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Are Ficus Hedge Roots Invasive?

A ficus hedge is a group of ficus trees used in landscaping and privacy screens in tropical and subtropical climates. If you want to plant ficus trees and use them as a hedge, you may want to plan before starting your project. We've researched if ficus hedges have invasive roots. This is what we found. 

Ficus trees are severely invasive, as they are known to invade properties and nearby areas. The roots of these trees can damage buildings, driveways, and underground utilities.

If you are planning to use ficus trees as a hedge, continue reading this post for more details on managing and caring for them. We will be answering frequently asked questions about ficus trees to help you properly maintain the trees and their roots. Are you ready? Let's get into it. 

Are Ficus Hedge Roots Invasive?

Ficus hedge roots are aggressive and invasive. The roots can damage sidewalks, septic tanks, building foundations, and patios. The roots can cover a large area and expand up to three times the size of the tree's canopy.

The hedge roots need space to grow evenly and encourage maximum growth, so you should consider where to plant them.

How To Prevent Invasion Of Ficus Tree Roots

Roots of a Ficus tree intrudes the opening of a drainage pipe channel

One of the most effective ways to control invasive roots is to use root barriers. Root barriers prevent tree roots from invading areas you want to protect. Preventing roots from invading your home's foundation or your neighbor's property will save you trouble and money.

You should install root barriers for new trees or plants that have started rooting, not for full-grown trees that have already invaded large areas. It is possible to use root barriers in root pruning, but it has limitations. 

Click here to check out this root barrier on Amazon.

Preparation For Installing Root Barriers 

Installing a root barrier

Here's how to install and set up root barriers to prevent root invasion:

  • Dig a trench where you plan to plant the ficus trees. The trench depth should be one foot deep.
  • Leave a portion of the barrier visible on the surface.
  • Extend the length of the trench at least twelve feet and add approximately six feet beyond the outer boundary for possible spread.

How To Assemble And Install Root Barriers

  • Identify the panel top with the double top edge.
  • Each panel has a built-in zipper joiner that you can attach and quickly assemble.
  • Slide the panels together using your thumb as the guide, and keep the double-top edge at the top. Insert the bottom of one panel into the top edge zip of the second panel and slide it down to zip together.
  • Attach the panels to create a circular barrier.
  • Place the tree barrier in the trench, and plant the tree in the center.
  • Fill the trench with soil.
  • The roots of the tree will grow downwards and have restricted outward expansion.

Watch the video to learn more about installing a root barrier.

How To Create Ficus Hedge

Man is cutting hedge in the park, Are Ficus Hedge Roots Invasive?

Creating a ficus hedge starts with finding out which ficus variety you wish to plant. Ficus trees can grow up to 40 feet high, so choosing the right variety matters.

Since the roots are invasive, the general rule in planting ficus trees is to leave two to three feet of space between them to provide enough room for roots to develop and to prevent them from invading other plants around them. 

Here are the steps for creating a ficus hedge:

Planning And Layout

A long ficus hedge (50 feet long) needs around 20 to 25 ficus trees, with two to three feet of space between the plants. A mature ficus hedge is three to four feet wide.

Choosing The Ficus Variety

Pick a young plant variety at the garden center. The plant must be container-grown and should be 1 to 2.5 feet tall.

Marking And Measuring

Choose the spot where you want to plant your hedge and lay out a cord between two stakes to mark the hedge line. Evenly lay out the plants one foot behind the cord line. Continue aligning stakes and line cord.

Dig A Hole And Plant The Trees

Mark the spot where you want to plant and dig a hole. The hole should be wider than the plant's root ball and deep enough for the roots to develop. Take the plant out of the container and put it in the hole. Fill the hole with soil to cover the plant roots. Do the same with the other ficus trees.

Watering

Water the newly planted tree to settle the roots in the soil. Continue watering the hedge daily for the next two weeks after transplanting. Keep the soil moist but not soggy.

Pruning

Man cutting a Ficus tree with clippers

You should prune ficus trees regularly to control their shape and size. Trimming will help the plants to grow outward. Continuous clipping monthly will keep the matured hedge bounds.

What Diseases Are Ficus Trees Prone To?

Ficus trees are low-maintenance, but they still require care to grow and stay healthy. Improper care may lead to severe problems such as fungi and bacteria attacks.

Black Spot

The black spot is a fungal disease that infects ficus trees. These spots are dark, fuzzy molds with yellow rings that appear on the surface of the leaves. The leaves can turn yellow, die, and fall off the tree. This disease can spread to the tree and neighboring trees if not treated.

Spraying fungicide that contains chlorothalonil works best to control black spot on ficus trees.  You should spray fungicide once every seven to 10 days or follow the instructions on the product label.

Click here to check out this fungicide on Amazon.

Anthracnose

Anthracnose causes yellow and brown patches on leaves. It is essential to control the disease immediately for continued growth and to prevent severe damage. Once the anthracnose progresses, the leaves die and fall off the tree. The younger leaves curl up, and mature leaves drop off early.

To control anthracnose, deadhead the infected parts as much as possible. Dispose of the fallen leaves to prevent the further spread of the disease. You can use fungicides with chlorothalonil to control anthracnose.

Root Rot

One of the causes of root rot is waterlogging. The soil becomes saggy, which attracts different bacteria, fungi, and other diseases. Check your plant for these signs:

  • The leaves are turning yellow and dropping off.
  • The leaves are turning brown.
  • The roots are mushy and dark. You can smell a distinct decaying scent from the plant roots.

Here are the steps to save the tree:

  • Remove the plant from the soil.
  • Wash it in the sink to remove the old, diseased potting soil.
  • Prune the infected roots and the leaves.
  • Spray the roots with hydrogen peroxide or an organic fungicide.
  • Transfer the plant to a new pot with a new, well-drained potting soil mix.

Powdery Mildew

If you see white spots on the ficus leaves, powdery mildew tops the list of possible causes. Powdery mildew is a disease caused by several fungi species. Splotches of gray and white powder may appear on the stems and undersides of the leaves.

Copper, sulfur, or oil fungicides can help in controlling powdery mildew. However, if the infestation is severe, removing and destroying the infected plants is the best solution to stop the spread of the disease.

What Causes White Spots On Ficus Leaves?

Ficus leaves are turning yellow

Aside from powdery mildew, white spots may appear due to poor watering, humidity, nutrients, and sunlight exposure.

Watering

Watering the plant using tap water exposes them to hard water, which deposits minerals on the leaves. The leaves may curl up or look burned. Sit the water and mix boiling water for one to two days to settle the impurities.

Nutrients

Nutrient deficiency can cause white or yellow spots on leaves. The plants need magnesium, iron, nitrogen, and other essential nutrients for fuller leaf color. Apply water-soluble fertilizer in spring until fall once every four weeks.

Sunlight

Too much sunlight can burn the leaves of ficus plants. Too much exposure can cause white spots around the edges of the leaves. Ficus trees need six hours of sunlight daily or in shaded spots.

Humidity

High humidity causes water traps and can lead to cell bursting, which causes white spots. Ficus trees need 40% humidity. If the humidity drops, the plants will start dropping leaves.

In Summary

In this post, we discussed the characteristics of ficus hedges, how the roots can cause damage, and how to prevent root invasion.

We also covered the various common diseases that ficus trees are susceptible to and methods for treating them. You can grow healthy ficus trees by making sure they get the right amount of sunlight, water, and nutrition. 

For other helpful tips about ficus trees and gardening ideas, check out these posts:

What To Plant Under A Ficus Tree

How To Remove Tree Roots From Under Your Driveway