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Why Is My Ficus Tree Losing Leaves?

Updated February 21, 2017

Ficus trees are common plants found in office buildings. Ficus trees are also common houseplants, but many people have problems with a ficus tree losing its leaves or the leaves turning brown. Although ficus trees generally are easy to maintain, a few things need to be considered as they can be finicky.

Temperature Changes

Ficus trees can be healthy and full of leaves one day and losing massive numbers of leaves the next. A temperature change of even -15.0 to -12.2 degrees C will cause the leaves to drop off rapidly. If the plant is moved from one room to another and the leaves start falling off, move the plant back to the original area.

Ficus trees do not like air-conditioning, so make sure the ficus tree is located in a warm room with bright but indirect sunlight. A window that receives full sun in the morning and indirect light in the afternoon is an ideal location for a ficus tree.

Indoors Only

If a ficus tree has been outdoors for the summer, changes in temperature and humidity will make the leaves fall off when you take the tree indoors. This is due to the toughness of the leaves. Outdoors, the leaves are stronger to make up for the harsher conditions. Once indoors, the leaves will fall and more tender leaves will form. For a healthier plant, leave the tree indoors at all times.

Water a ficus tree only when the soil next to the trunk is dry. Ficus prefer drier soil rather than consistently moist soil. Do not water the tree while the leaves are falling. Begin watering sparingly only after new leaves begin growing. The tree needs to have time to recover from the loss of leaves.

Pests and Fungus

Leaves will fall off a ficus tree if bugs are present. Mealy bugs, centipedes or small white bumps on the tree and leaves are the most common bug problems. The leaves need to be removed, the plant repotted with new soil and a clean pot and a pesticide for houseplants used. A home remedy is 1 tbsp iquid dish detergent combined with one pint of water. Place this in a spray bottle and spray the entire plant.

Fungus may also be the reason for leaf drop. If there are small black spots on the back of the leaves, there is a fungus present. The tree needs to be treated with a fungicide formulated for houseplants. Closely follow the package directions to apply these products.

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About the Author

Cathy Conrad has more than five years of newsprint experience as an assistant editor and is a professional writer. She has worked as a virtual assistant and email support specialist, and has more than 20 years of experience working in the medical field. Conrad is currently licensed as a Texas insurance representative and has many years in home improvement and gardening.