Ficus benjamina - small bugs in soil

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Ficus benjamina - small bugs in soil

Post  EpicusMaximus on Tue Oct 23, 2012 6:07 pm

I bought a ficus benjamina in a nursery pot and am not repotting until spring.

My issue is there are small bugs walking around on and in the soil. I would describe them as being the size of a needle head, in other words very small, and they look kind of grayish in color. There are no bugs on the bark or leaves. The tree was outside all summer at the nursery.

I have been spraying the surface of the soil with Schultz indoor insecticide which has no residual effect. When I use it, i normally don't see any more bugs for 24 to 48 hours, but then they are back again.

What can I do?

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Re: Ficus benjamina - small bugs in soil

Post  rps on Tue Oct 23, 2012 7:18 pm

first off, how is the tree doing? is it showing signs of diminished vigour? and if so what?
[symptoms, assuming there are any, could be the standard slight shock in the wake of environment change --- ie: from outdoors to in]

if the critters don't appear to be doing any harm you may want to simply isolate the tree [keep it away from your other specimens] and observe.
you mentioned the plant summered at a nursery, call them or [better] go down there with a captured insect or two. if you've got them, the nursery of origin does too.

i have a friend who submerges his tropicals in insecticide laced water for a few hours every year before bringing them indoors --- but in his case the trees are all in very free draining sub-strate & i take it yours remains in nursery pot soil(?). i'd make sure i knew what i was up against before going that route.

so, again, identification is key. the bugs could be benign, simply feeding on fungus or bacteria in the [nursery?] soil & doing your ficus no direct damage --- unsightly, perhaps even unsettling, but harmless.





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Re: Ficus benjamina - small bugs in soil

Post  EpicusMaximus on Wed Oct 24, 2012 1:37 am

Good growth, no health issues from what I can see.

I will ask the nursery. I just don't like the bugs because its indoors.

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Re: Ficus benjamina - small bugs in soil

Post  JimLewis on Wed Oct 24, 2012 1:11 pm

Your soil may be a little damp. Try allowing it to dry out quite thoroughly between waterings. Since the tree is in a nursery pot, the soil undoubtedly is high in organic matter and the critters probably are feeding on that. Organic soils do tend to hold water, so dampness is likely the culprit.

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Re: Ficus benjamina - small bugs in soil

Post  EpicusMaximus on Sun Oct 28, 2012 2:48 pm

Thanks for the advice. New info below:

My rootball is very compact... I took the plant out of its pot to look at it again, and this time I noticed what appears to be 2 patches of white mold on the outside of the rootball. Should I be concerned about this?

Also, in the spring when I repot, I plan on using a root saw to remove around 50% of the rootball. The tree was cut from around 4.5 feet down to 6 inches. When I repot is it ok to rinse off all soil off the roots or is this something to avoid with a benjamina?

Thanks

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Re: Ficus benjamina - small bugs in soil

Post  rps on Sun Oct 28, 2012 5:35 pm

the mould could be any number of things. some good, a few bad, most benign [to the tree's overall health]. it comes back to jim's point about the complex eco-system that is damp organic soil. post a pic, if you like --- but if the tree is healthy/thriving, take a deep breath and wait for spring.

unlike temperates, ficus can be repotted any time of the year; but, that first hard root prune is better accomplished in a season that accommodates vigorous recovery growth afterward --- so you are probably right to wait until spring.

a word of caution about simply sawing the root ball off at the mid point, with large nursery pots it is sometimes tricky to be sure where the important roots are situated. you can afford to loose half ultimately, yes, but simply cutting blind could be counter-productive [if not disastrous]. what may appear [to probing fingers] to be healthy root structure in the upper half can turn out to be the ends of roots that are on their return upward ascent --- having grown to the bottom they are now pushing up. cutting across mid-way could sever these ends from the actual tree. [been there, done that. mugo pine, r.i.p.]
my suggestion would be to saw off one third [max] blind, then with a root hook or chopstick and the garden hose clean away the soil to see what kind of tangle lurks within --- you can bare root with a ficus, so the hose is okay. once you see what you've got, you can then make some strategic decisions about cleaning up unwanted roots.
now, all that said, ficus propagate well via cuttings --- so, i suppose, even if attacking it with a saw leaves you with nothing but a stump below the surface, there's a reasonable chance it could be saved by treating it like a giant cutting --- but why lose established roots, that may add character & will certainly give the tree a leg up in recovery, if you don't have to.

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Tiny Bugs

Post  bonsaisr on Sun Oct 28, 2012 6:49 pm

Chill. My guess is that you have psocids, which are fungus eating scavengers. Google on them. Just a sign of dampness. Let the soil dry out thoroughly before watering. The white mold on the roots may be mycorrhiza, a good guy. Just make sure you don't have root mealy bugs.
Once you have it trimmed & repotted, next summer don't forget to put it out gradually in full sun.
Iris

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Re: Ficus benjamina - small bugs in soil

Post  EpicusMaximus on Sun Oct 28, 2012 7:15 pm

Thanks for the info. Yes, they look like psocids from what I can tell.

I will post pics of the tree later and "mold". Growth is good so far i have had good back budding from the 2 lower branches that are about an inch under my cut.

If I let the soil dry out completely what signs should I wait for before watering again?

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Re: Ficus benjamina - small bugs in soil

Post  EpicusMaximus on Sun Oct 28, 2012 9:51 pm

Here are pictures of the tree as well as the fungus?

Top view:


Back-budding from existing branches:






General view:




And the fungus? There are 2 patches like this one. The one pictured below is the denser of both:







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Re: Ficus benjamina - small bugs in soil

Post  EpicusMaximus on Tue Oct 30, 2012 1:32 am

Any thoughts on the mold or whatever it is?

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Re: Ficus benjamina - small bugs in soil

Post  JimLewis on Tue Oct 30, 2012 11:48 am

EpicusMaximus wrote:Any thoughts on the mold or whatever it is?

Yup. Don't worry about it.

_________________
Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Ficus benjamina - small bugs in soil

Post  EpicusMaximus on Thu Dec 13, 2012 7:39 pm

When I got the tree I killed a "lone" centipede.

Yesterday I noticed what seem to be several baby centipedes on the top of the soil (2-3 days after my last watering).

They look like these:



What do I do with them???

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Re: Ficus benjamina - small bugs in soil

Post  EpicusMaximus on Thu Dec 13, 2012 7:41 pm

If this advice is good, I will do this:

http://www.bugspray.com/centipedes-house-plants/

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Re: Ficus benjamina - small bugs in soil

Post  MrFancyPlants on Thu Dec 13, 2012 7:50 pm

Centipedes are generally predatory insects. Why not keep them around to munch on other more harmful pests?

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Re: Ficus benjamina - small bugs in soil

Post  EpicusMaximus on Thu Dec 13, 2012 9:20 pm

My GF will probably scream and want me to get rid of the tree if she seems them Laughing

Also, I don't want them crawling away and into the house.

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Re: Ficus benjamina - small bugs in soil

Post  MrFancyPlants on Fri Dec 14, 2012 2:38 pm

I know the feeling and have also been called upon to dispatch a few of the guys myself, although from what I have read, they do munch on bedbugs, ants, termites etc.

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Re: Ficus benjamina - small bugs in soil

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