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Ficus Care

Why is my Ficus dropping leaves and how to solve it

by Plants for all Seasons 02 Mar 2022 1 comment

The Ficus is a beautiful tropical houseplant that is a delight for many house plant growers across the UK. Not only is the Ficus an air purifying plant, but they come in a variety of colours and sizes that will delight anyone in your home.

But, even though the Ficus is an easy to look after houseplant it has a habit of dropping its leaves. This is often a scary occurrence for both novice and expert house plant growers who may avoid this wonderful plant because they think it is too difficult to look after. However, nothing could be further from the truth, the Ficus is an adaptive plant that will do everything it can to maintain energy, and often this means shedding it’s foliage. In this guide we will take you through the most common reasons for your Ficus shedding its leaves, and how to solve them.

Inconsistent watering

The main cause of leaf drop in a Ficus is inconsistent watering. In the wild, this plant lives in regions with a pronounced wet/dry season so it has adapted to this by going into a semi-dormant state in the dry season. Part of this includes shedding its leaves.

When you water your Ficus you are replicating this natural cycle and if you go longer than usual without watering the plant you will trigger your Ficus to drop its leaves. To get around this you should water your plant little and often when the top of the soil has begun to dry. You can also add elements like vermiculite to the soil to help regulate the moisture levels.

Under watering

If your Ficus doesn’t receive enough water it will begin to drop its leaves. Like we said above, when the potting medium becomes dry the plant begins to prepare for a dry season. The Ficus responds to dry soil by dropping its leaves so it can conserve energy. You should never let the top inch of your Ficus’s soil dry out, but if you do water well and the plant will bounce back quickly.

Root rot

Over Watering a Ficus is just as dangerous as under watering it. The Ficus has delicate roots that do not react well to sitting in standing water and will quickly develop root rot in these conditions. The first signs of root rot will appear under the soil as the roots become brown and soft to the touch.

However, because root rot starts under the soil it can be hard to detect and the first signs you will most likely see is a yellowing and dropping of the leaves. If your Ficus leaves begin to yellow you should check the roots for issues immediately. To check for root rot in a Ficus, gently lift the plant from the soil so you can see the top of the roots. If they are white and firm then your leaves are drooping for another reason. But unhealthy Ficus roots will be brown, soft to the touch and have a rotten smell. If you find that this is the case you need to act quickly.

The best way to save a Ficus from root rot is to repot it in new soil quickly. Remove the plant from the pot and trim any diseased roots if possible. You should then quickly repot into new well-draining soil. Water the new soil well and leave the plant to recover.

Not enough light

The Ficus is a tropical houseplant that is native to sunny places across the world. If your Ficus isn’t getting enough exposure to sunlight then the leaves will begin to brown and drop in order to conserve energy. Your Ficus will thrive in bright, indirect light throughout the day. It can handle some direct light, but it is a lot less tolerant to low light levels. If you see the leaves beginning to react you should move your Ficus to a sunnier location. You also make sure that your Ficus is receiving light equally by rotating the pot by ninety degrees once a week. This will ensure constant coverage across the plant which stops parts of it dropping whilst others don't.

Seasonal changes

As the seasons change your Ficus will react to the changes in light, temperature and humidity by dropping its leaves. This is a normal part of the plant's life cycle and can be averted by continuing to water the plant, heating the home and misting the plant to maintain humidity. However, if the plant does go on to drop its leaves then you don’t have to worry as they will grow back in the spring.

Draughty location

Like many other houseplants the Ficus doesn’t like cold draughts. These can come from badly sealed windows and air vents. Tropical plants like the Ficus are especially sensitive to cold draughts because they can drop the room temperature and make the plant think it is winter, making it go dormant and drop its leaves. To avoid this, the easiest thing you can do is move a ficus from a draughty location. If this isn’t possible then you can buy draught excluders to help limit their effect.

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1 comment

08 Mar 2023 Patricia

I have a large ficus with long leggy branches that have many lovely leaves at the end of each branch….it’s such a shame it looks so bare in the centre around only main branch from which the smaller leggy branches have grown from…the long leggy ones. HELP !!

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