Why do green leaves fall?

Green leaves fall for various reasons

Have you ever got up in the morning, touched a plant and seen how, just by touching it, a green leaf fell? This is exactly what happened to me one day with my mother’s ficus; A ficus lyrata which he bought if I remember correctly from Lidl a few months ago. Giving the rest of the leaves a few gentle taps, many suffered the same fate as the first, to the point that the sapling only had the newer ones.

I immediately wondered what could be happening to it, because apparently it was in very good health, with firm and green leaves. But upon closer examination, I saw what the problem was. In this article I will tell you why green leaves are falling and what you can do so that they no longer lose leaves (or, at least, so that the risk of continuing to lose them is not so high).

There are basically five reasons why a plant may drop green leaves:

  • Earth: it can be very compact, and therefore, it can retain moisture for too long.
  • Irrigation: either by default, or above all by excess.
  • Drafts, heating: this mainly happens indoors. No plant should be placed near drafts or heating if it is at home; and with the rest you have to try to know their basic needs to put it in the right place for them.
  • Cold: Plants grown outdoors that are a little on the edge of their hardiness in your area, or indoor plants exposed to cold drafts from outside. In either case, green leaves may fall off.
  • has parasites: I put it last but it is by no means the least important. There are pests that can go unnoticed, such as the San José louse, which is a type of scale insect that looks like a small limpet; or the cottony cochineal, which looks like a ball of cotton. It is very important to inspect the leaves for pathogenic insects.

Now let’s see what to do.


The land is not suitable

Perlite substrate 5L,...

Although there are plants that grow in very compact soils and, moreover, with few nutrients, the truth is that even these they can have serious problems when grown in pots with very poor quality substrates. This is why I like to insist so much on the importance of comparing, testing and seeing the results. And it is that the brand of substrates for plants that we find everywhere is not always the best.

If it is not able to filter the water quickly, the roots could drown due to excess moisture. For himit is advisable that, if the earth has poor drainage, it be mixed with perlite, volcanic clay, akadama, pumice or other mineral substrates. And if we’re going to plant it in the garden soil, sometimes the most sensible thing to do is to make a really big hole and fill it in with some quality potted plant substrate.

But, What if our plant loses its green leaves for this reason? Take it out of there very carefully, remove the loose soil (do not touch the roots), and put new quality soil on top. It will probably continue to shed leaves after this, but at least it will have a chance to recover.

Irrigation is bad

The ficus must be watered frequently

I admit it: irrigation is the hardest thing to learn. And it’s not a mathematical thing. You can’t say, “I’m going to water this plant every 4 days in the summer and every 30 days in the winter” (for example) because you can’t really know. Many factors influence: the type of soil, the place where it is, the climate… And if we have plants indoors, it is even more difficult to know when to water, because the soil puts more time to dry.

So, to know when is the right time to water, you have to check soil moisture. And I recommend doing this with something as simple as a wooden stick, or if you have a piece of plant stake, you can use that too. Once you have it, plant it in the ground, insert it at the bottom, then gently pull it out. And now look if there is a lot of soil clinging to it, or if, on the contrary, it is almost the same as before. In the first case, it is not necessary to water, but in the second, yes.

But, What if apparently healthy leaves are already falling off the plant? Well, do you remember that I told you at the beginning of the article that the leaves of my mother’s ficus were falling? Well, it’s because the earth was very, very wet, and he had watered it three weeks ago, before leaving on his trip. Three weeks and still the same! Here the solution is to do the following:

  • Make sure the pot has holes in its base: if you don’t have one, you have to plant the pot in another one that does.
  • Take the pot out of this pretty pot: Pots without holes are beautiful, but they can cause the death of the plant.
  • If it’s in the ground, stop watering and apply a systemic fungicide; and if it is in a pot with drainage holes, and there is only a plate underneath, what we will do is empty it after each watering.

The plant is exposed to drafts and/or heat

Plants can be planted well in pots

Not all plants can withstand the wind; And if we talk about those who are kept inside, there is none that does not suffer damage if placed too close to a heater, or any device that generates drafts. And it is that the air, when it blows with a certain force and, above all, if it is constant, dries the environment a lot, and also the leaves.

So the solution is simple: change site plant. This way the green leaves will stop falling “for no apparent reason”. And in case we have it in the garden, it is better to plant if possible other plants that serve as protection -but without removing the light-, or if it is winter, protect it with a antifreeze cloth.

it is starting to get cold

The coconut palm is a very demanding palm

Image – Spruce / Anastasiia Tretiak

Another possible reason why the plant loses its green leaves has more to do with the temperatures of where it is, either outside or inside the house. For example: if he went outthese leaves could fall faster, because in addition to the drops, the plant is exposed to wind, rain, snow or ice (if it falls), etc. ; if you are inside the housethis process will generally be slower.

But how do you know that a plant is cooling? Well the fastest is search the internet for its cold hardiness and see what temperatures we have where we said plant. For example, suppose we have a lemon tree in the patio. It is a fruit tree that can withstand frosts down to -6°C, but if it is the first time it has been exposed to such low temperatures, or if the thermometer drops even further, it will suffer damage. .

Eye, too, as I say, it can happen to plants that are at home. A clear example of this is the coconut palm, which is so grown indoors. This palm can live well – and not survive – if the minimum temperature is 15ºC. If it drops to 10°C, it is already starting to have a bad time; and if it goes down to 0º, it dies. The ideal is therefore to buy resistant plants, which we know will last.

has parasites

Plants can have scale insects

Image – Flickr/Katja Schulz

As I mentioned, there are many parasites that can go unnoticed. For that, it doesn’t hurt to buy a magnifying glass and always have it at hand (or stored in an accessible place), as it will help you identify insects that cause problems for your plants, such as scale insects, aphids or thrips, among others.

If you’re not sure what it is, I recommend you download the Plantix app, available for Android devices. From there, you can fight it with the most suitable insecticide.

So now you know why your seemingly healthy plant is losing green leaves.

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