Anyone who has a ficus tree may at some stage encounter an odd phenomenon where it begins to drip sap.
This is an annoying and worrying occurrence, and it does mean that something is wrong with the plant – which you will want to look into.
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Why Is My Ficus Tree Dripping Sap?
The most likely explanation is that your ficus has been infested with insects, and it is not actually dripping sap, but dripping honeydew.
Alternatively, your tree may be undergoing a process called guttation.
Let’s look closer at these two causes and see what the best action is for you to take.
Infestation Of Insects
It is possible that the substance you’re noticing isn’t sap at all, but is a liquid called honeydew.
This is a clear, sticky substance that is secreted by insects feeding on your plant.
If you notice sticky drops on the floor around the plant or on its leaves, you’ll need to act quickly.
You should examine your plant closely to try and find out what insects are attacking it.
Scale bugs are common on these plants and can make it look like your ficus tree is dripping sap.
Scale are small, brown bumps that are usually clustered on the stems or underside of the leaves.
A large amount of sticky honeydew can be excreted by a big infestation of scale insects.
Honeydew can make your ficus tree and its surroundings a sticky, glossy mess.
Honeydew build-up can also lead to a black fungus called sooty mold which may begin to grow on the honeydew.
Sooty mold is an indication of insect activity and won’t do any damage to your plant on its own – it just looks unsightly.
Scales can be very hard to spot, but with close inspection, you should be able to see them.
You can scrape scale insects off with your nail, or you can swab them with rubbing alcohol and a Q-tip.
Both of these processes will kill the insects.
You will probably need to do this multiple times if you’re going to get rid of them, as you are bound to miss some, especially babies.
Related Article: Why Is My Weeping Fig Sticky? (And How To Treat It)
Ficus trees are also popular with mealybugs.
These appear like little puffs of white cotton, often on the underside of the leaves, and they will also be attacking your plant, sucking sap and secreting honeydew.
If a mealybug infestation is bad enough it can look as though sap is dripping off your plant.
You can get rid of these in a similar way, either by manually removing or by dabbing each insect with alcohol.
If you want to use chemicals, you can buy insecticides that will be effective, but you should be able to treat the plant without.
Spider mites also leave behind sticky honeydew and are another potential and common issue for ficus trees, but you may not be able to see these.
You will have to run your fingers over a few leaves. If they feel gritty, your plant may be infested.
These are a little easier to treat; you can wash them off the plant with a strong blast from your garden hose, or by running your plant under the tap (as long as you have high-pressure water).
The bugs are tiny and won’t withstand the force of the water.
Once you have treated a plant, wash away the stickiness so you can tell if your tree is still under attack.
If the stickiness reappears, there is still a problem.
The other possible explanation for sap appearing to drip from your ficus is guttation, which is somewhat similar to human sweating.
The plant has too much moisture in its leaves and needs to get rid of some.
This moisture usually comes out where the leaf joins the stem, and it is very sticky and can sometimes stain.
Guttation is usually a sign that your plant has been stressed by a sudden change in its conditions.
If you have recently re-potted or moved your plant from one spot to another, do not worry too much about guttation.
Put a tray down to catch the drips, and keep an eye on the plant.
You may want to cut back on watering, as it is trying to get rid of excess moisture, so letting it dry out a little shouldn’t hurt.
If the guttation doesn’t stop after a week or so, you need to check your plant’s needs are being met.
Guttation is more likely in humid environments and usually occurs at night because the plant’s stomata are closed so it cannot transpirate.
Keep an eye on your ficus and see if it shows other signs of stress or ill health.
If your ficus tree is dripping a sticky sap-like substance, it’s likely either from guttation or an insect infestation.
Check for insects first, and make regular checks after treating for them to make sure you have successfully dealt with the bugs.
Don’t panic; guttation will usually stop on its own once the plant has settled and re-balanced its moisture levels, and insect infestations can be dealt with.