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Indoor ficus — 2

I have a weeping ficus — I think that is what it is called. It is indoors, and it had borer for a while but I have killed that. Since then it has developed a sap problem — its leaves are covered in sticky sap. It also gets yellow leaves and they fall off. It doesn't look as dark in colour as other ficus I have seen.


Ficus are very hardy indoor (or outdoors in temperate regions) plants that will stand a small amount of neglect. Water regularly, allowing the surface of the potting mix to dry out. Do not let the plant sit in water as this will cause root disorders.

Feed using a controlled release fertiliser such as Osmocote at three monthly intervals. Liquid feeding using Lush once a month will be beneficial to the plant. Always follow the recommended rate on the packaging.

The plant dropping its leaves is a sign of stress. It could be root bound and in need of repotting. Now is not an ideal time to repot, although it will not adversely affect the plant, it will "sit" until spring. It is better to wait until August/September to repot your plant.

Insufficient or too much watering can also cause the plant to drop its leaves. Adjust watering if this is the case.

Because your ficus has a sticky substance on the leaves, it is likely you have an infestation of scale insect or mealy bug. Scale insect is a sucking insect. You will find small brown discs or bumps on the underside of leaves and on the stems. The sticky substance is a honeydew that they excrete. You may find ants are attracted to it. Spray with Conqueror Oil and Orthene mixed together. Repeat sprays will be required at 14 day intervals for complete irradication.

If you cannot find scale insect, then look for mealy bug — small white "mealy" insects that hide in leaf nodes. They also excrete honeydew. Spray with Conqueror Oil and Orthene. Repeat sprays will be required at 14 day intervals.

UnitecAdvice by Dr Dan Blanchon from Unitec's Diploma in Sustainable Horticulture and Bachelor of Resource Management.

Reproduced with permission from NZOOM Home and Garden content,
from the previous website of  TVNZ News

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH

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Last updated: June 27, 2005