Ficus maclellandii Alii
Common name: Alii Fig, Banana-Leaf Fig, Alii Ficus, Alii
Distribution and habitat: Ficus maclellandii is a species of fig plant native to India, Southeast Asia and China. The leaves are 8-13cm (3-5 inch) and uniquely dimorphic; with narrow leaves on the lower, sterile branches and broader leaves on the higher branches.
Description: The most common cultivar of Ficus maclellandii is ‘Alii’ which was originally introduced in Hawaii. Ficus maclellandii ‘Alii’ is an evergreen grown as a houseplant being suitable for growing in large containers. It can be found in many forms, including bushes, braids, standards and spiraled trunks. Its olive-colored, slender foliage makes it an extremely interesting and attractive plant. The leaves grow to be 8 to 25cm (3-10 inch) long and create a drooping affect on its branches.
In the ground it can also grow to be 3m (10 feet) tall.
Houseplant care: Ficus maclellandii ‘Alii’ is more durable and easier to grow than other varieties of the same genus. Ficus maclellandii ‘Alii’ has not an accentuated tendency to shed leaves.
Trim the Ficus maclellandii ‘Alii’ with pruning shears any time to control the size of the plant. Cut the stems just above a leaf or stem. Remove any dead branches or weak growth.
Light: Provide filtered sunlight or bright indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight from hot windows, which may scorch the plant.
When Ficus maclellandii ‘Alii’ is situated against a wall, it is best to rotate the plant every few days to prevent the back of the plant from losing its leaves.
Temperature: Ficus maclellandii Alii prefers a temperature range of 13 to 24°C (55-75°F), although exposure to lower temperatures above 7°C (45°F) is tolerated for short periods of time.
Keep the Ficus maclellandii Alii out of cold drafts.
Water: Allow the top centimetre (0.4 inch) or so of potting mixture to dry out between waterings. When watering, water thoroughly giving enough water to make the potting mixture moist. Use tepid water, as cold water may cause leaf loss. Do not allow the plant to stand in water or do not allow the potting mixture to dry out.
Fertilising: During the active growth period (spring and summer), feed the Ficus maclellandii Alii once every two weeks with standard liquid fertiliser. Decrease fertiliser gradually in autumn and withhold fertiliser completely during the winter.
Potting and repotting: The roots of Ficus maclellandii Alii are very slow growing so repotting is rarely needed. When the roots fill the pot – normally every two years – pot on in spring. Move the plant in one size larger pot, using a soil based potting mixture. When maximum convenient pot size have been reached, top-dress the plants annually (in spring) with fresh potting mixture.
Propagation: Ficus maclellandii Alii can be propagated from cuttings. Cut in an angle of 45-degree a healthy branch (including the tip) of 10cm (4 inch) length. Pinch off the leaves from the bottom of the cutting, leaving two at the tip. Dip the cut end of the cutting into water and then into the rooting hormone until the bottom 3cm (1 inch) of the cutting is coated in the powder. Pot the cutting into a 8cm (3 inch) pot size filled with moistened equal parts mixture of peat moss and sand or perlite. Make a hole in the middle of the pot and insert the cutting 3cm (1 inch) below the leaves, then press the potting mixture around the cutting. Seal the pot into a plastic bag and place it in a warm environment at 24°C (75°F) with indirect sunlight. Check the cutting in 8 weeks to see if it has rooted. New growth indicate that the rooting has occurred. At this moment remove the bag and water the cuttings enough to keep the potting mixture just moist.
When the new plant is well established – in about four months – move it into one pot size larger containing the same potting mixture used for adult plant. Thereafter treat it in same way as a mature Ficus maclellandii Alii.
Ficus maclellandii Alii can be also propagated air layering, process that takes a good deal of time and require special care.
Problems: Ficus maclellandii Alii is relatively resistant to pests.
Over watering will cause leaf drop and leaf spotting.
Treatment: Do not allow the plant to stand in water.
Dry shrivelled leaves are caused by underwatering, insufficient humidity or exposure to sun.
Treatment: Treat underwatering as following: water the plant thoroughly and completely. This may mean watering once and then again an hour later as the dry soil begins to absorb water. Pour out any water remaining in the drainage saucer after five to 10 minutes. The amount of water needed by Ficus maclellandii ‘Alii’ is predicated on the amount of light the plant is exposed to, the more light, the more water the plant will need.
Increase humidity by placing the pot on a tray or saucer with moist pebbles.
Watch for scale.
Treatment: Examine every crevice for scale and wipe them off with a damp cloth or a fairly stiff brush dipped in soapy water or an appropriate pesticide solution. Then apply the pesticide to the whole plant.
Spider mite and Mealy bug may become a problem for Ficus maclellandii ‘Alii’.
Treatment: Use an adequate spray pesticide and follow the instructions written on the label.
Uses: Ficus maclellandii ‘Alii’ is a plant that looks attractive as a stand-alone specimen or as part of a mixed display. Larger specimens are especially useful as feature plants in warm, well-lit atria, shopping malls and offices.
Ficus maclellandii ‘Alii’ aid to be a great overall air purifier.
Toxicity: Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction. Gloves are required when handling the Ficus maclellandii Alii.
Notes: Sometimes Ficus maclellandii Alii is often misidentified as Ficus binnendijkii or under the spurious name Ficus longifolia or Ficus alii, though strictly speaking neither is botanically correct.
Foliage – green
Shape – upright
Height: 3m (10 feet)
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 27°C (61-81°F)
Humidity – high
Hardiness zone: 9a-11