How to Save a Dying Ficus Tree (5 Reasons & Solutions)
There’s hardly any indoor ornamental plant in the world that’s more popular than Ficus.
Many houses you walk into will have this plant adding greenery to the interior decor.
Ficuses are also occasionally grown in gardens where they can grow even higher and liven up the outdoor space with their large green leaves.
However, growing ficuses is not without its challenges.
While they’re not particularly difficult to care for, there are some issues that there are vulnerable to and some of those can be especially dangerous for the plant, even sometimes causing it to die.
The good news is that most of these problems are preventable and even if your Ficus looks like dying, most likely, there’s still a chance to save it.
Below I’ll look into the main issues Ficuses can suffer from and explain how to save a dying Ficus tree.
So, let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
How to Save a Dying Ficus Tree
To save a dying Ficus tree, you need to always keep an eye out for any changes that may be happening to your plant.
There are several signs that can tell you that Ficus is suffering and noticing them and reacting on time will, in most cases, help you revive it and get it back to healthy growth.
Commonly, the first sign that something is wrong is the change in the appearance of the leaves.
They will become wilted and droopy, turn yellow, and gain brownish spots across their surface. Also, the entire plant will become more pale-looking.
These signs typically point to the underlying problem in the plant’s environment.
The most common causes that can lead to Ficus being damaged or even dying are improper watering, lack of or too much sunlight, and nutrient deficiency.
I’ll go through each of them and explain how to deal with these issues.
One of the most common causes that can lead to Ficus tree dying is underwatering. As Ficus is a fairly sensitive plant, it’s essential that you water it properly.
Otherwise, it won’t be able to achieve healthy growth and development.
If you don’t water it enough, the soil around the plant will become dry and the roots of your Ficus won’t be able to absorb all the water it needs.
As a result, leaves will start to curl up. If this issue goes on for a longer period, the leaves will turn yellow and eventually drop off.
Ultimately, the plant won’t be able to function and may die off completely.
What to Do?
Logically, the solution to this problem is to water your Ficus regularly.
In general, you should do it once a week, but make sure to occasionally test the soil to see if it dried up.
Simply stick your finger about 1 or 2 inches deep, and if the soil is dry and feels sandy, then it’s time to water your plant.
Underwatered plants will suffer and their leaves may turn low and wilt, but, if you notice the issue on time, you can probably revive them in around a week.
After watering the Ficus, look if there are any areas of soil that are still dry and add water, over these to make sure your plant will get enough water and thrive once again.
Overwatering the plant can often be even more damaging than underwatering.
This is because too much water can cause the Ficus root to rot, hindering the ability of the entire plant to absorb necessary nutrients of the soil.
If the plant is left in soil that’s too wet for too long it will eventually die.
Plus, damp soil creates perfect conditions for the development of fungi and bacteria which can cause infections that can be life-threatening for your plant.
The best way to tell if you’ve been overwatering your Ficus is to check the soil every couple of days.
If it’s still very moist even a few days after watering, then you have probably been adding too much water.
When this happens, Ficus leaves and branches will look like they’re dry even though the soil has too much water in it.
What to Do?
To avoid overwatering, never water the Ficus if the soil still feels moist to the touch. In that case, wait 24 hours and then check again to see if the soil has dried out.
If due to too much water in the soil, the Ficus has already developed root rot, you will likely have to take more drastic measures.
The first thing to do is to remove the affected parts of the root and stop the spread of the rot to the healthy portion.
Then, it’s best that you relocate the entire plant and repot it into a new pot with fresh soil.
If you plan to use the same pot, then make sure to thoroughly clean it with liquid soap.
Even without overwatering and root rot issues, it’s a good idea to repot your Ficus every two or three years.
Lack of Sunlight
One of the main reasons why your Ficus tree might be dying is the lack of sunlight.
Even though it can thrive in indoor conditions, the Ficus still needs 4-6 hours of sunlight per day for a healthy growth and proper development.
It’s a necessary precondition so the plant can perform photosynthesis and survive.
The most common symptoms telling you that your Ficus isn’t getting enough sunlight are wilting of the leaves and a change of their natural color to yellow or white.
Plus, the branches and stems may be getting thinner and more protracted as they look to find more light.
What to Do?
The easiest way to ensure that your Ficus gets enough sunlight is to move it to a brighter location.
If you keep it indoors, the best spot would be next to the south or west-facing window where it can get the most light, especially during the times of the day when it’s not too direct or strong.
Alternatively, you can invest in LED grow lights which can be a great solution if you keep your Ficus in an area without many sources of light.
If you live in an area with a moderate or warmer climate, you can even consider moving your Ficus outdoors, at least for a portion of the year.
We already established that a lack of light can harm the Ficus, but too much of it can also be damaging.
Excessive sunlight can cause sunburns, causing leaves discoloration and making them change their color into shades of brown.
Plus, they will wilt and dry out before eventually falling off.
More importantly, excessive sunlight will impede their ability to perform their function within the system of the entire plant.
What to Do?
First of all, your Ficus should never be directly exposed to sunlight. Look to provide it with filtered light through netting or drapes.
If needed, move the plant to a more shady location, while making sure that it still gets its 4-6 hours of sunlight.
Striking the right balance with the sunlight can be tricky and if you have just purchased your Ficus, you may have to go through a bit of trial-and-error before finding a perfect location in terms of the optimal amount of light it will get.
Lack of Nutrients
Finally, your Ficus may suffer and even die eventually if it’s not getting enough nutrients.
The inability to absorb the optimal amount of nutrients from the soil will cause the discoloration and shedding of the leaves and if these conditions last for a longer period, the plant may not survive.
The exact symptoms may differ, depending on the type of nutrient that’s lacking.
Lack of nitrogen will make the leaves turn yellow, not enough phosphorus will result in purple or brown spots, while the edges of the leaves will turn brown if the Ficus is not getting enough potassium.
What to Do?
If your Ficus is suffering from nutrient deficiency, then, of course, you have to find a way to provide it with more nutrients.
This is best done by adding either compost or fertilizer.
Compost is an organic and natural solution and will prove a good and versatile source of nutrients.
If you plan to use fertilizer, make sure to use the one that is developed for use on ficuses and closely follow the instruction on how much to add and how to dilute it.
When you grow Ficus, you will likely face some issues, at least at some points during its life span.
Some of these will be rather benign and are not much of a reason for concern. However, others can severely damage the plant and even cause it to die.
That’s why it’s important to learn and understand how to save a dying Ficus tree as that will help you choose the right course of action in these situations and revive your plant.
Of course, to be able to do this, you will have to closely monitor your Ficus and keep an eye out for any symptoms that may point to a potential issue.
When you react on time and take the right course of action, your Ficus should be able to recover rather quickly and get back to its full glory.