Your fig tree may be dying due to one or more of several factors causing it stress and contributing to the general decline of the tree’s health.
Figuring out what exactly is causing the tree’s distress is key to handling the problem head-on and fixing it as soon as possible.
In this article, we will discuss what you need to do to save your dying fig tree, depending on the symptoms and the possible cause.
How do I save my dying fig tree?
Good watering techniques can do wonders for your plants.
If you feel you might have been neglecting to water your fig tree lately, this might be why it is dying. Conversely, if you have been too enthusiastic about watering your tree, that can also cause problems. Finding the right balance of soil moisture is key to keeping your tree happy.
If your fig tree’s leaves are brown and dry and the soil in its pot is light and also dry, you might be underwatering the tree.
Save your underwatered fig tree by soaking it in a bucket full of water at room temperature for around 30 minutes. Remove it and let it drip into a tray or a saucer. Over the next two weeks, water the tree with a small amount every two days until you get back to your normal watering schedule. If you think the soil is still dry, you can repeat the 30-minute soak after a few days to increase the soil’s moisture.
Soaking can do a better job at reviving an underwatered fig tree than just pouring water into the soil and letting it flow immediately out of the drainage holes. Soaking ensures that all of the soil becomes properly moist.
Caring for the tree’s roots is important, but so is looking after its leaves. When attempting to revive your plant, you should focus on the leaves almost as much as the roots.
Fig leaves are prone to dust buildup. Remove the dust by wiping down the leaves with a soft washcloth and warm, soapy water. Removing the dust clears the way for effective photosynthesis and makes the leaves look brighter. You only need to do this once a month to make sure the leaves do not look dull.
Removing old or dead leaves from the tree also lets the tree focus its resources on producing new foliage instead of keeping the old leaves alive. Cut off the old and dead leaves using a clean knife or pair of scissors. Refrain from pulling off the leaves with your hands as this might cause damage.
While pruning your tree, take the opportunity to inspect the plant for any pests or signs of disease.
Keeping the humidity around your plant at a level that it likes can help it recover faster. The humidity in most homes is much lower than a fig tree would like. This is especially true during the winter when the indoor heating can cause the tree to droop.
You can increase the humidity around your plant by moving it to a room that is always humid, such as the kitchen or the bathroom. If your bathroom has good lighting, your fig tree will thrive there. Running hot water that creates steam and condensation is as close to a humid habitat as you can get while still being inside your home.
You can also use a spray bottle with water to mist the air around the plant a few times a week. This fix is temporary but it does the trick. You should be careful not to do it too often because perpetually moist foliage can encourage the growth of fungi.
Another technique you could use is a pebble tray. Place the plant on top of a tray lined with pebbles and filled with water. Over the course of the day, the water from the tray will evaporate and increase the humidity around the plant, but the pebbles prevent the plant from sitting in water and drowning the roots.
You could also increase the humidity by using a humidifier. This will keep the humidity around your plant consistently high. You can even set it on a timer to keep a schedule.
Lighting conditions and drafts
If a fig tree gets too much sun it can get sun damage, which will present as bleached spots on the leaves. Avoid sunburn by moving the plant further into the room and away from the windows.
If you keep the plant in an area that is too dark, however, this can cause it to become stunted. You need to find a spot where the light that reaches the plant is just right; neither too much nor too little.
In the winter, when light is limited, you can buy a grow lamp to supply the plant with the light that it needs.
Another factor you need to consider is ventilation. Do not place the plant in areas where air from heating vents or air conditioning flow through. The cold or hot air can dry out the plant and turn the leaves yellow or brown.
Another reason your fig tree might be dying is pests. As mentioned above, check the plant for pests while you are watering or pruning it. Catching a pest infestation in its early stages will make eradication much easier.
The most common pests that can be found on your fig tree are scale insects, spider mites and mealybugs. Do not worry if you see any of these pests, since they can be easily removed.
You can remove them by wiping down the leaves with a washcloth and warm,soapy water. You can also try to remove them by blasting them with water from a garden hose.
Apply neem oil on the leaves once a week for a month to kill all the insects.
Another step you can take is to replace the soil in the pot. Some insects live in the soil and you are better off discarding it and starting over with fresh soil.
Make sure you keep the infested plant away from your other healthy plants so the pests do not spread.
Your fig tree may be dying because you do not know how to water it properly, or it is getting too much or not enough sunlight, the humidity around the plant is too low, or it is suffering from a pest infestation.
It is important to correctly diagnose the reason your fig tree is dying to be able to save your plant.
As long as you find the right balance of soil moisture and the correct lighting conditions, wipe the dust from its leaves once a month, keep the area sufficiently humid, ensure that there are no cold or warm drafts passing the tree, and check regularly for pests, your fig tree will thrive.
Image: istockphoto.com / Aleksandra Pavlova