Helping A Ficus Tree That Is Dropping Leaves

Potted Large Ficus Tree
ficus in a pot
(Image credit: Andrey Nikitin)

Ficus trees are a popular houseplant that can be found in many homes, but the attractive and easy-to-care-for ficus trees still have a frustrating habit of dropping leaves, seemingly without reason. This leaves many ficus owners asking, “Why is my ficus losing leaves?”. The causes for dropping ficus leaves are many, but when you know what they are, this can help you pin down the reason your ficus tree leaves are falling off.

Reasons for Ficus Tree Dropping Leaves

First of all, realize that it is normal for a ficus tree to lose some leaves. A few leaves dropping off a ficus tree will not hurt it and it will regrow, but if your ficus is losing more than a few leaves, the following reasons could be why: 

Change in environment - The most common cause for dropping ficus leaves is that its environment has changed. Often, you will see ficus leaves drop when the seasons change. The humidity and temperature in your house also changes at this time and this can cause ficus trees to lose leaves. 

If this is affecting your tree, the leaves on the ficus tree may be yellow in addition to falling off. To help with this, try 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. Also, once you have placed your ficus tree in your home, do not move it. 

Incorrect watering - Underwatering or overwatering both can cause a ficus tree to lose leaves. An improperly watered ficus tree may have yellowing leaves and the ficus tree leaves may curl. Water the soil only when the very top of the soil is dry, but also make sure that your ficus tree's pot has 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 the tree, root rot may have set in, and you will need to treat the ficus tree for that. 

Too little light - Another reason for ficus tree leaves falling off is that the tree is getting too little light. Often, a ficus tree that is getting too little light will look sparse and spindly. New leaves may also appear pale or even white. In this case, you should move the ficus tree to a location where it will get more light. 

Pests - Ficus trees are susceptible to a few pests that can cause a ficus tree to drop leaves. Often, 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 an insecticide like neem oil

Fungus - Ficus trees are also occasionally 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 correctly treat this reason for ficus tree leaves falling off, use fungicide (like neem oil) on the tree.

Heather Rhoades
Founder of Gardening Know How

Heather Rhoades founded Gardening Know How in 2007. She holds degrees from Cleveland State University and Northern Kentucky University. She is an avid gardener with a passion for community, and is a recipient of the Master Gardeners of Ohio Lifetime Achievement Award.