Ficus dropping leaves

ShirleyD(z4b WI)October 30, 2005

My ficus (not sure of the variety - its the common one - lots of branching) has started dropping perfectly healthy looking leaves! (I'm not talking about dried up leaves.) At least a dozen green leaves are laying on the floor every day. I've checked it over and do not see any bugs on it. My plant is about 5 feet tall and in a pot that's 10 inches tall and 10 inches in diameter. Could it be root-bound?? I've had this plant for years and never had any problems with it. I do fertilize it regularly during the summer months. Any ideas on what could be causing this?

Thanks in advance for any help!


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Normally they drop leaves due to light or temperture changes. They are really fussy about those 2 things. Did one or both of those 2 things change recently?


    Bookmark   October 30, 2005 at 5:59AM
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Shirley, Your ficus is probably 'benjaminia'. I have one that is 8 years old in a standard form, 4 feet tall. Always lives inside, in a 10" container, gets water when I think about it. Now and then a few leaves turn yellow and drop off.
Made a few rooted cuttings from tree and discovered some scale as I was potting the cuttings. Your problem, perhaps? Anne

    Bookmark   October 31, 2005 at 1:01PM
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I was thinking of scale, too..Look for little, bumps on stems and undersides of leaves. Hopefully, Anne and I are wrong..
More likely, it's the change of climate..darker days for instance..And/or have you moved it recenly? When a ficus is moved, even from one side of the room to the other, they're bound to drop leaves.
Is your heat on yet? If so, this means the air is dry. Daily misting will help to a degree, but a humidifer is best. It's good for people, too..
Now that days are shorter, less sun, be careful with watering. You don't want your ficus sitting in water or constant wet soil. Let soil dry before giving a drink.
Since you're in WI, stop fertilizing until spring. Toni

    Bookmark   October 31, 2005 at 4:59PM
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ShirleyD(z4b WI)

Thank you all for your replies! We moved into our new house two years ago. The ficus has been in the same spot (by the east-facing patio door) since we moved in. The humidity level in the house never goes below 40 (new house). I checked and I do not see any bumps on the leaves or stems. I haven't changed my watering habits. The leaves started dropping in August and at first I thought it might be the air conditioning that was causing it. But we had been running the air off and on since June so I don't know why all of a sudden it should be a problem. I'll try cutting back on the amount of water that I give it and see if that helps. This really has me stumped! Again, thank you all for trying to help!

    Bookmark   October 31, 2005 at 5:14PM
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It could be that it's just getting less light or heat than it was. Ficus trees are very fussy about these things. They will let you know immediately by dropping leaves. Fortunately, as long as you put them in the brightest light possible it should recover. My ficus is like a prima donna it's done this all before and it always gets better.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2005 at 11:09PM
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Shirley, sounds like you're doing everything humanly possible to keep your ficus going..
If there's no bugs, no relocating, no changes whatsoever, then the only other thing is watering..Water the rootball well, until water seeps out of the drainage holes, then let soil dry before watering again.
You said you've recently moved? Did the leaves drop right after the move? Toni

    Bookmark   November 1, 2005 at 5:41PM
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ShirleyD(z4b WI)

Hi Toni!

We moved into our new home 2 years ago. The ficus has been in the same spot since we moved in. It started dropping its leaves in August of this year. I am going to try watering it less often. Right now I have it on a weekly schedule but I'm going to try waiting until the soil is dry before I water and see if that helps. I'm also going to repot it - I know its been in the same pot for quite a few years.


    Bookmark   November 2, 2005 at 6:21AM
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Can anyone help me with my Ficus Plant leaves keep dropping off like 3 - 4 leaves a day. I have read other postings it could be from the lighting, maybe it is getting too much water, if is any of these problems how do i fix them? Also if anyone can identify what kind of Ficus this is. Thank you

here is a pic of the leave that fell off

Here is a link that might be useful: Picture of the Ficus leave

    Bookmark   December 1, 2006 at 1:14AM
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You fix too much water by doing it less often (though doing it well then). You fix the lighting IN THIS CASE by possibly lowering it - move the tree away from the window, etc. It's a Ficus elastica, aka rubber plant, and they don't like anything like as much light as other ficuses. PS you should have started your own thread on this question.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2006 at 6:28AM
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Thank you Lucy for the response!

    Bookmark   December 16, 2006 at 1:11PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

..... strongly disagree with the suggestion to lower light levels. Elastica will tolerate, even prefer full outdoor sun when properly adapted. Particularly at this time of year and especially anywhere in USDA zone 7, give it as much light as you have available, keep it warm (70-90*), and protected from drafts. I agree with the irrigation advice.


    Bookmark   December 17, 2006 at 4:46PM
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Same Problem. Had it for 3-4 years same position. Same light. Same water. Same temperature. No bumps. No miscolored leaves, (except for yellowing, although green leaves drop too). Started dropping leaves about a month or so ago.

10" pot. Water once a week. I thought I was watering it too much, backed off. Same thing. Not enough water - water more. Same thing. It has been fine for 3 years. Lots of new growth. Now I hear a leaf drop every 30 minutes. I have not changed it's position. It has been in the corner of my office the whole time.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2008 at 3:37PM
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Recently my ficus has lost a lot of leaves. The furnace had died and it was 43 degrees one morning in the room it was in. Should I do anything to encourage new leaves or will it be ok now that the temp has been restored?

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 10:37AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Hi, Jennifer. Sudden chill, along with several other cultural influences can cause leaf loss in your plant. The things I would take into consideration are first, the question of whether the chill and leaf loss might have been coincidental with other influences - primarily over or under-watering or a reduction in light intensity (even turning the plant can cause some shedding of leaves. Second, I would urge you to remain aware that fewer leaves means less water usage due to decreased transpiration, so be extra vigilant that you don't over-water.

Give your tree the best light you can, and try to keep soil temps at least 65* if possible. No need to mist - the leathery leaves are rich in cuticular waxes that do a very good job of guarding against water loss.

If you'd like to read more about tending Ficus trees in containers, you can follow the link below, where I've outlined information I'm sure will help you with your tree.

Best luck. Let me know if you think there is any way I can help further.


Here is a link that might be useful: More about Ficus (and other trees) in containers if you click me

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 11:41AM
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Jen, Ficus are fussy plants. They dislike change. Moving from brighter to less light locations, bringing indoors in autumn, etc.
Since your furnace died, and temps dropped, (change) its leaves dropped. I'm assuming a 20F degree difference? Is that about right?

As long as the stems/trunk is firm, you have nothing to worry about. Place your Ficus in bright light, mist, water when soil feels dry. Crumbly dry, not bone dry. Over-watering would be a disaster.
Place your Ficus in a semi-warm spot, 'not hot,' nowhere near a heating vent, for starters. 56-64F degrees would suffice. If placed in too hot an area, especially since it got so cold, is 'Change.' Remeber, Ficus don't like change.
s soon as new leaves sprout, give 1/4 dose of an All Purpose Fertilizer. But don't fertilize until you actually see new sprouts. Good luck, Toni

PS. As long as roots didn't freeze, and they won't at 43F degrees, your Ficus will come back. Toni

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 2:39PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Any time a plant loses 'a lot of leaves' there is good cause for concern. How much concern hinges directly on the state of the plant's vitality at the time of leaf loss. As potted Ficus move into spring, they are often very low on energy reserves - usually at the lowest point in the growth cycle when they can least afford a loss of foliage.

How well and how quickly your plant responds is also closely linked to its energy store. You would be best able to judge the prognosis based on how healthy and how well the tree was growing when the mishap occurred. The healthier the tree WAS, the greater the likelihood of recovery and the faster it will occur. Conversely, if the tree was stressed and struggling, it's possible that it won't recover or that it will shed a number of branches that is directly correlated with what % of it's dynamic (living) mass it has enough energy to support.

You don't mention where you live, but your tree should just be 'thinking' about starting to grow in earnest now. We'll hope it was growing strong when it lost it's leaves so it's recovery will be swift. Remember to be extra careful about the watering.

Can you post (or email) a picture of what it currently looks like?

Best luck. Take care.


    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 3:08PM
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I heartily agree with everything Al says!! He's given me great advice on my Ficus.

Mr. Ficus goes into near death throes every winter in our bleak Midwest gray-forever days. He stands about 7 feet tall and loses lots of leaves. I let him sit all somber and looking sad near the East facing french doors and water him about once per week. With the really cold we had, and because above him is a large window that cascades cold air, some of his top leaves get "burnt" and fall. But mostly he drops about a dish pan full of leaves (mostly in the middle).

I've recently started fertilizing it again as the weather is getting sunnier and sure enough more growth and new leaves. Mr. Ficus returns.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 4:11PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Thanks very much, Marie. I hope you (and your plants) are faring well? ;o)


    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 4:47PM
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Marie, your Ficus shouldn't drop leaves in winter. Something isn't right..I live in a SW burb about 20 miles from Chicago. My Ficus loses a couple leaves, literally a couple, but remains green and healthy year round. Toni

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 5:36PM
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Nothing is wrong with it. It drops leaves come the shorter days of winter, is still green very green where it doesn't drop, and comes back with a gusto each spring, with back growth and new growth and invariably a shoot that takes off out the top that I have to cut back. It's in a 26" pot and lovin' life.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 9:48PM
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