Weeping Fig Dropping Leaves: Why Is My Ficus Tree Losing Leaves?

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If you have grown a Ficus tree indoors you have experienced your Ficus dropping leaves.

Few people who have ever bought a Ficus tree (weeping fig tree), especially Ficus Benjamina, have not needed to pull out a broom, get down on their knees or get out the vacuum to clean up all the ficus leaves falling off and dropping. Sorry, those items are not on our ficus plants tool list!

Even though people know that when a Ficus is brought home it is going start dropping leaves, it has remained one of the most popular indoor plants.

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Photo Credit: Instagram @yukinausagi

So “Why is my Ficus dropping leaves all of a sudden?” This includes the rubber plant but the leaves loss is not as great as the weeping fig dropping leaves.

3 possible reasons cause leaves to drop on Ficus trees:

  • Change in the environment – including lighting, water & fertilizing
  • Water stress – too much water or not enough water (too wet or soil is dry)
  • Insect or pests

Ask most plant professionals, “Why are my Ficus leaves falling off?” and you’ll get a short, simple answer—it’s acclimating. That’s true, but a more complete answer will help you understand what is happening to your indoor ficus.

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Photo Credit: Instagram @dear_my_loves_

When the term “acclimating” is used, most people refer to plants moving to different light levels – high to lower or low to higher. However, with Ficus trees, knowing a little about where they come from and gaining better insight into this “creature of habit” can help in understanding a ficus dropping leaves.

NOTE: Schefflera arboricola can also suffer extensive leaf drop when acclimating.

The Ficus Dry Season – Environment

Just as birds migrate, benjamina ficus comes from an area with very distinct seasons – wet and dry.

How To Care For A Ficus Tree in Dry Season?

Ficus standard growing as a standard spiralPin

To survive in the dry season, Ficus plants drop leaves. This reduces the number of leaves the plant needs to support. During the dry season, the Ficus does not have enough water to support the leaf canopy. When rains return, the canopy returns with new growth.

Ficus trees drop leaves as a survival mechanism. Unlike other ficus species, they are creatures of habit and do not like change.

Winter Leaf Drop On Ficus

Lighting is very important in growing Ficus. Every year, when winter hits, and lighting is reduced indoors, Ficus trees often lose some leaves. The leaves turn yellow and drop.

A Ficus plant’s loss of leaves is part of the normal process of learning to care for them properly. It is not uncommon for a tree to lose 20% of its leaves during the acclimation transition.

Lush bonsai in a pot outdoors.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @allergybutler_idaho

If your plants summer outdoors and move inside for winter – drop ficus leaves (greater than 20% is expected) as they acclimate to their new indoor environment.

If your plants have been inside all along, leaf drop can result from reduced light during winter, low humidity, and drier indoor conditions from heat.

Place your Ficus houseplant in your brightest window, they love light and light helps with a multitude of Ficus problems.

Ficus Watering Adjustments

Generally, when watering Ficus, if the plants get a lot of light, water more, and less water if less light is available. My best success with Ficus indoors was when the plants were grown on sub-irrigation.

Ficus benjamina spirals growing in shade housePin

Why Less Water?

Less light means less growth and reduced water requirements. Ficus tree roots have aggressive systems and can quickly fill a pot with roots, making watering difficult.

If your plants are dropping lots of leaves, check to make sure they are not rootbound. If so, consider repotting into a slightly larger pot or trimming the canopy to reduce the number of leaves. In general, keep the soil moist but never soggy wet.

Ficus Pest & Insect Problems

A happy, well-grown Ficus has few insect or pest problems, but leaves turning yellow can be caused by the common insects of scale, Ficus mealybug, and spider mites.

To control any of these plant pests, spray them with organic Neem insecticide oil.

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Once the Ficus is stable and actively growing, care is minimal. Usually, all that is needed is a weekly check of the soil moisture and watering if needed. Rotating your Ficus tree a quarter turn each week is recommended to give the plant even lighting.

Over time as the tree grows, your Ficus will need pruning and shaping, typically every spring, depending on its speed of growth.

Once you have decided where you are going to place your Ficus (the more light, the better), give it the same lighting and the same amount of water, and stay on the same schedule.

Cat peeking through houseplants.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @julessiu

In case I didn’t mention it, if you throw on some Ficus tree fertilizer you can also expect some leaf drop – again it is a change Ficus dislikes. Using a liquid food at 1/2 strength is probably a good recommendation.

A well-maintained ficus tree can be a stunning addition to any home for years. This includes the Ficus elastica rubber plant varieties.

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