Ficus Care - A Plant That Doesn't Like Change
Ficus care revolves around a tree that doesn't much like change and is finicky in some other ways as well. Ficus tree owners can relate to Charlie Brown's Christmas tree, the sad little specimen that drops a bunch of its few remaining needles every time it is picked up, set down, or on occasion, simply looked at.
The Ficus tree is something like that, though it has a definite purpose in mind. Part of Ficus care is routinely picking up shed leaves if we're talking about a house plant, or raking up the leaves periodically if it's the outdoor variety. Much of this leaf collecting has to do with the way the tree is watered. The Ficus is somewhat finicky about its water supply. If it is getting too much water, the leaves will start turning from green to yellow and begin to drop off. If you forget to water it on schedule, the Ficus brain, where ever that is, tells the tree that the dry season is approaching. Knowing that it cannot nourish all of its leaves during a dry period, it beings to shed them - while they are still green!
Movement and location are also important factors in Ficus care, and a wrong move here can result in lost leaves as well. Most Ficus trees are grown as house plants, especially Ficus benjamina, the "Weeping Fig". It is called a Weeping Fig because of the drooping branches, not as one might expect because it can often shed its leaves like tears. The Weeping Fig is a very attractive and popular plant in the home or office, in spite of its somewhat temperamental nature.
Location, Location, Location - Choice of location is a very important aspect of Ficus care. Find a spot where the tree will get some bright sunlight every day. Some sunlight is best, full sun all day is not quite so good. Room temperature is best for this plant, the important thing being that the temperature doesn't vary greatly. Putting the Ficus next to a space heater can affect its health and, among other things, result in its shedding some leaves It's best to select one location and settle on that. It's also advisable to rotate the tree on occasion, so all sides get their share of light. It may drop a couple of leaves when doing so, but will be a healthier tree in spite of it.
If you really mistreat the Ficus, which doesn't take much from this sensitive tree's point of view, it might just drop all of its leave. Now you seemingly have a dead Ficus on your hands, and some will simply dispose of the tree when that happens. The chances are, the Ficus isn't dead all, it has simply gone into one of its defense mechanisms, and if left alone, new leaves will soon sprout, and the tree will quickly return to its natural state.
Much of the above can be prevented by choosing a healthy tree in the first place. When purchasing a tree at a nursery, look for the strongest, healthiest specimen you can find, even if it may cost a bit more. It may shed a few leaves on the trip to your home or office, but that's just its way of reminding you that it is going to demand careful attention and good care.
Misting Helps - Part of Ficus care involves re potting the tree, especially the young tree every couple of years. Eventually it will grow large enough so that re potting is no longer practical, but by that time it will likely be as large as you want it anyhow. The Ficus likes it rather humid, which can be managed by occasionally misting its branches. A daily misting would be best whenever possible. Don't be alarmed if the tree seems to stop growing. It is a seasonal grower, and will slow down during the winter months, even as a house plant. The tree can be placed outside in the summer whenever the nighttime temperatures don't fall below 50 degrees, otherwise just keep the plant indoors the year around.