benjamina ficus tree problem

Asked January 31, 2014, 4:36 PM EST

Hello, I have a benjamina ficus tree in my living room that I have had for 6 years. It started as a small 18" tall plant that I bought at a local nursery. I have had to prune it so it wouldn't reach the 10' ceiling. It was very healthy and doing very well until I brought home another one. About 8 months ago I bought home another small one similar to it, but with two toned leaves. It had a little bit of white/brown on the tips of some of the leaves which I didn't notice until I got it home. Over the last several months the tips of the leaves have died back much more and grown to kill the whole leaf, then they drop off. The new plant infected my large beautiful plant and for the last several months it has had many leaves die back from the tips and fall off. The problem is getting so big that it is killing my big beautiful ficus tree. Dozens of leaves fall off every day. But it is still trying to grow new leaves. Now it is really sparse and dying. I have photos that I can send if I knew where to send them. I moved the small plant out of the house and it can just die. But I really want to save my big ficus. I am an organic gardener and have never used chemicals indoors or outdoors. Can you help me resolve the problem? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for any help you can be. Photos attached. Sincerely, Lyn

Benton County Oregon

1 Response

Lyn,
According to the book Sunset House Plants, browned tips and/or margins may result from too much or too little water, water with a high salt concentration; too much sun or heat through a window; too much fertilizer; insufficient humidity; a drafty location; or a combination of these. The recommendation is to study your plant's situation and try to locate the possible cause; then remedy it. If the cause isn't easily discernible, try to eliminate each possibility, one at a time.

You did the right thing in isolating your new plant from the other ones just incase it was something contagious. FYI: F. benjamina dislikes overwatering, low light, drafts, home heatings sources, and sudden changes in environment. If one is moved it can cause it to drop leaves, as do recently purchased ones as a result of moving shock. Don't rush to cure them with overwatering--this can worsen the situation. Just give it time to adjust to the new environment.

Good luck!