New Ficus Plant- How's it doing??

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by Unregistered, Jan 16, 2005.

  1. I recently bought a ficus and have had it about a month. And it is dropping leaves big time. Is this nromal ?? I keep it watered about once /week. It is winter and my house is probably dry. But how much leaf dropping should I expect ??

    Thanks

    Howard
     
  2. Newt

    Newt Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Hi Howard,

    Since you aren't registered you won't be getting a notice of my reply and I don't know if you'll be back to check, so I'll be brief. If you respond I can give you more info.

    There are many types of ficus. Ficus benjamina is famous for shedding it's leaves for many reasons. Water when the top 2" of soil is dry. You can search at www.google.com for more info or let me know you've read this and I'll get more specific.

    Newt
     
  3. Late

    Late Active Member

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    Hi Newt> I noticed your reply to Howard and I have a similar problem. I have a ficus benjamina starlight which has done well for several years now. I notice lately that there are leaves turning yellow and dropping off. This started this spring. I haven't moved it, I've checked for scale and red spider and don't see any. It has new growth on it and the leaves that are dropping are from various spots on the lower branches. Any ideas for me. I love this plant and would hate to loose it. Also if it does have an insect problem what's the best spray for a ficus seeing that they are very finicky.

    Norma
     
  4. Newt

    Newt Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Hi Norma,

    If the leaves are shedding mostly from the bottom I suspect that it's from the natural growth pattern or it's rootbound. When was the last time it was repotted? Keep in mind that these plants can be very finicky, shedding their leaves if you change the way you water, change their fertilizer, change their position, repot them, give them a draft or just talk to them funny.

    As for insects, insecticidal soaps work well for soft bodied insects like spider mites and aphids. Horticultural oils work well for scale and need to be applied a few times. You can check for spider mites by putting a piece of white paper under a branch and tapping the branch to see if anything falls off.

    Hope this helps,
    Newt
     
  5. Late

    Late Active Member

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    Thanks for your help Newt. I think the repotting should be looked into since I haven't repotted it in at least 2 years. Is this a good time to repot or should I wait until it's finished it's growth spurt in the Fall or early next Spring?
    I've tried putting the paper under the leaves and gently tapping and looking carefully with my magnifying glass and can see nothing. Also don't see any scale.


    Thanks for all your advice.

    Norma
     
  6. Newt

    Newt Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Norma, you are so very welcome! I'm a fan of repotting when it's needed. Besides, if the tree is still putting out new growth, it will need the additional root space to support that growth. Use a pot 2" larger. I usually have to either repot or root prune mine every 2 to 3 years. I also tend to let it dry out between waterings and that seems to keep growth in check a bit.

    Newt
     
  7. Late

    Late Active Member

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    Hi Newt: Well here it is Tuesday and I saw the ficus and inspected it carefully. I did find some scale on the under side of the leaf up close to the centre vein. Very hard to see but I did see a few. They were all in the area of the sticky substance. I recommened an oil spray which he is going to do. While I was looking a friend came in and said that their ficus bejamina had scale and they took it outside, sprayed it with Malathion, gave it a good pruning and left it outside. It dropped leaves of course but now is covered with lots of nice lush green foliage.

    So I think we have this problem solved Newt and I as well as my friend would like to thank you again for all your help.

    Norma
     
  8. Newt

    Newt Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Norma, what wonderful news!! Do tell your friend I said that using Malathion for scale is like using a sledge hammer to kill an ant!!! Too bad they didn't use the horticultural oil like you did. It's so much more friendly to the plants, the environment and us. :)

    I don't know why I didn't give you this site before, but it might come in handy some day.
    http://woodypest.ifas.ufl.edu/insect.htm

    Newt
     
  9. Late

    Late Active Member

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    Thanks for the new site Newt. I've added to my many favourites. I didn't realize that Malathion was so damaging to plants. I thought ficus drop their leaves no matter what you use. I'll certainly recommend the oil from now on because we need all the help we can get with the environment.

    Thanks Newt.

    Norma
     
  10. Newt

    Newt Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Norma, I'm glad you liked that site. Here's some info you can share with your friend about malathion. It's an organophosphate. From Cornell site about pesticide health effects on humans. You can click on 'Organophosphates' top on the left.
    http://pmep.cce.cornell.edu/facts-slides-self/facts/gen-posaf-health.html#anchor227328

    "CHEMICAL FAMILY: ORGANOPHOSPHATES

    * Action on Human System: Degrade acetylcholinesterase (an enzyme) in the tissues.
    * Internal Exposure: Headache, dizziness, weakness, shaking, nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea, sweating.
    * External Exposure: Minimal rashes but readily absorbed through the skin.
    * Chronic Exposure: Loss of appetite, weakness, weight loss, and general feeling of sickness.
    * Type of Pesticide: Insecticides, acaricides."

    From the PAN Pesticide Database (Pesticide Action Network) Malathion is listed as a PAN bad actor product and all come with a caution.
    http://www.pesticideinfo.org/List_Products.jsp?

    And just a little more info to curl your hair. I'm just including some excerps here.
    http://extoxnet.orst.edu/pips/malathio.htm

    "Reproductive effects: Several studies have documented developmental and reproductive effects due to high doses of malathion in test animals [2]. Rats fed high doses of 240 mg/kg/day during pregnancy showed an increased rate of newborn mortality. However, malathion fed to rats at low dosages caused no reproductive effects [8]. It is not likely that malathion will cause reproductive effects in humans under normal circumstances."

    So what if something doesn't go as planned for 'normal'?

    "Mutagenic effects: Malathion produced detectable mutations in three different types of cultured human cells, including white blood cells and lymph cells [2,8]. It is not clear what the implications of these results are for humans."

    Not clear. So maybe my pregnant daughter could use it and find out? If I use it and get cancer in 20 years will that be proof? Hmm

    "Carcinogenic effects: Female rats on dietary doses of approximately 500 mg/kg/day of malathion for 2 years did not develop tumors [2]. Adrenal tumors developed in the males at low doses, but not at the high doses [80], suggesting that malathion was not the cause. Three of five studies that have investigated the carcinogenicity of malathion have found that the compound does not produce tumors in the test animals. The two other studies have been determined to be unacceptible studies and the results discounted [2,8,80]. Available evidence suggests that malathion is not carcinogenic but the data are not conclusive."

    Sounds like they didn't get the results they wanted so they discounted the study. After all, they say that the data is non conclusive.

    "Organ toxicity: The pesticide has been shown in animal testing and from use experience to affect the central nervous system, immune system, adrenal glands, liver, and blood."

    So what if it doesn't kill you and only makes you feel bad or weaken your organs!

    "Effects on birds: Malathion is moderately toxic to birds."

    So we just make a few sick or dead?

    "Effects on aquatic organisms: Malathion has a wide range of toxicities in fish, extending from very highly toxic...and slightly toxic in goldfish. Malathion is highly toxic to aquatic invertebrates and to the aquatic stages of amphibians."

    Just a few fish, frogs, toads and newts will die and it's ok?

    "Effects on other organisms: The compound is highly toxic to honeybees."

    So if the bees are dead who will pollinate our flowers so we can have fruit and veggies?

    Ok, enough of my ranting. Hope you don't mind.
    Newt
     
  11. Late

    Late Active Member

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    Hi Newt: I had no idea of the harmful effects Malathion and probably a large number of pesticides and herbicides that we use have on us all. I'm usually very particular in what I work with or use around areas that there maybe wildlife, children, or any living creatures. I certainly liked one of my friends solution to the problem of scale and that was to mix some dish soap with water and spray it on. He claims to have no more scale on his Bay Laurel tree but his eye sight isn't the best and I haven't checked it lately.

    Any knowledge that you have on something I mention Newt that you know is harmful in any way to the environment, please let me know and I'll certainly switch to an aleternative.

    Thanks for all the great sites that you have given me and I certainly will read labels more carefully and check with this plant forum before I use it.

    Thanks again

    Norma
     
  12. Newt

    Newt Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Norma, I'm glad you weren't offended. After I clicked on Submit I thought, "She's going to think I'm a fanatic!" I'm chemically sensitive and developed it recently, so I can imagine how the wildlife feels. My hubby was in the yard this morning and found one of our resident toads. He asked me what it meant that we have toads. I told him that it means that we have a healthy environment and don't use poisons. Made me feel good. Then I had coffee and looked out the kitchen window to see momma hummingbird bring her baby to the native honeysuckle. Great company for a cup a java!

    Newt
     
  13. Late

    Late Active Member

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    Hi Newt: I'm never offended when it comes to helping all the little creatures out there as well as we humans survive. There is enough pollution out there without adding to it with sprays and chemicals that aren't needed and have alternatives.

    I too have toads in my yard which I have to keep away from my dog, and a hummingbird and a wren that come every year to entertain us.

    Thanks for your advice and just keep those web sites and alternatives coming so I can pass the information on to others and try to keep every living thing healthy and thriving.

    Norma
     

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