The Q&A Archives: How do I remove scale from a ficus tree?

Question: A friend left me a pair of ficus trees. To the best of my ability, I believe I have determined that they have scale. How can I treat this and get these beautiful trees back to good health?
Thanks, Art Jones

Answer: Scale can be difficult to control, but you can certainly try. If there are certain branches that are heavily infested and removing them would not ruin the overall shape of the tree, cut them off. (This tree responds well to pruning so it would not kill it to prune up to 20 per cent of the branches off, so this is somewhat of a judgement call. Removing the worst parts is helpful in reducing the overall population of scale on the tree.) Then remove the adult scale (look a bit like limpets, check all surfaces of the tree from bark to top and bottom sides of the foliage) by rubbing them off with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or (gently, avoid damaging the bark or leaf) with your fingernail. Be as thorough as you can, work under bright light, and continue to check for them periodically as they always seem to come back. Next, spray with commercially formulated insecticidal soap or horticultural oil to treat the immature scale, this should prevent future generations. Be sure to read and carefully follow all of the label instructions and cover all surfaces and into crevices with the spray. Finally, you may want to double check your diagnosis, your local county extension and/or professionally trained nursery staff should be able to confirm it for you if you are at all uncertain. Good luck with your fig trees!

« Click to go to the homepage

» Ask a question of your own

Q&A Library Searching Tips

  • When singular and plural spellings differ, as in peony and peonies, try both.
  • Search terms are not case sensitive.

Today's site banner is by Char and is called "'Diamond Head' Sunrise"