Apartment plants

Ficus benjamin with insects


Question: how can I help my ficus?


Hi I have a ficus beniamino of 1.50 m and it is very sick but I don't know how to cure it anymore. The main symptom is a sticky patina on the leaves that does not want to go, like a dark resin. what should I do? Ah an important thing to say I live in Belgium so there is never enough! thanks

Ficus benjamin with insects: Answer: ficus benjamin diseases


Dear Laura,
generally the type of patina you describe is called honeydew; these are the sugary remains of plant sap. How does honeydew fall on the leaves?
Simple, your plant is infested by some insect, which sucks its sap and expels the excesses of sugar leaving them dripping on the underlying leaves.
Often the honeydew is produced by aphids, but it seems unlikely that your ficus has been attacked by such insects at home, and without you having seen them; Your plant is more likely to suffer from cochineal or a few mites.
Generally the cochineal is easily visible, only that it lurks on the inferior page of the leaves and of the thin petioles that attach them to the stem, and often they stick on the vein of the leaves; so to see if there are insects you will have to look under the leaves: you should notice small stiff little shields, which often on the ficus take on the exact same color as the leaves, and therefore escape the inattentive eye or that does not know its existence. The badges are firm and anchored to the leaves, because they are not single insects, but rather small bags of grapes, which wait to hatch to colonize the plant.
Before thinking of an insecticide, since the plant is in the apartment, and the climate is not yet favorable to be able to bring a ficus outdoors, I suggest you take a nice microfibre cloth, moisten it and clean the leaves of your plant . If the patina is very sticky and difficult to remove it is advisable to prepare a solution consisting of a couple of liters of water and 4-5 drops of dish soap, or three quarters of water and a quarter of whole milk; moisten the microfibre cloth in the solution obtained and use it to clean the leaves.
Often the honeydew is colonized by fungi and mold, it becomes dark in color and is commonly called fumaggine: removing the honeydew you should also remove any mold present on it.
If, when examining the leaves, you find large amounts of badges, after cleaning, insert one of those large systemic insecticide tablets into the jar; in this way you will not vaporize anything in the air of the house, but the plant will receive the insecticide every time you water it. This type of insecticide is particularly practical in the apartment, because in this way you do not breathe the insecticide that vaporizes on the leaves, which even when it comes to products suitable for organic farming, does not mean that you can shower in without worrying about it; these systemic insecticides cannot be used in the garden, because every time you water the plant part of the active ingredient penetrates the soil: if it is the substrate contained in the vase, there are no problems; if, on the other hand, your plant is in the ground you would spread the insecticide in a large area of ‚Äč‚Äčland, even where the roots of your plant do not arrive, but where there are various useful insects.