Ask a Question forum: HELP! Ficus Benjamina dying

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Jan 9, 2017 3:24 PM CST
Hi all:

I have unintentionally become the "plant whisperer" in the office and my latest patient is not looking well-- I'm not sure what to do as I think this one might be too far gone for me to bring back to life. She has lost most of her leaves, the branches are dry, and the leaves on top are quite droopy. Her aerial roots appear to have also made a "nest" in her branches.

Does she need fertilizer, or do we need to do something more serious?! We live in Chicago so transplanting her in the elements is out of the question at this point.

Any insight you might have would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you in advance!
Thumb of 2017-01-09/visitor/8abcc6

Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Jan 9, 2017 3:46 PM CST

It does look pretty sad. Start by cutting out all the dead branches. You can test whether a branch is dead by scratching the surface of the branch. If the layer underneath is green, its alive. If brown or hard, its dead. A branch with dead leaves could still be alive so test. Dead branches also snap off, a live branch will bend.

We also have to figure out why your tree is suddenly dying. Has it been moved? Watering changed? How much heat does that radiator put out?

What is that mass of brown at the base of the branches? Dead leaves? Even if everyone of those branches is dead, if the trunk is alive, the tree will live. So scratch test the trunk also.

A word of caution: Never, ever fertilize a plant that's struggling, that would be a death sentence. Fertilizer is for healthy plants.

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


Jan 30, 2017 9:00 PM CST
You are watering your plant a lot because it can be excess water

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