In The Garden: Green Island ficus is a real gem
The Green Island ficus (Ficus microcarpa “Green Island”) is becoming a very popular plant in our area for many reasons. It’s extremely versatile in the landscape and can be used as a low border planting, a foundation hedge along a fence or screen enclosure, as an accent plant and even in a container. The Florida Nurserymen and Growers Association recognized it as a Plant of the Year in 2001.
The Green Island ficus works in both a tropical garden and a more formal setting. This is a wonderful texture plant – deep green glossy leaves with a look similar to a jade plant, and it contrasts well with other foliage types and colors. These emerald beauties work well as a bordering shrub and can add a great pop of green around larger palms or trees for a more formal look.
Many people are in South Florida to retire and relax, and others have busy working lifestyles, so low maintenance shrubs are always high on the wish list. Don’t let the name “ficus” scare you – this variety won’t take over your life or your landscaping. It’s very well-behaved, grows more slowly and is easy to keep small. They can easily be maintained at about 3 feet in height and even lower if desired. The plant will grow in full sun to part shade as well. Tropical in nature, the shrub grows best in Zone 10, and it’s drought tolerant and salt tolerant. What more could you ask from the small and appealing Green Island ficus?
Parts of the plant do contain toxins in the form of a milky sap inside stems, which can cause skin irritations, so wear gloves when trimming and handling cuttings. Otherwise, plant the Green Island ficus and enjoy. At best, this easy plant won’t be too much trouble and will lend a look of tropical sophistication to your landscape.
In The Garden is a joint effort by all at the local garden center, at 3889 Sanibel-Captiva Road, Sanibel. For more information, contact 239-395-5859 or visit www.facebook.com/rswalshinthegarden.