Ficus with black bumps & sticky leaves

maggieeApril 11, 2007

There is a ficus tree in my office that is suffering from significant leaf drop. We have had it for about a year, in the the same place, in an area with good light and no drafts. It has never been very stable, consistantly losing leaves, but also growing new ones, but it has never looked "full and healthy".

Just last week, most of the leaves turned yellow and fell off. There are only 2 major branches with leaves still growing. Also, some of the leaves look like they are wet, but there is actually a sticky substance on them. As I looked closer, I noticed that many of the branches have black bumps on them (both healthy and bare branches). These bumps come off easily, and look like vegetation- not bugs. The bumps and stickiness are not on another (healthy) ficus in our office.

Could this be a disease? What can I do (if anything) to save it?

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Maggie, I believe your Ficus has scale bug..The stickiness you're seeing/feeling is honeydew secreted by scale..the honeydew can attract ants.
Would you say more than half your ficus have these bugs?
BTW, make sure infested ficus isn't near non-infested tree..These insects will take charge of neighboring plant.
There's several things you can do, but ridding scale is not an easy task..
ARe you able to take this plant home? Is there anywhere you can hose down?
I find spraying with Fish Emulsion, (1 capful per 16oz mister bottle) and spray entire plant, in-between stems, leaves, etc. The problem w/FE, is even though they now sell an odorless type, is it still has a bit of a fishy smell..
There's also an oil called Neem..this is more common, but I've heard both good and bad regarding this product.
You never mentioned the size of your tree, so I'm assuming hand-picking each bug, then swiping w/rubbing alcohol is asking too much, right? If it's a smaller tree, and you have time, this can be done, but again it's a big job.
They also sell systemics, which is an insecticide added to soil, watered, insecticide is then taken up via roots.. sells products..But to be honest, I've never used systemics, or any harsh chemicals on my plants.
If your ficus wasn't in the best of heatlh to begin with, I'd bet it came w/scale..they probably weren't as bad/noticable, but existed. They might have even been in the crawler stage, which are tiny..before they turn into those bumps you're seeing.
If your tree has more than 75% scale infestation, maybe it's best to dispose of the tree before bugs find homes on other plants. Sorry to sound hasty..
Before tossing, I'd work w/the tree..But that's me..don't know if u have time to play around w/plant since it's at work. BTW, can you please tell me where the tree was purchased? The reason I ask is I used to work at Home Depot in the gh..we'd get Ficus w/scale, then sold to the unsuspecing public..this would irk me to no end. I even complained to my manager, but he didn't care.
Good luck w/your tree and please keep us posted..Toni

    Bookmark   May 10, 2007 at 12:29PM
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