The Moraceae, or ficus, family is a big group with over 500 species of tropical trees, shrubs and vines. Ficus microcarpa “Nitida” thrives in USDA hardiness zones 9 and 10. Also known as Indian laurel, Indian fig and Oriental banyon, under conditions Ficus nitida develops to a 50- to 60-foot-tall evergreen tree using a 60- to disperse. Used as a street tree in Arizona, Florida and California, Ficus nitida is implanted in a number of California’s coastal cities including San Luis Obispo and San Francisco.
Where shade is wanted select a well-draining location. The Ficus nitida tree grows to a huge tree that offers heavy year-round shade once it reaches maturity.
Dig a planting hole three times the width of the tree’s root ball. Set in the hole’s middle, untangling any surrounding roots. Backfill with the original soil and tamp. Water thoroughly.
Surround the tree with 4 inches of compost, yanking back it 6 inches from the tree’s trunk. Mulch keeps the soil moist and inhibits weed growth.
Water once the soil is dry to your touch. Ficus nitida needs consistently moist soil and is a tropical tree.
Fertilize with a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer if the tree is planted in soil. When planted in soil that is rich in organic 17, ficus nitida generally doesn’t require fertilizer.
Prune to shape the tree into a trunk according to your garden’s design. Examine the tree following winter storms, and remove damaged or weak branches.
Monitor Ficus nitida like aphids and thrips. Spray the tree with spinosad or a neem oil product insecticide to control thrips. If only a portion of the tree is contaminated, pruning branches is successful. Aphids can easily be knocked off branches and the leaves with a solid flow of water.