I got some ugly ficus, I.D. help?

Obscure_shadow

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Hey y'all, new here and pretty new to bonsai, I wanted something pretty forgiving. I'm working on starting field growing a lot of stuff (I can totally grow plants in the ground well and hopefully will get the hang of bonsai in 10 years when my material is looking good) I have been taking hundreds of cuttings of stuff I find around and plan to replace my acre of lawn with a tree farm :) would love more detailed information about that, I wish there was a forum category for field development.

Anyways I also wanted to have some ficus, so I picked up the first ones I found, got 2 for $25 from home Depot, they are really making me laugh, they had reindeer moss stuffed in the top and glitter covered inspirational rocks with toothpicks stuck in them, which I stuck in some other nearby plant before I took them off the shelf lol...

I don't think they will turn into actual credible bonsai anytime soon, but I did want to have a source of cuttings for ficus so I can develop better material from them. I think they might be 2 different kinds, so hopefully someone here can identify them for me, and if you have any experience with those varieties I would love to hear about it. I have been reading Scott's posts on ficus and they are great, I really appreciate his sharing of wisdom.
here's the first one: 257451
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close up of leafs (apologies for the dripa it is raining here)
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bark:
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and here is the second one, a little nicer but not by much:
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the leaf shape is definitely different and the bark seems different. They don't seem pot bound yet though there are some roots around the bottom. Anyone have advice on how to get explosive growth out of these puppies? I'm in Tennessee and it's gonna be in the 90's for the rest of summer, which I hear they like. My experience with growing other potted plants says wait a little longer till they are almost pot bound and then pot up, but bonsai folks tend to do things differently. Not sure what to think about going to totally inorganic medium, I'm a soil but through and through and do a lot of composting and mixing of my own mediums, but they're not tomatoes... But even for the summer I suspect I could get away with organic soil until fall. Heck I would even love to hear people's opinions on throwing these bad boys in the ground, probably not this year but next year for sure. When I do go to pot up or repot or whatever I will probably dig them out a little bit, the one is definitely buried too deep...
 

sorce

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Dunno bout that first one.
Welcome to Crazy!
Second is a ficus.

Sorce
 

Obscure_shadow

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I don't know honestly @sixemkay it could be? I don't know much about them, that would make it deciduous right? I would hardly think they would sell diciduous trees like this, but I guess it's possible, I don't understand the market that buys these kinda things, besides myself who has no intention of leaving it like this, and bought it with the intention of being stock. Seems marketed at the "cute thing to sit on my desk till it dies" demographic.... Hmmm I guess I better find out for sure before winter so I know if I need to leave it outside...
 

sparklemotion

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I agree that the second is a ficus, looks like a ficus microcarpa (aka Ginseng Ficus - no relation to actual ginseng). It might even be ungrafted (a bonus)

The first doesn't look like a ficus to me, but it's hard to tell from these pictures. Can you try to get some pictures of where a few of the leaves attach to branches and maybe a growing tip? In your ficus pictures, I can see green growing tips that look kind of like bent cones at the end of some branches.
 

Obscure_shadow

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So on closer inspection of the leaves of the first one I think it might be a money tree type plant. The leaves are denser than I have ever seen though.
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They appear to be compound but they are so tightly packed together I am hesitant to dig around too much as I don't want to damage it. 257493257494257495
 

Bonsai Nut

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First one is interesting looking! I am not familiar with it.

Second one I'm pretty sure is a Ficus retusa.
 

Shibui

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The compound leaves on that first one make me think schefflera. Maybe a form of schefflera arbicola? - dwarf umbrella tree.
 

sorce

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I think it's safe to say....

Throw the first one out!

Umm...don't worry, no one will see you!🖤😁

Sorce
 

Gustavo Martins

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Take a leaf off the first. If it ‘bleeds’ white stuff it’s a ficus. Otherwise, it’s something else
 

Obscure_shadow

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@Gustavo Martins what brings you to that conclusion? What are the differences between the two?

@sorce I'm a plant hoarder, I can't throw it out... 🤣

@Shibui hmm maybe, I think I'll let it grow out a bit more so we can see what is really going on. I was thinking maybe pachiara aquatica? The leaf stems are so short though...
 

sparklemotion

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So on closer inspection of the leaves of the first one I think it might be a money tree type plant. The leaves are denser than I have ever seen though.
They appear to be compound but they are so tightly packed together I am hesitant to dig around too much as I don't want to damage it.
Yeah, definitely not a ficus. I hate the common name "money tree" because I've seen it used in reference to Pachira aquatica, various schefflera's (s. arboricola, s. octophylla, s. actinophylla (aka Brassaia actinophylla)), and even crassula ovata.

The growth on what you've got doesn't seem like the growth habit of my schefflera arboricola ("dwarf schefflera" or "dwarf umbrella tree"), but I wouldn't it count it out for sure -- more likely you've got a pachira or brassaia on your hands though.

I'd let it grow out and see (if only for the fun identification mystery). I wouldn't get your hopes up of making a quality traditional bonsai out of it but it could make a handsome plant specimen regardless.
 

Obscure_shadow

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@sparklemotion, yeah i hear ya, but i think calling it by a common name like that in this case, kinda put it in the " i think it might be one of these species (the ones you mentioned) but i'm not too sure which one" but a lot of those, and the umbrella plants, tend to behave very similarly... the thing that threw me off about it is most of them (besides the jade plants) usually have a lot longer leaf stalks and a much more open canopy, this one the leaves are all crammed right on top of each other... I will definitly grow it out more and see if i can identify it later... it's an interesting habit.... do the dwarf varieties behave more like this? or is this some kind of symptom of having been chopped and the plant is aggressively trying to make up for that by packing on as much foliage in as small a space as possible, kind of like how trimming a hedge works?
 

sparklemotion

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On the retusa v. microcarpa question
Second one I'm pretty sure is a Ficus retusa.
I believe it’s Ficus microcarpa not retusa.
@Gustavo Martins what brings you to that conclusion? What are the differences between the two?
There's definitely confusion to the point where some people consider them to be interchangable or that one is a variety of the other (example).

I like Adam Lavigne's thinking on this point -- retusa when used in a latin name has a specific meaning -- the leaves are retused. Here's one list of common latin epithets (which, of course doesn't include retusa), but this page talks about the naming of a different retusa species.

Retused
mean 'having a rounded apex with a small central notch.' What we in bonsai call ginseng/chinese banyan/microcarpa ficus have pointy (lancolate to ovate) leaves. There are some ficus cultivars with more of what I would call a retusa like leaf -- 'green gem', 'kaneshiro' 'green island' But that's not what you have so microcarpa seems more appropriate.
 

sparklemotion

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do the dwarf varieties behave more like this? or is this some kind of symptom of having been chopped and the plant is aggressively trying to make up for that by packing on as much foliage in as small a space as possible, kind of like how trimming a hedge works?
It could be because of the chop (chopped schefflera arboricola don't do that though), or maybe the foliage was grafted, or maybe there's some weird growth hormone that was applied during production. My money is on the latter -- these plants were basically manufactured to grow to look exactly how you bought them, little thought is put into what they will look like after growing out because they aren't expected to live that long. The long-trunk-ball-of-foliage silhouette is pretty standard for these sorts of "exotic" plants in the trades.
 

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