The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source
site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.
Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
-_ L. S. Osborne, R. W. Henley and A. R. Chase
University of Florida, IFAS
Agricultural Research Center Apopka
ARC-A Foliage Plant Research Note RH-1983-A
The genus, Ficus, consists of over 800 species, several of which are
desirable ornamentals. Although most ornamental figs are trees, a few are shrubs
or vines. Nurseries in Florida produce a wide range of container-grown figs from
small liners to plants in 200-gallon containers. Most figs can be grown in full
sun, but all finished plants should be acclimatized under shade if they are to be
used indoors. A number of species, particularly the shrub and vine types of figs,
are better grown in greenhouses or shadehouses with rather low light intensity
(1500 3000 foot-candles). Suggested light levels and fertilizer levels for
selected stock plants and acclimatized plants are present bW"liISiELA
0AY 10 1983
Table 1. Light and fertilizer levels for Ficus.
I.A.S Unv. ofF on
Light intensity (1 lb/1000 ft2/yr)a
Stock plants (foot-candles) N P205 K20
Ficus benjamin 8,000 10,000 56 19 37
(cultivars) 8,000 10,000 41 14 27
Ficus lyrata 8,000 10,000 41 14 27
Acclimatized potted plants
Ficus benjamin 3,500 6,000 41 14 27
(cultivars) 7,000 8,000 41 14 27
Ficus lyrata 5,000 6,000 41 14 27
aBased on a 3-1-2 ratio fertilizer source.
1Entomologist, Extension Foliage Specialist and Plant Pathologist, Agricultural
Research Center, Rt. 3, Box 580, Apopka, FL 32703, respectively.
Both slow release and liquid fertilizer sources have been used successfully.
The potting medium used will vary depending upon plant size and type. All
mixes should be well aerated with tree types frequently grown in a medium
with 10 to 25% coarse sand by volume to reduce frequency of plants
tipping over in containers. Measures should be taken to avoid excessive
root development into soil beneath containers, otherwise plants will be
shocked severely at the time they are moved and this will lower acclimati-
zation level. Figs grow rapidly when temperatures are above 70F and very
slowly when below 600F. Cold damage to Ficus usually occurs between 30 to
350F, depending upon plant species, physiological condition of the plant
and specific conditions of the cold period rate of change, duration, wind
MAJOR PHYSIOLOGICAL PROBLEMS
1) Excessive light intensity during final stages of production.
Symptoms Leaves, medium to light green with sides of leaf blade folded
upward and margin wavy. Branch angle of some species tends to be
narrow and branches stiff. Such plants are not light acclimatized
and usually defoliate excessively when moved to interior conditions.
Control Plants should be exposed to shade levels of 70% or more (3000
or less ft-c) for a minimum of 2 to 6 months depending on plant size
(2 months for up to 8", 3 to 4 months for 10 to 17", and 4 to 6 months
for larger container sizes).
2) Excessive moisture stress.
Symptoms Small reddish spots, 1-3mm across, on the undersides of leaves
of F. elastica cultivars and, to a lesser extent, F. lyrata. The
symptom is usually observed on stock plants in full sun which have been
air layered, and most frequently during the driest months of December
through June. This condition is rare on plants grown in shade. Leaves
on wilted layers or cuttings of F. elastica, and possibly some other
species, remain in relaxed orientation after normal moisture content
is restored. This is a permanent condition. Branches of trees in an
active state of growth may bend under moisture stress, then recover,
leaving a permanent kink or "dogleg" in the stem.
Control Severe moisture stress can usually be avoided through good nursery
practices. Leaf spotting can be prevented by timely irrigation of stock
and use of the vertical slit technique of air layering versus the girdling
procedure. Permanent petiole wilt and stem kinking can be avoided with
adequate soil moisture and high humidity during propagation.
Prevention of excessive root development outside the container
eliminates most of the shock that occurs when large segments of root are
severed from plants because roots extend into soil below the pot, Use
of plastic ground covers, drip irrigation and root pruning during
production usually eliminates root pruning shock when plants are removed.
3) Excessive soluble salts.
Symptoms Plant damage from high salinity can be placed in two categories
based on stage of development. Plants in production with excessive
salinity in the root zone become stunted and, in severe cases, defoliate,
starting with the oldest leaves, and eventually die if the condition is
not corrected. Foliage in early stages of stress from excessive ferti-
lizer in the soil appears dark green, but later new growth appears
wilted and chlorotic if soil conditions are not corrected. Root tips
of plants exposed to excessive salinity shrivel and eventually die.
Plants placed indoors under less than 200 ft-c, with fertility levels
above that recommended for production, usually defoliate excessively
and, in some cases, die.
Control Avoid over-application of fertilizer and do not use soil mix
components with high salinity. Irrigate with water that is low in
salts. Salts accumulation can be corrected in most cases by leaching
soil thoroughly. Reduce soil fertility at the end of the production
cycle as part of the acclimatization process.
4) Essential element deficiencies.
A. General deficiency of primary nutrients due to under-application of
Symptoms Plants are generally light green with older leaves
exhibiting the greatest chlorosis. Plant growth is slow.
Control Adjust fertilizer program to elevate fertility of soil
mix; using a 2-1-2 or 3-1-2 ratio fertilizer.
B. Potassium (K) deficiency.
Symptoms Lower leaves exhibit marginal chlorosis and necrosis.
This problem is seen occasionally on F. elastica stock. Leaf
tissue analysis is the best way to confirm suspicions of a
Control Supply potassium to the soil at rate based on soil and
tissue tests. Potassium chloride and potassium nitrate are
good potassium sources.
C. Magnesium (Mg) deficiency.
Symptoms Lower leaves, primarily on F. nitida, become chlorotic
at the most distant margins first.
Control Plants grown with adequate soil-incorporated dolomite
should not develop Mg deficiency. Foliar or soil surface appli-
cations of magnesium sulfate at the rate of 1 pound per 100
gallons will correct the deficiency.
D. Manganese (Mn) deficiency.
Symptoms Terminal leaves of primarily F. nitida exhibit an inter-
Control Prevention is accomplished through incorporation of a
microelement blend such as Micromax or Perk, at the rate
of 1 to 2 pounds per cubic yard of potting mix. Manganese-
deficient plants can be sprayed with manganese sulfate at the
rate of 0.5 pounds per 100 gallons.
DISEASES OF FICUS SPP.
Ficus spp. are among the most pest-resistant foliage plants. Diseases
of these plants are relatively few and easy to recognize. The diseases which
are serious on rubbertree are not the same as those on weeping fig, although
both plants may be produced under the same environmental regimes. Nematode
pests of rubbertree have been serious in South Florida in the past but control
strategies appear to have diminished losses due to nematode infestations.
Most of the fungal leaf spot diseases can be controlled adequately through
applications of protective fungicides.
MAJOR FUNGAL PATHOGENS
1) Anthracnose (Glomerella cingulata)
Symptoms Anthracnose is characterized by leaf spots anywhere on the
leaf which are initially yellow and later turn dark brown. Pinkish
spores form in zones along leaf veins, with leaf death and abscission
common. F. elastica cultivars are commonly infected with this pathogen
during the summer months.
Control See Corynespora leaf spot.
2) Botrytis blight (Botrytis cinerea)
Symptoms Large, tan to brown leaf spots with concentric rings, usually
found between the leaf and sheath or on leaf tips. Botrytis blight
occurs primarily on F. elastica, during cool periods of the year.
Control Benlate is labeled and should provide control. Chipco 26019 and
Ornalin are not labeled but control this pathogen on other plants.
3) Cercospora leaf spot (Cercospora sp.)
Symptoms Tiny and slightly raised, red or dark green spots on lower
surface of F. elastica leaves.
Control Benlate is labeled and Daconil 4.17 F is safe but not labeled
at this time.
4) Corynespora leaf spot (Corynespora cassiicola)
Symptoms Small to large, reddish leaf spots on the youngest mature
leaves, with leaf abscission common in severe infections when leaf
spots expand interveinally.
Control Occurs on both green and variegated forms of F. benjamin and
F. nitida and is more severe on the variegated plants. Keep
fertilizer applications at recommended levels, and eliminate overhead
water if possible. Benlate is labeled and should aid in control.
PHYTOTOXICITY OF FUNGICIDES ON FICUS BENJAMIN
Banrot 50 WP
Benlate 50 WP
Chipco 26019 50 WP
Daconil 75 WP
Daconil 4.17 F
Truban 30 WP
MAJOR NEMATODE PESTS
1) Foliar nematode (Aphelenchoides besseyi)
Symptoms Leaf spots begin near the midvein on lower leaves and extend to
the margin. They are usually rectangular in shape. The primary host
for this nematode is F. elastica.
Control Infection of F. elastica occurs through movement of nematodes
from weeds to lower Ficus leaves. Mow weeds in field plantings to
stop this movement.
2) Root knot nematode (Meloidogyne spp.)
Symptoms Galls occur on roots and the root system may be drastically
reduced; plant stunting and wilting occur when severe infestations
Control Use sterile soil and grow plants off the ground if possible.
Dasanit, Mocap, Temik and Vydate will aid in control. Check labels
for this plant and application methods.
MAJOR INSECT AND MITE PESTS
The major insect pests of this plant-group include mealybugs, scales
and thrips. However, there are a number of minor arthropod pests such as
mites, fungus gnats and aphids which will attack Ficus spp. occasionally, but
will not be discussed here. In the control section for each pest, a few of
the many registered and effective pesticides will be listed. For a complete
listing, please consult the references at the end of this report.
Symptoms Mealybugs appear as white, cottony masses in leaf axils, on
the lower surfaces of leaves and on roots. Honeydew and sooty mold
are often present and infested plants become stunted and, with severe
infestations, plant parts die.
Control Systemic materials are preferred. Examples of chemicals which
have systemic activity are: Dimethoate, Disyston, Metasystox-R and
Orthene. Bendiocarb appears to be as effective as some of the systemic
Symptoms Infested plants become weakened or stunted and die. Scales
can be found feeding on leaves, petioles or stems. Their shapes,
sizes and colors are variable and many are hard to distinguish from
the plant material on which they are feeding.
Control See mealybugs.
Symptoms Infested leaves become curled or distorted, with silver-gray
scars where feeding has occurred. Thrips damage is most severe on
Control Many materials are registered and effective in controlling
thrips, i.e., Orthene, Malathion and Vydate.
PHYTOTOXICITY OF INSECTICIDES AND MITICIDES
Malathion EC/FC-435 Oil
F. retusa Diazinon EC Dursban EC
Disyston EC FC-435 Oil
Orthene SP Furadan G
Pentac WP Kelthane EC
Temik G Malathion EC
Malathion EC/FC-435 Oil
Pesticides were tested at recommended rates and intervals.
1. Chase, A. R. 1983. Phytotoxicity of some fungicides used on tropical
foliage plants. ARC-Apopka Research Report, RH-83-2.
2. Short, D. E. 1978. Phytotoxicity of insecticides and miticides to
foliage and woody ornamental plants. Extension Entomology Report #57.
3. Short, D. E., L. S. Osborne, and R. W. Henley. 1982. 1982-83 Insect
and related arthropod management guide for commercial foliage and woody
plants in Florida. Extension Entomology Report #52.
4. Simone, G. W. 1982. Disease control pesticides for foliage production-
1982. Extension Plant Pathology Report #30.
Mention of a commercial or proprietary product or of a pesticide in this
paper does not constitute a recommendation by the authors, nor does it
imply registration under FIFRA as amended.