Ask a Question forum: Bonsai is losing leaves

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Name: Ryan
Northern Virginia
Rabbit Keeper
May 5, 2017 11:49 PM CST
Well here's my Golden Gate Ficus Bonsai

I think it needs some help
Maybe my plants don't like my house
What can I do to help this little fella? I havent fertilized it yet, so that might be the issue. (It's four years old btw). It's losing leaves faster than they're growing.

Ive had it inside my house (68°F) for four months.

Thumb of 2017-05-06/Whereisammo/eff9f6

[Last edited by Whereisammo - May 5, 2017 11:50 PM (+)]
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Name: Will Creed
Professional indoor plant consultan
May 6, 2017 8:46 AM CST
The photo is tiny and hard to see. All Ficus species require lots of sunlight when kept indoors, such as on a sunny windowsill. It will also need a thorough watering about once per week. Because yours has lost so many leaves, pruning is now in order to get it back in shape. Lack of fertilizer is not its problem, nor is temperature. Proper light and watering are all that it needs.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Donna
Mid Shore, Maryland (Zone 7a)
Houseplants Region: Maryland Orchids Bee Lover Hummingbirder Frogs and Toads
Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Spiders! Dog Lover Garden Procrastinator Vegetable Grower
May 21, 2017 11:25 AM CST
Hi Ryan,

I agree with everything Will said... but don't think I'd do any pruning, just yet....

Bonsai are a lot of fun... And your Bonsai will love your house.
It's really hard to tell with your picture, But sadly your little guy looks like a store bought Bonsai.

If it is..... They are hard glued into their pots, to be appreciated only as long as they can survive.

If it is hard glued:
They best thing you can do is repot it quickly, get all the glue off the plant and out of the soil.
Taking care to avoid as much damage to the roots and plant as possible.
You can purchase Bonsai soil, but I have just as good success with Sta-green Tree & Shrub potting
soil that you can get from Lowes. Once repotted, move it out side for fresh air, in some light shade,
keep it fed with about 1/4 strength good fertilizer every time you water it (like once a week). There is
not enough nutrients in the small pot to feed it, so you have too. I leave mine outside all spring,
summer and fall.

When you bring it in, it will need to be in a sunny window, even though Ficus, will survive in the shade.
They really thrive in bright, bright indirect light. And once established, love full sun...

Personally, I would not trim anything, it's taken a hard hit, and needs time to recoup... But Ficus are
tough plants, and it will be fine once, it gets enough light, regular watering with fertilizer, and the glue
removed (if it's glued) to not hindering it's survival....
"No more bees, No pollination.... No more men!" ~ Albert Einstein
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
May 22, 2017 10:31 AM CST
I agree perty much with Donna.
Butt, not direct sun. Maybe a little morning sun. Ficus are temperamental about there location. When there in a happy place, dont move them. You move them and they will defollieate all there leaves, a lot of the time. Re-pot and find a permanent location. Leave her there. She should grow back. Dont even move her to water her.
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
May 22, 2017 11:48 AM CST
Moving a Ficus won't necessarily lead to leaf drop. A sudden change in environment could.

The only way you can keep an indoor plant round is to turn it. Find a place with bright indirect light and turn it 1/4 turn every week.

Yellow leaves are a sign of overwatering. Leaf drop and branch die back are a sign of underwatering or lack of sunlight.

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

Name: Steve Buck
Columbus, OH (Zone 5b)
Region: Ohio
May 22, 2017 12:04 PM CST
I agree with all of the previous comments to help you out. I have been doing bonsai for over forty years. Most of my bonsai are hardy outdoor plants but I do have one Ficus benjamina that I bring inside for the winter. Like Philipwonel said, they are extremely sensitive to changes in lighting. EXTREMELY SENSITIVE to LIGHTING CHANGES. They will practically defoliate as you can see the thin foliage in my ficus since I moved it outside. Water and good light are the key to success with ficus. Do not over water though.

Don't fertilize any plant when it is under stress. Don't prune or remove any foliage from a plant that is under stress until it starts growing again. And then, only after it shows strong recovery.
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Cat Lover Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Region: California Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
Composter Cactus and Succulents Dragonflies Hummingbirder Amaryllis Container Gardener
May 22, 2017 1:02 PM CST
Ryan, I don't grow that type of Ficus..but I do have a Ficus microcarpa ginseng that is grown like bonsai. When conditions are warm enough already outside, I bring them out but in a part sun/shade area since our sun is too intense. Grows much better outdoors during the warmer months. They are after all little trees.

What I notice is that during the winter season, when I have it indoors, it will do a cycle of dropping some leaves, then it perks up again as temperatures and light conditions improve as seasons change.

Don't fertilize yet, your plant is still in some stress. You may want to try and repot it to new soil and see if it helps improve things around and position to more light and warmth but not direct sun outdoors.

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