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Interiorscape Forum / Scaper Talk Discussion Forum / Plants / ficus benjamina with sticky leaves

Posted:  19 Jul 2012 20:14  
An indoor 8' tall Ficus benjamina has many leaves with a sticky film on both sides of the leaf. New growth suggests the tree is doing well but I find some small light brown eggs on the underside of some leaves. No aphids are detected. The plant has been overwatered and roots were standing in the excess water.

Can anyone detect the possible problem and solution (beyond not overwatering)?

Thanks,
Gary Linden

Linden Landscaping
Posted:  19 Jul 2012 23:31  
Sounds like scale to me.

Julie
Posted:  19 Jul 2012 23:58  
Gary,
Julie is probably correct...the sticky film was a pretty sure bet, but when you said "small light brown eggs on the underside of some leaves", that was the giveaway.

Scale insects are related to mealybugs, but have a protective waxy "shell" over their soft innards instead of a white fuzzy coating, which is able to repel water-based insecticide sprays, hence the difficulty in getting good control of their populations once they are established on a plant.

The roots standing in water just made the tree weaker and more susceptible to scale attack, but it would have been a problem eventually in any case.  You need to stabilize the tree's health in order to deal with the infestation, because spraying under these conditions may actually kill the patient.

Drain the standing water out of the container and let the soil drain overnight before replacing the plant into the container.  Next, prune off as much of the badly infested growth as you can (this will mean sacrificing new growth as well, but it would have quickly succumbed to the scale anyway).  Wait a few weeks, or until you see new growth starting to break from the nodes below where you pruned, and then you can spray with either insecticidal soap or horticultural oil (both are able to smother the scales by coating their "shells" with a film that will prevent oxygen from reaching the pests).

Repeat the pesticide application as directed by the label.  It may take two or three applications to get the infestation under control.  Obviously, discard any topdressing that will be harboring more pests, and water the tree only when the surface of the soil has dried.  Good luck, scale can be a really tough adversary.

Clem
Posted:  03 Sep 2012 03:40  
Also one of the signs of a insect problem IS a change in drinking habits. An infested plant will slow down its water uptake. The overwatering was probably due to that.
Posted:  25 Feb 2014 08:55  
An infested plant will slow down its water uptake. The over watering was probably due to that. the roots standing in water just made the tree weaker and more susceptible to scale attack, but it would have been a problem eventually in any case.Landscaping Coventry

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