My ficus has lost its leaves

massimo_pMarch 22, 2003

I bought a ficus benjamin 3 years ago.

I kept it outside in summer and inside in winter for two years and everything was ok. The ficus was very healty.

Last year something went wrong: when I put it inside in september, it started loosing its leaves and it never stopped up to now.

Now it has only 10-15 leaves. I repotted it few days ago.

Any esplanation of what happened and any suggestion for the future?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

may need repotting; have you followed the same routines for transitioning it outdoors, and back indoors. If you don't properly acclimate it, it may lose leaves due to too much light when going out, or conversely too little when coming in. Just a thought.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2003 at 7:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
luxum(9/10 Tampa FL)

Check the roots, and reacclimate it for outside as soon as possible. Then prune it back if possible, making sure that you keep at least 2-3 leaves on any branch you want to keep. It should releaf. If it needs to be repotted it is best to wait until it starts growing again if it is at all possible.

By the way, benjis are notorious for this. If there is (sometimes even a very slight) change in light, temperature, or watering, they will drop leaves. This is a survival mechanism from their native habitat, they drop leaves to save water during the dry season. So when you bring it in next fall, you may want to consider pruning it moderately at that time to aid in acclimation, and make extra sure that you let up on the watering if this happens, let it dry out some. I've found that if i prune some leaves from ficus plants when i move them that they don't drop additional leaves.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2003 at 2:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
cattlover(zone 5 VT)

I have, I believe, a benjamina and it's dropping its leaves as well. No changes that I am aware of. It's in the living room which has a northern exposure. There has been some shift in the weather, but I don't think enough to affect it inside. So, I haven't moved it or anything. On the other hand, I have a benjamina bush that is doing great -- no leaf drop -- and I even divided it!

The one in the living room is a multi branched tree that has been trained around each other. It is in a 12-14" pot and is about 4.5ft high. Any suggestions?
BTW, it is still growing, new leaves consistent.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2004 at 11:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
cattlover(zone 5 VT)

I mean multi-trunk :)

    Bookmark   August 29, 2004 at 8:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My neighbor had the same problem. She kept the ficus for two more years, ignoring it, watering it once every two months, and then when she was throwing it out, she noticed it had some green buds on it. Now, one year later, her ficus looks normal again.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2004 at 4:41AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I too have a ficus that has shed all it's leaves and the
one right next to it still has all of its leaves. Now I
know it's ok to prune it but it may even be dead. I wonder
if it's worth all the trouble to keep a ficus or would you
just trash it and get a plant that doesn't shed every where? What does everyone think with a ficus. This shedding drives me crazy. Please help?

    Bookmark   September 18, 2004 at 10:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My ficus had lost all its leaves.
ALL, completely.

I kept it outside and I pruned it.
Impossible to believe: after a long time with no leaves, it started again to have leaves.
Then in autumn I put it inside and it started again loosing its leaves. At last I trashed it and I bought a new ficus.

Rule of the game:
1) keep the ficus indoor, even in summer. If you put it outdoor the ficus likes it very much and it becomes much
better. But then, when you put it indoor in winter, this is a too high stress for it. Keep it always indoor
2) be regular in giving water to it. Regularity is the rule for most of the plants (except bonsai). A bit more in summer, less in winter, but with regularity.

This is what I learnt (or I think to).

    Bookmark   September 19, 2004 at 1:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
cattlover(zone 5 VT)

Well, I just bought a new ficus (one trunk) and put it in the same spot as the old one -- which I won't throw out yet. Well, it's now starting to drop it's leaves as well. I just don't get it. I shook it a little and all these leaves started falling. When I bought it, it was all lush with new leaves all over. I pruned it a little--actually, trimmed. Just to get some dead out. After all this leaf drop, it's looking almost empty and void. It was so full...I know I can't be doing anything wrong...I haven't DONE anything!!!


    Bookmark   September 21, 2004 at 12:43AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Jermes(z& Tx)

This message may be to late to save some ficus lovers. I have one tree I saved from Lowes about 6 years ago. The first few years were pretty tough as I came close to throwing it out several times. I have finally learned a few things and here they are. Do not place the tree where it will receive hot or cool air blowing on it i.e. air or heat vents. East and south exposure is always best in a window. They will drop their leaves at the slightest hint of stress.
Hang in there, continue to water once a week and if they are getting enough light, the leaves will come back out. When all else fails put the tree out in a shady area where it will get some morning sun and liquid fertilize like hell!! My tree was about 3 ft with maybe 6 leaves left when I saved it and is now a 10 ft beauty.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2005 at 2:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hope everyone having ficus problems toss them out..
Ficus can be finiky, and like the above poster mentioned, any change can cause leaf drop. The thing is, once a perfect spot is found, let it be.
I don't agree about watering once a wk..there is no set date on watering any plant..for instance, one location may be much cooler than another, therefore, the cooler room's soil will take longer to dry..It's important soil doesn't stay constantly wet. It needs to dry a bit between waterings, especially in winter. A bright location is best, remember, figs are in the ficus family, and figs grow in direct sunlight.
I agree keeping away from a heating vent is important..dry heat will kill a plant..daily misting helps w/humidity, but a humidfier works best.
Now that the days are getting longer, some plants can be fed..I'd use something high in nitrogen, 1/2 the recommended dossage the first time, then once a month feeding after. If the plant is to go outdoors, do so gradually, otherwise the tree will burn..I found, for those of use who live in cold, dry climates, bringing a ficus indoors in mid-Sept is best. This can also be done gradually, but when one is dealing w/a large tree, it can require work..Halt feeding in Sept, again using 1/2 dossage. It's inevitable some leaves will fall, but w/care the number should be few. As the days shorten, the tree will go dormant, which is another reason fertililzer should be stopped. And water should be given sparingly..I'm not saying to devoid plant of water, but the best way is when watering, water well, soak the entire rootball. Then be sure the soil feels a bit dry before next watering. Toni

    Bookmark   April 12, 2005 at 12:07AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Ficus are pretty tough plants , they can be fussy when moved from outdoor summer location to an indoor one for winter.
The best possible senario would be to keep the light levels consistant both in summer and winter. Ficus will still fuss a bit , but if cared for will settle down .
I am aware that Ficus can live in lower light but generally they do best in 5 hours sun.
Please remember when any indoor plant is having a fit , this is the worst time to Repot it !!!

Ficus have alot of roots and plants that have been in thier pots for some time can get snug . If it dries out extensively , you need to soak the whole pot, because all water you give it will drain right out of the pot . The rootball and soil need to soak in order to expand .
If you can't move it water and it will drain quickly into tray due to air pockets created by the roots pulling all moisture from the soil . Wait until the plant drinks what's in the tray and give it water again. Continue until it stops drinking .
I have seen so many Ficus loose all there leaves due to severe dry soil conditions.

It may appear a little wilted and even perk up after you give it a good dose of water , but next day I have seen half the leaves turn yellow green and a slight shake and all fall to the floor. Then a few days more , other leaves follow. If this happens never repot , until the tree leaves out again and going strong .

A good rule of thumb about watering with most all container plants with Free drainage is "It is not How much you give a plant when you water, water freely and plenty.
It is how often you do this that can give a plant root rot.
Let me also add this does not include plants that are taken from a 6 inch pot and put into a 10 inch pot . A 6inch root ball will have a very hard time drying out in all that excessive soil, roots structure will deteriorate.

Ficus are fast growers , that is why they are cheap.
I think people get discouraged by Ficus because they have let thier plants go dry before and they did not defoliate.
But when a ficus gets really dry or this condition builds over time and you give it the normal amount of water and maybe less because it is now soaking your rug or floor due to run off , and next day you look at your once georgeous tree and half of it is yellow green and worse yet when you touch it several of them fall to the floor , it can be devastating ..
But this is still better than having Root rot. That is much harder to salvage on all plants.

Those of you who like PALMS , there are several varieties that are easy , Do not Repot them !!! The cheaper faster growing palms are more tempramental like Areca , Majesty and if you are buying from Home Depot , make sure you check really well for mites!
The more expensive palms like
Chamaedorea erupens/siefritzii and Kentia's are very easy , Don't repot them!!! If you want a better looking container , place the grow pot inside the container!
Palms like a very snug fit in there pots and get very fussy when disturbed, But when repot time comes you can do this with no fussing . Only step up 2 inches in size from previous grow pot, use a free draining container , Buy the light potting soil mix , buy a bag of sand ! SAND!
Palms when in containers appreciate a heavy presence on thier root systems and if you mix the sand with the Wetted potting soil, you will get a combination that will serve this purpose.
If the palm is really root bound and formed , you can gently tease away some fleshy roots , they have plenty and won't mind If you are "Gentle" . Pack the SAND/SOIL mixture as you go tapping the sides so it settle's nice and snug and make sure new soil line on top matches that of old . Water in generously and tell it you love it 's Sequoia Spirit!
Check regularly for spider mites , if the plant expieriences no stresses this should be less of a hassle ,But can happen and does , but Rates of mite intrusion is higher when some folks get busy and forget to water their palms, ect ect , and hence suseptability to mites.
If mites get out of control on a palm it can seriously damage the look of a palm . Mites are busy and present a good while before you start seeing webbing on fronds from across the room. It is much easier to be tenacious with a small population and rid the plant of it , then wait till a large one has created a universe for itself on your Palm.

Hope this helps ! It works !

    Bookmark   April 27, 2005 at 7:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I want to my first sentence above I wrote, hope everyone having ficus problems tosses them out..I meant to say, doesn't toss them out..geesh, I'm embarrassed..Dont discard them. Toni

    Bookmark   May 6, 2005 at 1:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've felt guilty that my ficus b. may be neglected. Now I know it's true.

Mine is about 15 years old, standing in only it's second potting for the past 10 years. It lives outdoors throughout the year. Can't bring it in due to my cats.

Will be re potting again in the next month or so.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2007 at 3:13AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

15 years...Wow! How tall does it get after 15 years?

I moved mine outdoors in March, and it did well. I'm thinking of leaving it outside, but may have to move its location if it grows too big. Right now, it's too close to the house.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2007 at 11:14AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
hostaholic2 z 4, MN

I also wonder how tall they get.Two of mine are 6 years old, started from cuttings and are about 6 1/2 feet tall. I saw one in a greenhouse last spring that was about 10 - 12 ft.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2007 at 1:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Their height is only limited indoors by the height of the ceiling & our/your ability to provide cultural conditions that suit both longevity and good vitality. The most common cause of death of old specimens indoors, is from root issues due to a lack of proper and regular root pruning. Where they naturally occur, it is not uncommon to find these trees growing to 40+ M (130+ ft).


    Bookmark   January 7, 2008 at 12:26AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I left six healthy ficus in the care of a friend, along with other plants, from November till now. For ease of watering they were all moved to the bathroom windowsill. All survived except the ficus, two look as if they may come round, with care, they are just doing the normal leaf drop when stressed. The others all have dead shrivelled leaves which strangely, given the normal ficus habit, do not drop if I shake the plants.

I am reluctant to dump them, at home in the UK I have several six-eight foot high ficus which are probably about 20 years old so I know they can recover from apparent death.

The apparently dead ones are all quite young - about a foot high. I've had them two years or so. I wonder whether I should cut them back and if so how far? And should I feed and if so what? Repotting at this stage is I think not a good idea. I am planning to put them on another light windowsill and see what happens. I can't leave them where they are. I don't know if she under or overwatered or if it got too cold for them. The light levels should have been sufficient.

Any help would be gratefully received.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 7:07AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

i have a ficus bonsai that i saved from the stupid people at hombase i saw it and dell in love with the way it had grown. upon closer inspection i noticed that a bad infestation of mealy bug the little bleeps i to a risk brought it home and kept it isolated from the rest of my plants used pestaside and anti fungal to cler up the infestation prewened back heavily infetsted branches (it had an verry healthy amount of foliage and hadn't been prewemed for a year) adn sat there with a cotton bud diped in pestaside and a magnifying glass killing all the mealy bus hiding in the cracks and acranys in the trunk i also brought some preditors to help with the job. i am now pleased to say that with a 10x magnifying glass there is no mealy bug in sight and hasn't been for some time but now my ficus is loosing quite a few leaves mainly from the top of the tree. there not turning yellow before droping just droping and it has coincided with winter, its been kept indoors since ive had it and on ok light conditions what is realy strange thoe is allthoe its loosing leaves its alsog growing a large number of new ones some a little deformedwith creases in them. i wonder is this a natural sheading of old leaves to make way for new and why are some diformed will they become better with age?

    Bookmark   December 20, 2008 at 4:52AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Please identify
Is this an annual or a perennial? Any info is appreciated...
Deformed Leaves on Money Plant (Braided Pachira Aquatica)
My mother has kept this braided Pachira Aquatica for...
Rose of Sharon Dormancy?
We had a cold winter here. I have two Rose of Sharon...
Blue Coleus
I've seen a rare few truly blue (not purple) coleus...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™