Ficus dry branches

Question: Ficus dry branches

Hello they gave me a ficus in December 2011 but over the months it is losing all the leaves in the lower part. The upper part, on the other hand, produces leaves that extend far upwards. The problem is that it is clearly losing the typical conformation of the ficus and the low twigs are all dry without even a leaf. I keep it in the house in the light (even if not directly but through the curtains) and I give it to drink when touching the well-known ground that it is dry. Every morning I open the window for twenty minutes. Unfortunately I leave home at 8:00 and return at 20:00 and I can't do otherwise. What should I do? Thanks so much!

Answer: Ficus dry branches

Dear Claudia,
from the symptoms it seems that your ficus receives a small amount of light; in fact from your description it seems that the plant is subject to a phenomenon called etiolation: the plant develops in search of light, increasing abnormally in height, losing part of the vegetation in the lower part, and also increasing the space between the internodes; in addition to this the open window is making the leaves fall.
The ficus trees need a good brightness, and they must be kept in the brightest area of ​​the house, possibly away from the windows, because the temperature changes cause the loss of the foliage, even sudden.
Keep your ficus away from direct heat sources, such as stoves, fireplaces, radiators, and even away from any underfloor heating nodes. In short, you should look for an area with a lot of light, but the climate remains constant during the day.
I usually keep my ficus attached to the wall that is right in front of a large window that I very rarely open; when I open this window to ventilate, I move the ficus into the other room for a few hours, so that they do not suffer the sudden change in temperature, which in winter can be decidedly strong. Being a bonsai, this should not be so difficult.
The other big problem with ficus is environmental humidity: these plants love a cool and humid climate; therefore we will often vaporize the foliage, especially in winter, when the heating system dries the air; but also in summer if we switch on the air conditioner.
Then consider that your ficus comes from a greenhouse in which it had everything a plant could want: fertilizer every 12-15 days, regular watering when the soil is dry, lots of light, excellent environmental humidity. Plants often take months to adapt to an environment that is so different from that in which they were produced and cultivated for the first months of life.
To encourage the development of foliage also in the lower part of the foliage, try to shorten the twigs that are at the top; and every 12-15 days it mixes the water with the fertilizer for green plants.
If you think that the air in your house is very dry, try to place the vase in a large vase, on the bottom of which you will place about 5-6 cm of expanded clay, always immersed in water, which evaporating will increase the quantity of moisture in the air.