Problems With Ficus Trees

The ficus tree comes in many varieties, but the Ficus benjamina, or weeping ficus, is the most popular. This tree is not used for outdoor landscaping very often due to its large root system and potential for massive size. Ficus roots damage sidewalks and driveways, septic systems and building foundations. As an indoor plant, the ficus is much more desirable. It is easy to maintain, has pleasant shiny, dark green leaves and grows rapidly. The ficus benjamina does have a few potential problems, however.

Leaf Drop

Ficus trees are very sensitive to change. When there is a change in temperature or a change to their location, they often become stressed and will drop most or even all of their leaves. These trees need constant temperature of between 68 and 85 degrees. Do not place them too close to heating or air conditioning units. Sometimes leaf drop occurs when the ficus is watered too often, or too little. Ficus trees like consistent watering patterns. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy, and don't let it dry out completely.

Mealy Bugs

These little bugs look like white cotton attached to the trunk of your ficus. They may also be found on top of the soil, especially after watering. Mealy bugs suck the moisture from the tree. To get rid of these bugs, you can spray the tree with a simple water and soap solution of one tablespoon dish soap to one pint of water. If the bugs persist, you may need to treat the soil with a pesticide.

Scale

These are small black bumps that will appear on the trunk and branches of your ficus tree. They can be treated with the same soap solution used for mealy bugs, or you can spray the tree with a horticultural oil, applied to the spots where the bugs show.

Leaf Spot Fungus

If the leaves of your ficus benjamina begin to turn yellow and fall off, you may have a fungus problem. Check the backs of the leaves for little black spots. If these are present, remove all of the leaves with spots. Spray the tree with Benlate, avoiding the leaves.

Oozing Sap

Those pesky mealy bugs and scale cause sap to ooze from the ficus. This is a serious condition that damages the tree and will cause death if not treated. Use a horticultural oil or soap solution to remove the bugs.

Anthracnose

This condition is similar to leaf spot fungus, but the spots will be rust colored and can be found on the leaves or stems. Spray the tree with Benlate to resolve this issue.

Who Can Help

Keywords: ficus benjamina, mealy worms, leaf drop

About this Author

Cate Rushton has been a freelance writer since 1999, specializing in wildlife and outdoor activities. Her published works also cover relationships, gardening and travel on various websites. Rushton holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Utah.