Ficus microcarpa var. hillii
Hill’s Weeping Fig
[optinlocker]Over the last few years, this Queensland native has been planted in the thousands in south-eastern Australia. Because of the ease in production, and this plant’s ability to be sheared to shape, F. microcarpa has become an urban cliché. We can all remember when only Toorak had tightly-pruned fig pom-poms, but now they are everwhere—frequently in places they don’t suit.
Hill’s Fig is a typical fig: smooth grey trunk, glossy green foliage, and a fine-textured, highly-meristematic root system. This meristematic root system allows Hill’s Fig to respond quickly to root changes in its environment; this means that root disturbance or root confinement may result in new roots growing out of the plant’s above-ground parts. Often figs are planted in rigid containers; if the root mass becomes too dense, the roots will break even the strongest container.
F. microcarpa is a survivor, tolerating many urban conditions, including shading, pollution, and root compaction. Because of this, Hill’s Fig is an appropriate selection where a unifying plant is needed that will take you from sunny to shady areas or from indoor to outdoor spaces.
There is one final problem with Hill’s Fig. This tree will grow very quickly in northern Australia and is shipped into Melbourne. If these imports are planted in protected areas in October and carefully established, they may thrive. If not, they will drop foliage, lose shoots, and possibly die. If you are going to use figs without this ideal timing and care, they must be hardened off in Melbourne for at least 6 weeks before planting out. Hardening off will allow lush growth to become lignified, and foliage to add water-saving cuticle. Hardening off is not difficult, but does take time and cost money. If you are going to use these figs in dark, indoor areas, a period of light acclimation is also required. This acclimation will add another 6 weeks minimum to your lead times, and will also increase cost. If a plant is correctly hardened off and light acclimated, it can be twice as expensive as its newly-imported-from-Queensland cousin.[/optinlocker]
Typical mature height: to 15m
Useful in: streetscapes, displays
Sites for best growth: moisture retentive but well-drained