Ficaria Grandiflora.—A hardy perennial which thrives well when planted under the shade of trees. It is increased by separating the tubers in autumn, and produces its flowers in May. Height, 6 in.
Ficus Elastica (India-rubber Plant).—This thrives well in any light, rich soil, or in loam and peat. Keep it moderately moist throughout the winter, using tepid water. In summer any of the artificial manures may be used. Sponge the leaves once a week to free them from dust, and keep the plant well sheltered from draughts. Cuttings with uninjured leaves will root in autumn in sand with a bottom-heat of 65 or 75 degrees; or the cuttings may be taken in spring, stem-rooting the slips. It flowers in May, and sometimes attains the height of 20 ft.
Fig Palm.—See “Aralia.”
Figs.—Though in some parts of our country Figs are cropped on standards, as a rule they require to be trained on a wall having a southern exposure. The soil should be a fairly good loam mixed with old mortar and crushed bones, but no manure is needed. The end of March or the beginning of April is the most favourable time for planting. The trees should be firmly set, and the surface of the soil kept moist until they are established. Manure may be given—preferably in a liquid state—when heavy crops of fruit are being borne. Old and exhausted wood may be cut away in April, but the knife must be used sparingly. The branches should be trained to a distance of 10 in. apart, and the fruit-bearing shoots may be pinched back with the thumb and finger at the end of August. The fruit is borne on the previous year’s growth. They may be increased by layers, by suckers, or by cuttings of the young wood placed in sand and plunged in a bottom-heat under glass. Brown Turkey, Black Ischia, Yellow Ischia, White Marseilles, Brunswick, and St John’s are all good varieties for open-air cultivation, or for growing in houses.
When grown under glass, Figs may be trained on trellises near the roof of the house, or may be planted in tubs or pots, not allowing too much root-room. At starting the temperature in the day should be about 60 degrees, and at night 55 degrees. More heat can be given as the plants advance, keeping up a moist atmosphere, but taking care not to give too much water to the roots. By pinching off the points of the shoots when they have made five or six leaves a second crop of fruit will be obtained. Use the knife upon them as little as possible. When the fruit begins to ripen admit air, and as soon as it is gathered give liquid manure to the roots every other day to encourage a second crop. When the plants are at rest they need hardly any water.