The leaves on my Ficus are dropping off at an alarming rate. The new leaves that had grown are going brown and are now dropping off. I have just come back from holiday after 10 days away. I watered it before I went and also when I got back but it looks as if it's dying. It's 12 years old and I don't want it to die. I keep it in the bathroom where the window is only 3 x 3 meters but I think the lighting is enough, or is it not? Please help if you can.

  • Can you give more info please, and a photo if possible - such as one, how long have you had this plant, two, is it in a shallow bonsai pot, three, when did it start losing all its leaves?
    – Bamboo
    Commented Nov 28, 2016 at 12:27
  • Please add some pictures and whether you (or someone else) was watering it when you were on holiday. Was the soil pretty dry when you returned from holiday?
    – JStorage
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 0:41
  • @T pitt Please send pictures and by now an update. Ficus is one of those terribly fussy plants, change in temperature, funky drafts, change in location will cause a ficus to drop leaves. But it could also spell a death knell. Please send pictures! 10 days is TOO long for a Bonsai to go without water. Too little soil to hold any reserves of water to last that long. But please send a picture of it now, there might be a chance that you got home soon enough. Bonsai need watering everyday at the most every other day...for established Bonsai.
    – stormy
    Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 22:11

1 Answer 1


I know this may be generalizing but often times it is water or soil problems. Based on that here is a good start to approaching the problem.

Often times, when leaves turn brown and wilt due to under-watering, those dead leaves will be crispy and dry. While with over-watering, those leaves may still be soft and limp. Over-watering can easily lead to root rot of the plant. Plants infected with root rot will begin to brown in one section or side of the plant and the dieing off of branches or parts of the plant will spread until the entire plant is deceased. Sometimes, a plant can look dead, but is still alive even though it has lost all of its leaves. Make sure to scratch the surface of the plants stems with a knife or a pair of hand pruners. If you can still see green, then the plant is still alive and maybe it was simply dropping leaves as a defense mechanism to the heat/drought. Cutting back the plant and adding supplemental hand-watering will help bring the plant back to life.

The only sure-fire way to determine if you are over or under-watering is to routinely check your soil moisture. You do this, by sticking your finger 1-2" down into the surrounding soil. If the soil is moist than let it be. Check again tomorrow. If the soil is dry, then it's time to water. Water deeply and aim all water at the roots, avoiding getting a lot of water on leaves and blooms.

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