What Plant am I?
October 23, 2005 2:02 PM   Subscribe

Name that plant: I bought a tropical houseplant at a local hardware superstore and would like to know what it is.

The tag at the store said it should be kept above 18°C and that it prefers half-shade. My receipt says "Tropical Assorted". Here's some pictures of it:
Leaf Details
Roots and Stems of Plant

I would guess it's pretty common. Any ideas?
posted by cardboard to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
Best answer: It's a ficus.
This seems to indicate it can be called a long leafed ficus, or Ficus longefolia.
posted by Lycaste at 2:10 PM on October 23, 2005

ive never seen a long leafed ficus. nice find!

fun fact: ficus can put down 20 feet of root in one year. If you devise a means to digging it all up, you can replant the bottom 12 inches or so, then bend the remaining root into whatever form you like. After about a year, the exposed root will harden into additional truck - making a living sculpture. If you've ever seen a ficus in a lobby, its trunk was probably braided using this method.

Ive seen ficus turned into a lawn chair, a bunch of them braided together into a small pavilion, and a bunch of other neat things. have fun.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 2:43 PM on October 23, 2005

The best advice I can give you for your ficus is not to move it around once you've found a place for it. They will lose a lot of leaves if moved.
posted by furtive at 2:54 PM on October 23, 2005

Response by poster: Much obliged, Lycaste.
posted by cardboard at 3:40 PM on October 23, 2005

Best answer: AFAIK, in the trade at least, this handsome plant is called a Ficus alli. They are elegant in appearance, and tend to be much less susceptible to leaf drop than Ficus benjamina (what we all know in the usa as an indoor fig tree).
posted by vers at 4:58 PM on October 23, 2005

Response by poster: That gets me more photo links, it's true. This thing may just survive the winter.
posted by cardboard at 8:14 PM on October 23, 2005

I had a Ficus alli for years. They're pretty hardy and not nearly as picky as the benjamina variety (in my opinion). Keep it by a filtered window---even bright northern light would be ok.
Water it sparingly in winter and don't fertilize. In the spring, you step up the watering and fertilize lightly.
It likes being pot bound so you needn't worry about re-potting it every year either. You'll know when it needs re-potting when it gets obviously too large for the pot and roots emerge from drain hole on bottom of pot, etc.
Also try to give it a warmish shower every few weeks even in winter, but more often in the growing period. This is good for the leaves and to discourage pests/mites. Failing that use a mister to spray the leaves to prevent any dust build-up.
Good luck! Try back lighting them in the evenings with a spot light--it has a dramatic/elegant effect.
posted by clon7 at 10:29 PM on October 23, 2005

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