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#374696 Aug 5th, 2013 at 03:33 AM
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Hello, I bought three new plants just over two weeks ago. One of which is a Veriegated Benjamin Ficus. I'd say three days ago it started dropping some of its leaves and two of the leaves in the middle of the plant have started to yellow. From my reading I've learned that there are numerous causes for the leave dropping. I was hoping to explain what I've done so far to try and find the cause and stop it. Firstly, I had some Miracle gro potting soil with extended release fertilizer laying around so I used that for the three new plants. The other two are a emerald ripple peperomia and the other is a philodendron, both of which seem to be doing well.

The next thing that I think it might be is that I have been using tap water which after some reading today I have seen is not recommended and that I should use distilled water for this plant. I don't think I've been overwatering them as I have been waiting for the soil to fill slightly dry to the touch and then watering them, being sure not to leave water standing in the dish. I had it with the other plants about 8 ft. away from a south facing window. I wasn't sure if that was it so I moved it next to a yucca plant that I have that is about 2 ft. from that window. Lastly, I'm wondering if the pot that I have it in is too small. It is about 3 times as big as the little pot I brought it home from the store in, but still seems somewhat small.

I hope I gave enough info to be able to correct what ever the problem might be. Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

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Hi, Rplanter. I hope this helps you:

Here is what I found:
It is normal for a ficus tree to lose some leaves.
A few leaves dropping of a ficus tree will not hurt it and they will regrow.
But if your ficus is losing more than a few leaves, there are a few possible reasons:

1) A change in environment, ie: the seasons, humidity or temperatures in your house, could be the cause. If this is affecting your tree, the leaves on the ficus tree may be yellow in addition to falling off.


To help:
It would be best to keep your ficus tree’s environment as stable as possible. Keep it away from drafty windows and doors, air conditioners and heaters.
Use a humidifier in the winter, when the air gets dry. And, once you have placed your ficus tree in your home, do not move it.

2) Incorrect watering Either over or underwatering.Or the leaves could turn yellow and or curl.

Water the soil only when the very top of the soil is dry. Ficus tree’s pot should have good drainage. If you accidentally let your ficus tree’s soil dry out completely, you may need to soak the tree’s container in the tub for an hour to properly rehydrate the soil.
If you have overwatered, root rot may have set in and you will need to treat the ficus tree for that.

3) Too Little light Can afect leaf drop. Also, a ficus tree that is getting too little light will look sparse and spindly. New leaves may also appear pale or even white.
IF this happens, move the ficus tree to a location where it will get more light.


4) Pests – Ficus trees are susceptible to a few pests. This might also cause a ficus tree to drop leaves. A sure sign of a pest problem will be that the leaves on the ficus tree will be sticky or have liquid dripping off them as well as falling off. If this is the problem, you will need to treat the plant with insecticide.

5) Fungus – Ficus trees are sometiems affected by fungus which can make the tree drop its leaves. Often, a ficus tree with a fungus will have yellow or brown spots on the leaves.

To correct treat this reason for ficus tree leaves falling off, use fungicide on the tree.

As you did not say anything about numbers 4 & 5, I just included them for future reference.
I hope at least some of what I found has helped---I PM'd you a link on the soli thing.

Good luck & keep us posted.



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Move it by the outlet on the wall so it gets a period of direct sunlight through out the day but not as much as it is getting where you have it. At least until it gets bigger. Yellow leaves = too much heat (sun burnt). I had baby plants turning yellow by a window during some of the 90 degree days we were having. Remember not every plant likes direct sunlight. That's why raspberries always grow on the perimeter of the woods. And when they are still small like that it cant handle all that light. Looks very sunny in that part of your house. Looks like that's your problem to me. Im really no expert tho but if u give it a try and it works let me know the results.

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First of all, your little ficus looks nice and healthy. And you're doing research and going on the forums to look for understanding, which is great. However, you've found one of the problems with researching, which is that most information sites, books or online, have been written by people drawing their information from other written sources, which also drew from written sources, and so on and so on.

The forums, on the other hand, are composed of people who grow plants and share their experiences. I've been a professional interior landscaper for 30 years, and I've taken care of thousands and thousands of ficus trees, and I can tell you that without a doubt, if you have a ficus that came from a grower a couple of weeks ago, it drops leaves because the light has been changed. It had been growing in fairly high light, then it goes to a store where the light is much reduced, and it tries to adjust by dropping unneeded leaves. Then you get it, the light goes up again, and it doesn't know what to think. By the way, either of the places you've been keeping it will provide good light for a ficus, just leave it in one or the other so it can adjust.

So here's the first thing: leaf drop in a new ficus is to be expected, and is caused by reduction of light. The 2 leaves that are yellow are in the process of being dropped, not only because of the light changes but also because they are old. 70% of the plant's work is done by 30% of the new leaves. (Or something like that, don't quote me on numbers).

Here's some more stuff about the things you mentioned. Most important, and a thing many people don't know, is that you shouldn't repot a new plant. It's already in good planting medium (a soilless mix is what growers and interior landscapers use because its drainage properties are superior to potting soils such as MG). Since it has also been heavily fertilized to promote growth, new plants should not be fertilized for 6 months, either. Over fertilizing is much more of a danger than under fertilizing.

Another concern is up-potting. Unless the ficus was so big that it was toppling over, or the pot was completely solid with roots, it didn't need to be up-potted. When it gets so big that it won't stand up, or has so many roots that there's no room for water, and if you want it to grow bigger, then you can up-pot, but only one size at a time, e.g., 6" to 8" (measuring diameter at top of pot), 8" to 10", etc. (If you want it to stay smaller, instead of up-potting, you can root prune, and repot back into the same pot.)

I would recommend you put it back into a smaller pot, because having that large area of damp soil around the outside of the root mass is really asking for root rot to set in.

Something else you mentioned is tap water. One reads lots of talk of water, and how bad tap water is. I'll just say this about that. For all the hundreds of thousands of times I took care of plants, I always used tap water. Now there are probably some kinds of plants that need special care, but the plants commonly used in the house are tough and adaptable, and tap water doesn't hurt them Unless the water is softened, then the salt level is unacceptable and you would need to use rain water or bottled water. But I have read that distilled water is not good for plants.

This has turned into a really long post, but you brought up so many common misconceptions that I really wanted to address. Of course there's lots more, like watering and bugs and pruning...I invite you to stop by my blog, The Ficus Wrangler, where you can ask any question you want.

Hope to see you there.





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