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How to Remove Ficus Roots

ficus image by c-chez-marc from

Ficus plants encompass more than 2,000 varieties in the fig and rubber tree families. Ficus commonly are grown indoors in containers but can be grown outdoors in climates that are warm year-round. Some varieties grow more like a shrub than a tree because they have multiple stems. If you want to remove your ficus roots, you most likely are trying to get rid of it. But you can also transplant it, if desired.

Note how wide the canopy is and saw the trunk of your ficus tree so about 3 to 4 inches remains above ground. If you have a “bushy” ficus, cut the stems with pruning shears. Alternatively, if you want to transplant your ficus, tie the bottom branches around the trunk in an upward position. This will give you easy access to the roots when digging.

Dig a 1-inch thick trench around the ficus' trunk (as wide as 2/3 of the tree’s canopy). Dig 12 inches deep for every inch the tree is in diameter. If your ficus is a bush, or a tree that is shorter than 4 feet, skip this step.

Cut in toward the center of the ficus. Go along the trench if applicable and use your spade to cut in at approximately a 45-degree angle. The goal is to dig under and around the majority of the ficus’ root ball. If you didn’t dig a trench, simply dig down about 6 inches and then cut in toward the center of the ficus. You should dig as wide as 2/3 of your ficus’ canopy. Adjust the depth and angle if you feel any large roots.

Push down on your shovel in several spots around your ficus and pull up on the trunk or stems. If your ficus is still intact for transplanting, pull the trunk or stems near its base.

Remove the roots from the ground. If you’re transplanting your ficus, keep the roots wet and replant as soon as possible.

Spray any new growth with Glyphosate, such as Roundup Ready. This will help stop any lingering roots from thriving. Reapply as new growth appears to kill the roots.


If you are going to dig further than 12 inches, some states, such as North Dakota, require you to contact your local utility companies prior to digging. If you don’t know your state’s law, call your local utility companies (e.g., gas, electric, water) to be safe.

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