The Q&A Archives: Invasive Roots

Question: I'm looking for a small ( 4-5 ft) tree for underneath my
window boxes. I love the look of the Ficus Benjamin, but was told it is not good next to a house because its roots are VERY invasive and will ruin any plumbing they come in contact with. Is this true ??? also, is there a dwarf type or does it top prune well.

Answer: Ficus benjamina isn't a very good choice for the site you describe. The roots are invasive and the tree can attain heights of 60'. If you have your heart set on a ficus, you can contain both the roots and the height of the tree by planting in a large (10-gallon) pot and sinking the pot into the ground. Ficus can be pruned without harm, providing you prune regularly to control the size rather than waiting until it's too tall and then topping or pruning radically. Hope this provides some insight and helps you decide whether or not you want a ficus next to your house.

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