Ficus Alii leaf spots and drop-wait some more or do something ?

southerngalinnyc(6b/a (opinions vary))August 1, 2010

Hi Ya'll,

I've had this ficus (assume it's an Alii) for a few months and have "shocked" it at least couple of times (once moving it home from Home Depot), then moving it from living room to a sunnier spot in the dining room, then repotting it (and admit that the pot may be a bit large), and so it has lost a lot of leaves...

So, my question is this. It was losing leaves at a really rapid pace for awhile and i thought it would never stop...(how long does this shock thing last?) and so then I declded that it might have been the leaf drop described by overwatering (which probably occurred when I repotted it.) because there were also brown spots.

Now it appears that I have all of the above... some new growth, a few leaves that are brown and crispy dropping, and a few that are green and supple but with some brown spots that are dropping (but at a much slower pace than previously). Much of the tree has brown spots on the leaves.

I have not watered this plant for at least 2 weeks, maybe more like 3.

So when I read about leaf spot from overwatering I am not sure if this is what it looks like, how long it takes to go away once I've stopped... or if this spot relates to some other issue that I need to address?

Am I destined to be a ficus killer? Qu'est-ce que c'est?

Could you kind souls look at these photos and provide some advice? click on the photo for more...

Ficus Alii Anticipation....
Thanks for the patience and therapy!

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It is indeed alii (ay-lee-eye). Instead of listing all the things you shouldn't have done, how about we make things easier & list the things that will ensure you ease the stress on your plant & get it straightened around?

In the end, 90% of a containerized plant's negative issues originate with/are caused by the soil. Light levels, and to some degree the choice of fertilizers are also important considerations. If you're willing to take a close look at the soil and make some effort to get your plant into something durable that drains well, I'm almost positive you can get things straightened out. I can help if you're up for that.

FWIW - when you use peat-based soils, it's virtually impossible to water properly w/o risking root rot. When you water in sips to prevent root rot issues - you ensure that soluble salts will build up in the soil. The blemished foliage is (usually) caused by a drought response. A drought response is caused by one of 3 things - too high a level of soluble salts in the soil, under-watering, or over-watering.


Here is a link that might be useful: Click me and I'll take you to more help re soils

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 10:24PM
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southerngalinnyc(6b/a (opinions vary))

Hi Al,
Thanks so much for your reply... Wow! That's a lot of info for a neophyte to process.
My takeaway is that you think I've got too much peat in the potting soil i used... which I think was Scott's Moisture Control.
My issue is really that I don't have a lot of space to mix my own so I apologize for torturing you but am curious if there is a mix that you think is a reasonable substitute for your custom mix that is readily available... also, I'm not really clear on whether in addition to your suggestion that I repot... whether you are also speculating that I either don't have enough light, or have been underwatering. I doused it when I first repotted it, quite by mistake, which is why I didn't water it again for so long...
Thanks Al...

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 1:46PM
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southerngalinnyc(6b/a (opinions vary))

ugh.. so now I also have millipedes.. or centipedes.. not sure how to tell the difference.
Clearly I need to repot... but i am not sure Al, that I can live up to your discipline on the the potting mix. can you let me know what to do now?

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 11:54PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I repot somewhere around 40 tropical figs each year. This would be a full repot, where a large fraction of the roots are removed, along with all the soil (as opposed to simply potting up), and I only rarely lose a leaf here & there. It's likely that leaf loss in tropical Ficus would be the result of the drought response I mentioned, or a change to lower light intensity. The cause of the drought response, you'll remember, is varied.

If I had to purchase a commercially prepared soil for my trees, I'd use Fafard's 51L mix, or their #3 mix. Both use pine bark as the primary soil fraction, but you'll prolly need to call around to see where you can find them. A greenhouse or nursery operation would be the logical starting point - or a call to Fafard's to see where the dealers are in your area.

If you decide to stick with a peat-based commercially prepared soil, there are some things I can share that will help you keep the soluble salts & PWT levels to a minimum. Let me know what direction you're headed & if you need/want help.


    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 3:41PM
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southerngalinnyc(6b/a (opinions vary))

Thanks so much again for your help. I could not seem to track down the Fafard51L or 3 but found 52, which I believe has 60% pine bark vs. the 40% in #3 and is closer to the 51L but with wetting agent ?) Which I am hoping is okay...the creepy crawlies were taking over and I felt I had to do something...

So I repotted the tree (sadly I managed to lose even more leaves in the process as I clearly am not as skilled as you) I washed virtually all the existing soil away from the roots and used the 52

So you had been kind enough to offer assistance with things I can do to limit the soluble salts in the soil and I am all ears...

If its not included in that advice...I also am guessing I could use some advice on how much to water for the container size...and when and if to fertilize (the diameter at the top is 15.5" and its about 14" high)

I guess I also have the same initial question... which is assuming my soil is okay now... and I water appropriately... any guess as too how soon I should see improvement and when should the awful brown spots go away???

I'm not sure why I'm having such a hard time with this guy... my ficus benjamen has been happy as a clam for over 3 years and 2 repottings.... sigh, and I thought alli was supposed to be easier!

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 6:59PM
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After years of searching, I finally found a beautiful 8 feet leafy ficus Alii. I live in a condo, so it must go indoors. It weighs a ton, so, moving it outside the apt is out of the question. Now the leafs have started to fall down(by tens every day) and we can see some naked twigs. I was hopeful that it would just be an adaptation phase, but my concern is that the new leafs are getting brown spots, and will probably fall down too. Is it hopelessly bound to die? I water it once a week and placed it near an open window for light and air. I sometimes leave the lights and ceiling fan on, to help for the lack of natural light. I live in a tropical country, so it's never cold. Is there a cure for it??, thanks

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 9:35AM
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