Dear PoP – Ficus Help Requested

DSC01066, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

“Dear PoP,

I have a ficus tree out back and it has developed “pods” — essentially the leaves have curled up and there are little black bugs living inside the curled leaf (image attached). Does anyone have any suggestions on how to handle?”

Any ficus experts out there?

11 Comment

  • Dont you know that a ficus is designed to die? And that it is designed to do so in a way tha tortures you, shedding leaves everywhere and clinging to life so that you waste more and more time tending to it? Seriously, it is probably crown gall or leaf spot. You need to google ficus disease and research a little. There are lots of sites that show closeups of leaves and you can see if they match what is happening to yours. Note that an outdoor ficus (weeping fig) has a different set of problems. Unfortuinately the most common problems for these plants are so expensive to cure they recommend killing the tree to prevent spreading to others. 🙁

  • I think what CABHF is trying to say is that a ficus is designed to die.

  • Wow. Someone asks a question, and your response is to “research it a little”? Real helpful. Next time, consider not chiming in with all the useful knowledge.

  • CABHF:

    I’m the owner of the tree in question. Your response has left me puzzled. I’m not sure if you intended it to be funny, or helpful, and it just didn’t come out the right way, or maybe you were just in a bad mood, but geez. Your response reads as though you believe you are very smart, and everyone else is very dumb.

    It’s alright though. Lord knows I’ve written tons of stuff that comes off much differently than I’ve intended.

    At first I thought it was growing pea pods or something. We did do some online research and believe that it’s a “thrip” infestation.

    I’m still interested to know if anyone has any helpful info., war stories, etc. Plus the pods are really weird looking and my wife thought it might generate some amusing discussion.

    I guess my main concern is that if we bring it inside for the winter the bugs will crawl into our ears, lay eggs, and the larvae will then eat our brains. Any thoughts?

  • Do a search on ficus thrips if you need more info. Start by cutting the infested leaves and stems – trimming the last several inches of all the stems will remove most of them. Malathion is reported to work if pesticide use doesn’t offend you, or horticultural oil might work too.

  • related question… are healthy large ficus trees valuable/expensive? How much would it co$t to buy a new one? Should Jake just toss it and get a new one?

  • TonyS

    Good point. We bought it for $20 at an end of the season sale a few years back from that garden store on NY Ave that used to be a gas station. So I’m leaning toward throwing in the towel.

  • not to speak for CABHF, but I think what they were saying is that ficus trees are simmered in weaksauce.

  • I discovered the same problem when I brought my ficus inside last fall. I cut off the rolled up leaves and the tree was fine so I’d start with this as a first step and see what happens. You may have to check it every few days but at least for me the problem went away with relative ease.

    I’ve had my ficus for well over ten years but then again I water it with toughsauce.

  • I bought a ficus from that same place on New York Ave. The leaves started getting these weird white spots then they would shrivel up and fall off. Had to toss the plant.

  • That NY Ave “nursery” (and the term is used loosely) is probably a racket for diseased plants, getting us gullible brown thumbs. I brought a palm-like plant there and it produced bugs and died. I’d suggest cutting your losses and going to a reputable neighborhood nursery or out to Merrifield for a quality indoor plant.

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