Five of our favourite Ficus!

We’re passionate about plants at Vantage Spaces, and our #teamgreen tell us that many of our clients catch the ‘plant bug’ from being surrounded by plants at work. As a nation, our love of plants goes back a long way, but we have the Victorians to thank for the tropical houseplants we know and love today. During this period, plant collectors brought back a dazzling array of species from tropical climes, and parlours were decorated with opulent displays. Many of the same plants are used today and our #teamgreen are often quizzed about different plants on their plant maintenance visits, so we thought we’d share a bit of our knowledge here by taking one plant genus at a time. 

Meet the ficus 

We use a lot of plants from the ‘ficus’ genus in our displays, and many people will also have a ficus at home in some shape or form. Ficus is a genus of around 750 species which includes huge fruit-bearing trees, shrubs and creeping vines in the family Moraceae, many of which we commonly refer to as figs. As well as having beautiful foliage, the stems of ficus also provide interest, and some can be shaped and even plaited. In studies conducted by NASA, ficus plants were also found to be one of the best plants for cleansing the air, so they area natural choice for office fit-outs that are intended to enhance employee health and wellbeing. With so many to choose from, it was difficult to decide which to tell you about in more detail, but here are five of our favourite ficus:

Ficus binnendijkii ‘Alii’

The Ficus binnendijkii 'Alii', or narrow-leaved fig, originally comes from Asia, where it grows in tropical rainforests. Ficus 'Alii' is characterised by its long, narrow, dark green leaves that hang down its stem in an elegant fashion – it is almost palm-like in appearance and very versatile. The plant can grow significantly in height, up to 3 meters in an indoor environment. Because of its tall slim shape, Ficus ‘Alii’ is great for a tight spot because it makes a statement without taking up too much space.

Ficus elastica ‘Abidjan’

The Ficus elastica 'Abidjan', perhaps better known as the rubber plant, hails predominantly from Southeast Asia, where it grows in rainforests and is often seen on tree trunks and rocks. The Ficus 'Abidjan' is rather striking, with a strong stem and large glossy leaves that stand out like a parachute. The gorgeous burnished burgundy/bronze leaves are the star of the show here – guaranteed to get noticed! Incidentally, a general rule for plants is that lighter coloured leaves need more light than darker coloured ones, because of the amount of chlorophyll contained within the leaves. But, of course, no living plant can be entirely deprived of light and the ‘Abidjan’ is far too lovely to be tucked out of sight!

Ficus lyrata

The beautiful Ficus lyrata grows in tropical rainforests in West Africa. It is prized for the shape of its huge, bright green, violin-shaped leaves – hence its common name, fiddle leaf fig. With the right care, this specimen can grow up to several metres, but it does like a nice bright, humid spot so not the sort of plant that can tolerate neglect! In a stem shape, the Ficus lyrateis very effective at providing an eye-catching splash of biophilia, without taking up too much space. We’ve noticed that people are really drawn to the shape of the leaves – it really is stunning!

Ficus macrocarpa ‘Nitida’

Ficus macrocarpa ‘Nitida’ is also known as the Indian rubber/laurel tree. Traditionally, it has been prized for its sheer good looks and the fact that it can survive in urban areas with poor quality air. Having said that, we always look to place plants in optimum conditions and they are always going to look healthier if properly looked after! Ficus macrocarpa ‘Nitida’ has a dense round crown of shiny dark green leaves. It can be grown in a ‘lollipop’ shape, with a stem that can also be plaited for extra interest. When well-cared for, it can reach heights of up to six metres, making it a great specimen tree for a large atrium. We think it looks very imposing in beautiful pots either side of a doorway in a reception area. 

Ficus cyathistipula 

Also known as the African fig tree, Ficus cyathistipula can be found growing in rainforests, mangroves and near rivers in tropical regions of central and West Africa. Its glossy dark green leaves can grow up to 18cm long. The plant produces so-called figs, which are actually flowers that are enclosed in a protective structure. These are small, round, and grow in pairs. They start off green but discolour to red as they ripen. Grown in a two-metre column, it can make a very imposing plant indeed, yet without encroaching on floor-space. 

Plants in the ficus genus have an enduring appeal because, with the right care, certain species can live for a very long time and grow to quite an impressive size. Coupled with them being amongst the best air-purifying plants that money can buy, it’s easy to see why they remain a popular choice, and with so many to choose from, there’s a ficus for everyone. You can’t go wrong with a ficus!