Helping A Ficus Tree That Is Dropping Leaves

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Ficus trees are a popular houseplant that can be found in many homes, but the attractive and easy to care for ficus trees still have a frustrating habit of dropping leaves, seemingly without reason. This leaves many ficus owners asking, “Why is my ficus losing leaves?”. The causes for dropping ficus leaves are many, but when you know what they are, this can help you pin down the reason your ficus tree leaves are falling off.

Reasons for Ficus Tree Dropping Leaves

First of all, realize that it is normal for a ficus tree to lose some leaves. A few leaves dropping of a ficus tree will not hurt it and they will regrow, but if your ficus is losing more than a few leaves, the following reasons could be why:

Change in environment – The most common cause for dropping ficus leaves is that its environment has changed. Often, you will see ficus leaves drop when the seasons change. The humidity and temperature in your house also changes at this time and this can cause ficus trees to lose leaves. If this is affecting your tree, the leaves on the ficus tree may be yellow in addition to falling off.

To help with this, try to keep your ficus tree’s environment as stable as possible. Keep it away from drafty windows and doors, air conditioners, and heaters. Use a humidifier in the winter, when the air gets dry. And, once you have placed your ficus tree in your home, do not move it.

Incorrect watering – Under watering or over watering both can cause a ficus tree to lose leaves. An improperly watered ficus tree may have yellowing leaves and the ficus tree leaves may curl.

Water the soil only when the very top of the soil is dry, but also make sure that your ficus tree’s pot has good drainage. If you accidentally let your ficus tree’s soil dry out completely, you may need to soak the tree’s container in the tub for an hour to properly rehydrate the soil. If you have overwatered the tree, root rot may have set in and you will need to treat the ficus tree for that.

Too little light – Another reason for ficus tree leaves falling off is that the tree is getting too little light. Often, a ficus tree that is getting too little light will look sparse and spindly. New leaves may also appear pale or even white.

In this case, you should move the ficus tree to a location where it will get more light.

Pests – Ficus trees are susceptible to a few pests that can cause a ficus tree to drop leaves. Often, a sure sign of a pest problem will be that the leaves on the ficus tree will be sticky or have liquid dripping off them as well as falling off. If this is the problem, you will need to treat the plant with insecticide like neem oil.

Fungus – Ficus trees are also occasionally affected by fungus, which can make the tree drop its leaves. Often, a ficus tree with a fungus will have yellow or brown spots on the leaves.

To correctly treat this reason for ficus tree leaves falling off, use fungicide (like neem oil) on the tree.

Why is My Ficus Dropping Sticky Leaves?

Three months ago, I brought a 5-foot ficus tree to a similar non-direct lit area indoors. One month ago, leaves started to drop, and I noticed ones on the plant were sticky to the touch. Six months ago, while still outside, I repotted in a 16-inch pot with a hole for drainage, and no water has ever appeared on dish below it. It was healthy on the shady north side of my home in a 10-inch plastic pot for five years prior to the repotting into a good, moisture-control potting mix.

Ficus are sensitive when moved to a new location, and they often show their unhappiness by shedding leaves. As long as there isn't a draft in the new spot, they'll settle down and releaf.

The stickiness you describe, however, is bad news it sounds like honeydew -- the waste of sap-eating insects like spider mites, scale, or mealy bugs. Scale and mealy bugs are visible on the plant. Scale look like little gray or brown bumps. Mealy bugs look like little white cottony masses. Spider mites are so tiny that you can't usually see them, but you might see webs or feel a gritty feeling between your fingers if you wipe them along leaves and branches. If it's scale or mealy bugs, buy a houseplant insecticide at the garden center, and apply it according to the label.

You can also dab the insects individually with a Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol, but I've found that to be overwhelming on large plants. If it's spider mites, take the ficus back outside and wash it thoroughly (tops and bottoms of the leaves, all branchs and the trunk) with a strong blast from the garden hose. Spider mites are so tiny and vulnerable that a harsh blast of water will kill more than 90 percent of them.

Rubber Plant Care

Rubber plant trees can tolerate limited light and stale air, hence their popularity as indoor plants. Later, numerous NASA studies would find that they help clean indoor air, too, no doubt a boon to academic concentration. When leaves begin dropping from the bottom of these sturdy trees, the problem might lie in the soil below.

Rubber tree plants are indeed trees, growing to 50 feet or more in their native range from the Eastern Himalayas down the Malaysian peninsula to Sumatra. They are grown primarily as a houseplant in the U.S. and valued for their thick evergreen leaves. Breeders have expanded the species to include plants with purple or red leaves or highlights along with the original foot-long green leaves. Although the plants might attract the usual houseplant bad guys -- scale, spider mites, mealybugs, aphids and thrips -- these pests typically attack tender foliage, which would be near the top of the plant.

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Before leaves can be shed, an abscission layer has to form at the base of the leaf. Under some conditions, it can form partially, so the leaf doesn't fall off on its own. That happens more often when there is no wind, or something to knock the leaves off the tree. Leaf tissues can actually start to break down while leaves are still on the tree, as the fungi whose job it is to do this begin their work. That's what it looks like. It's likely there was something contributing to the localization of the necrotic tissues, like a chemical being sprayed on the tree and allowed to dry, localized exposure to sudden chill . That's just the sense I get from looking at the picture and based on what I've seen in Ficus before.

Here's a copy/paste of a reply I left on another thread (Lamora's) about general fertilizers for houseplants. If you have questions, please ask.

It's not that you can't grow healthy plants using 8-7-6 (it's harder with 10-15-10, though), but plants use about 6X as much P as N, so all that extra P has only the potential to limit. An excess of any single element can be as limiting as a deficiency.

If I had to make some sort of order out of a few of the more common fertilizers being used for houseplants, from poor to very good, it would be like this:

20-20-20, 14-14-14, or any other 1:1:1 ratio fertilizers
MG 12-4-8
MG 24-8-16 or any other of the other very common 24-8-16 brands
Foliage-Pro 9-3-6

The closer you get to being able to supply nutrients in the ratio at which plants use them, the better off your plants will be, unless you understand how to manipulate them with cause and are intentionally taking that control. The last 3 fertilizers listed supply NPK in as close to the same ratio as the average of all plants as you can buy.

Below, you'll find a link to a thread about tending Ficus in containers. Hopefully, you will find it of some value.

Here is a link that might be useful: Click me & I'll show you .

Ask a Question forum→Why is my Ficus Ginseng losing leaves and can I save it?

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I have attached two photos, one of what it was like when I got it and the other is what it looks like now. As you can see is has lost many many leaves which is very upsetting!

Does anyone know what I am doing wrong or if there is anything I can do?

I really appreciate any suggestions!

Does you pot have a drainage hole?

How much light is it getting?

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming. "WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Unfavorable Conditions for Growing Ficusses

No need to panic. Relax and concentrate on finding the main reason why the leaves are going brown and falling off. First of all remember that it is natural for the plant to shed a few leaves during the change of season when the active growth stops. But those leaves will be green and not brown. The further from the main plant’s waterways the leaf is the more chances of it dropping because of the lack of moisture.

Let us go over the main factors that can cause the tree to fade:

  1. Check the watering scheme. Most likely the plant is feeling thirsty and the soil mix in the pot is completely dry. In that case fill the water tub with distilled lukewarm water and place the pot in it. Make sure the soil gets completely soaked in water. From now on water the plant every few days as the surface of the pot dries out.
  2. Make sure the roots have enough space. If the roots are stifled together they are not able to soak in enough moisture. If you have not repotted if for more than two years perhaps it is time to? Prune the roots by up to one third to get rid of the root binds.
  3. Saline soil is another indirect cause. If you are using tap water it can lead to the leaves fading. Can you see a white crust on the soil surface? Too much salt settles in the soil suffocating the roots. You will have to wash the soil through, take it out and water the pot well for a few times allowing the water to come out through the bottom hole. Use distilled water for rinsing and watering the plant.

So what is the problem with your ficus? Now that you can figure it out remember not to flood it with water. Make it a habit to check the soil every few days this way you will not forget to water it.

Find Out What Is Going On With Your Ficus

Do not panic. What you need to do now is look through the possible illnesses and find out all the possible factors for the ficus tree fading and dying. If you have paid attention to the illness on time the plant can be saved and things can be turned around. And try not to stress out too much after all negative experience is also needed. Next time you will avoid all the mistakes. So here we go:

  • Leaves are fading and dying due to the climate changes. Perhaps the air in the house is way too dry in winter? Or maybe the plant is suffering from the draughts? Get the humidifier if needed and make sure the temperature does not drop below 15 C at night.
  • Yellowing and curling greenery due to the lack of water. Try to figure out how long the pot has been left without watering. If the pot is dry throughout you might want to merge it into a tub filled with lukewarm water. And do not even think about using the tap water, distilled one only. We will come back to the water issue later.
  • The foliage is really tiny and the tree looks very anemic due to the lack of sunlight. You need to find a new spot with plenty of sunshine. But not direct sunshine as that can burn the tree as well.
  • Greenery turning brown due to the sunburn. Find a spot with plenty of indirect sunlight.
  • The shrub is fading and the foliage is dry although you water it every day? The roots are rotten due to the over moisturizing. You will have to change the soil. Also rinse through the roots and perform root pruning but do not go overboard.
  • Foliage is covered in yellow or brown spots. Treat it with the fungicide and keep it away from the other plants to stop the infection.
  • The trunk and the roots look healthy but the greenery looks dripping wet and brown. The shrub has been infected by pests. Use a pesticide. Follow the package instructions and isolate the tree from the rest of the plants for the treatment period.
  • The greenery is still fading and the tree looks anemic but you follow all the instructions. Maybe you have used the tap water for the plant? Then you will have to rinse out the salts from the pot soil. Take the plant outside and rinse the soil through for a few times. And remember to use soft water.

Watch the video: why plant leaves turn brown and dry on the ends

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