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Donald Trump Loves Ficuses

The City Council of Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif has ordered Donald Trump to remove a ficus hedge he installed at the Trump National Golf Club without getting permission. The 10-foot-high hedge is now blocking the ocean view of some of the neighboring homes.

Sounding like a member of People for The Ethical Treatment of Plants, Donald Trump said this;

"The City Council should be ashamed of its decision," Trump told the Daily Breeze of Torrance. "It's very sad that the town is willing to destroy this beautiful hedge. There's no plant as beautiful as the ficus."

I'm no ficus hater but I can think of a hundred plants off the top of my head that are more beautiful than the ficus. There are about 800 species in the Ficus genus and out of all of them there is only I do not like, Ficus benjamina. There's just something about her dust-collecting and temperamental ways that has placed her into the "plants I hate" category.

If you're ever looking to buy a ficus for your plant collection stay away from Ficus benjamina unless you like spending time dusting leaves and worrying about leaf loss when you look at it funny. Here are a three Ficuses that I think are worth adding to your houseplant collection.

Ficus buxifolia-A great Ficus with leaves that resemble the leaves of a boxwood. Even as a young plant it readily produces small fruits and has an interesting (old looking) bark texture.

Ficus carica- The silvery gray bark that you're familiar with but it has deeply serrated leave and it also produce fruit.

Ficus natalensis-Another ficus with an interesting bark texture. F natalensis will readily produce aerial roots so the trunk of this potted plant can look impressive after a few years. The leaves are flat and spatula shaped with a wavy or indented tip.

Ficus nerifolia-I don't think I've ever seen it set fruit but this Ficus has to be my favorite of them all. The narrow leaves of this ficus look like the leaves of a willow tree. Constant defoliation and bright sun will produce very small leaves which makes it a favorite of bonsai enthusiasts.

Ficus religiosa-The patron Ficus of smelly hippies, Feng Shui practitioners and sushi eating hipsters. This is the fig tree that according to legend Buddha sat below and had a revelation. I've owned this tree and sitting below it didn't do anything for me but I liked the heart shaped leaves and the little fruits it produced and have seen some fantastic bonsai specimens created with F religiosa.

I've not seen some of these plants for sale outside of a bonsai shop in years but if you can find one of them in your area or don't mind ordering plants on line I suggest buying one of these instead of F benjamina.


  1. Anonymous1:33 AM

    I know they are fussy, but I have one that is perfect, never drops a leaf, never needs's

  2. Hmm.. I have a ficus growing in a pot. I'm not sure what type it is.

  3. This is getting a little spooky. I have a Ficus benjamina post coming up on my blog. I disagree with you, kinda, mostly, about benjamina, but you'll have to wait until Monday to find out how much and why.

    What strikes me the most about your post here, though, is -- you left out all the other Ficus species that are easy to find. I mean, I've never seen a religiosa for sale anywhere, but what about lyrata, elastica, binnendijkii (which happens to be one of my very favorite plants), or retusa/nitida? They all seem like nice enough folks. How come they don't rate?

  4. Hey - this is a protest on behalf of all FB lovers ... though I kinda agree with you about the dust on the leaves. I position mine so it leans over the balcony in summer and gets washed in the rain. And grit my teeth and get on with it in winter when it's in the house. And as mine is 7 ft, my teeth have to stay gritted quite a while...

  5. LOL @ Anonymous,

    @ DragonStone, You could always take a pic and have the house plant forum, ID your plant.

    @mr subjunctive,

    You know, I'd been meaning to make a post about the alternatives to F. benjamina but hadn't gotten around to listing them all and figured I just do a few since I found Trump's comment pretty funny.

    Though I'll agree with you that I should have added microcarpa retusa especially as an alternative to benjamina. F. lyrata and elastica would also make my list.But F. binnendijikii wouldn't make mine.

    That they're not very easy to find is kinda my reasoning. They're easy to find if you know where to look. But in terms of greenhouses and big box stores you probably won't find them. Commercial growers that supply the "regular" stores don't offer much diversity because everyone is so accustomed to seeing F. benjamina and F.binnendijkii so that is what they carry.

    Here in Chicago I've seen F. religiosa for especially in little Asian stores that aren't traditional places to buy plants, like grocery and record stores. But on-line carries it.


    That's a pretty funny and inventive way of dealing with the dust I'd never heard of anyone doing that before.

  6. mr subjunctive,

    I forgot to say that I'm interested to see what you write about. Maybe I'll edit mine when you do yours to include more of my faves.

  7. I guess the ficus I had was a benjamina. It was lovely when I purchased it, but it dropped leaves and dropped leaves and... well, I had to let it go. I assumed it was not happy in its location. I had little choice to offer at the time.

    You must have a Houseful of plants!

  8. Here in Germany there are strict rules for hedges in gardens, they are different in each county though. So you can let grow hedges in Bavaria up to 6,5 foot (2 meter ) while in Berlin they only can grow to 1 meter.
    I wonder why Mr. Trump didn´t prune these hedges regularly, but by the looks of it he did not do so on purpuse. What a hypocrisy to claim he is sad about destroying these hedges, I am sure he had gardeners who knew about hedges and pruning.
    Ficus benjamina is an easy growing plant for (indoor) gardeners you can´t do much wrong, that´s why so may people grow them. Those kinds you are mentioning are hardly sold here.Thanks for you information.
    Have a nice GTS !

  9. Hi Mr Brown thumb,
    Mr Trump is at it over here to.He wants to build a massive golf complex in Scotland ,wiping out loads of wildlife.Everyone is against it , but I'm sure he will prevail in the end, as money has strange effects on people...particualy politicians

    Cheers Mark oh and watch out for those robins

  10. At my previous home, I planted a houseplant (Ficus benjamina) in my garden after the rest of the arrangement gave up the ghost. It grew into a 12-foot tree before I moved. It was beautiful, but as you mentioned prone to collecting dust. I sprayed it every once in a while with a hose. Since it was in a protected area, it never received frost damage, unlike the five Ficus nitida I lost this past year.

  11. Anonymous2:03 PM

    Gardener’s Anonymous
    I'm very intrigued by the ficus religiosa. After reading your post, I may have to get one. I am not particularly
    religious and I'm not into feng shui but I do like sushi and I was raised in the 60's. I asked my husband and he said I didn't smell.

    The article made me laugh.

  12. Just my two-sustainability cents worth.

    There's a huge part of the discussion missing here. I sense that most of the comments are from folks who are growing these plants indoor (I think "Chicago" was included in one comment), as most of the types mentioned are not exactly temperate climate-friendly.

    Here in Santa Barbara, most of the Ficus mentioned can grow outdoors and that's when the bi-polar aspect kicks in. Even the "cute" F. benjamina that people can grow indoors becomes a surface-rooting, sidewalk-lifting monster around here.

    The key is to understand the ultimate size of any plant and know enough about its growth patterns through observation before you start planting it in inappropriate locations.

  13. I confess, I have a "ficus decora" that I love... I'm a sucker for dark-colored leaves and this is a nice burgundy-ish tone with the new leaves coming out in a lovely deep orange.

  14. @ Shady
    I actually don't have too many. When I get something new or a plant goes past the "fad" stage for me I usually pass it on to someone. Adopting out plants keeps me from getting bored too easily.


    Thanks for stopping by and commenting with a different perspective.

    Good luck with having The Trump in your neck of the woods. He's in the process of building something here and I hope he's done with Chicago when that building is done and he doesn't expand too much.

    @No Rain
    cool story.

    @gardeners Anonymous
    Glad you found it funny and didn't get offended. If you're looking for the plant check the website I mentioned in the previous comment.

    Good point but I'm not advocating growing these outdoors and the post is really more about the aesthetics quality of the Ficus as deemed by Trump.
    Those are nice. I almost bought one last spring when HD had the large pots for 5 bucks. I went with a Bird of Paradise instead and now I regret it 'cause my BOP got left out in a freeze ;0)

  15. Why doesn't Trump just prune the hedge instead of taking it out? From what I remember, ficus handle heavy pruning fairly well.

  16. GardenWiseGuy-I'm with you! I live 25 miles north of Plam Beach where Trump has Maralago, which is BEAUTIFUL! All older homes on Palm Beach have high ficus hedges. It's now illegal to newly plant them. The largest ficus tree is in India and covers 550 acres! There are trees, not hedges.

    Now, on the other hand, they ARE beautiful and are great for indoors or potted.



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