Do grafted Ficus have the same vigorous root system as others in the species? Could we safely plant a standard Ficus in the garden, 80 centimetres away from concrete edging?
Standard plants – or lollipop-style plants – are sometimes grafted but, generally, Ficus are not. Instead, they’re pruned to present a tall, straight stem and a ball-shaped head of foliage. All evergreen Ficus, or figs, have vigorous, invasive root systems and grow into large trees, making them unsuitable to plant in residential gardens. (Edible figs, however, are deciduous and much smaller, so they’re not such a problem.) In a pot, the standard Ficus is being contained, but when planted out they will quickly grow into something you don’t want – most of the species used for standards can reach a height of 20 metres in good conditions. Even in pots, they’re remarkable escape artists; unless the pot is elevated, the roots can grow out of the drainage holes and find the soil. And I’ve known them to penetrate paving, too. Don’t plant out standards in your garden – if you want them in that position for design purposes, keep them in large pots, elevated on pot feet, and check regularly for escaping roots.