Ficus ‘Green Island’ (Ficus microcarpa)

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Plant Details

Category: Nursery
Light: Sun to Part Shade
Bloom Season:
Height: 8-10' / 
2.4-3m
Space: 3-4' / 
0.9-1.2m
Zones: 9, 10, 11, 12
Lowest Temp: 20° to 30°F / 
-7° to -1°C
Colors: Grown for foliage

Basic Care

Prefers infrequent, deep watering once established. Prune to maintain desired shape.

Water

Water 2 – 3 times per week until established.

Soil

Ordinary, well-drained soil.

Feed

Not necessary.

deer resistant

Deer Resistant

evergreen plants and trees

Evergreen

Slow Growth

Fragrant

Containers

hedges

Hedges

Features

Incredibly reliable, low-maintenance shrub for frost-free climates. Green Island Ficus grows slowly, it can be pruned freely to maintain the desired size, and the dense, glossy foliage is a beautiful complement to surrounding plants.

Uses

A great choice for foundation plantings or hedges. Can be grown in large containers indoors or out. Great in small patio or courtyard settings. On a small scale, this is a very easy plant to maintain as a Bonsai.

Ficus ‘Green Island’ (Ficus microcarpa) Care Guide

Plant in spring or early fall to give plants the best start.

Choose a location that will allow roots to spread and branches to grow freely. Space plants far enough from building foundations, walls, and decks so that the growing foliage won’t crowd the structure. Consider whether tall trees or shrubs will block windows or interfere with the roof or power lines.

To prepare the planting area dig a hole as deep as the root ball and three times as wide. After removing the soil, mix it with some compost or peat moss. This enriches the soil and loosens the existing dirt so that new roots can spread easily.

To remove the plant from the container, gently brace the base of the plant, tip it sideways and tap the outside of the pot to loosen. Rotate the container and continue to tap, loosening the soil until the plant pulls smoothly from the pot. The container can also be removed by carefully cutting it down the side.

Set the plant in the hole. If the root ball is wrapped in burlap fabric this must now be removed along with any string or wire securing the burlap. If roots are tightly packed gently rake them apart with your fingers.

Return the soil to the planting area packing it firmly around the root ball. Fill the hole until the soil line is just at the base of the plant, where the roots begin to flare out from the main stem.

Water the plant well then add a 2” (5cm) layer of mulch, such as shredded bark, around the planting area. Keep the mulch at least 4” (10cm) away from the trunk of the plant as this can keep the bark too moist and cause it to decay.

Depending on rainfall, new plants need to be watered weekly through the first growing season. A slow, one-hour trickle of water should do the job. During hot spells thoroughly soaking the ground up to 8” (20 cm) every few days is better than watering a little bit daily. Deep watering encourages roots to grow further into the ground resulting in a sturdier plant with more drought tolerance.

To check for soil moisture use your finger or a hand trowel to dig a small hole and examine the soil. If the first 2-4” (5-10cm) of soil is dry, it is time to water.

Monitor new plants through the first two years to make sure they are getting the moisture they need. After that they should be sturdy enough to survive on their own.

Pruning may be needed to remove dead branches, encourage bushier growth, promote more flowers, or maintain a specific size or shape.

Dead branches should be removed close to the trunk, flush with the bark. When pruning to control a plant’s size or shape, cuts should be made just above a leaf bud and at a slight angle. This bud will be where the new growth sprouts.

Many shrubs can be regularly sheared to keep them shaped as a hedge, edging or formal foundation planting.

Always use sharp, clean tools when pruning. There are many tools available depending on the job. Hand shears, pruners, and loppers are ideal for most shrubs. Pole pruners and tree saws are better for large, mature shrubs or trees. If a tree is so large that it can’t be safely pruned with a pole pruner, it is best to call in a professional tree service.

Established trees should be fertilized every 2-3 years. Feed in early spring when plants start growing.

Fertilizers are available in many forms: granulated, slow-release, liquid feeds, organic or synthetic. Determine which application method is best for the situation and select a product designed for trees and shrubs, or go with a nutritionally balanced, general-purpose formula such as 10-10-10.

Always follow the fertilizer package directions for application rates and scheduling. Over-fertilizing plants or applying at the wrong time during the growing season can result in plant injury.

Companion/Combination Plants

2 Comments

  1. Barbara Prescott

    Zone 10b here. South Florida.

    I have many GIF plantings all over my yard, in my attempt to make my yard lower maintenance. I do love them, but they are not NO maintenance.
    Spoiler alert: I still highly recommend them.
    Like many homes in S. Fl., my yard had privacy ficus hedges of 20+ ft tall. Unfortunately they were costly, as they were very labor intensive to maintain. (They were super fast growers.)
    Our area was hit by a white fly invasion, which decimated them, so I deciced to replace them with Podocarpus. I love Podocarpus, as well as GIF, as they, too, are super low maintenance, after well established.
    Ok. Back to Green Island Ficus.
    Below much of my new Podocarpus hedge, I planted a secondary hedge of GIF.
    Although not fast growing, like reg. ficus, once established, GIF will & do have the ability to be invasion, albeit a very slow invasion. This time gives one the ability to keep it trimmed up & prevent most problems.
    For an example, GIF will throw down tentacle roots from high stems on other plantings in it’s slow moving wake. Once I discovered this, I keep some distance from this hedge & the Podocarpus hedge.
    Unfortunately, this isn’t as cohesive a look as I would like, in some cases.
    Right now I am wondering why one of my bougainvillea trees looks so sickly & the other is flourishing? The bougainvillea trees have GIF growing right under them.
    Is it a coincidence that this is the same tree that I had to pry off a GIF growing into it’s truck base? Could there be more going on underground? Until I dig around, I will not know…
    Note: Take care in placement of GIF. While a fantastic looking & low maintenance bed filler, keep it trimmed from other specimen trees & plants it could overtake.

    Reply
    • My Garden Life

      Hi Barbara,
      Thank you for sharing your experience with ‘Green Island’ ficus so that other’s may consider your information when deciding on whether to plant this shrub.

      We agree that the decline of your bougainvillea may be tied to some underlying competition between the ficus roots and the bougainvillea roots for space, water and nutrients. It does make sense that if you had to “pry off” the ficus from the trunk base, that the root system is right up on the roots of the bougainvillea as well. Digging and severing the ficus roots that are encroaching around the bougainvillea may bring some relief to the bougainvillea. It probably won’t be an easy task if the roots are intertwined and probably won’t prevent the situation from happening again down the road if they remain situated close together.

      Reply

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