How to take care of a ficus tree: Here's what Savannah Guthrie learned

#SaveFicus!

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/ Source: TODAY
By Danielle Wolf

Are your plants always dying? It may be more than a black thumb at work.

Savannah Guthrie recently took to social media to ask for help with her beloved ficus that was, well, not looking like its best self.

"Crowd sourcing this. Why is my ficus dying? I water it once a week. It sits next to the window. I’ve only had it 4 months. I talk to it and greet it and treat it like a member of the family. Where did I go wrong?" she wrote using the hashtag #saveficus.

While she got a lot of great responses, some of the advice was conflicting.

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"Some people said too much light. Some people said not enough light. Some said too much water. Some said it looks dry. Some say it should be in a larger pot," Savannah told TODAY Home. "So, basically, I'm even more confused than I was before on how to fix ficus."

So instead, Savannah reached out to Christopher Satch from The Sill, an online plant shop with brick-and-mortar locations in New York City, to help save her tree.

According to Satch's evaluation, the plant likely has a fungus, which is why some of the branches are dying in one particular area. "Usually when something is affecting a plant unevenly, it's caused by a living factor," he explained.

Luckily, the living branches are thriving so Savannah's tree is still salvageable.

If you're having a similar issue, Satch says to stop the fungus from spreading by snapping or cutting off the infected pieces. The dead spots won't grow back, but the rest of the plant should be able to grow around it and mask the damage. Once the infected pieces are removed, the plant should be able to fight off the rest of the fungus on its own, provided that it's cared for properly.

How to take care of a ficus:

  • Water it: Frequency will vary depending on the dryness of the environment, so be sure to test it out. Satch says to put a finger in the dirt a few inches down (under any moss or rock covering) and feel the soil to know when it needs to be watered. If the soil is moist, the plant is fine, but if feels dry, you should add water. (Yes, it's that simple!) He recommends using about 1/3 of the pot's volume in water each time.
  • Make sure it gets enough light: Plants need a lot of sunlight to survive. Fici in particular are "very bright light plants," meaning that they can never get enough of it. In the case where a ficus isn't getting enough light, it will drop leaves to try to adapt to a lower-light situation.
  • Turn the plant: Plants will instinctively grow toward the light, which Satch compares to a human drifting toward the buffet in a room. If you want to stop your ficus from growing lopsided, turn it a 1/4 of a turn every one or two weeks. This will help your plant look more even, but won't affect the overall health of the ficus.

Looking to get a new plant for yourself? Satch let us in on the two most important things to remember.

How to pick your indoor plant:

  1. Select a plant based on your light requirements: Different types of plants require different amounts of sun. If plants aren't getting enough light, they could easily starve to death. Read up on the type of plant and its needs beforehand to make sure it's in an ideal spot. It's also important to remember that there's no such thing as too much light, even for plants that require less.
  2. Evaluate yourself and your lifestyle: Satch says you should also consider your lifestyle before deciding on plant parenthood. How much time will you dedicate to taking care of the plant? Can you water it every day? Or maybe only once a week? Air plants, ferns and orchids require much more hands-on attention than, say, cacti or ZZ plants so keep that in mind.