kkopp
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Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:45 am
Location: San Francisco

Indoor Ficus with removable leaf spots

We have had a struggling ficus in a large pot indoors for some time. The tree does not really grow, but it doesn't die, either. It loses otherwise healthy leaves at a somewhat faster rater than it produces new leaves. I say "otherwise healthy" because most of the leaves have a distinct covering of whitish spots. On closer inspection these spots are actually cone-shaped with tiny brownish peaks, and they can be rubbed off the leaves with one's thumb or finger. I have posted images of the problem here:

https://sites.google.com/site/235waller/ficus

Any ideas of what this is and how to fix it? We were silly enough to move the tree to another room where it sits in proximity to Wandering Jew-type plant and now the spots jumped there, so they are not limited to ficus.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Regards, kkopp

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ElizabethB
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Joined: Sat Nov 24, 2012 5:53 am
Location: Lafayette, LA

Woolly scale. :( Quarantine your plant ASAP before your other house plants get infected.

Scale is resistant to typical insectides because of the scale or shell covering the insect. Insecticides can not penetrate the shell to get to the insect. You have a very bad infestation. Scale typically forms on the under side of the leaves first. When you start seeing them on the top sides of the leaves, in leaf and stem joints and in stem and trunk joints it is bad.

Those leaves that are the most affected need to be removed. Even getting rid of the scale won't save those leaves. Either burn them or seal them in a zip lock and toss. Don't just toss them out and please don't put them in your compost. Usea damp wrag or paper towel to wipe off as much as you can. Again burn or seal before disposing. You need to use an oil based insecticide. The oil will smother the insect. Look for a light summer insecticidle oil. Neem is good if you can find it. Follow the label directions for mixing. Take your plant outside and drench it with a spray bottle. Pay attention to the underside of the leaves and the joints. You will have to apply more than once. You know you have corrected the problem when new leaves show no sign of infestation.

Scale is a piercing sucking insect. It pierces the cells of the plant and sucks out the cell liquid. Nasty boogers and hard to get rid of a serious infestation.

Good luck.
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

kkopp
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Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:45 am
Location: San Francisco

THANKS so much. The curious thing is that there is almost no infestation on leaf bottoms and absolutely nothing on the stems or nodes of the tree, and nothing wooly. In any case the fact that it is clearly contagious dooms it....k

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ElizabethB
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Joined: Sat Nov 24, 2012 5:53 am
Location: Lafayette, LA

Really strange that the infesteation is restricted to the tops of the leaves. Unusual. Don't give up - you can save your plant.
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

imafan26
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Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Most pests like the more succulent new leaves. Plants usually will direct energy and nutrients into the new leaves and the bugs are no dummies. They know where the best stuff is. How long has it been since it has been re potted? While ficus can stay in a pot a long time, it does get pot bound and also thins out and gets lankier in low light. Try gradually moving to higher light.
Elizabeth has good advice scale is hard to kill. When I get scale on smaller potted plants, I tip them over on their side and blast the scale off with a hose. My plants usually have more aphids and scale on the bottom than on the top of the leaves. I usually try to strengthen the plant to make it less of a target by re potting, it usually does need it, feeding, and gradually moving it to a spot with better light and air circulation. It might be happier in a different spot.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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