Do Indoor Trees Lose Their Leaves?

Decorative areca palm in interior of a modern living room, Do Indoor Trees Lose Their Leaves?In the great outdoors, we're used to the cycle of a tree's leaves. From spring growth of bright green leaves to the bare bones of winter's branches, this circular pattern of nature is a given. But what happens when we bring the outdoors indoors with potted plants? Do indoor trees lose their leaves? We have looked into this topic to get the answers that you need!
Just like trees planted in their natural habitats, indoor plants can go dormant and lose their leaves. They can also react to stress by dropping leaves as a defense mechanism.
We'll look at some reasons indoor trees drop their leaves, and what you can do to prevent it, in the paragraphs below.

Why Do Indoor Trees Lose Their Leaves?

Not unlike their outdoor cousins, indoor trees lose their leaves for a variety of reasons. 

Environment's Role In Caring For Indoor Trees

Indoor plants are susceptible to the environment and temperature. Too much heat or too much cold, or a rapid change can cause your plant to go on the defensive. Most times, this is an easy fix, and it's just a matter of letting your tree adjust or fixing the environmental element. For instance, if you place your indoor tree outside in summer months, it's common for it to lose a few leaves when moved back indoors for the winter months.

If your tree is placed near a drafty window, it can get chilled just as it would outdoors, which can cause the tree to become dormant. And where an evergreen may only stop producing cones, a deciduous tree will lose its leaves. You must supply your green friend with a heat lamp or move it to a warmer locale. Just be aware that you may not get leaves back until it comes out of dormancy.

Too Much Or Too Little Water

The amount of water you give your indoor tree can effect leaf drop. Too much or too little can cause your tree to get stressed out and lose its leaves. Popular indoor trees like Umbrella trees and Weeping Fig do fine with a bit of underwatering, but a swamp-originating species like the Guiana chestnut will need regular watering. Be sure and know what your trees need to set them up for success.

Need For Fertilizer

One other cause of leaf drop in indoor trees is the need for fertilizer. Typically, this will first be seen by the yellowing of leaves, which will allow you to fix the problem before you have leaf drop. Again, depending upon what species of tree you have, that will determine the fertilizer. 

This slow-release fertilizer is made specifically for one of the most common indoor trees, the fiddle leaf fig, or ficus tree, which is notorious for leaf drop if stressed.

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Palms are another super common indoor tree variety. This organic plant food is made specifically for your palm tree plants and will help keep leaves from browning and keep their roots healthy.

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How Do You Prevent Indoor Trees From Losing Their Leaves?

As we mentioned in the above sections, you must assess the environment of your indoor tree. Is it getting the proper amount of water and fertilizer? Is it too cold? Too warm? Learn what each variety of indoor tree needs so that you can best care for it. 

One trick in the winter is to water with lukewarm water rather than cold water. This minimizes any shock to the root systems. Also, be sure and look for pests on your plant's leaves. If you discover tiny bugs, treat them with an insecticidal soap spray. 

Sprays such as this will help get rid of tiny mites, aphids, and mealybugs, along with other pests that may affect your plants. Some people will even use a watered-down version of dish soap to coat plant's leaves and suffocate the pests.

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How Do You Save A Dying Indoor Tree?

If you've troubleshot all the standard items like location, temperature, water, fertilizer, and pests, there are a few things you can do to try to give your tree another shot at life. 


First, prune it. If branches or leaves are dry, brown, and easy to snap, then they're dead. Use pruning snips to cut away any diseased part of your indoor tree. This will conserve your tree's energy and also clear away any disease. 

Pruning snips like these are handy for making neat cuts on your indoor plants when you need to clean them up.

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Pot Size

Check the size of your tree in relationship to its pot. Has your tree grown a ton, but your pot size remained the same? It might be time for a new planter. If you can see or feel roots through the drainage hole of your pot, that's a good indicator your plant needs more space. 

Replace The Soil

Every few years, your potted tree is going to need a bit of refresh soil-wise. Initially, for touchy plants like a ficus, the act of repotting or replacing soil might worsen your leaf drop, but in the long run, it will make for a healthier plant. Potting soil often contains compost and available nutrition for your plants that gets depleted the longer it sits. 

A potting mix like this not only provides a home for your plant's roots to thrive, but it feeds your plant for up to six months.

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Having an indoor tree can bring a sense of calm into any interior. And we can maintain that calm by keeping our plants healthy and happy with all the things they need. Look for the simple solutions of temperature and water and light first. Chances are you'll have your leaf dropping problem solved in no time.

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