Why Are My Ficus Tree Leaves Turning Yellow? (Plus Care Tips!)

The most common reason for ficus tree leaves turning yellow is that they are too dry. Take a look at the guide below to find out if your ficus tree is getting enough water. 

If your ficus tree is properly watered, the problem may be a change of environment, a reaction to the fertilizer you’ve used, or due to pests. There’ll be different signs to each, so I’ll teach you how to diagnose your plant yourself. All of these issues can be easily solved, and the ficus tree will recover once given the correct care.

I’ve always recommended these happy little trees to people wondering what office plant to get and, though they are sometimes finicky, they have always been easy to diagnose and restore to health. And I’ve not had a person unhappy with the choice yet.

About Ficus Trees

ficus trees

The tree we commonly call a ficus tree is actually a weeping fig, but is commonly referred to as a Ficus when it’s a houseplant. In the wild, they can grow up to 60 feet tall. But they retain their tree shape regardless of size, making them popular houseplants and bonsai trees. 

Many nurseries also make use of its pliable trunks to create braided shapes. But you don’t need to take these measures to have a beautiful ficus tree. Their glossy, dark green leaves and delicate trunk make them lovely potted plants to display in any home or office. 

If kept happy and healthy, this tree can grace your home for years. But they can respond poorly to certain conditions. One of the first signs of trouble is yellowing leaves, as this is caused by the nutrients being diverted to other key areas and the leaves dying. But, if you respond quickly, the plant will recover in no time. 

So let’s take a closer look at some of the main reasons behind yellow leaves in ficus trees. 

How to Water a Ficus Tree

how to water a ficus tree

When a ficus tree starts to yellow, the culprit is almost always over-drying. Ficus trees respond poorly to drying and will show they need watering through their leaves. This can be a big problem in low humidity or dry climates.

Check if the ficus tree needs watering by sticking your finger a couple of inches into the soil around the tree. If there is more than an inch completely dry, it needs watering. 

When you water the plant, pour water across the soil and not just to one side. If the ficus tree is potted, the water should soak through the soil and seep out of the holes at the bottom. 

In low humidity, you may find that the soil has enough water, but the plant still suffers from water stress. You can include misting the plant as part of your care regime to fix this.

Even in a high humidity climate, air conditioning can leave a ficus tree dry, so consider this when diagnosing your plant. 

If you are sure the ficus tree has adequate water both in the soil and air, check out the further causes of yellowing leaves below. 

Changing a Ficus Tree’s Environment

changing a ficus tree’s environment

One surprising reason your plant may have developed yellow leaves is a change of environment. If you have moved the plant recently, consider this possibility.

Moving the plant can be a shock to its system, especially if it's been moved to a room with lower humidity. Don’t worry, leaf dropping or yellowing at this point is likely a temporary change as the plant adjusts. 

How to Fertilize a Ficus Tree

fertilize a ficus tree

A general-purpose fertilizer will aid healthy growth and leaf production. However, an overabundance of fertilizer will cause a salt build-up that will begin to weaken the plant and result in yellow leaves.

Ficus trees benefit from monthly fertilization in spring and summer, and fertilization every 2 months in fall and winter. If you have added fertilizer more frequently than this, over-fertilization is likely the problem. You may also notice a white crust of salt on the soil. 

To solve it, take the tree from the soil and flush it with water to wash away the salts. Replant the tree and add fertilizer less frequently to restore your plant to health. 

How to Check a Ficus Tree for Pests


Ficus trees are prone to infestation from mealybugs, scale, and spider mites. You will be able to diagnose this easily as, although they can be small, you will be able to spot them. Make sure to check the underside of the leaves too!

These pests will stress the ficus tree and sap its nutrients, resulting in yellowing leaves among other problems. First, use a jet of water to remove the insects from the tree.

Next, treat the plant with neem oil regularly to keep the bugs away. Combine the oil with water and spray the plant down every day or two until the problem is resolved. 

Frequently Asked Questions

ficus tree leaves

These plants are popular, and so are questions about them! After you’ve learned about ficus trees with yellow leaves, check out the answers to these other common questions. 

Q: What time of year should I repot my ficus tree?

A: Replanting your ficus tree every couple of years helps keep the plant healthy. The best time to repot a ficus tree is in springtime, as this is when it’s most adaptable. 

Q: How do you make the ficus tree bushy?

A: Pruning a ficus tree will cause bushier growth. Cut back diseased or damaged branches and thin out overgrown areas to encourage new and healthy growth. 

Q: How long does a ficus tree live?

A: With good care, ficus trees should live about 20 years

Q: Are coffee grounds good for my ficus tree?

A: You should use coffee grounds sparingly on all types of fig trees, as they prefer neutral soil, and coffee can make it too acidic. 

Q: Do ficus trees clean the air?

A: Under testing, the ficus trees have been found to be very effective at purifying the air, making it another great choice for the home or office.

Ficus Tree Leaves Turning Yellow – Conclusion

ficus elastica tineke variegata

So, there you have the main reasons that your plant might be turning yellow. Though your ficus tree may be stressed, you don’t need to!

These are all perfectly solvable problems. Ensure your plant has enough water, adequate fertilization, and no pests, and you will be able to enjoy its presence for years to come.