition all things considered. Can’t recall if he was able to get a phytocertificate or not but they arrived fine
I found one in Summer Winds Nursery in Dublin, CA …. Hope it helps 😊
hey Emily. I don’t know what I did to my Focus but the leaves have ashy spots. help 😭
Hi Samantha – not quite sure what you mean by ‘ashy spots’, but browning is normally caused by watering issues or possibly sunburn. If you feel its getting the right light & water, then double check for pests. If you can see any bugs or can wipe the spots off, its likely its been caused by a pest. Neem oil treatment is a good place to start!
Hi, I love the fiddle leaf but have a single skinny weak stalk, the leaves are very spread out and based on your descriptions I am convinced it doesn’t get enough light or water. I will follow your tips but my house just doesn’t get good direct sunlight. My question is, is their a plant similar to a fiddle leaf that will tolerate and thrive in consistent low-medium light?
Hey Katie! Yes, when the leaves are very spread out this is normally a sign of not enough light. Here’s a post about strengthening the trunk. You could also consider getting a grow light to supplement some sunlight if you wanted! As for other plants, take a look at a rubber plant or ficus elastica. They are in the same family as Fiddle Leaf Figs, but are a bit more hardy and will tolerate lower light and less care! I have a couple and they are great easy care plants 🙂 hope that helps!
Thank you for the information. My plant is a single stem at the moment and I would like it branching. Do you know if it will branch naturaly or it has to be pinched like a fiddle leaf? Thank you so much for your help.
Hey Kris, I would say it’s unlikely to branch naturally (or where you want it to branch) unless you help it along a little! Pruning is renowned for creating branches and making plants fuller, so when you’d like it to branch I’d definitely give it a go! 🙂
Thank you so much! 🙂
Thank you so much for introducing me to this new little friend that will soon be in my sunroom! I love new plants that aren’t your typical store/nursery houseplants, and I am also new to your blog, so I am looking forward to getting to know/buy new plants and your blog as well. I guess you could call me a plant-a-holic, a girl can’t ever have too many plants, indoor or out. 😊 Thank you again and happy new year!
Hey Lisa, thanks for your kind words! We must be on the same page because I’m loving the more obscure plant varieties at the moment too 🙂 There’s lots of lesser known fig varieties that make great houseplants! I’d love to see a pic if you end up getting one. Happy new year to you too 🙂