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How to Transplant Ficus Trees

Ficus Benjamini image by Westa Zikas from

Ficus is a genus of fruiting and non-fruiting trees and shrubs commonly called the fig family. Ficus are tropical and semi-tropical trees that grow indoors in cooler climates and outdoors year round in USDA zone 8 and above. According to Arizona State University, most ficus trees will go into shock after transplanting no matter how carefully done. They recommend that stress on the tree be minimized by refraining from fertilizing or pruning the tree until it has recovered to its normal growth state, which can be weeks or up to several months.

Excavate a planting hole in the garden soil twice the size of your ficus root ball with a shovel or spade. Alternatively, use a container that is twice or one-third again the size of your ficus root ball and fill it a quarter to halfway up the sides with a fresh, sterile potting medium.

Slide the ficus from its nursery pot carefully by tipping the pot on its side and pulling the trunk slowly and evenly from the pot. Loosen and open up any roots that are girdling the root mass.

Set the ficus into the container or hole and add or subtract soil from beneath the root ball until the top of the root ball is level with the surrounding garden soil or hits just an inch or two under the lip of the pot to act as a water catch.

Fill the remaining garden or potting soil around the root ball and firm down with your hands to collapse any air pockets and ensure good contact with the roots.

Water the ficus to drench the entire root ball and immediately surrounding soil. Maintain evenly moist, but not soupy wet, soil at all times until the tree is re-established.

Place your ficus, if transplanted into a container, into a brightly lit location where it receives indirect sunlight all day and ambient temperatures remain above 60 degrees F. Both measures will help to minimize stress on the plant and common post-transplant condition of leaf drop.

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