Survival and growth in plantations have been very variable. At Tistung (1900 m) up to 1985 trials of planting in the open failed completely. In a later trial there, 50 per cent of the plants survived when planted in the open without fertilizer, but the survival was 87 per cent when the plants were given half a pathi (2.2 l) of compost each, and also when they were planted under the shade of pines, with or without compost. In another trial at Tistung after six months, survival in the open was 75 per cent, under pines was 100 per cent.
There were also responses to fertilizer in trials planted in 1985 at Irkhu, Melechaur and Sangachowk in Sindhupalchok District Here all the figs were planted under pine of different ages and the fertilizer used was 50 g of Complexol (20:20:0) per tree. At Sangachowk, under four-year-old pine, fertilized plants had 70 per cent survival after 28 months, unfertilized none; in the other two trials fertilizer increased height growth by 44 and 67 per cent respectively, though even with fertilizer the best mean height growth was only 50 cm, which is far from outstanding. There is a possibility that though the shelter of pine trees may assist F. auriculata to become established, growth may later be suppressed, and gradual opening of the pine canopy may be needed.
Experiments at Pakhribas (1700 m) have been reported by L. Joshi and Sherpa (1992). One, on date of planting, gave 100 per cent survival after one year for seedlings planted in May, June, August and September, 75 per cent 10 October, 67 per cent in November, and 41 per cent in April.
Another, on site amelioration after two years, showed increased survival after mulching with black polythene sheet or ban mara (a common weed), but relatively little effect on growth. Adding six mana (3.5 l) of farmyard manure mixed with compost slightly improved survival, as compared with the control. In the control the young plants suffered from tip damage, which was not recorded in the treated plots. Even under the best treatment growth was very slow, 29 cm after two years. The experiments were replicated, but no data on significance levels have been published.
Among the best results in early growth in trials are those obtained by Napier and Parajuli (1987), at Hetauda (470 m) and Chalnakel (1370 m) with mean heights after 18 months of 1.5 and 1.6 m respectively. These were on soil which had been weeded and thoroughly cultivated and 10 which 400 kg ha-1 of Complexol (20:20:0) fertilizer had been added. Thus they represent somewhere near the optimum growth to be expected from these sites. Other reasonably good results were obtained at Pokhara (900 m) with mean heights of 1.3 mat 17 months and 2.3 m at 34 months (RB. Thapa and Budathoki, 1987); Karmiya, in the Terai, 1.9 m at two years (M.B. Karki, 1988); and Tistung, under pine shelter, 1.1 m at 2.5 years.
At the Pakhribas Agricultural Centre, Y.B. Malia (1988) made records of trees planted by farmers at altitudes between 1300 and 1900 m. Height growth was as follows: one year 1.5 m; two years 2.4 m; three years 3.3 m; four years 3.1 m; five years 4.1 m; six years 4.4 m; seven years 4.5 m; and eight years 5.4 m. Diameters at breast height ranged from 5.1 cm aged three years 10 8.7 cm aged eight years. These results are better than any achieved in trials, and perhaps represent the effects of care given to small numbers of valued trees by farmers.
Elsewhere, however, growth has been very slow at least in early life, with 30 cm height at age two years, and perhaps 50 cm at age three years being typical figures. Although in trials there is a tendency for height growth to decline with increasing altitude, there are many exceptions to this trend. Ficus auriculata appears to be a species which will only grow well if it is thoroughly tended, and should not be planted where this is not possible.