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Types of Ficus Tree

figs image by hazel proudlove from

Ficus trees (Ficus) belong to the Moraceae plant family. Most ficus tree varieties prefer medium moisture soils in partly shady to fully sunny locations. Gardeners should select ficus trees according to the plant’s mature size, hardiness zone, general culture and potential use. Various types of ficus trees grow well in the United States (U.S.).

Creeping Fig

Creeping fig (Ficus pumila) naturally occurs in Eastern Asia and grows well in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Hardiness Zones 9 to 11. This vine generally reaches between 10 and 15 feet in length and 3 to 6 feet in width. Creeping figs feature heart-shaped, green leaves and stems that exude a milky sap. Outdoor plants bear hairy fruits that start green and mature to purple. The creeping fig needs regular watering. Thrips and mealybugs sometimes feed on the foliage. Gardeners often plant creeping figs in containers and hanging baskets. This ficus variety can also be trained to climb trellises, posts and walls.

Weeping Fig

The weeping fig (Ficus benjamina), a broadleaf evergreen from Southeastern Asia, reaches up to 50 feet in height and 30 feet in width. The weeping fig has light brown bark, green leaves and arching twigs. Outdoor plants bear small, round fruits. Hardy in USDA Zones 10 to 12, the weeping fig sometimes loses leaves in the winter. Gardeners primarily use the weeping fig as a houseplant.

Petiolate Fig

Petiolate figs (Ficus petiolaris), sometimes called rock figs, work well as container plants and bonsai plants. This type of ficus bears hairy, light green leaves and green flowers that give way to figs on outdoor trees. Mature petiolate fig trees reach between 20 and 30 feet in height with similar spreads. Indigenous to Mexico, this ficus variety grows well in USDA Hardiness zones 10 to 12. Spider mites and aphids sometimes infest these trees.

Rubber Plant

The rubber plant (Ficus elastica) comes from the Himalayan regions and performs well in USDA Zones 10 to 12. This broadleaf evergreen reaches between 50 and 100 feet in both height and width. Rubber plants have thick, deep green leaves, purple or pink stipules and small fruits. This ficus variety needs indirect lighting or partial shade positions. Rubber plants sometimes suffer from aphids and scale. Most gardeners use rubber plants as houseplants.

Bo Tree

Bo trees (Ficus religiosa), also called sacred figs, reach up to 100 feet in height, with trunks as wide as 9 feet in diameter. The bo tree bears light gray bark, deep green leaves and purple figs. Sacred to those who follow Hinduism and Buddhism, the bo tree has no serious disease or pest problems. Winter hardy in USDA Zones 10 to 12, this plant grows best in full sun. Gardeners often use the bo tree as container plants, bonsai trees and shade trees.

Common Fig

Common fig trees (Ficus carica) naturally occur in the Mediterranean and do well in USDA Zones 6 to 9. The common fig reaches about 30 feet in both height and spread. Mature trees have a silvery-gray bark that adds ornamental interest to gardens. Common figs also bear leaves with deep green tops and pale green undersides. Inconspicuous green flowers bloom in spring, followed by edible figs that ripen late in the summer. Leaf spots, blights and rusts sometimes occur. Common fig trees work well in containers and fruit gardens.

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