My Ficus is not doing well


My Ficus has not been doing well for about a month now. I understand they are finnicky and it might be due to the change in season. I initially had the ficus in my bedroom, which does not receive a lot of light but still has a window. I thought maybe it was dying because there was not enough sunlight so I moved it to the living room. In the living room, it was still struggling. I tried to follow instructions of keeping the soil moist, but every time I touch the soil it seems dry again. What can I do to revive my ficus ! I am attaching a photo of the plan as well as the window from which it receives light (the window is west facing on the lower level of a house)


Dear Gardener

Thank you for reaching out to Toronto Master Gardeners about the care of your ficus. The genus Ficus includes various species most of which are native to tropical areas and best grown as houseplants in Canada. They are the following: Ficus benjamina (common name – Weeping Fig) native to India; Ficus elastica (common name – Indian rubber plant) native to Himalayas & Malaysia; Ficus lyrata (common name – fiddle leaf fig) native to Africa and Ficus petiolaris (common name – rock fig) native to Mexico. Only Ficus carica (common name – edible fig) is native to Anatolia, Asia Minor or west Asia is grown outdoors in Canadian hardiness zone 7 with protective care – Toronto’s Hardiness Zone is Zone 6. Although the species of your ficus cannot be determined (photo not attached), ficus species share similar characteristics and care requirements. Your query suggests that a month prior it had been doing well.

While ficus plants are generally trouble free, they tend to shed leaves in response to a variety of stressors: change in location, repotting, over- or under-watering, drafts, lack of nitrogen and low light. Your lighting may not be a problem as ficus species prefer bright indirect light.

One of the most common causes of houseplants decline is root rot due to overwatering. Under-watering can also occur. Depending on the type of potting mix of your ficus, it is possible, with top watering, that the water is running down the sides of the root ball leaving the roots dry. You will need to slide the plant out of its pot to check the moisture status of the root ball. Personally, I was shocked to find that the root balls of my plumerias, potted in soilless mix, were totally dry, causing the leaves to drop. Watering plants from the bottom, with room temperature water, is the preferred method. Please see How to Water Houseplants for more information. As for fertilizing, withhold this until the plant shows active growth which, with the current short day length, may not occur until late winter.

Insect pests, not an infrequent cause of plant decline, are the following: scale, aphids, mealy bugs, spider mites and thrips. The most common insect problem is spider mites. You will need a magnifying glass to see these and other smaller insects. For information on insect identification and control, please see: Managing Houseplant Pests.

If growth conditions are adequate, your ficus will adjust to its new location, and should recover.

For further information on Ficus care please see: Weeping Ficus fact sheet

Wishing you much success in restoring your ficus to good health.