The ficus benjamina, or weeping fig, is a popular indoor tree. Originally used for bringing the outdoors in at malls and business buildings, it is now a common addition to home interiors. Often its trunk is braided, which along with its shiny leaves makes for an eye-catching plant specimen in your home.
While temperamental to its specific needs (light, temperature), your ficus benjamina is relatively disease-free. It is, however, susceptible to a few common houseplant insects. In its healthy state, the pinnate (growing along both sides of the stem) leaves will be shiny and 2- to 4-inches long on gracefully drooping branches. Its overall appearance will be a rounded canopy.
If the leaves of your weeping fig become distorted, appear dusty on the underside, appear sticky, pucker, curl or show signs of yellowing, they are exhibiting signs of a bug infestation. The culprits can be spider mites (dusty appearance), mealy bugs (sticky substance) or aphids (curling, puckering). The one immobile insects are scales. They appear as brown bumps along the stems. A major pest infestation can quickly kill your ficus benjamina,
It is difficult to apply insecticides to infected areas. Nonchemical options are available.
A strong spray of water or by wiping the plant down with a damp cloth can often remove aphids, mealy bugs and mites. Scale insects can be rubbed off by hand or with a toothbrush. Damaged leaves and stems should be pruned and disposed of to prevent re-infestation. In addition, thoroughly clean any gardening tools you use.
Leaf drop is often the first sign your weeping fig is distressed. When close inspection does not reveal any of the signs of a bug infestation, your next step is to look to the plant's environment. It is very temperamental to its light and temperature needs, and does not tolerate the slightest draft. Once established, your weeping fig does not adjust to light or temperature changes, or drafts from vents and doors.
Light, Temperature, Water
For your ficus benjamina to remain healthy, you must meet certain light and temperature needs. Your weeping fig needs bright light at all times, but must never be exposed to direct sunlight. Spring and winter room temperatures should not get lower than 60 degrees Fahrenheit or higher than 80. At all times you must avoid placing it in the path of hot or cold drafts. A watering schedule of every 12 to 14 days is sufficient.