Q.Ficus Danielle losing leaves but growing new ones
I have 2 Ficus Danielles (to match my name) and they have been pretty easy-going since I got them a year ago. I didn’t see much change or leaf dropping coming into their first winter and try to mist and water them about once a week. I have decided that even this often might be too much in the winter as even though the top of the soil was dry, there was a build up of water in the tray beneath the pots that the tree did not seem to want to absorb. That went on for a while and may have stressed the tree a bit, but it was definitely not dropping leaves then like it has just started doing.
Now that spring has definitely sprung early in the UK, they are dropping healthy looking leaves like mad! For now I have kept their watering the same after emptying the excess from the trays that seemed to build up in the winter. There doesn’t seem to be any signs of a pest or fungal issue and because a curtain is kept closed most daytimes, they are getting about the same amount of sunlight as they did in the winter (though I understand allowing more would not be a bad thing for them). They have never been moved and the heating is on a thermostat so the house temperature should not have changed much, if at all. Even last summer when I had the doors open quite a bit and a nice breeze coming through, they didn’t seem to mind.
It may also be worth noting that the winter here was so mild that some bush fuschia plants, which should only live for one season, are still managing to flower outside for a second season running, and our summers are so mild that days don’t often go above 80 degrees F, so temperatures do not change that drastically here compared to PA where I’m from. The most confusing thing is that at the same time the ficuses are dropping healthy looking leaves, there are also some new baby leaves growing all over (but mainly around the top of the tree) that lead me to believe it is healthy and thriving despite the leaf dropping!
Everything I have read tells me to change things, but if the tree is already stressed and/or happily sprouting new leaves, then changing things drastically all at once surely wouldn’t be good for it either. I understand that even beginning to give it half strength liquid fertiliser will cause it a little stress from the change, so should I start this now or wait? Could it just be a case of it taking a few weeks to get used to spring being here and it will settle down? Any advice on this specific issue of it showing new growth while dropping healthy leaves would be much appreciated.
Ficus 'Danielle' is a variety of Ficus benjamina. A key thing to know is that when they drop green leaves, the first thing to suspect is over-wet soil. The leaves don't start to drop for awhile, until the roots are being stressed from too much water. The water left in the saucer is a sure indication. Even though the top of the soil felt dry, the soil underneath where the roots are is almost surely soaking. Use a bamboo kebob skewer as a tester, or a moisture meter, and don't water until the soil in the bottom of the pot is only slightly damp. This article will give you some good ideas about drying out an over-wet plant. https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/houseplants/hpgen/watering-your-houseplants-properly.htm