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17 messages
27/01/2013 at 21:06

Hi....I have a small fig tree.  It was outside initially, but I couldn't decide where to put it where it would withstand the cold over winter, so I brought it into the conservatory.  When it was outside, the leaves dropped of in autumn, but after I brought it in the leaves grew back.

 

There are 3 branches, 2 are fine with healthy leaves, but the 3rd branch obviously has some kind of pest problem.  The leaves are grey areound the edges and slightly mottled, eventually they curl up and drop off.  I can see very fine webs from the leaves to the branch and loads of really tiny insects in the webs.  

 

Does anyone know what they are and how to deal with them?  Many thanks.

27/01/2013 at 21:12

hi Sam, it sounds like spider mite to me . Do you have heating in your conservatory ?

Have a look at this link.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/advice/pests_and_diseases/identifier.shtml?two_spot_spider_mite

27/01/2013 at 21:41

I've read your link and googled images of spider mites and I'm certain thats exactly what they are.  I've been researching fig tree pests for hours and spider mites didn't come up, so I'm really pleased to know what they are, thanks so much!

Are they difficult to get rid of?  Can I use washing up liquid solution?  I noticed it mentioned a surfactant pesticide...

27/01/2013 at 21:49

I think I used Bug Gun when I had them on one of my houseplants but can't quite remember. Think it was. The trick with spider mite is to treat the plant asap

Good luck.

27/01/2013 at 21:55

I'll give it a go.  Many thanks again 

27/01/2013 at 22:27

Spider mite can be difficult to get rid of and are often resistant to common pesticides.  If they survive the assault with Bug Gun, keep spraying the plant daily with water as they don't like high humidity.  I had great results in clearing a greenhouse infestation by using a predator mite (Phytoseiulus) but the temperature must remain above 20C and they are expensive!  I've also found a spray called SB plant invigorator to be pretty effective too.  That one also acts as a foliar feed. 

28/01/2013 at 20:42

Hi Bob, thanks for your reply.  I've just noticed that the mites have moved over to one of the other branches now, unfortunately.  I looked at the predator mite, our conservatory is pretty cold so I don't think they'd be much use there at this time of year.  I'll look at SB plant invigorator, after the bug gun (if it doesn't work).  Really hope the fig doesn't die, I regret bringing it in now, presumably the mite would die over winter.

28/01/2013 at 22:36

Yes, they're really a 'glasshouse' pest and only rarely cause a problem outside in the UK.  I get them occasionally on a clematis called "cartmanii Joe" which needs to be kept in my conservatory for much of the year, but putting it outside over the summer generally clears them (probably all of that rain we usually get!)  The mites can overwinter in cracks etc., so there's always a chance they will come back.  Good luck with your fig, Sam! 

29/01/2013 at 10:09

Thanks Bob, could I ask one more question?  If I move the fig back outside, would it kill the mites?  Would the fig survive the cold after being inside and the leaves regrowing?

07/02/2013 at 15:09

I'm in the process of trying to rid my 4 figs of spider mites now.  I've washed all the leaves with Natria insect and mite control spray.  Well it didn't spray so I poored it into a dish and sponged it on the leaves.  I'm going to take the advise of another message board and spray with water with a little alcohol and hope for the best.  I'll let you know how it works out.

18/02/2013 at 15:14

Well, sadly the fig is definitely dying.  The mites are back too.  I'll know better than to bring a fig in over winter next time.  I'll bubble wrap it instead!  Thanks to all for your advice 

18/02/2013 at 15:46

Why would you bubble wrap it?  Figs are hardy in the UK.  The only difficulty with them is getting warm enough weather in the summer to ripen the fruit.

18/02/2013 at 16:14

Really?  The only reason I brought it in was because I was told it wasn't hardy!

18/02/2013 at 17:27

If you grow figs indoors or move them inside over the winter you can get two crops of fruit per year.  If you grow them outside you will get one crop per year if they're in a warm enough situation for the fruit to ripen.  I know of a fig tree 8'tall by 12'wide growing and fruiting in a garden in north Norfolk.

Lots of helpful information here: 

http://www.readsnursery.co.uk/fig-trees-tips-and-advice-on-how-to-grow-fig-bushes-in-uk-gardens/

If you scroll down you will read this "A small commercial fig orchard was still operating in the 1950's in West Suffolk, where the soil was heavy and the winters quite cold. There was minimal winter damage, even at -4°F during the arctic winter of 1946/47 (36°F of frost)."

Note that was -4Farenheit, not Centigrade!!!!

18/02/2013 at 22:28

Many thanks Dovefromabove.  Loads of good info there.  I'll be trying again because I love figs and honey!

18/02/2013 at 22:33

Lots of varieties here http://www.readsnursery.co.uk/categories/Fig-Trees/ some will give a ripe crop outside, some need to be indoors to ripen.

19/02/2013 at 22:51

I want one that will crop outside after my mite experience!  Thanks for the info, it's been really helpful.  

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