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Australian Guide to Growing a Ficus Hedge

Ficus are popular plants for hedging because they’re fast-growing and lend themselves beautifully to regular pruning or shaping.

There are plenty of ficus varieties to choose from depending on the style or size of hedge that you’re after.

Bear in mind that many ficus varieties do have invasive roots so they should not be planted close to buildings or near underground pipes. 

However, their root spread can be controlled by keeping the plants well-trimmed and restricting their height.

Here’s how to grow a ficus hedge in Australia.

Choose the ficus variety that will suit your needs best

Ficus Hedge 2 | Plant care

As mentioned above, there are plenty of ficus varieties that you can choose from. Here are some of the more popular ones that Australian gardeners grow as hedges.

Ficus hillii ‘Flash’

This popular variety is extremely fast-growing and also very hardy. It can be grown in full sun or part shade and handles hot weather very well. 

This Australian native can grow to a height of 10 metres with a spread of 3 metres. However, it can be trimmed to grow as low as 3 metres with a spread of around 1.5 metres.

‘Flash’ has bright and glossy emerald green foliage and does not produce flowers if kept constantly trimmed. It does need protection from frost when young but mature trees are frost-hardy.

Ficus hillii ‘Hill’s Weeping Fig’

This variety has a slightly weeping habit but is still perfect for hedging. It can grow to a height of around 8 metres and has very dense foliage.

This makes it great for providing a nice dense screen in your garden. The glossy leaves appear in various shades of green.

Ficus hillii ‘Koh’

This particular cultivar has smaller leaves and non-aggressive roots. This makes it ideal for hedging close to a pool or other structure in your garden.

‘Koh’ is also great if you want a lower-growing hedge because it can be pruned to grow to a height of between 1 and 3 metres.

Choose your location and prepare the soil

Your ficus hedge can either be grown in full sun or part shade. This is because of the glossy green leaves of this species and the fact that you don’t want to promote flowering.

Ficus will tolerate many different soil types including sand, clay and even wet soils. But, ideally, you want moist soil that is free-draining and amended with plenty of organic matter for your hedge to thrive.

Planting your ficus hedge

Once you’ve chosen your location and prepared the soil, it’s time to create your planting holes. Use a string line to ensure that your hedge will follow the screening line that you’re after.

Planting holes for hedge | Plant care

Ideally, you want to space your plants around 1 to 1.5 metres apart to create a nice dense screen. Mark out the planting holes first so that you know how many individual plants you need to purchase.

Dig all your planting holes at once as this will save time. Make each hole around twice as wide and as deep as the rootball of the plants.

Once your holes are dug, take each plant out of its pot and place it in the centre of its respective hole. Backfill with soil around the roots and firm down gently.

planting tree in a hole | Plant care

Make sure to give each plant a good drink as this will help the soil to settle around the roots.

Add a layer of mulch on top of the soil around the plants to help retain moisture.

How to care for your ficus hedge

Ficus Hedge 1 | Plant care

Young plants need to be kept well watered until they become fully established. Once your plants have established themselves in their new growing position, they’ll be relatively drought-hardy.

In the first couple of years of growth, fertilise your plants with a slow-release fertiliser such as Dynamic Lifter in spring and summer. 

Once the trees have become well-established, they should not need additional fertilising unless your soil is particularly lacking in nutrients. Just top up the mulch regularly and the trees will get all the nutrients that they need.

Pruning can begin from a young age. This should initially be in the form of tip pruning to encourage a nice dense growth and to get the shape that you want.

Once each plant has reached the desired height, you should only need to prune it once or twice a year in late winter or early spring. However, don’t be afraid to lightly prune over summer to help control the growth.

FAQ

Which ficus is best for hedging?

Cultivars from the Ficus hillii species are particularly good for hedging as they’re fast-growing and can tolerate frosts once they’ve become well-established

Are ficus fast growing?

Yes, most ficus species and their cultivars are extremely fast-growing and you can create a hedge fairly quickly with these trees.

What are the disadvantages of ficus trees?

Many ficus species have invasive roots so should not be planted near buildings unless their growth is managed. Also, the sap that cut branches exude can also be irritating to the skin.

Do ficus have invasive roots?

Many taller ficus varieties do have invasive roots. However, Ficus hillii ‘Koh’ has non-aggressive roots so can be planted around pools or close to other structures.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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