Diseases of the Ficus Tree

The ficus genus is a group of many variations. The genus holds more than 800 species of fig trees, foliage plants, shrubs and vines. Together, these mostly deciduous trees and plants provide an array of colors throughout the growing season. Although many variations exist among the species, these ficus variations have a consistent susceptibility to several bacterial and fungal diseases. If left untreated, these diseases can cause injury, and even death, to your ficus.

Crown Gall

Crown gall is a bacterial disease that preys on woody and herbaceous trees and plants. This bacterial disease infects the ficus through wounds and points of injury, such as pruning cuts and wounds from landscaping equipment. The bacterium infects the woody areas at the point of infection, which results in gall production. This soil-borne bacterial disease's progression is aided by these galls, which continue to release bacteria into the soil that surrounds the tree. The bacteria can thrive for several years in the soil without an infecting host. There is no cure or bactericide for this disease. However, crown gall can be controlled by reducing the amount of wounds on your ficus and painting any galls with a chemical eradicant.

Xanthomonas Leaf Spot

Xanthomonas leaf spot is a bacterial anthracnose. The bacteria travels onto the foliage through splashing water, cross-contamination and pruning activities. Once the bacterium successfully reaches the foliage, it lies dormant on the ficus until the warm, moist periods aid its spread. Infected ficus plants and trees develop yellow-colored, water-soaked foliage spots. The progression of the disease causes these spots to coalesce into larger spots, which eventually develop necrosis. Rather than become brittle and weak, ficus trees that are infected with xanthomonas leaf spot become coarse and tough, and ooze bacteria. Severely infected ficus will develop extensive tissue damage, which results in wilting and drooping of the tree, dieback and growth stunt. There is no bactericide available to rid a tree of xanthomonas leaf spot. Still, the disease can be prevented by sterilizing pruning and maintenance materials and implements and taking steps to ensure that the planting medium is sterilized before cultivation.

Botrytis Blight

Botrytis blight is a fungal disease that is most prevalent during the cool, rainy spring season. This fungal disease travels by fungal spores that are transported by wind and rain. Botrytis blight infects all parts of the ficus, including its foliage, branches, stems, seeds, bulbs and flowers. Infected areas develop gray-colored fungal spores that appear as a grayish powder over the areas. Progression of this disease also results in deadening of those areas, excessive and premature defoliation, growth stunt and dieback. Fungicidal sprays are effective in treating and preventing this disease when used in combination with a strong pruning regime. Infected areas should be pruned from the tree using sterile pruning shears that are sterilized between each cut.

Keywords: ficus plant diseases, ficus tree diseases, diseases of ficus

About this Author

Charmayne Smith is a business professional and freelance writer. She has worked in management for successful organizations since 1994. Smith draws on her business background to write articles, and her work has appeared in a variety of online outlets. She holds a degree in business from Cleveland State University.