Houseplant SOS
December 1, 2009 9:59 AM   Subscribe

Help me rescue my Ficus Benjamina!

My little indoor ficus benjamina has started looking really unhappy ever since the cold weather started and I've had to keep the heating on indoors. It's shedding a lot of dry, crumpled leaves. How can I stop this without moving the plant or keeping the windows open (it's freezing where I am)?

Please be gentle with a rookie indoor gardener. I know zero. I've had the plant for months. It's always been fairly happy till now even though it doesn't get a ton of direct light.
posted by Ziggy500 to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Ficus trees are notoriously sensitive, and seem to drop leaves whenever you look at them funny. Leave it alone, and I bet it recovers.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:26 AM on December 1, 2009

mist it with water once a day, give it some light but not direct sunlight, and don't move it around too much. They don't like change.
posted by ducktape at 10:44 AM on December 1, 2009

A friend has a ficus that drops almost all its leaves every fall. They always grow back in spring. Maybe your ficus is deciduous too?
posted by amf at 11:16 AM on December 1, 2009

Maybe I live in a good part of the world, but my ficuses only drop leaves when I either water them too often (more than once every week or two) or too little. I have one that recently dropped leaves because I hadn't watered it in like a month or 6 weeks. It's recovering nicely a week later.
posted by rhizome at 12:09 PM on December 1, 2009

My understanding is that Ficus trees are very sensitive to light levels, specifically. They seem to program their leaves for a certain level of light when the leaves sprout. I have a ficus religiosa (which is even more light sensitive than benjamina) that I keep outside during the summer and indoors during the winter. Every time I move it in or out it loses all of its leaves and sprouts new ones in a couple of weeks.

It is quite possible that having the sun lower in the sky and/or shorter day length was enough to trigger it for an indoor tree.

I would recommend that you leave the tree in the place where you plan to leave it for the winter (or somewhere with consistent, bright-ish light levels) and water normally (deep soaking, then let the soil almost dry out before the next one). I wouldn't mist, you'll just increase the chance of fungus.

Good luck!
posted by aquafiend at 12:10 PM on December 1, 2009

Ficus trees drop leaves like crazy when the light changes, then they relax. Don't sweat it. You could get a grow bulb for it if you want it to look more luscious.
posted by twistofrhyme at 12:51 PM on December 1, 2009

All of the above plus be aware that when you turn on the heat, you are drying out the air in your home. Misting the leaves and/or watering just a little more often will help make up for this loss of humidity. Don't overdo it!
posted by Old Geezer at 3:20 PM on December 1, 2009

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