Guide: Ficus Trees
Though they’re extremely popular as houseplants, ficus trees have a reputation of being…very particular about their care. One of the more common questions we receive here is “what’s up with my ficus tree?” In today’s post, we’ll go over the proper care of ficus trees and address the more common problems that plague them.
Ficus trees prefer bright indirect or filtered light, while variegated varieties can tolerate medium light. Bright direct sunlight can lead to scalding and leaf loss. On the other hand, too little light can also cause leaf drop.
These plants are extremely sensitive to changes in temperature – they can’t tolerate low temperatures or any drafts. Keep them in temperatures above 60°, but they prefer temps above 70°. Place them where a draft won’t be an issue.
Maintain a high humidity around your ficus trees to prevent leaf loss. Regular misting or setting the tree on a pebble tray filled with water can help increase humidity. Keep in mind that ficus don’t like overly wet roots.
When watering, check the top of the soil first. If the top is wet, then don’t water – it means the plant has enough moisture for now. If the top of the soil feels dry, then it’s time to water.
Ficus trees are rapid growers, and they require adequate nutrients in order to grow well. Fertilize once a month in the spring and summer, and once every two months in the fall and winter. A general Miracle Gro All-Purpose Plant Food will suffice; follow the instructions on the box for appropriate amounts.
It isn’t usual for ficus trees to act up when they aren’t receiving optimal care – and they will surely let you know. Leaf drop is the most common issue with ficus trees, and it can happen as a reaction to stress for a number of reasons:
- Under or over-watering
- Low humidity
- Too little light
- Relocation or repotting
- Change in temperature (too hot or too cold)
Go through the checklist of ficus care and see where changes can be made. Keep in mind as well that stressed plants become extremely prone to insect problems. A healthy ficus tree won’t see these problems, but a stressed one (likely losing leaves) will develop a pest problem quickly. If you notice “sap” dripping from the leaves (honeydew secreted from invading pests), it’s a sure sign of an infestation. Treat accordingly.