Ficus altissima,also popularly referred to as the Council tree or the Asian council tree, is a beautiful houseplant belonging to the ficus family.
It is a native of Southeastern Asia as well as many islands in the Pacific with its lovely lemon and lime variegated leaves colors.
They are big evergreen forest trees often used for indoor or outdoor decorations among flowers and in gardens.
They grow to about 6 feet in height when planted indoors and about 40 feet in height with a spreading crown of about 30 feet when planted outside in warm regions where they tend to thrive and perform better.
They are also known for their smooth and grey bark with small pale brown pustules, which vary depending on soil type, sunlight, temperature, and other factors. Meanwhile, the Ficus altissima yellow gem is a variegated variety possessing yellow-tinted leaves.
It can easily be maintained and cared for as a potted plant by occasional grooming of the branches and aerial roots as it requires only a little bit of proper care.
Now let us look at the different ways you can properly care for your Ficus altissima trees to enable them to grow and perform better.
Ficus Altissima Care
When it comes to how you can care for Ficus altissima, below are some of the tips to keep in mind when considering growing a ficus tree or caring for an existing ficus plant:
First, the ficus plant grows happily in a pot or in-ground.
They are very sensitive to changing conditions; therefore, always be careful when handling them because stress will cause their leaves to fall off, although they will eventually bounce back.
Their soil should be watered often, especially when dry, to prevent them from drying and dying off.
Whether you are handling outdoor or indoor ficus care, Ficus altissima requires close observation. They often communicate how they feel to the owner through their appearances. For instance: constant lookout for dry or yellow leaves, loss of color, or brown spots will help you identify and tackle any issues faster and early.
Pruning your Ficus altissima plant is recommended to keep the plant small and tidy in its container. The best practice is to prune off the damaged leaves according to the desired shape of the canopy by strategically cutting off specific branches.
Repotting a Ficus altissima or carrying out other activities tends to give the plants stress, which often makes them lose foliage, especially when moving to a new location. But, they usually generate fresh leaves to replace the fallen ones afterward, so don’t worry much when they lose some foliage due to stress.
Meanwhile, although repotting is good for the rapid growth of your plants, it can also pose a negative effect if not checked because ficus plants grow quickly and can easily become too big for your home or garden if you repot frequently. Therefore, you need to limit your repotting frequency to help keep your plant’s growth in check.
Aside from the fact that you need to trim your plants regularly to keep them in good shape, you also need to always keep an eye on their soil. Furthermore, check their leaves more often for insects to ensure they are always healthy and not under attack.
Indirect sunlight and a bit of fertilizer (fertilize ten inches away from the base) are required to encourage strong growth and optimum performance. This then brings us to a discussion of the ideal light and water requirement for the ficus plant below:
Ficus altissima thrives and performs better in bright, indirect light. The plant requires a room temperature that does not fall below 50-60 F.
This is why I will encourage you to allow your ficus plants to spend a lovely time outside during the summer while ensuring to protect the plant from direct sunlight as leaves will burn if exposed to direct light.
Meanwhile, you need to protect your ficus plants and their roots during winter by keeping them away from drafts.
In a simple sentence, all you need to do is to always provide bright light to the plants during the summer and moderate light to the plants during the winter.
One golden rule to keep in mind when considering growing a ficus tree or caring for an existing ficus plant is to “ensure that their soil is moist at all times.”
Dry or drenched soil will make your plant lose leaves and, if not properly taken care of, can die off. Therefore, ensure that your plant always gets consistent but moderate watering throughout the growing season.
I will like to emphasize more reasons why the watering has to be “moderate” as stated above because it also has its consequences on the plants if over-used.
Excess watering is also not good for the plant because if the soil is allowed to stay too moist, it may cause the plant to drop leaves. Also, especially during the winter, you have to cut down watering to avoid overwatering the plants.
However, it is crucial to maintain relatively high humidity around the plant when growing a ficus plant, either indoor or outdoor. It prefers a humid environment for optimum performance. Although, the humidity should also not be too much to discourage disease outbreaks and spread.
Ficus altissima can easily be propagated through cuttings by following the below procedures:
- Find a matured and healthy stem with shiny green leaves.
- Properly examine the stem from the top to the down part while searching for a node.
- At one point, you will find a node between the stem and the leaves.
- Take some part of the stem containing some of the discovered node(s) and root them in moist soils or a good-draining potting soil covered with clear plastic. The stem cuttings can also grow their roots in a vase containing water.
Ficus altissima can also be propagated through Air-layering by following the procedures stated below.
- In the air layering process, the new plant develops while it is still attached to the mother tree, making it produce a large plant faster when compared to other propagation methods.
- This is how this method of propagation can be achieved:
- Make a wound around the branch you wish to use as the mother tree.
- Pack moist sphagnum moss around the wound.
- Wait for some time as it takes between 90-120 days for the roots to form.
- You can then remove the entire branch as a new ficus plant and replant it within your desired location.
Below are some of the basic problems associated with ficus plants:
- Ficus plants can be very vulnerable to pests like mites and aphids.
- They tend to drop leaves if not correctly and consistently watered or when excessively watered. Therefore moderate and consistent watering is encouraged.
- Exposing the ficus plant to direct light will burn the leaves, which is why I will strongly recommend that you provide a bright and indirect light to the plants instead as they perform better under that condition.
Benefits of Ficus Altissima
Aside from the fact that Ficus altissima plants are mainly used for indoor or outdoor beautification and decoration, there are also other uses of Ficus altissima which may not be widely known but has been proven by research as follows:
- The bark of the ficus plant can be used to make latex.
- The ficus tree attracts a wide variety of bees, butterflies, and birds.
- This plant posses an exciting feature which is its above-ground aerial roots.
Ficus altissima variegate is easy to cultivate and care for once you follow the tips laid out in this guide. It is often classified as an indoor plant mostly used for indoor decoration and beautification.
However, they are known for their smooth and grey bark with small pale brown pustules, which often vary depending on soil type, sunlight, temperature, and other factors.
When planted outdoor, they add a showy accent to your outdoor space, garden, or patio.
In summary, here are the key points we’ve discussed, which I would like you to keep in mind when considering growing a Ficus altissima tree or caring for an existing ficus tree in your home or garden:
- Ficus altissima requires a little proper care to grow and be maintained. The requirements include the following tips:
- Ensure that you always provide consistent but moderate watering to your ficus plants throughout the growing season to make sure that their soil is moist at all times but be careful not to over-water the plants during the process.
- They require and thrive better in bright, indirect light and a room temperature that doesn’t fall below 50-60 F, and exposing them to direct sunlight will burn the leaves.
- Ficus plants can be very vulnerable to pests like mites and aphids. Therefore I will strongly recommend that you always keep an eye on their soil and check their leaves more often for insects to ensure they are always healthy and not in any form of attack.
- Ficus altissima can easily be propagated either through cuttings or air-layering following each of their different procedures laid out in this guide.
Now nothing is stopping you from growing your ficus tree in your apartment or home. Let’s start growing today and watch as your little ficus plant develops and grows into a beautiful tree.
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