Every mall and office building has one--the ever popular ficus. The ficus is a tree that ranges in size from a bush-like tree about 3 feet tall to a large tree held in a hundred-gallon pot. They are primarily found indoors and are closely related to the fig tree. They are temperamental and will drop leaves if under-watered, get too much or too little sun, sit too near a heater or air vent or are moved. They do, however, adjust eventually and are quite hardy. They are not prone to a large number of diseases, but do develop some.
Root rot occurs when a ficus is consistently over-watered or the soil is not able to drain and the root develops a fungus. Root rot can be detected by a dark color and soft consistency to the roots accompanied by a foul smell.
Gray mold, or Botrytis cinerea, is a fungus that develops when a ficus is misted too often or gets splashed a lot during watering. Gray mold can be identified by leaves with brown spots and dark grayish green edges. Damage may occur between the new leaves and their sheaths
Bitter rot, or anthracnose, is a fungal disease spread by spores that attack many different fruit-tree species, including the ficus. This is due to its close kinship to the fig tree. Leaf tips turn yellow first, then brown and dark brown. Some leaves show what look like water spots surrounded by a yellow ring. Pink pustules can form along the veins of the leaf with black sacs of spores inside the yellow rings.
Dead arm, also known as phomopsis or blight, is a fungus that affects the bark, roots and leaves that is spread from plant to plant by dirty pruning shears, scissors or clippers. Dead-arm infection can be recognized by dried up, grayish leaves, loose bark and thin-walled hollow roots.