Question of the Week
browse by: questions
Perhaps you’re finding a sugary water on the leaves of your ficus or other indoor plants. Well, in fact, it is a sugary substance, secreted by insects like scale and sometimes by mealybugs and whiteflies, though the latter two are more commonly seen outdoors.
A sooty mold then grows on the secretion, marking the leaves with black spots.
The key to control: control the insects. You can use systemic insecticides, but the safer thing to do is simply a horticultural oil. Take the plant outside and spray it well. Make sure you get good coverage. That means the tops and bottoms of the leaves and all around the stems. The oil is not a poison: it simply suffocates the insect by covering and coating it. That’s why good coverage is essential for success.
Essential: Do this in SHADE! Leave it for about two or three hours. Then take the plant inside to a shower or, while it’s outside, take a hose and spray it off really well to wash that sticky substance off the leaf. Then watch it closely because one treatment is seldom enough. You may have to stay with it. In fact, sometimes, these pests can be such a problem that it’s best to get rid of the plant and start over. Some of them are very difficult to control in an indoor environment. Keep the plant healthy and avoid overwatering.