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Ficus Alii

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Ficus Alii

The king of Ficus? That’s what its name suggests – in ancient Hawaii, “allii” is a chief or king.  And somewhere along the way a botanist (or green-thumbed salesperson) figured out the Ficus Alii (Ficus maclellandii) had awesome characteristics that make it a very popular houseplant.  And indeed it does – its elongated olive-colored leaves adapt well inside in moderate to high light.  Also known as the banana leaf ficus and banana leaf fig, this guy is a great summertime companion on an outdoor patio or porch in northern climates and can thrive year-round on southern patios and indoors – just don’t expose it to temps below 50° for too long.  Like its Ficus cousins with strong roots, it’ll drink a good bit of water, so we recommend our PlantAssure sub-irrigation system and a soil probe to accompany this one.

The Ficus Alii is available in the standard (single-trunk) tree form and with a (very cool) braided trunk.

 

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Description

The Ficus Alii is another great indoor performer from the Ficus family – Moraceae.   With good light and the right watering regimen, it’s sure to bring plenty of plant pleasure:

Watering

This plant is a moderate drinker, and can go for 2+ weeks without watering with the proper sub-irrigation system, but we suggest you probe the soil weekly for the first month and during hot summer months.  See our watering-for-success guide for more information.

Light

Next to watering, having adequate light is the most significant factor keeping your Ficus happy inside and out.  Your best placement is near a window where the plant can get some sun light – east-, south-, and west-facing windows are best.  It can also thrive in a room with strong ambient light.  If you want a good, sustainable indoor plant and don’t have good light, this is not the plant for you – unless you’re up for moving it for frequent trips to better lit areas.  And, if you get it situated near a window, give your Ficus a quarter turn (aka “twist”) once a week – this will help let light penetrate from different angles and minimize the inevitable leaf drop from inside the plant’s canopy.

Nutrition

This Ficus likely will not need to be fed during the first 6 months after it has shipped.  During this time, it will use the residual nutrients from nursery production.  After 12 months, it can be fed quarterly with a complete fertilizer formulated for interior plants – check out our nutrition products from Dyna-Gro.  If your Ficus is positioned on a porch in the south, it may need supplemental nutrition sooner than 12 months.  Keep an eye on the newer leaves – not the emerging ones; if the new leaves are yellow and the veins prevalent, it is possible it needs some nutrients.  Please refer to our nutrient guide for details.

Cleaning

Well, the Ficus Alii’s leaves are somewhat smaller than its cousin, the Fiddle Leaf Fig, but bigger than the Daniella making it relatively easy to clean.  Simply wiping the leaves with a wet cloth usually does the trick.  For spots where something else (besides dust) has landed on your plant, use a mild soapy solution to wet the cloth – the wipe, stroking the leaf away from the stem (and pulling on it lightly).

Pruning

The Banana Leaf Fig has a somewhat more open canopy and its habit is slightly weeping whereby the leaves will point to the ground.  If it weeps too much, stems can be pruned off to lighten the load and bring a branch and the whole canopy more upright – but if you like more weeping, leave it alone and let it grow.  Whenever you make pruning cuts, make sure  cuts are made just above any node (aka – right about a where a leaf attaches to a stem).  Regardless of your pruning purpose, this will reduce the size of the plant and promote new growth from the point where the cut was made.

Bugs

Here’s another plus, this plant is not a big target for pests.  Scale, mealy bugs, and mites sometimes jump on, but they’re easily controlled by wiping the infested area with a soapy solution.  It can take several intermittent cleanings to rid the plant of the pests.  As always though, a regular cleaning/wiping regimen is best to keep any pests from taking up residence on your plant in the first place.

Trouble

Here are a few warning signs that your Ficus is getting ‘the funk’:

  • Leaf drop – If the lower leaves start to droop and then drop, it’s either :
    1. not getting enough light
    2. it’s getting too much water or
    3. (you guessed it), it’s not getting enough water

    Or…if you moved it from one light extreme to another, it could shed leaves.  The most likely issues (#’s 1, 2, and 3) are easily correctable.

  • Brown leaf margins – This is most likely from not enough light and under-watering.
  • Brown spots and mushy leaf spots – This might be from too much water or exposure to cold temperatures.

The best part about any of the above is that they’re easily corrected.  The key, however, is recognizing the signs early and making the adjustment before too much damage occurs.

And…

Don’t forget the weekly twist to keep your Ficus evenly bathed in sunlight.

Warning

It has been reported that the sap from a Ficus plant is poisonous to dogs, cats, and horses.  So, if you have a dog, cat, or horse, don’t let them ingest the sap.  It’s also been reported that the sap can cause allergic reactions for people too.  If you get sap on your skin, wash it off and wipe the area with rubbing alcohol; if it gets in your eyes, flush your eyes with clean water for 15 minutes.  If none of this helps, call a doctor.

 

Additional information

Weight N/A
Dimensions N/A
Form

Braid, Standard

Size

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