Botanical name: Ficus altissima 'Yellow Gem'
Common names: Ficus Yellow Gem, Council Tree, Lofty Fig
Ficus Yellow Gem (Ficus altissima 'Yellow Gem') also called Council Tree or Lofty Fig is an evergreen, tree-like plant which bears glossy, oval leaves with green and bright yellow variegation and lighter veining.
Council Tree has a high tolerance to drought conditions but prefers high humidity conditions to thrive. It is considered much easier to grow indoors than its cousin Fiddle Leaf Fig.
A young Ficus Yellow Gem is difficult to distinguish from Ficus Audrey as it lacks variegation. However, the leaves in Audrey are more rounded while those of Yellow Gem are more pointed.
Lofty Fig can grow to a height of 100 ft and 30 ft wide in its native habit but indoors it grows to 6 ft high and 2 ft wide.
Ficus altissima 'Yellow Gem' is native to Southeast Asia where it grows as an epiphyte on trees by means of aerial roots.
Healthy Ficus Yellow Gem are readily available online at Etsy. Purchase Ficus Yellow Gems (Ficus altissima 'Yellow Gem') from Etsy.
Ficus altissima 'Yellow Gem' indoor care is easy when provided with the right growing conditions. It requires bright light with some direct sunlight, warm and humid conditions and moderately moist well-drained soil which is rich in organic matter.
Council Tree also requires regular feeding for lush growth and regular pruning to maintain neat as well as rejuvenate growth. Repotting is only necessary when it becomes pot-bound as it grows best when slightly root-bound. Continue reading for a detailed account on these growing conditions.
Ficus Yellow Gem grows best in bright light with 4 hours of direct morning or late afternoon sunlight. Where natural lighting is insufficient it can grow under a grow light.
Avoid exposing the plant to hot direct sunlight as it can cause sunscorch (brown) marks on the leaves and eventual leaf drop.
Council Tree can adapt to lower light conditions but it will grow much slower and may lose its variegation. If light is too little it may cause yellowing and leaf drop.
Turn the pot regularly to ensure that the plant receives light on all sides for even growth. Check out our guide on understanding light for houseplants.
Water Ficus Yellow Gem liberally during the growing season until water comes out through the drainage holes and allow the top 2-3 in. of soil to dry out between waterings. Reduce watering during the cold season to maintain the soil barely moist as growth is reduced at this time.
Ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to leaf drop and root-rot.
Use room temperature water to water the plant as cold water can cause reduced growth and leaf drop.
Council Tree is sensitive to chlorine and other chemicals dissolved in water. Use only chlorine-free water to water the plant to avoid spots on the leaves. Read more on how to water houseplants.
The best temperature for growing Ficus Yellow Gem indoors is an average warmth within the range of 16-260C.
Keep Lofty Fig away from drafts to prevent sudden changes in temperature as they can cause leaf drop. Read more on understanding temperature for houseplants.
Average room humidity is ideal for Ficus Yellow Gem. However, if the air is too dry especially where temperature is high, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier to raise humidity. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.
Regularly clean the leaves by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to get rid of dust and also discourage pest infestation. Read more on how to clean houseplants.
Feed Ficus Yellow Gem every 4 weeks during the growing season with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer.
Do not feed Council Tree during the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time can cause fertilizer burn. Read more on how to feed houseplants.
Repot Ficus Yellow Gem at the beginning of the growing season only when it has become root-bound. Repotting every 2-3 years is adequate for this plant.
Avoid frequent repotting as it prefers to be pot-bound. Repot only when it has outgrown its current pot; when roots begin to grow through the drainage holes.
Use a pot 1-2 sizes larger and one that has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy. Never allow the roots to sit in soggy soil as it can result in leaf drop and root-rot.
For a large Council Tree which may be difficult to handle, annually replenish the top 2-4 in. of soil with fresh soil while taking care not to injure the roots.
Ficus Yellow Gem soil should be rich in organic matter and well-drained to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients.
Most multi-purpose potting mixes are ideal for this plant. Buy quality potting mix from Amazon for your Council Tree.
Pruning Ficus Yellow Gem is easy. Remove dead and yellow leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy.
When Council Tree has reached maximum height or it has become leggy, cut back the branches to rejuvenate growth and also encourage a bushy, compact growth.
You can use the foliage emanating from the pruning to propagate new plants. Read more on how to prune houseplants.
Ficus Yellow Gem can be propagated during the growing season by air layering or by stem and stem-tip cuttings.
Air layering involves notching the stem of a healthy Ficus Yellow Gem and coating the notch with a rooting hormone.
Surround the notched area with damp moss and cover the notch with a polythene film or clear plastic wrap.
Once the roots have formed, sever the stem just below the covered part. Remove the polythene or plastic wrap and carefully pot the rooted cutting in moist well-drained soil.
Ensure the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to rotting. New shoots will sprout from the shortened stem of the old plant into a beautiful bushy plant.
Place the new Council Tree in a warm, brightly-lit spot and maintain the soil moist until the plant is well established after which you can begin routine care.
Take non-woody stem or stem-tip cuttings about 6 in. long from a healthy Ficus Yellow Gem. Strip off the lower leaves from the cutting and retain 2-3 leaves on top.
Allow the sap to dry and then dip the lower cut end cutting in a rooting hormone to hasten rooting.
Insert the cutting in moist rooting soil. Ensure that the rooting container has adequate drainage to prevent the soil from getting soggy to avoid rotting of the cuttings.
To enhance rooting of the cutting, create a mini-greenhouse by covering the set up with a clear polythene bag or sheet.
Ensure the leaves do not touch the bag or the sheet too much by propping it up with sticks.
Place the set up in warm, brightly-lit spot and maintain the soil moist through out until new growth emerges.
New growth indicates that the cutting has rooted. In about 3-4 weeks, rooting will have taken place.
Gradually over a period of two weeks, remove the plastic cover to acclimatize the new plant.
In 4-6 months, there will be adequate root development and you can transplant the new plants into individual pots after which you can begin Council Tree routine care.
Ficus altissima problems are brought about by cultural faults in watering, feeding, lighting, humidity, temperature and others.
The main problems in growing Ficus Yellow Gem indoors include leaf drop, leaf spots, brown leaves, drooping leaves, brown leaf tips and edges, diseases and pests among others. Keep on reading on for more details on these problems and how to fix them.
There are many and varied causes of leaf drop in Ficus Yellow Gem. One possible cause of leaf drop is sudden changes in the growing conditions.
This is likely to occur when you bring the plant home or when you move it to a new location in the home.
When you bring the Ficus Yellow Gem home, place it in bright light with 4 hours of direct morning or late afternoon sunlight, warm conditions and water it liberally during the growing season while allowing the top 2-3 in. of soil to dry out between waterings. It may loss a few leaves but will eventually settle.
If you need to move the Council Tree to a new location in your home, do so gradually to acclimate it to the new conditions. For instance, if you want to take it outside, move it to a shaded place first before you can take out under bright light.
The second possible cause of leaf drop in Lofty Fig is extremely cold or hot temperatures due to drafts. The plant requires average room temperatures within the range of 16-260C inorder to thrive.
Extreme temperatures; either too high or too low (outside the above range) will affect the normal functioning of the plant systems.
Too high temperatures will cause excessive loss of water leading to wilting and leaf drop while too low temperatures cause the plant to stop growing and begin to die. Leaf drop is one of the signs of a dying plant.
The third possible cause of leaf drop in Ficus Yellow Gem is too little light The plant requires bright light with some direct sunlight for optimum growth.
Move the Council Tree to a brighter spot and ensure it is receiving bright light with some direct sunshine. Read more on understanding light for houseplants.
Ficus Yellow Gem is very similar to Ficus elastica (Rubber Plant) in its requirements and is thus affected by similar problems.
Loss of lower leaves is a normal occurence in Ficus Yellow Gem. As it matures, it losses the lower leaves leaving a bare stem with a crown of leaves at the top.
Cut back the stem at the desired height to rejuvenate growth. New growth should sprout just below the cut into a new bushy Council Tree.
Drooping leaves in Ficus Yellow Gem are due to a number of varied reasons. One reason is incorrect watering; either underwatering or overwatering.
Water the Council Tree liberally during the growing season while allowing the top 2-3 in. of soil to dry out between waterings.
Reduce watering during the cold season but do not allow the soil to dry out completely; maintain the soil moderately moist.
Ficus Yellow Gem will grow in ordinary room humidity but a humid environment is necessary for lush growth especially where the temperatures are very high.
Too low humidity (little air moisture) results in dehydration which causes the leaves to develop brown leaf tips and edges.
You can also grow Council Tree in the moist areas in the home like the bathroom and laundy area if the lighting is adequate.
Ficus Yellow Gem is prone to root-rot disease which is enhanced by soggy soil. Ensure there is free drainage of both the soil and the pot and also reduce watering during the cold season.
Ficus Yellow Gem (Ficus altissima 'Yellow Gem') is toxic to humans and pets as indicated by Pet Poison Helpline.
The plant produces a milky white latex which is an irritant to the eyes and the skin. If ingested it can cause irritation in the mouth, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite and abdominal pains.