Ask a Question forum: Is my ficus getting enough light?

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Feb 18, 2018 4:16 PM CST
I bought a "Audrey" ficus a few weeks ago. I hadn't seen one before, but it's similar to a fiddle leaf fig, but claims to be less finicky. Since I have killed a fiddle leaf before, I was hoping this one would be easier. I've done a ton of reading about how to care for it, but there are brown spots appearing on the leaves already and three have yellowed and dropped. It doesn't seem to be stopping, so I'm hoping I can rectify this before it's too late!

It's directly in front of a south facing window which gets good afternoon light, however there is a roofed porch in front of this window, so the light is certainly buffered by that. Some direct sunbeams do touch the window-facing leaves for maybe 3 hours, but I'd mostly call it bright *indirect* light. That said, we have had many cloudy days since I brought it home. There were several buds on the tree when I got it, and they have not progressed/opened since then (17 days).

As for water, I have watered it only once since I brought it home. The soil was damp at the top when I bought it, and I waited until it felt fully dry down to the bottom of my finger, then watered it with one full coffee pot of water. Then waited 30 minutes and did a second full coffee pot. The woman at the nursery told be to do this. The first pour was to make sure the soil was fully soaked and then the second was to flush it. Now, I stuck a wooden chopstick in as far as it will go and pulled it out, and there is still a bit of dirt attached, so I am not planning to water again until that comes out dry. Is that correct? The temp is about 72 in the House.

I have examined for insects and don't see any. Do you know what my problem is?

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[Last edited by lsterling03 - Feb 18, 2018 4:21 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1643506 (1)
Feb 18, 2018 4:34 PM CST
I should add, the leaves that have fallen so far (the last photo) were at the bottom interior of the tree. But there are few brown spots in upper leaves as well.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Feb 18, 2018 4:51 PM CST
My only Ficus is a "Benji" but I know who to call...

@WillC, you out there somewhere?
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

Feb 18, 2018 6:38 PM CST
Thank you, Daisyl. :)
Name: Will Creed
Professional indoor plant consultan
Feb 18, 2018 10:01 PM CST
Thank You! , Daisy. It is pretty hard to give any Ficus species too much light indoors. I am concerned that the porch roof may be blocking more light than you realize. You have enough light to keep it in reasonably good shape, but probably not enough to prevent some lower and interior leaf loss.

The roots of a plant are always the heart of any plant, but I cannot see how your Ficus is potted so I cannot say if your watering technique is appropriate. There is no rationale for the double watering you were instructed to follow, but it may be okay. The leaf spotting is most likely symptomatic of a root and watering problem. A photo that shows how it is potted would be helpful.

In the next to last photo, I do see what appears to be a scale insect infestation. It may also be elsewhere on the tree, but I cannot tell. I suggest that you spray all leaf and stem surfaces very thoroughly with a solution of 5 parts water, 1 part alcohol and a squirt of liquid soap.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Feb 19, 2018 12:42 PM CST
Thank you, Will! Here are photos of the pot. It's the same pot it came in, sitting on a tray. I'll eventually put this pot inside a decorative planter.

I didn't realize that white splotch was an insect! I scraped it off with my fingernail yesterday, and it came off like powder: Eek. I'll do as you said with the leaves. I also have a neem oil based spray for insects/fungus. Is that Ok to use on this?

I've also included a closeup of a bud that was on it when I bought it. Should it have progressed from this point by now? Thanks again for your help! I appreciate your time.
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[Last edited by lsterling03 - Feb 19, 2018 12:43 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1644004 (6)
Name: Will Creed
Professional indoor plant consultan
Feb 19, 2018 2:08 PM CST
It is good that your left your Ficus in its nursery pot and will later double-pot it. Its nursery pot is plenty large enough. I do suggest that you remove what appears to be some moldy bark chips from the surface of the soil.

Water it only when the top surface feels dry. Add enough water so that a bit runs through the drain holes.

The neem spray is not necessary as long as you are very thorough with the alcohol spray.

New bud growth will be slow because you have less than optimum light.

The stake is no longer necessary and can be removed.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

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