The Q&A Archives: Taming a Ficus Tree

Question: I have an indoor braide Ficus Tree that has grown from 4 ft to several branches that are now over eight feet within 3 yrs. I noticed small fuzzy white spots on the leaves and the leaves began to drop. I sprayed it with an insecticide recommended by my Home Depot for Mealy bugs. There are still signs of infestation and its lost most of its leaves. What should I do? Should I cut the 2 tall branch?

Answer: I'm afraid more than one application will be necessary because the adult mealy bugs may have already left a younger generation and those are the pests you see now. Until you can control the pests, they will continue feeding and the leaves will drop. Another way to control is to pry them off or squish them and then wash the residue from the plant, or to dab them with a Q-Tip dipped in rubbing alcohol. It is painstaking but effective. The insects suck juices from plants, resulting in yellowing or mottling of the leaves. As soon as you get the insects off the plant, the damage should stop. You can then prune your ficus to encourage healthy new growth.

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