Do you have a ficus plant at home? Have you observed that sometimes, young leaves get brown spots, curl up, and do not unfurl at all? That is a sign that your ficus is infested with a pest called thrips andif left untreated, will ruin your entire plant. Get rid of thrips on ficus plants the natural way and observe them thrive and grow lush foliage. That way, it will be easy for you to prune your ficus in your desired shape. Read about my experience in handling thrips.
My Long-Term Battle with Thrips
I never knew about thrips nor were these the ones causing my Ficus leaves to curl. However, I have seen my ficus plant have poor health over the years.
The ficus plant is known to attract pests. From aphids to thrips, I even discovered little snails crawling on the leaves. Ugh.
What is Causing the Young Ficus Leaves to Curl?
The curling young leaves of the ficus plant was a big mystery to me. At first I thought that it was the aphids that were causing the curling. Yes, at that time there were a lot of aphids on my ficus plant. I pruned the young leaves and also tried to treat the aphids. Then the curled leaves would come back.
Next, I thought that it was the harsh sun that’s causing the young leaves to curl. We live on the third floor of a commercial building and the ficus does not get full sun exposure, just the harsh afternoon sun. After all, they are still young and soft and therefore, sensitive, right? Still wrong.
The curling leaves are becoming too much for the ficus. It was arresting its growth and no matter how I prune and fertilize the soil, it still seemed very unhealthy.
One day, I got so fed up with the curling leaves that I pruned all the leaves! As in! The ficus looked like a tree in winter where it shed all its leaves. But I kept watering it and after 2 weeks, little green spots can already be seen. I was so excited but then curling happened again. Grrrr!
The Covid-19 Pandemic Happened
My gardening has been far from serious because I am a busy homeschooling mom with an active mommy blog to keep. I just maintain our urban garden because it can get really hot in our bedrooms. The house had a provision for a small garden that used to have a pond and I only made use of it. My father-in-law made sure that it was incorporated into the building design.
I used this space to grow ornamental plants in pots for the foliage. The easier they are to grow, the better. They really helped shade our bedroom windows from the glare as well as lower the heat in the living room. We also get some fresh air from the plants.
When the community lockdowns happened because of Covid-19, I no longer had events to attend so I was able to give more time to my plants. Since we just stayed at home all the time, I wanted our home to be cozier for the entire family. One of the ways to do that is to have plants inside the home and in the garden. Hence, the addition of indoor plants like aglaonema and Sansevieria.
That also enabled me to focus on the problem of the curling leaves of the ficus plants.
The Rise of Plantitas and Plantitos
Perhaps bored by the lockdown, having more time in their hands, or just to maintain sanity in these crazy times, gardening suddenly became in. The pandemic marked the rise of plantitas and plantitos everywhere, not just in Bacolod City.
As I joined plant momma groups, I learned more and asked questions. It was also that time that I got to pick a curled leaf and saw a hair-raising reality–there were tiny black insects inside!
I learned about the English name of my plant so I was able to easily research its curled leaves and thrips on the internet.
There was one grower who advised me to just trim the affected leaves as soon as I spot them. However, I didn’t want to do only that. I wanted to get rid of thrips on ficus so that the plant can grow to the desired height. Then I can prune it and make some kind of topiary.
Since I don’t want to apply chemical pesticides, I had to find a way how to deal with them and keep them away as well.
How to Get Rid of Thrips on Ficus
So here are the steps I did in order to get rid of thrips on ficus the natural way.
- Get a basin and put some hot water in it. It doesn’t have to be boiling hot — hot water from the thermos will do. Just be careful that you don’t spill it on the plants.
- Press on the curled leaf and cut it off, making sure that the “resting” thrips do not try to escape. Drop them in hot water in order to kill them.
- Dilute about 20 drops of Young Living Thieves Household Cleaner in a 500 ml spray bottle. Use this to spray on the leaves to kill some bacteria as well as encourage the ficus to grow new leaves. Read: Are Essential Oils Good for Your Family?
- In a pail, add about two liters of water, 1 Tablespoon of organic dishwashing soap (Human Heart Nature), and 1 Tbsp. of Thieves Household Cleaner. Mix well to form a simple biopesticide solution. It’s okay if some bubbles will form from mixing.
- Pour this solution all over the branches and the soil or potting mix. Make sure that the surrounding area is wet, too. It’s like giving your ficus plant a bath. Do this early in the morning.
Follow Up Treatment
Check your ficus plant every day. In my experience, I did not see any more curling leaves until about a week later. But it was just like one in a day and it happened for 4 consecutive days only. I kept removing them until finally, there has been no thrips infestation for months! Success!
After 2 more weeks, I started to see a layer of yellow-green young leaves growing that looks like a crown on my ficus plant.
Reinfestation on Rainy Days and Cold Months
The end of December and this month of January has been quite chilly. Plus, we are getting a lot of rain in this part of the Philippines so I haven’t gone out in the garden that much.
On the second week of January, I have spotted some new curling leaves again, probably because the sun is not shining every day.
I have been picking curled leaves every now and then but I think that I need to douse the pot with more of my natural solution once again to kill the eggs and the young thrips.
My ficus plant is now growing beautifully and gracefully in what I have dubbed as our fairy garden. More on this later.
Hope this helps your thrips problem!