Cause of Yellowing Leaves in Ficus Trees

The ficus tree (Ficus benjamina), also known as the weeping fig, is a popular houseplant grown for its glossy leaves and graceful, arching branches. It requires bright, indirect light and regular watering to thrive. Any environmental stress, such as under-watering or cold draughts, will cause ficus tree leaves to yellow and then drop off. The leaves will almost always regrow once the underlying cause of leaf drop is eliminated.

Healthy ficus leaves

Under Watering

Ficus leaves should be green and glossy.

Ficus trees require regular watering and if they are allowed to dry out will respond by shedding their leaves. If your ficus plant is under watered, its leaves will turn bright yellow all over the plant and then drop off. This problem can be remedied by watering your ficus tree every time its soil dries out to a depth of an inch. Water the plant thoroughly, aiming to soak the compost completely. Allow all excess water to drain away after watering.

Over Watering

If your ficus tree has yellowing leaves or is losing leaves from its branch tips, it is likely over watered. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings and make sure your plant's pot is not standing in a dish or saucer of water.

Moving Your Ficus

Simply moving a ficus tree from one room to another is enough to trigger a bout of leaf yellowing. If the light intensity or temperature in the new location is different, then your ficus' water requirements will change. Leaf yellowing and drop caused by moving a ficus tree are often temporary and the leaves will re-grow after the plant has adapted to its new conditions.


A cold draught or warm air current caused by an open door or heater can trigger leaf yellowing in ficus trees. Check the surroundings of a ficus tree with yellow leaves to see if anything has changed. Spray ficus plants regularly to maintain local humidity levels and reduce the chances of leaf yellowing. Ficus trees need temperatures above 55 degrees Fahrenheit but thrive at daytime temperatures of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.


Ficus trees need regular fertilizing to ensure healthy growth and leaf production but too much fertilizer can cause a buildup of salts in the soil. This will cause the older leaves on a ficus tree to yellow and drop off. Water a ficus tree with yellowing old leaves thoroughly until water drains out of the bottom of its container. If there is a white, crusty residue on the surface of the soil, immerse the whole pot in a bucket of water to leach out excess salts.