Ficus Confusion

TobiasB

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Hi again nuts!

I find this website very good to ask questions that I have had on my head! Ficus is absolutely the tree that I have encountered the most confusions with and very little information on actually choosing my first ficus. Many people seem to just take the first one they encountered not thinking more about it. I rather think long term and I am worried that if I purchase a medium-size-leaf variation of Ficus Benjamina, in a few years I will regret not taking another tree.

After a few weeks looking around in a tropical climate in Central America I have found plenty of different variations of Ficus Benjamina and some other wild species of ficuses that have larger leaves, such as the Ficus Aurea. I had in my head that the trees that I should search for was the Ficus Microcarpa, because google said so, and their leaves seemed pretty good.

But what I found instead was a very small leaved ficus, which I think is the Ficus Benjamina var. 'Too Little'. I took a cutting which is at my temporary home and placed in water. My question about this ficus is, do you think it is possible to transport this cutting without killing it for a 20 hour flight? And if it is possible, would it be a good season to "start" a cutting in the end of the Swedish summer?

Next thing that has confused me is how do I obtain different types of ficuses? When I am home again in Sweden I can not go around searching for ornamental ficuses, since they do not enjoy snow very much. Cuttings without seeing a tree is very hard. But what we do have is IKEA, Sweden is known to most people as IKEA-land. I have checked my local IKEA and they do have what they call the "Ficus Ginseng Microcarpa". My limited knowledge of ficuses tells me that Ginseng is a common name for more than one species of ficuses and is not the Latin name of any particular ficus, please correct me if I'm wrong. I do not really want to spend 90 dollars on a mallsai and I was wondering, if I obtained a cutting from someone with a ficus from IKEA, what tree would I end up with? Would I end up with a Ficus Microcarpa or some other variety that the Microcarpa is grafted with? Also other options for me to obtain a that would be very suited for bonsai in a temperate climate is much appreciated.

My last confusion is about the so called "Tiger Bark Ficus". I have not really understood what is going on with this tree, except that I really like the bark. Most sources claim it is the Ficus Retusa, as the retusa normally has the white spots on their bark, but none of the Ficus Retusas that I have come across when looking has had anything impressive, not even full sized trees. So it has to be some type of variety. Some sources say Ficus Retusa 'Microcarpa', 'Nitida' or just 'Tiger Bark'. Which is correct, or is all correct?

I guess I do not care much about its name, I just want the tree. So if anyone is still reading, my final question is just, how to I obtain it? Can I purchase cuttings from a "real Ficus Retusa Tiger Bark Nitida Microcarpa" anywhere?

If anyone read all and even considered answering I am really grateful, thank you!
 

sorce

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You're thinking in the right direction.

If you don't try to keep the cutting on the flight your chances of having one are absolute zero!
Sounds like it could work ok!

Free cuttings beat a Mallsai any day!
With the right set up, you can grow em nicer within a few years yourself!

I have a dream of grafting Too Little on other trunks. Growing them out seems Too Long!

That's all I got.

Sorce
 

TobiasB

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You're thinking in the right direction.

If you don't try to keep the cutting on the flight your chances of having one are absolute zero!
Sounds like it could work ok!

Free cuttings beat a Mallsai any day!
With the right set up, you can grow em nicer within a few years yourself!

I have a dream of grafting Too Little on other trunks. Growing them out seems Too Long!

That's all I got.

Sorce
If I dont bring the cutting on the flight my chances of having one are absolute zero because .. they are hard to find? Read it several times and seems I can't read between the lines!
 

sorce

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Chances of having that very one are 0!

If you don't try...

It won't work!

It doesn't matter what anyone thinks if it will survive or not!

It's gonna go thru elevated Hell!

So if it survives, it will forever have that tale!

Listening to someone tell you it won't work won't help you keep it alive any better!

Go for it!

Sorce
 

ColinFraser

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Ficus microcarpa
is a species, and like Ficus benjamina, several cultivars and varieties are available. Names like retusa, nitida, tiger bark, green island, golden gate, green gem, etc. all belong to the microcarpa species.
"Ginseng" (a crappy trade name) ficus are also usually microcarpa, and when grafted, they are a cultivar grafted onto a regular seedling of the same species. So, if you take a cutting from a friend's ginseng ficus, you will end up with Ficus microcarpa, but it would probably be almost impossible to find out what (if any) variety it is.
 

TobiasB

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Also, while benjamina 'too little' does have charming small leaves, overall, microcarpa is a better suited species for bonsai, in my humble opinion.
Thanks for your reply Colin, I will try get the Benjamina to survive, and try to get a Microcarpa anyways. Thanks for making it clear. I just need to find someone who purchased the IKEA mallsai (and actually got it to survive). Otherwise I will have to buy one myself! Unless there is some good website to buy cuttings from that ships to Stockholm!
 

TobiasB

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Chances of having that very one are 0!

If you don't try...

It won't work!

It doesn't matter what anyone thinks if it will survive or not!

It's gonna go thru elevated Hell!

So if it survives, it will forever have that tale!

Listening to someone tell you it won't work won't help you keep it alive any better!

Go for it!

Sorce
Trees with a story are the best ones!

Thank you for your input!
 

eferguson1974

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There are some f benjamina in Costa Rica, and far fewer microcarpa. Those are Asian. I wish I could find small leaved versions! I use more natives, but dont have their names. I just enjoy them without their names..
BTW, I loved visiting Sweden! Beautiful country and people!
 

linlaoboo

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I watched a YouTube video showing how they make those gingseng ficuses in Fu Jian, China. They basically take a regular microcarpa, grown for their bulbous roots and use them as trunks. Then they make 2 cuts at the top of the bulbs and graft branch cuttings of some Thailand species with shiny and smaller leaves onto them. Good luck finding the species you want locally. I've bout from eBay and from Meehans miniature in Maryland before. What's good about the microcarpa species is that they are hard to kill and easy to grow and propagate. Check out the bonsaihunks book on the ficus bonsai and he goes into some details. I've seen his website a while ago too.
 

TobiasB

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For anyone interested the ficus did lose it leaves and died when it arrived to Sweden, I guess the change in light was too much for it. However as I mentioned I brought some Bougainvillea cuttings with me aswell, woody parts and they have now sprouted 10 000 km away from its original host. I know this thread was about ficuses but now my question is, what substrate mix should I use for bougainvilleas and how long can I wait until I repot it? Because what I had available when I got home was just regular potting soil and it stays very soggy, I havent watered it for a week and it still is pretty wet.

Thanks for reading!
 

Paradox

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Wrap the cutting in a wet paper towel and put it in a zip lock bag. It should be fine in your carry on. If you check it, the cold in the hold could kill it. However, the importation laws of your country could be a problem.

Try looking at bonsai sites in Europe for ficus. I think Kaizen might have some?
 

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