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Lighting for ficus


I live in India and light is not an issue here although the year. But unfortunately I have a balcony that rarely gets any direct sunlight due to the direction it was in and the other blocks of the apartment that block the light.

I am able to successfully grow a Jade plant, two rubber figs (Ficus Elastica), Fiddle leaf fig (Ficus Lyrata) and Aloe Vera. They are all growing well, even Aloe Vera now has three pups. I tried to grow Weeping fig, Ficus Panda and few other ficus verities multiple times but all shed leaves and died within a month. I am wondering if the low light is killing these plants but unsure how Aloe Vera is thriving in this light.

How do I determine if this is only due to light and nothing else?

Posts: 11275
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Lighting for ficus

Whenever the light from figs are changed especially if they are going from high light to low light they will drop their leaves. They think winter has come. When the leaves drop the plant goes dormant but usually does not die. You need to be careful not to overwater them in dormancy but as long as the branches are not brittle, they will usually regrow the leaves as they become more accustomed to the light. Dropping leaves is a normal response of figs to lower levels of light. Try again with a young plant, and expect it to drop the leaves and then re grow them.

Many plants will adapt to changing light if the change is gradual or if they are given enough time. Plants that are slow growing and do not bloom much like succulents can be grown on window sills and indoors with bright or artificial light. High light plants will have more problems adjusting to low light and the leaves will become very dark green; the internodes will get longer and blooming plants won't bloom without adequate light.

Variegated plants will need more light. Green leaves are needed to photosynthesize sugars for the plant. Variegated leaves under low light will either become more green or the plant will be very unhappy. Variegated leaves in plants that get more light than they need will turn white. Example syngonium. It is a viny plant and has variegated leaves. It has a low light requirement so the variegation gives you a good idea as to when the light is ideal. In very low light the leaves will be mostly green with almost no variegation, and in high light the leaves will be almost white.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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