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Help! What Is My ‘Tree’ Dying

Ask The Plant Expert:

I’ve had this “tree” for over 15 years.  (I’m not even sure what type it is.) The leaves have always fallen off from the bottom as it grows, but they are falling off more quickly lately. Now the upper leaves are getting brown spots.  Help, what can I do!  Thank you, Karen

Schefflera Shedding Leaves

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply:


Your Schefflera could be experiencing one of two problems: insufficient water or a fungal problem. The first thing to do is assess your watering practices. Check the rootball to make sure it is fully saturated when you water. Then make sure that the plant does not need to be repotted. If the plant is receiving enough water, then check the plant for a fungal issue.

If your plant has Alternaria leaf spot (Alternaria panax) the newly formed spot will have a wet appearance and the spot will spread until the whole leaves is infected.  This can be controlled by removing the leaves that are infected. Also, make sure that water does not touch the leaves.

I hope this information is helpful.  Please let me know if I can help with anything else.

3 Plant Questions For The Expert

Ask The Plant Expert:

Hi again, my outdoor basils turned completely brown last week,with not a single green leaf on,is this normal?

Secondly, leaves of my indoor aucuba are droping one by one, from bottom to top, I keep it facing an eastern window.

Thirdly, I took my jasmine tree indoors in November. It is growing new leaves, but stems are becoming white or beige, they are loosing the green bark(coating), Thanx again. – Amjad

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply:

1) Basil Issues: I know the temperatures in Jordan are around 55°  Fahrenheit (13° Celsius), but did your temperature drop below 50° Fahrenheit (10° Celsius) last week? If it did this could be the reason the basil is turning brown. Basil is susceptible to damage at low temperature.

Another issue could be the age of the plant. Many types of basil are annuals and have a short life cycle. If yours happens to be an annual type of basil and is quite old, the plant may be in a natural state of decline.

2) Aucuba Issues: As for the aucuba, it sounds like a water issue.  Check the moisture in the soil. Is it dry? increase the water. If the soil is soggy, check the plant for root rot. Keeping the soil too wet might have caused the roots to start decaying. If the root rot is the problem, snip off the unhealthy part of the roots and re-pot the plant. Make sure the container allows excess water to drain away from the plant.

3) Jasmine Tree: The jasmine sounds like it has chlorosis or root rot. How are you caring for the jasmine tree?

Hope this information is helpful.

Help! What Is This Plant From Father’s Funeral & How To Revive It?

Ask The Plant Expert:

I received this plant from my dad’s funeral. The tag on it only said “green plant” I’ve had it for 2 months and the leaves just continue to fall off. It was a very full plant. (The orange Gerber daisies are fake.) Do you think if the all of the leaves fall off eventually, that it is dead, or do you think I can save it? What type of fertilizer do you think I should use? (I have very little plant experience) – Jenny

Stressed Out Ficus

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply:


It is difficult to tell from the pictures. My best guess would be a type of Ficus. It could be Ficus lyrata (Fiddle-leaf fig, Banjo fig) or Ficus pumila (climbing or creeping fig).

Ficus are funny. I once had a ficus we named Truman. In the 10 years that we had it, all the leaves fell off 3 times. Every time we corrected the problem and the plant flushed back out with new healthy leaves. Yours should do the same thing as long as the stems are still green.

To care for Ficus plants, you will need to keep the soil moderately moist and fertilize it once a month from April through August with a water-soluble, high-nitrogen fertilizer. You can use a water soluble fertilizer like Miracle Gro or Peters.  I would wait until the plant has some new growth forming before I fertilized the plant. Keep the plant in a brightly lit area, but away from cold drafts. I would remove it from the foil wrapping, and make sure that it is in a container that allows for drainage. If you need to re-pot the plant use a humus-rich potting soil.

For more, check out our Ficus Care & Information Page.

Hope this information is helpful. Please let me know if I can help with anything else. [Read more…]

Help! My Jade Plant Is Getting Weaker

Ask The Plant Expert:

Hi there
Thanks for your help with my Jade plant, but I still really don’t know what’s wrong with it. I water it when the soil gets dry. I fertilize & mix its water with Bonsai’s vitamin too but it’s still loosing leaves.The great number of its leave wilts & drops. I attached you some photos that you can see its changing over these 2 months. I’m really worry. The color & shape of the new leaves are different. When I received it, the leaves were dark green & plump. But now all of them are light green & thin. I’m not sure if these leaves can store water as much as the prior leaves, & 1 more problem: It’s small branches are wilting & falling; as u can see in one picture the short branches are wilting & some fell off branches are in my hand. In your previous reply you told me “if it’s high in the pot” ,sorry but I don’t understand your meaning by this sentence. Plz guide me through taking care of it. My Jade is too weak; its leaves & branches fall off by itself & even with a small shake. It has no new sprout anymore too.
thanks. -Gisou

Weak Jade Plant - before & after

[Read more…]

Why Is My Ficus Dropping Leaves?

Ask The Plant Expert:

Me again. I also have a Ficus Benjamina which has shed most of its leaves since I bought it 4-5 months ago. It was in my porch which gets good light most of the day, but there is no new leaf growth. I’ve pruned the bare branches back some as I was advised by the garden center, but it remains bare, any suggestions to get it growing again, I realize it’s winter and its slowing down, but there should be some sign of growth. – Matthew

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply:

Benjamin Fig - Ficus BenjaminaMatthew,

Ficus can be temperamental and will drop leaves for a variety of reasons.  I once had a Ficus I named Truman. I let it get too cold and it dropped all of its leaves. I up the heat, gave it the proper amount of water, (moist, but not soggy) and waited about 6 weeks. It finally put out new leaves.

So, it is important to know why the leaves dropped in the first place.

  • Loss of lower leaves is an indication that the plant needs to be pruned to allow light to reach the lower limbs.
  • Dry/shriveled leaves are a result of low relative humidity or too much sunlight.
  • Yellow leaves, or leaves that have red spot and drop off, are a result of too much water.
  • Green leaf drop can be a result of ethylene exposure or low light stress.

Correct the problem that caused the leaves to drop, and give it time to recover. To ensure that the plant energy is not wasted prune out any dead stems.

If you plant has been over watered, make sure the plant can drain off excess moisture.

  • If the air surrounding the plant has been too dry, misting the air every other day with lukewarm water.
  • If the plant is not receiving enough light move it into an area with more light.

Once you have corrected the problem, the plant should make a full recovery.

Hope This Helps.

Why Is My Jade Plant Loosing Leaves?

Ask The Plant Expert:

I received this Bonsai plant as a gift about 10 days ago. I don’t know what kind of plant it is, and don’t know how to keeping and taking care of. There are some problems with it; it’s leaves fall down every day in a large number, both young leaves and old leaves. Also in these recent days, some of its leaves are wilting. Here the weather is cool so I water it once a week. I put it about 1/5 meter away of the window. The room is light, but there is no straight sun light on it. I attached a photo of its location too. Please help me with its wilting and the leaves falling down. Please guide me how to taking care of it and a perfect location for it. And please tell me my plant’s name.
Looking forward your answer

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply: Gisou,
I believe what you have is a type of jade. If I had to guess what the problem is with your plant, I would put my bet on transplant shock coupled with a water issue. Check you soil and make sure it isn’t too wet. The leaves have the ability to store water. If the soil is kept too wet, the plant will get root rot and the leaves will fall off. So let the soil dry slightly before you water it. This type of plant requires a very stable temperature range. Make sure that it is not in the pathway of a door or air vent. You can give it a slight bit of fertilizer once a month from March through November. Be sure not to over-fertilize it. Too much fertilizer can cause severe damage.

One more thing to check is the position of the bonsai. If it is too high in the pot, the plant could be drying out which can cause the leaves to drop.  I don’t think this is a problem, but it is hard to tell from the pictures.

I hope this information was helpful. Please let me know if I can help with anything else.

Schefflera Shock: How To Help With Repotting Recovery

Ask The Plant Expert: I have a Schefflera that I have had for 35 years and it has gotten very big.  I was finally able to find a pot at least a little bigger than the one that it was in, so I repotted it this summer.  It’s roots were wound around at the bottom of the old pot.  My new pot wasn’t much bigger than the old one, so I rubbed off some of the old soil from it to give it new soil when I repotted it.  I let it rest inside for a few weeks and it seemed fine.  Then I put it outside for a few days this summer to get a good bath from the rain (I usually do that each summer) and since I’ve brought it back in, it has been dropping green leaves and some leaves are turning yellow and dropping off also.  What am I doing wrong?  After 35 years, “Charlotte” has become part of the family…I’d hate to loose her!  Thanks! – Amy

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply:

Amy,Schefflera (Brassia arboricola)

It sounds like the plant is in severe transplant shock. It usually takes a several days for the signs of transplant shock to appear and a couple of weeks for the plant to recover. In your case, the plant went from one situation (re-potting) that caused transplant shock to another (moving it outside) without ample time for the plant to recover form the first.

To help your plant recover,

  • Make sure the new pot allows excess water to drain.
  • Make sure the rootball has been thoroughly saturated and that you water it as you have always done.
  • Let it rest don’t move it for at least a few weeks.
  • Don’t fertilize it. The plant should start to recover during this time.

Once the plant has recovered and is stable, you can go back to your normal fertilizer schedule and other activities. Hope this information was helpful. Please let me know if you need anything else.