Why is My Ficus Tree Leaves Turning Yellow and Dropping? Simple Causes & Solutions

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While ficus trees are relatively easy to care for, they can be susceptible to a variety of issues that can cause their leaves to turn yellow and drop. Some of these issues may include over or underwatering, pests, disease, or changes in the environment. Identifying the root cause of yellowing leaves and dropping can be a challenge, but understanding the potential factors involved can help gardeners take appropriate action to save their plant. By paying attention to the plant’s growing conditions and taking steps to address any issues as they arise, gardeners can help keep their ficus trees healthy and thriving.

Common Causes of Yellowing Leaves


One of the primary reasons for ficus tree leaves turning yellow is overwatering. Excess water can lead to root rot, making it difficult for the tree to absorb nutrients and oxygen. This stress on the tree causes the leaves to turn yellow and eventually fall off. It is crucial to maintain a balance between keeping the soil moist but not waterlogged. To avoid overwatering, ensure proper drainage in the pot or container and always check the soil’s moisture before adding water.


Underwatering is another common cause of yellowing leaves on a ficus tree. Insufficient water affects the tree’s ability to regulate itself, leading to the eventual yellowing and dropping off of leaves. To identify if underwatering is the issue, examine the soil’s moisture level in the pot. If the soil is too dry, adjust the watering schedule accordingly to provide the necessary moisture to the plant. (source)

Inadequate Light

Light is essential for a ficus tree to produce food through photosynthesis. When the tree receives inadequate light, its ability to produce food is compromised, leading to yellowing leaves. Make sure the ficus tree is receiving enough natural light or consider using artificial lighting to supplement its needs. However, take note that too much direct sunlight can also damage the leaves, so it is essential to find the right balance.

Environmental Factors

Ficus trees are quite sensitive to changes in their environment. Factors such as sudden temperature changes, drafty areas, and fluctuating humidity levels can cause the leaves to turn yellow and drop off. Aim to keep the ficus tree in a stable environment with consistent temperature and humidity levels to promote healthy growth.

Nutrient Deficiencies

A lack of essential nutrients can also contribute to yellowing leaves on a ficus tree. For instance, a deficiency in nitrogen or iron can cause leaves to lose their green color and turn yellow. To address this issue, carefully choose the right type of fertilizer for your ficus tree and follow the recommended application instructions. This will help ensure that your tree receives the necessary nutrients for healthy growth.

Dropping Leaves

There are various reasons why a ficus tree’s leaves might turn yellow and drop. In this section, we will explore the natural shedding process, root damage, and pest infestations as potential causes.

Natural Shedding Process

It is not uncommon for ficus trees to shed leaves during seasonal changes. As the humidity and temperature in your home change, the ficus may react by losing leaves. In some cases, leaves may turn yellow prior to falling off, which is generally not a significant cause for concern[source].

Root Damage

Insufficient watering is another factor that may cause ficus leaves to turn yellow and drop. Ficus trees require regular watering, and if the plant is underwatered, it may react by shedding leaves[source]. To address this issue, water the tree every time the soil dries out to a depth of at least 1 inch[source].

Pest Infestations

Pests, such as scale insects, can infest a ficus tree and cause leaves to turn yellow. These insects suck sap and chlorophyll from the plant, which results in yellow spots appearing on the foliage[source]. When dealing with this type of issue, early identification and control of the insects are crucial in order to protect the tree and ensure its long-term health.

How to Prevent Yellowing and Dropping Leaves

Proper Watering Techniques

One of the main causes of yellowing and dropping leaves in ficus trees is improper watering. To prevent this issue, it is crucial to maintain the right moisture level in the soil. Ficus trees prefer moist, well-draining soil. Check the soil regularly by sticking your finger a couple of inches into the ground to determine if it needs watering (Homescopes). Be mindful not to overwater or let the soil dry out too much, as both can lead to leaf problems.

Light and Temperature Requirements

Ficus trees thrive in bright indirect sunlight, so make sure to place your tree near a window with filtered light. Avoid exposure to direct sunlight, as it can scorch the leaves and cause yellowing. Alternatively, insufficient light can also result in leaf drop, so monitor the light levels and adjust accordingly. Moreover, ficus trees are sensitive to cold drafts and sudden temperature changes, which can trigger leaf drop. Keep the tree in a stable environment, away from air conditioning or heating vents, to prevent temperature fluctuations (Plantophiles).

Fertilization and Soil Management

Proper fertilization is vital in maintaining your ficus tree’s health and preventing leaves from turning yellow. Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer diluted at half strength during the growing season (spring and summer), and reduce fertilization in fall and winter. Tap water can alter the pH level of the soil, leading to leaf yellowing, so consider using filtered or rainwater for watering (Plant Paladin).

Regularly monitor the soil pH and amend it as needed to maintain a slightly acidic to neutral pH range (between 6.0-7.0). Perform periodic soil tests to ensure proper nutrient levels and adjust the fertilizer application based on the results.

Regular Maintenance

Keeping your ficus tree clean and well-maintained can go a long way in preventing leaf yellowing and dropping. Remove any dust and dirt from the leaves with a soft, damp cloth or gently spray the foliage to dislodge debris. Monitor the tree for pests such as aphids or scale, which can lead to leaf problems. If you notice any infestations, treat the tree with an appropriate insecticidal soap or neem oil solution, ensuring thorough coverage (Gardening Know How).

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