Botanical Names and Common Names Easy Misunderstanding

One reason I’m “uncomfortable” using common names of plants is that it’s very easy to call a group of plants by one name. Sometimes this leads to the group being associated as one plant and the benefits of others in that group may go unnoticed.

Over the last few years there have been some great improvements and new introductions of some varieties of plants that may carry the SAME NAME but THEY ARE DIFFERENT… Very Different!!!

For example:

Ficus Alii Twist

Weeping Fig…

Sometimes called a benji, or just plain ole Ficus.

Twenty years ago there were only 3 varieties really grown: Benjamina – Weeping Fig Nitida – Cuban Laurel Pandurata – Fiddle Leaf Fig

They are all in the ficus family… true.

Ficus benjamina was and has been the major variety grown, and still is today.

But in recent years there have been numerous introductions of Ficus for indoor use. Many of these have been developed over in Europe and selected for many reasons:

Lower light needs Less water Less leaf drop – Hooray… Trainable, Smaller plants, Smaller leaf …and others

It’s unfair to “think” of all these plants as just another Ficus or as another benjamina , as I said they are different.

Here are some of the varieties you need to ask for by name:

Alii Monique – Amstel King – Wiandi – Indigo – Midnight

I won’t go into the differences check them out for yourself at

The names are not just to be different or confuse. Each and every one has been selected and grown because it meets a certain indoor condition(s) such as those mentioned above.

What about other plants? I’m glad you asked.

Let’s take the umbrella tree also known as the Schefflera. This plant has been grown for years but there has been a new introduction which goes by the name ‘Amate’.

Schefflera ‘Amate’ holds up better in lower light, is more resistant to disease and less spider mite problems.

How about Bromeliads?

The popular Fasicata is commonly known as “The Silver Vase”. Ten years ago the Fasciata grown had small spines running down the leaves. A new introduction Fasciata ‘DeLeon’ has more silver on the plant but is also spineless.


Commonly know as the “Chinese Evergreen.”

Many new varieties have been introduced in the last 2 years. Tall and medium height varieties with a lot of new color patterns have entered the market. We’ll be digging into these more very soon, but for now visit

There are other plants also but…

How can you identify these plants?

Most of these new plants come with plant tags. Take a look at the names and get familiar with these new plants. You’ll notice that most are also patented varieties. So you shouldn’t propagate them.

You can expect to pay a little more for these “new” old plants. But these plants have been selected for their improved indoor qualities.

So next time you’re walking through your favorite plant place don’t look at these plants as the same old ficus or umbrella tree, look a little farther and find out their names. Try to find out what makes these plants different. Do they need less water, or light, etc. You could be missing out on great new plants, that will do much better in your home.

These plants are not the SAME NAME they’re DIFFERENT PLANTS.

I realize that it’s difficult to learn all of these “new” plants. Don’t forget you can always do a search for a plant on the site… the Search box is in the middle of the sidebar.

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