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Ficus Problem!

Hello! I'm a first-time ficus owner, and had the tree for about two months, and then almost over night the leaves started to look really unhappy. Many leaves got large black patches on them (it looked like it was happening from the inside) and have mostly fallen off in the weeks since. A lot of the remaining leaves are now blotchy and brown-ish, but seem otherwise pretty healthy. I don't think I overwatered it,and I don't think it was fugus, but something's not right! Any suggestions? Thanks! :)

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Super Green Thumb
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I really don't know, but by responding, I am bumping your post so some more people will look at it.

It does look kind of diseased. On what basis did you say it is not a fungus problem? Most of the diseases of ficus are. Has it gotten better or worse since you posted this? It is indoors? Tell us some more about how you have been treating it. Do you mist the leaves? Spray it with anything (foliar feeding, insect sprays, etc)?

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Hello! I'm definitely not sure, it could be a fungus but the discoloration is from the inside there's nothing actually on the leaves they're still completely smooth. The tree is inside, the black leaves have fallen off and all the other leaves are discolored but otherwise look healthy. I had put the tree close to a window for a few days, could it have been cold damage?

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Location: Lafayette, LA

Makeshiftwings - welcome to the forum.

These days my gardening and plant growing is mostly outside. When I was young, single and living in an apartment - no yard - I grew a wide variety of foliage plants and vegetables either in my apartment or on the balcony. My apartment an balcony resembled a small tropical jungle.

My first ficus gave me fits. I was growing a Ficus Benjamin. Yours is an Amstel King. A different variety but it has the same growing requirements.

I spent a good bit of my hard earned money on a lovely, braided ficus. I did some research - at the library. The internet had not even been thought of yet. In fact there was no such thing as desk top computers or home computers. This was the era of punched cards, paper tape and magnetic reels. Bill Gates was still working on his ideas in his garage.

:oops: Got off track.

I had a sliding glass door to my patio that faced ESE. I placed my lovely ficus to the side of the slider, watered it, misted it, fed it. It lost every leaf!

Several problems -

#1 - I had changed it's environment. Ficus do not like environmental changes.
#2 - it was getting a draft from the A/C vent.
#3 - it was too cold because of the A/C vent.
#4 - it was not getting enough humidity

Ok - you can not do anything about the environmental change. Give it a home an leave it there. Make sure it is not getting a draft from either an A/C or heater vent. It needs light but you do not want it too close to the window especially during the winter. Because my plant was to the side of the slider I had to turn it weekly to keep it from growing in one direction.

This is one of the very few/only times you will hear me advocate using a pot saucer. My plant was in a 16" pot. I used a 24" pot saucer on a wheeled dolly. Fill the saucer with pea gravel. Set your pot on the gravel. Put water in the saucer but not so much that the pot is sitting in water. This adds humidity. Keep the soil in the pot evenly moist - just damp - never soggy. Wheel your dolly to a watering spot. Remove the pot and water it. Allow it to drain before returning it to its home. Keep water in the saucer and mist your plant twice daily. NEVER use Leaf Shine. That puts oil on the leaves that blocks moisture absorption and collects dust. Fertilize with a liquid or water soluble all purpose fertilizer once a month during the growing season. Let it rest over winter.

I did not see where you are located. In Lafayette, LA. we are blessed with extremely responsive County Agents. Unfortunately that is not the case in all regions. You can try giving your County Agent a call or even contacting your local Master Gardener Association. Pathogen test (disease or insect) are usually free through your County Extension Office.

It is difficult to judge but your pot looks too small for the plant. Transplant to a larger pot - 14" to 16". Don't panic when it looses leaves after the transplant. Allow 1" from the soil level to the top of the pot. Do not plant your ficus any deeper than it is currently planted. Loosen the roots before planting.

What I would do:

Bring a leaf sample to my County Agent
Pot up to a larger pot
Position the plant on a gravel saucer in an east facing window but not right next to the window. No drafts
Maintain a day time temperature of 70 to 75 degrees and no lower than 60 to 65 degrees at night
Mist twice daily

Once you have done these things - just give it regular maintenance. Your plant WILL loose leaves due to the change.

Feed monthly

Good luck

BTW - the leaf sample to your County Agent is a must do.

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Your ficus does look like it went from dark to light. The dark spots don't look like disease, it looks more like a response to environmental change. I have rarely seen a ficus get fungus on the leaves because they are thick and glossy. Ficus do push their pots, you can either pot them up or trim the roots. As yours is already stressed, I would pot up.

Ficus are hardy plants and pretty tough. They do not like to be moved.

If you take them from the light and put them in the dark they will lose all their leaves (because you just tricked them into thinking it was winter) and will be bald until they grow new ones. Cut back a bit on watering when they are bald, when they are dormant they need only enough water to keep them from drying out.

If you take them from the dark and put them in brighter light, the leaves can burn. Some of what is happening to your leaves may be from that or from an abrupt temperature change. If the ficus gets balky, the leaves will yellow and drop and the plant will grow a new set of leaves again.

Pick a permanent spot for the ficus and leave it there. It will adapt to the light level as long as it gets decent light. It will need to be watered and repotted or root pruned once in a while. It will pretty much adapt or die.

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Sorry to hear you’re having this problem. Before borrowing trouble, I would consider that perhaps your Ficus just didn’t like being moved to the window. I had one once that was incredibly fussy about being moved. Even if I moved it just a little, it would drop leaves. So anyway, just thought I’d throw that out there as a possibility.

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