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Ficus Altissima: All you need to know about the Ficus Yellow Gem plant

The Ficus Altissima is a stunning evergreen perennial tree that is native to the tropical regions of Southeast Asia.

Ficus Altissima

Known for its simple yet unique green foliage that is similar to the rubber tree, it spots a glossy sheen and oval shape with point tips and light yellow variegation. 

In the wild, the variegated ficus species can grow to a staggering 100 feet in height and offer a decent spread making it a perfect outdoor tree to provide shaded cover. 

It could also be grown indoors as an ornamental bonsai tree and with proper maintenance, it can reach a height of 6 feet. 

A member of the Moraceae family and a species under the ficus genus, the Altissima Ficus starts off as an epiphytic plant with aerial roots that penetrate into the ground, allowing the yellow gem ficus plant to grow into an independent tree. 

The ficus tree is considered invasive, so you should be careful to avoid planting near structures. It is also regarded as a toxic plant that would be harmful to people and pets when ingested. 

Botanical NameFicus Altissima
Common NamesYellow Gem tree, Lofty Fig, Council Tree  
OriginSouthEast Asia 
Plant TypeEvergreen perennial, Hemiepiphyte, Flowering tree 
Full SizeFrom 60 feet to 100 feet 
Sun ExposureBright, Partial or Indirect Light 
Soil TypeRich, Well-draining soil
ToxicityToxic to pets and children

Caring for the Ficus Altissima 

Caring for the Ficus Altissima 

With the right knowledge, taking care of the Ficus Altissima Indoors should be easy. All it takes is providing the right lighting, soil, pruning, watering, and temperature conditions for the Ficus Altissima Yellow gem. 

Ficus Altissima Light Requirement 

Providing the right Lighting condition is an essential part of Ficus Altissima care as little sunlight could lead to less variegation on the leaves of the plant. 

The ideal light condition for the Altissima Ficus is bright, indirect sunlight, or partial sunlight. However, a little access to direct sunlight would be useful in getting a healthy Ficus tree. 

Aim for direct morning sunlight,  a maximum of 4 hours of direct sunlight in the morning should be perfect. Be sure to monitor the Ficus Altissima, as prolonged exposure to direct sunlight might scorch the leaves. 

Once the golden gem ficus plants have had their morning direct sunlight fill, you can then provide access to adequate indirect or partial sunlight for the remaining part of the day. 

For an indoor Ficus Altissima, you can place it in a room with a window facing eastward so as to catch the morning sunlight, after which you can make use of a light curtain to reduce the light’s intensity on the plant’s foliage. 

When grown outdoors, you can start by planting the Ficus tree in a shaded environment, as it matures, it should be able to withstand the harsh rays of the sun. 

Ficus Altissima Water Requirement 

Unlike other plants in the Ficus genus, the Ficus Altissima has a low tolerance for water, overwatering would be harmful to the plant. 

It prefers moist soil at all times, so limit the frequency with which you water your Altissima Ficus plant to once a week during the spring and summer season while maintaining once in 2  or 3 weeks during the fall and winter season. 

The top 3 to 4 inches of the soil should be dry before watering the evergreen plant, so it is recommended that you use a moisture meter to measure the soil’s moisture level. 

In the absence of a moisture meter, try sticking your finger in the soil to get a feel of the soil’s moisture level before watering. 

When watering, you should direct contact with the leaves because excess moisture in the leaves can lead to the build-up of fungi.  Use dechlorinated water at room temperature so as not to stress the plant’s roots. 

Ficus Altissima Soil Requirement          

Ficus Altissima Soil Requirement          

The exotic Ficus tree isn’t picky with the soil type being used. Whether it is regular soil or potting soil, what matters the most is that it is well-draining. 

A well-draining, rich soil that has little moisture retaining capacity should be ideal for the Altissima Ficus plant. 

To get this, consider mixing one part potting soil or regular soil with one part perlite and one part peat moss for healthy growth. 

Keep the pH level between a little acidic and neutral. A pH value that ranges from 6.5 to 7.0 would be best. 

The pot used should be large to accommodate the Ficus tree roots. A pot that is 12 inches to 16 inches wide would be perfect. It should also contain drainage holes at the base for easy passage of water accumulated from watering.

Ficus Altissima Temperature and Humidity Requirement 

Humidity should be kept at a decent level to make the Ficus Altissima plant comfortable. Aim for a humidity level of 40% to 60%.

You can achieve this indoors with the use of a humidifier or by filling a small tray with pebbles and water while placing it at the side of the plant. 

Keep the plant away from heaters or air conditioners as they would dry the plant or scorch and freeze its leaves. 

The temperature should be left between the range of 68 degrees Fahrenheit to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Any temperature lower than 60 degrees Fahrenheit would harm the plant.

Ficus Altissima Fertilizer Requirement

Fertilizing shouldn’t be a regular affair with the Altissima plant. Limit fertilizing to once a month during the summer season and avoid fertilizing during the winter season.

Either liquid fertilizer or organic fertilizer is advised. Before using liquid fertilizer, ensure it is diluted to about half of its initial strength. 

Also, when using liquid fertilizer, avoid the plant’s leaves as the solution could damage the plant foliage. 

Deep-watering should be done to the soil, as frequent fertilizing could leave fertilizer residue which would stress the plant’s root. 

Ficus Altissima Propagation Requirement

Ficus Altissima Propagation Requirement

Propagating the Yellow gem rubber tree can be done in two ways;

  • Air Layering 
  • Stem Cuttings.

Stem cutting is an easier method of propagating the Ficus Altissima than air layering. Take extra care when propagating with stem cuttings so as not to damage the plant. 

Pruning the Ficus Altissima

Regular pruning is an essential part of the ficus yellow gem care. To keep the plant’s growth under control when indoors, prune once a month. 

Trim off dead leaves to keep the plant looking healthy and to promote the formation of new leaves. Sterilize all tools to be used in pruning. 


The Ficus tree variety is toxic when ingested by both people and pets. It can lead to sin, mouth, and eye irritation and should be kept away from the reach of children and pets.

If you notice a child or pet has eaten from the ficus plant, be quick to call a doctor and watch out for any signs that might develop.

Common Health Problems of the Ficus Altissima 

Improper maintenance can lead to a few health problems for the Altissima Ficus tree. A few of these problems are;

  • Yellow leaves
  • Leave drops
  • Root Rot
  • Leaf curl 
  • Brown leaves
Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a ficus?

Ficus is a large genus of trees, climbers, and shrubs that enjoy warm tropical climates.

Are fig trees toxic to cats?

Fig Trees are toxic to cats and other pets as they could lead to skin irritation when eaten.

How often do you water a ficus?

Ficus trees in general, should be watered every 7 days to 10 days 

How fast does a Ficus Altissima grow?

The Ficus Altissima has a decent growth rate and can measure as high as 25 feet in 10 years.

What is the lifespan of a ficus tree?

When grown in the right conditions, the Ficus tree could live as long as 22 years.