Ficus Benjamina Tree Disease


Unfavorable growing conditions are the major cause of diseases of the Ficus benjamina (or weeping fig). Common diseases of the Ficus benjamina are Crown Gall and Leaf Spot. Crown Gall is a bacterial disease and it is extremely difficult to eradicate and can be quite expensive. Leaf Spot is also difficult to control, but spraying with bactericides may help.

Characteristics / Description

  • Ficus benjamina is also known as a weeping fig. This common name is derived from its long, graceful, drooping branches. The weeping branches form a dense canopy, and nothing grows beneath it. At one time it was quite popular as a landscape tree. The leaves of the ficus benjamina are shiny, and 2 - 5 inches in length. The tiny figs turn a deep red, though wildlife are not attracted to the fruit. A mature tree will reach a height of 45 - 60 feet and a spread of 60 - 100 feet. This tree is not native to North America and will grow in hardiness zones 10B - 11. Although, ficus benjamina is probably more recognized as an indoor houseplant than the tall outdoor tree that has been described.

Outdoors / Problems

  • Outdoors, the weeping fig is not normally found in residential settings due to its size. However, it can be adapted to residential areas when it is used as a hedge or clipped screen. It can be seen in parks and other large outdoor areas. The fruit of this tree can be quite messy. It can stain cars and sidewalks and therefore should not be planted in areas where there are parking spaces or walkways. It is susceptible to verticillium wilt and it is generally not affected by pests.

Houseplant / Problems

  • Ficus benjamina is quite popular as a houseplant. Although described as a sturdy, tough plant, it does not like change. One can purchase a beautiful plant at the nursery or garden center and once it is in its new surroundings it will begin dropping its leaves. It likes consistency so be sure to give it the same amount of light and water regularly, and adhere to a consistent schedule. When the ficus benjamina loses its leaves, it is said that it is "acclimating." Acclimating usually means that it is going from a high light to a lower light or from a lower light to a high light. However, when a ficus is acclimating or dropping its leaves, it is in survival mode. They do not like change, and losing their leaves is how they are adapting. Being consistent with your care of this plant will keep the leaves on the tree.

Houseplant / Diseases

  • Most of the diseases of the ficus plant are due to unfavorable growing conditions. The best control for disease is to prevent them in the beginning by paying close attention to their growing conditions and to getting rid of any insect infestation immediately. The common diseases are crown gall and leaf spot. Grown gall, which is a bacterial disease, is very hard to control, as well as expensive. The common recommendation is to destroy the infested plant or plants and sterilize all cutting tools that were used on the plant. Leaf spot is also very difficult to control. You can try using bactericides such as copper-containing compounds, and increase the rate of fertilizer, which has been known to reduce the severity of the disease. If that doesn't work then the recommendation is also to destroy the plant or plants and sterilize all cutting tools that were used on them.

Houseplant / Troubleshooting

  • If you are having problems with your ficus indoor plant, ask yourself these questions to determine the problem::

    1. Is it getting enough light?
    2. Have you moved it recently?
    3. Has it received enough water?
    4. Has the air-conditioning come on?
    5. Has the heat come on?
    6. Have the seasons changed?

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