Why Are My Ficus Leaves Turning Yellow? Find Out Now!
Ficus tree (Ficus benjamina) or commonly known as the weeping fig, is one of the most popular indoor plants that has a beautiful green appearance. But these magnificent robust plants can get sick from time to time. Most often, plant owners are concerned about this question: why are ficus leaves turning yellow?
Yellowing of the Ficus leaves can be caused by several factors: incorrect watering, lack of sunlight, temperature changes, transplant stress, pests or natural aging. The symptoms are easily identifiable: parts of the leaves are affected by yellow spots which spread rapidly and more or less uniformly, then fall, and growth is slowed down.
The yellowing of the Ficus leaves is caused by a different series of factors, such as lack of water in hot periods, the presence of soil parasites, the presence of insects, or even incorrect cultivation practices.
Let’s take a look at the most common reasons and how to solve the problem.
|Why are Ficus Leaves Turning Yellow:|
|1. Incorrect watering|
|2. Lack of light|
|3. Dry air|
|4. Low Temperature|
|5. Over or under fertilizing|
|8. Repotting Stress|
|9. Natural Aging|
1. Incorrect watering
One of the most widespread reasons that cause yellow leaves in the Ficus plant also known as the weeping fig, is incorrect watering schedule: there are high possibilities that the Ficus tree is watered excessively or, in completely opposite cases, receives a quantity of considerably less water than required.
Try to maintain a regular watering schedule during the active growing season and a widely spaced, yet still consistent, schedule during the winter months.
If the Ficus Benjamina has yellow leaves, the first one is caused by excessive watering or waterlogging.
Due to excess moisture at the roots, healthy roots turn brown and mushy as they perish, unable to absorb the nutrients needed for growth, hence the Ficus Benjamina leaves will turn yellow, also begin to die.
Ficuses tolerate temporary drought well. They also prefer drought to excess water, which inevitably results in leaf fall spreading over all the foliage.
Overwatering your Ficus tree, especially during winter, will create soggy, oxygen-depleted soils that promote the growth and multiplication of Pythium, Phytophthora, Rhizoctonia, or Fusarium fungi that spread through roots and infect plants.
If the soil is soaked, it will be necessary to suspend watering and check that the drain holes in the pot are not blocked.
It is recommended to always let the root soil dry out between two waterings, and never let water stagnate in the saucer. Watering should be regulated according to the seasons.
In fact, the Ficus tree needs a constantly moist soil, but suffers from water stagnation. For this reason, watering should not be too abundant but regular, every time the soil starts to dry out.
To facilitate this operation, it is advisable to move the plant to an airy area (but always away from drafts).
In summer, the ficus tree only needs water when the soil is completely dry. In winter, due to the heating air, the plant needs more water. But whether in summer or winter, waterlogging must be avoided.
To treat yellow leaves cause by waterlogging, do the following steps:
- Check the state of health of the Ficus roots
- Check if soil has dried out 2-3 cm from the surface.
- If rot is found, change the soil in the pot.
- Remove the rotten parts of the roots.
- Remove softened and rotten fig roots with sharp scissors or a knife.
- Thoroughly clean the pot and repot the weeping fig with fresh and dry substrate.
- Cover it with garden fleece to ensure adequate drainage.
- Wait about a week to water again after repotting.
Lack of water
The second most common reason ficus tree leaves are turning yellow is the lack of water. Admittedly, these plants do not like overly humid conditions, but rather prefer to be planted in well-drained soil.
However, letting ficus dry out too much between waterings is just as detrimental to their healthy development, as they anticipate drought and reduce the foliage they need to support in order to survive. This survival mechanism can be see initially as yellow leaves appear.
In this case, we must resume watering immediately, but in moderation, to bring the plant back to the ideal humidity conditions.
Most of the problems with growing these plants arise in part because of this dissonance between their native climate and the conditions in which they are grown.
Having genetically acclimated to very distinct wet and dry seasons, ficuses periodically lose a quantity of their leaf mass (around 20%) as a survival mechanism in the face of impending water shortages.
Waterings must be regular and sufficient to keep the soil moist but not rich in humidity. If, on the contrary, both the frequency and the quantity of irrigation are exceeded, the plant responds with yellowing of the leaves.
Water moderately, once a week for example. Wait for the soil to dry between 2 waterings, and use non-calcareous water if possible. The weeping fig requires weekly watering, with water at room temperature.
You can check the readiness of the Ficus Benjamin to accept water, which will not harm it, by digging up the soil, and dipping your finger into it to the soil. If the soil at this depth is still damp, then watering is not required yet.
In summer, the frequency must be higher, or if your interior is very dry, particularly because of the heating, it is better in any case to wait until the soil is dry before watering again. Misting the foliage prevents the leaves from drying out and gives beautiful foliage.
The solution in this case is to drastically reduce the water supply: the yellow leaves will dry up and fall off. It is also possible to repot the plant, eliminating both the excess soil and the damaged roots.
2. Lack of light
Ficus Benjamina gets a lot of yellow leaves in winter because there is a lack of light. Even if the Ficus Benjamina is right in front of the window, it doesn’t get enough light.
Which is why if it is grown in an apartment it will have to be placed in a bright room, otherwise the leaves will turn yellow and fall off.
The Ficus Benjamina that, out of season, drops its yellow leaves to the ground could suffer from being placed in the wrong place, inside the house or office.
When there is a lack of sunlight, it is recommended to move the ficus tree pot to a more suitable position.
The ficus requires bright light, without direct sunlight, for good growth. Place it in a brightly lit room. However, avoid inflicting air currents on it, as it is very sensitive to it.
In addition, the ficus does not like to be moved, it takes some time to adapt. So choose the most definitive location possible for repotting: the ficus is repotted every 2 to 3 years, when its container becomes too small.
3. Dry Air
Changes in environmental conditions such as dry air are another major reason why your ficus leaves are turning yellow.
Ficus Benjamina does not tolerate hot and dry air, so regularly moisten the plant so that the leaves do not dry out, turn yellow and fall off. Spray it from a distance of 20 cm with a fine mist sprayer or install a humidifier.
This problem occurs especially when the ficus is placed too close to a heat source (radiator, fireplace, etc.) or if your interior is too heated, with very high temperatures.
In winter, and in dry summers, the air humidity is too low, and the plants are under severe stress.
In the dry air of the living quarters, the ficus leaves turn yellow and fall off. To help, it is enough to put a flat container with water next to it, ensuring constant evaporation of moisture.
As the temperature changes and the length of the days get shorter, the plants exposure to sunlight in your home decreases and it will prepare for what it thinks is an impending dry season, triggering the coping mechanisms already mentioned.
It’s a natural process and all you have to do is turn back the waterings, strip the windows and stay optimistic.
To prevent this, it is recommended to periodically spray the flowers with water at room temperature or wipe the leaves with a damp cloth, and also use a humidifier.
A good way out will be a daily thorough spraying of the foliage. The reason is that smaller leaves retain moisture worse inside.
4. Low Temperature
Another environmental cause responsible for yellow leaves in ficus is exposure to too low or cold temperatures. Like the other stress factors already mentioned, these temperature fluctuations trigger the survival mechanism in plants and that is why the ficus leaves are turning yellow.
Because Ficuses are tropical plants, a drop in temperature 50-52°F (10°C-12°C) is the triggering factor and it is recommended that temperature should not be lower than 54°F (14°C) .
So that it gets enough daylight, Ficus Benjamina is usually in front of the window. However, it is precisely this place that causes a lot of yellow leaves in winter, because the plant does not tolerate cold air when airing.
Even if the air is only briefly ventilated in winter, the cold air resulting in your ficus tree leaves turning yellow and fall off.
Like any plant of tropical and subtropical origin, the ficus is not suited to withstanding the harsh winters in our gardens and is therefore placed in pots, so as to be sheltered from the cold in winter.
For this reason it is essential to remember to take Ficus Benjamina away at the beginning of the cold season and to keep the ficus in an environment where the temperatures they do not go below 54°F (14°C).
Bringing the ficus into the house is not enough: it is also necessary to make sure that it is not exposed to cold air currents, which could cause the same disturbance.
In the cold season, it is also recommended to place the plant away from heating appliances so that it does not suffer from frequent temperature changes.
5. Over or under fertilizing
Fertilizing Ficus too much or too little can cause the foliage to turn yellow or cause brown, dry spots. As you can imagine, the reasons are different depending on whether it is an excess or a lack of nutrients.
Using fertilizer that is too concentrated or administering it too often causes an increase in soil salinity which limits water absorption, causing the edges of the leaves to turn yellow and dry.
Do not fertilize at all instead, it slows down the growth of Ficus benjamina and causes the older leaves to turn yellow due to a lack of nutrients (for example nitrogen).
Fertilize the Ficus every 2-3 waterings throughout the period of active growth (usually between April and September) using a well diluted solution.
I recommend fertilizing with fertilizer for green plants using half the dosage recommended on the label, or spreading a slow-release fertilizer on the surface of the soil around mid-March.
When the leaves of the ficus plant begin to take a yellow color, become covered with spots and stripes, then most likely this is a fungal disease. Diseases may arise due to improper care, infection from the ground or from other indoor plants.
Root rot is a fungal or bacterial disease that is difficult to detect as it occurs below the soil surface and is therefore out of sight. However, the common telltale symptom is that the leaves of the ficus turn yellow and wilt before falling.
So if your ficus loses its already yellowed leaves, remove as much of the soggy soil as possible by adding fresh, clean potting soil as a health-restoring measure.
Another most common disease of ficus and other indoor plants is ficus rust. This disease is accompanied by the appearance of yellow to dark brown spots.
Later, the leaves become covered with ulcers, and the ficus begins to shed them, as a result of which it can become completely bare. You can cure flowers affected by rust with a fungicide treatment.
Dampness and excessive humidification of the air in the room can cause the disease cercosporosis. It is accompanied by the appearance of small brown or black spots on the lower part of the leaves of the plant.
Then these spots increase, the ficus leaves start turning yellow and fall off; if you start the disease, then the flowers may die altogether. You can cure cercosporiose with a fungicide and other antifungal treatment.
A series of harmful insects such as red spider mites, mealybugs and thrips causes ficus tree leaves to turn yellow. Sticky or mealy spots, brown or yellow growths, cobwebs, bite marks are all signs that pests have attacked the ficus tree.
In addition to incorrect cultural practices, the leaves of the ficus plant can turn yellow due to the presence of scale insects, small insects that settle on the leaves and feed on the lifeblood of the plant. The leaves tend to automatically turn yellow and fall off.
By feeding on the sap extracted from the leaves, the parasites in fact cause a general weakening which causes the yellowing of the plant. The presence of parasites should not be underestimated or ignored because the colonizing insects would end up causing the death of the plant.
|Ficus Tree Pests||Description||Treatment|
|1. Red spider mites||They feed on the sap of the ficus plant, by sucking the underside of the leaves, which turn yellow.||Treat with a biological acaricide sold in specialized stores. |
Avoid chemicals, especially in indoor plants.
|2. Mealybugs||Live in colonies and suck the sap from the ficus leaves. The bites will became infected and the affected leaves turn yellow and fall.||Wipe the leaves with alcohol, vodka, or a soap-alcohol solution to make the pests more vulnerable to chemicals. |
Then remove all visible mealybugs and treat the plant with insecticides.
|3. Thrips||Small insects that invade the ficus plant in a group that is visually well visible. |
The leaf turns pale, its color changes to white-yellow.
|Treat the plant with insecticides to get rid of thrips. |
Mist Ficus Benjamin leaves regularly and humidify the air to prevent thrips.
Red Spider Mites
The most widespread parasite for the colonization of ficuses is the red spider mite. Recognizing its presence from the simple yellowing of the ficus leaves due to unfavorable environmental conditions is quite simple: in this case, the leaf will also have spots on the underside, it will begin to curl up and fall off.
The red spider mite, tends to attack the ficus tree when the climate is hot, forming cobwebs between the leaves and making small holes on the side of the leaf itself; these holes become the attack channel for bacteria. They are also eliminated with alcohol, soap and continuous treatment.
Inspect the plant once a week, especially the underside of the leaf. When unexpected pests appear, treat the ficus with an insecticidal preparation.
Mealybugs are small insects that spread due to excessive humidity of the place where the plant is located and can be easily recognized by the thick and opaque powder, it spreads on the inside of the leaves.
Ficus, devoured by this parasite, stops growing, its foliage is deformed and falls off. You can cure the plant by treating the leaves with a soap or tobacco solution.
The scale insects are safely hidden under these protective shields and are therefore difficult to combat. As soon as you discover the infestation, you should either wipe off the scale insects or cut back the plant.
The pests can be controlled biologically with oil-based agents or with alcohol and cotton balls. It is important that the application is carried out several times.
The plant must then be disinfected from top to bottom, or even with normal insecticide.
8. Repotting Stress
Indoor flowers like ficus trees will turn yellow if it have suffered from stress of repotting. And quite often this is the main reason why the foliage turns yellow.
First of all, mass yellowing is characteristic of the plant in the period after repotting, no matter how, but for the plant this is a lot of stress.
A distinctive feature of almost all varieties of ficus is conservatism; these plants do not like transplanting and any other repotting procedure. Experts do not recommend moving the ficus from its “familiar” place and often replanting it without a good reason.
Usually, after a short period of time, the situation stabilizes and the plant grows healthy green leaves. If this does not happen, it is possible that the root system was damaged during transplantation or that the substrate was not chosen correctly.
It is better to immediately transplant a newly purchased plant into a new pot and place it in the most favorable place for it: in this way, additional stress and excessive loss of leaves can be avoided.
When it comes to repotting, special attention must be taken. Do not repot ficus from a small pot immediately into a large one.
Young ficus plants are repotted once a year, gradually increasing the volume of the pot.
Ficus trees of medium height are transplanted every 2 years. Mature plants are repotted as needed. The signal that the pot is small is the roots that have appeared in the drainage hole of the pot.
However, if the ficus exposure, position and humidity are correct, it’s only a matter of time: the Ficus tree will adapt to the new pot and regain strength.
How to Repot Ficus Tree
Ficus Benjamina is repotted every two years as follows:
- Pull the flower out of the container, shake off excess soil;
- Transfer it to a larger flowerpot;
- Fill the pot bottom with a drainage layer, put an earthen mixture on top of it;
- Fill the distance between the walls of the pot and the ficus with soil with fertilizers;
- Water ficus Benjamina until no water remains at the bottom of the pot.
9. Natural Aging
Like all the other plants, ficus trees will undergo aging, a natural process during which old leaves turn yellow and fall and new leaves appear.
Old leaves fall off starting from the bottom of the trunk and in winter and autumn, ficus loses more leaves than in summer and spring.
If the foliage is turning yellow suddenly and massively, you need to look for another reason why is happening.
How to Prevent Ficus Leaves from Turning Yellow
- Place a flowerpot with Ficus away from windows and balconies: due to drafts, the plant may begin to shed its leaves.
- Reduce winter watering if the room temperature is less than 50°F (10°C).
- Maintain a temperature of 68-70°F (20-25°C) in spring and summer, 16°C in winter.
- Refresh the foliage regularly by spraying or wiping with a damp sponge.
- Place the flower pot in a place with sufficient lighting, where there is no direct sunlight. The best option is the east side of the house.
- Transplant a young plant annually, an adult – every few years.
- Before watering, loosen the soil – so the moisture is evenly distributed over the ground.
- Use only a quality, nutrient-rich mixture to grow a flower. Apply fertilizer as needed.
|Ficus Tree Care Requirements||Description|
|1. Water||Water moderately until the soil is slightly moist. |
In summer, once a week.
In winter, every 15 days, taking care not to flood the roots.
|2. Sunlight||At least 5 hours of direct sunlight per day. Abundant lighting, but without direct sunlight.|
|3. Temperature||Minimum temperature during the day: 16 ℃|
Minimum temperature during the night: 14 ℃
Keep your ficus between 20 and 25 °C, always avoiding sudden changes in temperature.
|4. Humidity||Above 40 %.|
|5. Fertilizer||Once a month from April to September. Do not fertilize in autumn or winter.|
During growth period, fertilize every 15 days.
|6. Repotting||Repot a Ficus in the spring, or immediately after purchase.|
Repot the plant about every 2 years.
|7. Pests||Red Spider Mites, Mealybugs and Aphids.|
|8. Pruning||Prune the Ficus every fall, or when the plant gets too big.|
|9. Lifespan||Indoor around 10 years in a pot. Outside can last up to 200 years.|
And here we are at the end of this post on the 9 reasons why Ficus benjamina has yellow leaves. I hope the article was helpful to you and it was worth reading this far.
Frequently Asked Questions
Many times we find that the leaves of the ficus have turned yellow. This is due to overwatering. The ficus does not like excess water and only needs to be watered every ten days in winter and once a week (depending on the heat) in summer. Let it dry until it recovers.
When the leaves begin to fall from a ficus, this is usually due to a lack of light. It is a plant that enjoys a lot in very well lit corners. In this case, move the ficus tree to a brighter space.
When we see discolored leaves and small brown insects, it is usually due to a mealybug attack. It is a nuisance pest, requiring immediate action. Here is our guide to tips to identify the mealybug and know how to treat it.
The substrate has a major impact on the health of the Ficus Benjamina. The houseplant loves slightly acidic soil. Firm, impermeable soil causes yellow leaves.
In winter, the living quarters must be heated. A room temperature in winter above 18 degrees Celsius causes the leaves to turn yellow.
In summer, the ficus feels most comfortable at temperatures of 20 to 26 degrees Celsius.
Brown leaves are a sign that your Ficus is getting too much or too little water. If you systematically give your Ficus too much water, it will “sink”.
The roots of your plant will slam shut in self-protection and eventually the plant will even succumb.