Ficus Repens - Knowledgebase Question

Chicago, IL
Question by jatkin
September 28, 1998
About a month ago I purchased three 8-inch ficus repens houseplants from a nursury. But since I've had them at home, they haven't been doing well, with their leaves turning yellow or brown, drying up and falling off. I live in an apartment that doesn't get a whole lot of light, but I've got all three hanging in front of the three sunniest windows. Also, since autumn is starting here, it's been getting down to the 50s some nights and up as high as the 80s during the day, so I'm concerned that the changing temperature may be affecting them. I understand that ficus plants often go through an adjustment period, but how much time do they generally need? How can I check to see if they need more or less light, if I've over- or underwatered them, or if I need to do anything else differently?

Answer from NGA
September 28, 1998


Ficus repens, also known as Creeping Fig, has thin heart-shaped leaves and thin wiry stems. It's normal for some of the leaves to dry up during a short adjustment period, but your plants sound like they're not happy in their new locations. Trailing types of ficus are fussy about their surroundings and require moist air and moist soil. They prefer low-light conditions so a sunny window isn't suitable for them. They'll grow well in average household temperatures (minimum 55F degrees), and prefer tepid, not cold water. It's essential that you mist the leaves to increase the humidity around the plants, and keep the soil moist. Why not move your plants away from the window, mist the leaves every morning, and make sure they're well-watered. The plants should perk up in a few weeks and thrive.

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