With more than 800 varieties of ficus (Ficus spp.) available for cultivation, you have a wide selection to choose from. Ficus plants, also known as ornamental figs, range from trees and shrubs to vines, and grow well outdoors in the ground or indoors as potted plants. Depending on the specific variety, ficus plants grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 through 11. Occasionally, whiteflies, white mothlike 1/10-inch-long insects, attack ficus leaves, sucking the sap from individual cells. If left untreated, whiteflies eventually cause defoliation. Treat whitefly infestations in your ficus with neem oil or traps.
Put on a long-sleeve shirt, pants and gloves to protect your skin from direct contact with the neem oil. Wear a hat and use eye protection to shield your eyes from the insecticide.
Remove the lid from a tank sprayer. Pour 1 gallon of water into the tank. Add 2 tablespoons of neem oil to the tank. Stir the ingredients with a stick to combine them thoroughly.
Screw the lid on the tank tightly. Pump the tank's pressurizing handle up and down until it becomes difficult to do so.
Point the sprayer's tip at the ficus plant's infested foliage, keeping it 6 inches away from the leaf surfaces. Press the button to release the neem solution. Move the wand back and forth evenly to coat the top and bottom surfaces of the leaves completely. Stop spraying once the solution begins to drip off the leaves.
Shake the tank up and down every one to two minutes while spraying to ensure that the neem oil remains mixed with the water. Continue to spray the solution, coating all of the ficus leaves. Stop spraying and mix additional solution if needed.
Spray the ficus foliage every seven to 14 days in the same manner as before. Stop applications once the ficus tree is free of whiteflies.
Cut out a 12-by-6-inch strip of cardboard or poster board with a pair of scissors. Cover a flat work surface with newspaper. Lay the strip on top of the newspaper.
Brush yellow paint onto the cardboard or poster board strip using a paintbrush. Use long, even strokes to cover the surface completely. Leave the strip to sit until the paint dries completely.
Punch a hole in the strip with a hole punch. Position the hole 1/2 to 1 inch below one of the 6-inch-long edges, centering it. Cut an 8- to 12-inch-long length of string using scissors. Thread one of the string's ends through the hole and tie it in a knot to secure it in place.
Pour 1 part petroleum jelly or mineral oil and 1 part liquid household detergent into a bowl. Stir the ingredients together with a spoon. Brush the sticky solution onto the yellow surface of the strip with a second paintbrush.
Wrap the loose end of string around one of the plant's branches so that the yellow, sticky side of the trap faces the infested portion of the plant. Tie the string in a loose knot to hold the trap in place.
Check the trap every three to four days. Once it becomes filled with whiteflies, untie the trap from the plant. Wipe the sticky solution and trapped whiteflies off the trap's surface with a damp paper towel. Discard the paper towel in a trash bin. Brush on more sticky solution and re-hang the trap on the plant if it remains infested. Repeat this process until all whiteflies disappear.