Ficus Losing Leaves - Knowledgebase Question

Wilmington, NC
Avatar for jayseael
Question by jayseael
January 10, 2000
My ficus tree keeps losing its leaves. It's been repotted and potting soil with nutrients has been added.
-is this normal for it to lose leaves at this rate (branches are almost bare)?
-what is an appropriate amount to water it?
-what kind of light might it need?

Many of the leaves are also withered and discolored.

Answer from NGA
January 10, 2000
The Ficus will lose its leaves if sudden changes of
light or temperature are made. It seems to just hate change! Don't worry though, if it is losing leaves due to change it will
usually put on new leaves and adapt itself to the new
situation in a few weeks.

I would be a little concerned if the leaves have been looking "dry and brown" over a period of time. Check very carefully for signs of fine webbing or tiny insects (mites) on the under sides of the leaves, and also check for small disc type spots which might be scale. If you find either of these, use insecticidal soap according to the label instructions, being careful to cover top and bottom sides o f the leaves as well as the stems and trunk. You can also remove scale with your fingernail or with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.

The Ficus, sometimes
called Weeping Fig, does best in a bright area, but not
much direct sunlight. During the growing season of about April to September, give the Ficus plenty of
water to keep the soil moist yet not sopping wet. Use your finger to test the soil and see if it needs watering. When you water make sure that it soaks in and isn't running out between the soil and the side of the pot. During those same months, fertilize
with a water soluble fertilizer about twice a month (follow the label

In Winter, cut back a bit on water and either do not
fertilize or fertilize very little. Since the plant has just been repotted, be careful not to overwater it -- the roots have not filled the new potting soil yet and so it may take a bit longer between waterings. You also should not need to fertilize it until spring since it is in fresh soil.

If your house is very dry during the heating season, you might also consider raising the humidity level around the plant by setting the pot on a pebble tray (a tray of pebbles and water, set the pot on the pebbles and keep the water level just below the bottom of the pot) or possibly running a humidifier.

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