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.
FNGLA (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 look similar to a jade plant, and contrast well with other foliage types and colors.
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 around 3 feet in height and even lower if desired. This plant will grow in full sun to part shade as well. Tropical in nature, this shrub grows best in Zone 10, and its 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.
This column is a joint effort by all at In The Garden, Sanibel’s local garden center located at 3889 Sanibel Captiva Road, Sanibel Island, Florida.