I find that ficus ginseng trees (Ficus macrocarpa) are brilliant beginner bonsai trees that are generally easy to care for. So, it can be disheartening if your Ficus ginseng starts losing its leaves. In this article, I’ll run through the most common causes and if Ficus ginseng can return after losing all its leaves.
Why Do Ficus Ginseng Plants Lose Their Leaves?
Like many other Ficus species that are grown as houseplants, Ficus ginseng plants are extremely sensitive to environmental changes. If environmental conditions suddenly change, Ficus ginseng plants will often drop large numbers of their leaves (as well as display signs of yellowing leaves or stunted growth) as a defense mechanism.
If your Ficus ginseng is losing lots of its leaves, it could be for various reasons, including:
- Being moved too frequently
- Sudden changes in temperature or humidity levels
- Exposure to cold or dry drafts
- Diseases or pest infestations
Can a Ficus Ginseng Come Back After Losing All Its Leaves?
Although it’s easy to assume the worst if your Ficus ginseng loses all its leaves, don’t panic. As long as the plant itself hasn’t perished, it will be able to recover. Once you’ve addressed whatever is causing the loss of leaves, your Ficus ginseng will eventually produce new shoots and leaves.
Check if your Ficus ginseng is still alive by breaking the tip of one of the stems. Alternatively, you can scratch away a small piece of bark. If the plant still looks green and moist inside, it’s still alive. However, if the plant is brown and dry inside, it’s completely dead and won’t recover from losing its leaves.
How to Help Your Ficus Ginseng Recover
To help your Ficus ginseng recover, figure out what’s causing the leaf drop. Assess the temperature and humidity levels around your plant using a thermometer or hygrometer. Ficus ginseng plants like temperatures between 60 and 75ºF and moderate humidity of at least 50%.
If the temperature or humidity is too low, position ficus ginseng trees somewhere warm and use humidifiers to increase humidity. Keep your Ficus ginseng away from cold or dry drafts caused by air vents, open windows, or radiators. If exposed to these drafts, your plant may drop most of its leaves as a defense mechanism. These plants also thrive with bright, indirect sunlight throughout the day.
If the soil feels soggy or bone dry, the plant suffers from overwatering or underwatering. Repot your Ficus ginseng into fresh, well-draining soil that retains moisture. Water ficsus ginseng whenever the top inch or two of the soil feels dry to the touch.
Assess your Ficus ginseng for signs of diseases or pests and take the appropriate action. Most pests can be eliminated using horticultural oils or insecticidal soap. Use organic fungicides to get rid of fungal diseases. These plants are considered toxic to humans and pets, so it’s prudent to wear gloves when undertaking any form of ficus ginseng plant care.
It’s also prudent to fertilize ficus ginseng monthly during spring and summer.
Although it can be devastating if your Ficus ginseng loses all its leaves, the plant can recover if it’s still alive. Address whatever caused the loss of leaves and allow this beneficial plant to recover. Eventually, it’ll produce new shoots and leaves.
For more, see our ultimate guide to Ficus ginseng care at home.
Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.