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House Plants/Ficus tree problem

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Question
Hello, I have a ficus tree that is over 10 years old. It is about 8feet tall and was very bushy. We had moved it 1.5 years ago to a new home under a sunlight in our home. It was doing well and then about 6-8 months ago it starting oozing sap and has black little bumps all over the branches but not on the leaves. Part of the tree has died.  (I have a black thumb so to say) and didnt really notice until after Christmas when I had turned the tree around and noticed all the leaves gone. Then I noticed the bumps and googled it. I have been spraying with fungicide 3 1x/week for 3 weeks so far and not sure if I notice change or not. I water with water mostly and once in a while mix the water with miracle grow. I water it once a week with one gallon of water. It is in a large pot. I am not sure if I should cut off all the leaves so it is totally bare or not? Should I cut off the dead branches(which is half of the tree all the way to the soil)?? I am still noticing the weeping and I honestly have no idea if it has decreased. Please help!

Answer
Melinda,

No, you should not prune off all the leaves. If the plant is already having problems that would stress it more. If you can take a knife and scrape the bumps off your problem is scale insects and not fungus. Fungucide will not help. The sap it is oozing is not sap but is the excrement of the scale insects.

You can spray it with an insecticide every 2-3 days or you can go to a garden center or Lowes or Home Depot and pick up a bottle of Bayer Tree and Shrub Protect and Feed Systemic Insecticide. It comes in a granulated variety and a liquid variety and you want the liquid kind. Mix it with water according to the directions on the bottle for potted plants and apply it. It will kill the insects and keep additional insects away for 12 months. It is the easiest way to keep insects off of plants.

Get rid of the insects first then the part of the tree that appears dead may come back to life. I would not prune it off for at least 4 months. I assume you mean it is under a skylight when you say sunlight. You say it is about 8 feet tall and in a large pot. It is important for the soil to dry out well between waterings. If it is in too large a pot it is very difficult for it to dry our between waterings and that stresses the tree a lot to be constantly wet.

Instead of repotting the tree into a larger pot every year it is better to remove it from the pot and use a large sharp knife to cut 2-3 inches off of the root ball all the way around the put the plant back in the same pot with some fresh soil all the way around the root ball. That gives the roots room to grow and lets the tree stay healthy. At the same time cut the top back all the way aroundby at least 6 inches. That will balance the top and the roots.

Treating it for the insects and pruning both the roots and the top regularly will bring the tree back to health and keep it that way for years. If the part that appears dead does not resprout within 4-6 months prune it off. If you have questions feel free to write again. Good luck!

Darlene

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Darlene K. Kittle

Expertise

I have been an Advanced Master Gardener for 24 years and I raise around 300 houseplants and bonsai trees a year including tropicals, succulents, and cacti. I have also been a professional plant care person for businesses in the Fort Wayne, IN area and currently professionally care for bonsai trees for my customers.

Experience

I am also studying the Japanese art of bonsai with tropical plants and is President of the Fort Wayne, IN Bonsai Club.

Organizations
Fort Wayne, iN Master Gardeners. President of the Fort Wayne Bonsai Club. Allen County Master Gardeners

Education/Credentials
I am not a hortculturist. I am a Purdue University Advanced Master Gardener for 24 years. I have studied plants on a personal level by growing hundreds of plants annually for the last 35 years. I have also studied under several nationally known American Bonsai experts.

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