Ficus Alternatives

Ficus benjamina, also referred to as Ficus Hedge, is one of the most commonly-used hedge/screening plants. Its biggest advantage is that it is fast-growing and quickly screens the outside world within a short time after planting. Unfortunately, its biggest disadvantage is that it is fast-growing, and needs a lot of maintenance, to keep it in check. Otherwise, it will turn into a monster.

Follow this link to a photo of the largest Ficus benjamina in the world, in India.

The World's Largest Ficus benjamina

Now, do you honestly think that you should plant something like this next to your air conditioning unit?

Another negative is that the Ficus has recently come under the attack of the fig whitefly.

Fig Whitefly

At left is a photo of a ficus hedge suffering from a typical white fly infestation.

The plant slowly drops all its leaves, until the only thing left is a dead branch effect, which some people like, but most people don't.

They would rather have an impenetrable privacy barrier. And this ain't exactly doing it, wouldn't you say?

In addition to the loss of screening, there is also a nasty effect covering the remaining leaves.

Choice one is to treat the hedge with toxic chemicals, strong enough to eliminate the problem for a week or two before it suffers from another infestation from your neighbor's yard.

But, how long can we go on dousing the plants around our homes with these poisons?

"Hey you kids, get outta them bushes! I just sprayed 'em with systemic insecticide!"
   

Choice two is to give up on Ficus and try something else.

Below are several choices of low-maintenance, drought-tolerant, indigenous plants that are generally disease-resistant, and do not grow as aggressively as Ficus benjamina. They all take pruning well, and can be shaped into a vegetational barrier toward which you will develop a profound level of appreciation as, over time, you realize their many advantages. You will say to your loved one(s), "We should have done this years ago! Why did we think that ficus hedge was so wonderful anyway?"

 

Here are some of the choices. You may scroll down the page, or click on the links below to get there faster.

Myrtle of the river

Spanish Stopper

Red Stopper

Crabwood

Jamaica Caper

Other possibilities (to be added to this page in the near future)::

Bahama Coffee (low screening, under 6')

Maidenbush

Locustberry

Spicewood

 

Using disease-resistant indigenous plants should be the primary component in all integrated pest management programs!

 

 

 

Myrtle of the River Calyptranthes zuzygium

Myrtle of the river is probably the fastest growing of the shrubs we will be discussing. It is best used in open locations with a lot of sun. It can take the heat of your driveway, or other areas that are exposed to reflected heat or glaring afternoon sun.

Here are some of the ways it can be used.

 

Go ahead, hedge it. It especially works well in hot locations, such as next to a driveway.

You can plant it alone as an accent/screening shrub, strategically placed to get rid of an unsightly view in your neighbor's yard.
Or you can trim it up into a tree. This is a good option for screening at the two-story level.

At left and below are photos of the different sizes of Myrtle of the river that we generally grow.

Above 25 gal container; 8'+ planted height

 

10-gal size; 6'-7' planted height

 

7-gal.; 5'-6' planted height

 

3-gal.; 2'-3' planted height

 

For more information on myrtle of the river, please click here: Myrtle of the river

Spanish Stopper Eugenia foetida

Spanish stopper is a columnar growing shrubby tree. The best use as a hedge is in narrow locations. They seem to enjoy being trimmed and will stay nice and full if trimmed regularly. Can take a variety of light and heat conditions.

The more you trim it, the more dense it will become, creating a full-to-the-ground screening that will even stop your neighbor's golf balls from coming into your yard.

If you want to screen something a little higher, feel freel limb it up and let it develop into a small tree.

You are allowed, by the way, to plant it in your yard just as an accent tree.

Put it under your powerlines and never worry about agents of the utility company chopping it into a V-shaped abomination.

At left is a group photo of the sizes of Spanish stopper that we usually have in stock.

Below are close-ups.

 

25-gal container; 8'+ planted height

 

10-gal.; 6'-8' planted height (not always in stock)

 

7-gal.; 5'-7' planted height

 

3-gal.; 2'-4' planted height

 

For more photos and info on Spanish Stopper, click here: Spanish Stopper

 

Red Stopper Eugenia rhombea

Here is a good one for slightly protected locations. Red stoppers naturally grow in the understory as a small shrubby tree. They might not be so full in the pots right now, but they take pruning very well, and will thicken up and give good screening.

 

At right is a red stopper hedge lining the street.

Here is proof that the red stopper can perform as well as the ficus in screening, and even better when you consider that it does not require as much trimming as ficus and is not susceptible to whitefly.

 

This photo says it all. What are you waiting for? Get that ficus out of the ground today!
   
   

At left is a group photo of red stoppers in stock.

Below are close-ups of each size.

25-gal.; 6'-7' planted height

 

7-gal.; 4'-6' planted height

 

 

3-gal.; 2'-4' planted height

 

 
For more information on red stoppers, click here: Red Stopper

Crabwood Gymnanthes lucida

Crabwood is an understory coastal shrub and is great for screening in a variety of light conditions, and, once established, does well in locations that might only get a few hours of sun per day. They might look a little sparse at the base now in the pots here at the nursery, but once you plant them, they will fill in below to give a great top to bottom barrier against the hecticity of the outside world.

 

Crabwood is very well-behaved and can be kept as a 6'-10' high trimmed barrier.

The one in the photo at right is about 15' tall. There is a Jamaica caper planted just to the left of it, by the way (more on that subject below).

At left is another 15' tall crabwood that we have trimmed up. Planted at the base is Bahama coffee (more on that subject below).
   
   

At right is a group photo of the three sizes of Crabwoods we typically have in stock.

Below are close-ups of each size.

Gymnanthes lucida group photo
25-gal.; 7'-8' planted height
7-gal.; 5'-6' planted height
 

3-gal.; 3'-5' planted height

 

 
For more information on crabwood, click here: Crabwood

 

 

 

 

Jamaica Caper Capparis cynophallophora

Jamaica Caper is a dynamite, understory shrub of the coastal forests. It is full of low-maintenance, and can be hedged, if you are so inclined.

 

But in truth, it is actually better to just lightly prune it and let it keep a more natural shape. At right is a barrier about 10' high.

At left is one that we are trimming up into a small tree.

It is about 20' high now, and filled with more charm in one of its leaves than an entire ficus hedge has in its whole body.

The one in the photo at right is in Bermuda.

It was planted in 1780 and is only 30' tall x 30' wide.

This gives you an indication of how low your maintenance costs will be over the next few centuries.

Sizes in stock: 25-gal. 6' ht.; 7-gal. 3'-4' ht.; 3-gal. 2'-3' ht. (will post updated photos soon!)

 

 
For more information on Jamaica caper, click here: Jamaica Caper
   

Other possibilities:

Bahama Coffee (low screening, under 6')

Maidenbush

Locustberry

Spicewood

 

 

More to come in the near future....

 

e-mail: plants@plantcreations.com
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Coastal
Cold Damage
Driving Directions
Feedback
Fragrant Plants
Groundcovers
Hammock
In the Shadehouse
Invasive Plants
Landscaping for Hurricanes
Managing Your Plants
Mealybug Destroyers
Misc. Tropical Plants
Our Nursery
Plant Archives
Plant List
Landscaping Jobs
References
Screening
Search Page
Services
Shipping
Stone Planters
Stoppers
Street Trees
What About the Environment?
Wildlife at Plant Creations
Xerophytes
Home
Botanical Tags
Butterfly Host Plants
Cardinals at the nursery
Coastal
Cold Damage
Driving Directions
Feedback
Fragrant Plants
Groundcovers
Hammock
In the Shadehouse
Invasive Plants
Landscaping for Hurricanes
Managing Your Plants
Mealybug Destroyers
Misc. Tropical Plants
Our Nursery
Plant Archives
Plant List
Landscaping Jobs
References
Screening
Search Page
Services
Shipping
Stone Planters
Stoppers
Street Trees
What About the Environment?
Wildlife at Plant Creations
Xerophytes
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Last updated:  2/9/2012