tropical ficus trees for zone 9b?

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i own land in kissimmee and im wondering if theres a good ficus tree for zone 9b? 

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Ficus macrophylla seems to be noticeably hardier than F. elastica.
There are two trees that I know of in Galveston, Texas that have sailed through mid-upper 20s F while other Ficus spp. have taken a hit. 
 

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Where in Kissimmee? Microclimates can vary greatly in this area.

 

 

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Some good ones to try would be;

F. altissima

F. aurea

F. auriculata

F. elastica

F. hispida

F. lutea

F. macrophylla

F. microcarpa (F. nitida, F. retusa)

F. religiosa

F. virens

 

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Ficus rubiginosa is the best option in my opinion.

You can probably get away with a lot of other Ficus too. I like Ficus aurea given it is a Florida native. It grows naturally in 10a locations, and maybe a few warm parts of 9b. I understand it is a slow grower though so that's the downside.  

Macrophylla and microcarpa are good options like the other guys have said. You could probably even get away with the traditional banyan, Ficus benghalensis, provided a major freeze doesn't occur. 

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I recommend ficus citrifolia. I have one that is 4 years old and about 15 feet high. I really like how it's canopy allows just the right amount of sun to allow other plants to grow underneath it. It bares a lot figs too which the birds love and I do get volunteers spouting in hanging baskets and on rocks. I am have three trees in Okeechobee which is zone 9b. The interested thing about ficus citrifolia is the island of Barbados was named after it because the tree was found there with its aerial roots that looked like beards. Barbados means bearded in Portuguese.

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Zone 9b (I'm talking about a Florida 9b only) covers a lot of ground (figuratively speaking). I know, as I'm in a zone 9b and have empirical knowledge of it. The difference can be like night and day between the bottom of the zone and the top of the zone, especially factoring in duration of time in this zone (25-30 degrees).

I'm growing about 15 species of ficus trees. They all grow very well for me. In 2010 (both January and December) all of my ficus trees got whacked. Some of the smaller ones were frozen way down, almost to the ground. My bigger ones lost some limbs on the north side, but they all survived and came back to where you wouldn't think they were ever frozen back. But the above freezes were in the low 20s, and for many hours of duration.  Since 2010 my trees haven't been hurt.

From my experience, in general, my ficus tree leaves start taking damage once below 30 degrees. If temps drop to 25 degrees my trees mostly defoliate, plus my trees get variant amounts of wood damage. The upshot is, IMO, is that many ficus species will grow in zone 9b, but unless they are in the top of the zone, they may never reach mature size due to getting partially frozen back. But if we get a run of warm winters, like we've had the last 3-4 years, these trees will get up to bigger size and will be less prone to getting frozen back as much.

My fastest growin ficus species is alttisima 'variegata', and it comes back even if frozen down to the roots. I would definitely try that one.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Walt said:

In 2010 (both January and December) all of my ficus trees got whacked. Some of the smaller ones were frozen way down, almost to the ground. My bigger ones lost some limbs on the north side, but they all survived and came back to where you wouldn't think they were ever frozen back. But the above freezes were in the low 20s, and for many hours of duration.

 

Hi Walt, it always amazes me to read of how cold  it gets there, I understand the reason why with winds coming down from the Arctic regions but it must be a shock for everyone. Does this mean your houses are all set up properly for the cold? I'm thinking of the way houses in subtropical Australia are set up, most are designed for the heat, not for the cold,so when it does get cold everyone feels it!

Did you see my F.macrophylla thread below? They have never shown sign of cold damage despite my much cooler climate. 

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15 hours ago, Bennz said:

 

Hi Walt, it always amazes me to read of how cold  it gets there, I understand the reason why with winds coming down from the Arctic regions but it must be a shock for everyone. Does this mean your houses are all set up properly for the cold? I'm thinking of the way houses in subtropical Australia are set up, most are designed for the heat, not for the cold,so when it does get cold everyone feels it!

Did you see my F.macrophylla thread below? They have never shown sign of cold damage despite my much cooler climate. 

Hi Bennz, Yes, we do get occasional cold snaps. Fortunately, we haven't had a bad cold snap for about four winters now. If it weren't for 2-3 cold days on a normal winter, my climate would be for all intents and purposes tropical, but at the lower end (during the winter months). Being in the northern hemisphere, my coldest month is January. The average high temperature for January is 74 degrees F (23.1C). Nighttime temps for January average 49 degrees F (9.35C). So, as you can see, for the coldest month of the year, ficus species can grow well here. It's just those occasional really bad freezes that can do some major damage.

My biggest ficus (altissima 'variegata'), on a normal winter, may get some leaf damage on the lower leaves (due air still air thermal stratification) on the coldest day. On a colder winter my altissima may get much defoliation. Colder yet it will get some small diameter wood die back on the periphery (but this regrows in one summer season). On the coldest winters (much, much below normal), maybe ever 10-20 years (like in 2010) my altissima suffered some major branch damage.

As far as my house, it's also set up for the spring, summer, and fall heat. I rarely need heat for the house. We have a heat pump, and it may come on only a few times on the coldest mornings. It's air conditioning (cooling) that I need. My electric bill is always low during the winter months, but come spring, then summer, my bill will triple, maybe even close to quadruple.  

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 so  Macrophylla, microcarpa, rubiginos, citrifolia are good for kissimmee? anyone from the orlando-kissimmee area have good standing ficus trees?

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   As long as you are willing to get the chainsaw out , after the inevitable stout Freeze , clean up the remains  , and let them regrow , most

of the mentioned Ficus' will make it in Central Florida .  None will escape damage to some degree or another .

     Even here in Daytona Beach , there are large Ficus between freezes , and I've seen them come back from the root mound many , many times .

If you luck up , and get them through enough time to establish a large enough root ball , that is .

Site selection is if the utmost .

 

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2 hours ago, jb1336 said:

 so  Macrophylla, microcarpa, rubiginos, citrifolia are good for kissimmee? anyone from the orlando-kissimmee area have good standing ficus trees?

I'm not so sure about citrifolia given it is mostly in S Florida. Ficus aurea must be more cold tolerant given its significantly greater range. 

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Ficus rubiginosa is probably my favorite species for cooler climates. Lots of variability in size, structure, foliage color, tho rather scarce in Florida. They can be found, however, with a little persistence or perhaps propagating your own. 

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Ficus natalensis can definitely take the odd morning frost with no damage, however the days must be at least 10% or above and dry.

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21 hours ago, fastfeat said:

Ficus rubiginosa is probably my favorite species for cooler climates. Lots of variability in size, structure, foliage color, tho rather scarce in Florida. They can be found, however, with a little persistence or perhaps propagating your own. 

I think I agree Ken, rubiginosa has a lot going for it. It's not only hemi-epiphyte like many Aussie figs, it's also a lithopohyte so great on rocks, and obviously drought tolerant. It occurs in the tropics but is probably more widely distributed in the cooler southern zones and handles significant frost, so it has a wide range of climatic tolerances. The best forms (my opinion!) have great aerial roots and auxillary trunks like the best tropical banyans, but this form seems to be the exception so needs to be looked for if this trait is desired. 

I would grow lots of these if I could, but it is illegal here. It is so well adapted to cool climates it is the only Ficus species that is classed as a weed in NZ and is illegal to grow or spread, but luckily I don't need to remove my existing trees.

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It looks like 3 of us agree Ficus rubiginosa is ideally the way to go. Unfortunately I've never seen one for sale in Central Florida.

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They're attractive trees that can take a little more cold than most tropical ficus but don't expect miracles, extended periods below freezing can mess with them. They also have to have good drainage, they're more susceptible to root rot than most tropical figs. If you want the names of some wholesale nurseries in Florida that sell them try looking here:

https://www.plantant.com/find-plants#!name=ficus-rubiginosa

All of them appear to be in SE Florida. Rockledge Gardens on the east coast might sell them retail, years ago they used to have F. macrophylla which is even harder to obtain. 

One Ficus I would love to try is a cultivar from Australia called Ficus 'Figaro', apparently it's a hedgy form of one of the Australian figs but sounds like it could make a small tree, small but not a Green Island kind of small (which is a wonderful little fig by the way). In the U.S. Costa Farms is reportedly trialing it but they seem to be in no hurry to release it.

If you just want shiny tropical foliage in a small tree it might be worth trying to find a Florida ironwood, Krugiodendron ferreum. It should be as hardy or maybe slightly hardier than most figs and leisurely makes a tight compact small tree. And I have to put in a plug for the Shady Lady black olive (Bucida hybrid), they're just neat looking tropical trees which again have at least as much hardiness when put up against most figs. 

 

ficus rubiginosa Edinburg.jpg

bucida shady lady ajijic mexico.jpg

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When I went to Cocoa Beach, I saw a full grown huge strangler fig. I don't know what species it was, but I saw alot of them in palm trees. Also saw a huge ficus elastica. So, i'm gonna try ficus rubiginosa and ficus aurea. Thanks everybody for helping.

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