Perhaps someone can help. I have a braided ficus which I bought 1 ½ years ago. It never looked too great since the day I bought it. Right now it’s half bare and dropping leaves. I feel as if I’m slowly killing it. What is the proper care protocol for this plant? The local nursery told me to keep the soil moist, and to keep the plant it in a medium light area. Any other suggestions?
Perhaps someone else can address feeding and infestations, but here are some general care items I've learned about ficus trees that are kept as house plants:
It's hard for ficus to get enough light in a house, so locate it in the sunniest room of the house, under a skylight if possible. But don't put it near a drafty window or a heating or air conditiong vent; they don't like drafts.
Let the soil dry out somewhat (but not completely) before watering again. The tree stores some water in its trunk, so it doesn't need to be kept wet all the time. It does love humidity, though, so mist the leaves sometimes.
Finally, ficus do not like to be moved. In reaction, they drop leaves. Find a place for it and leave it there. Having said that, though, it will benefit from spending the summer outside the house to give it some extra light and humidity for a while. It will drop some leaves when moved in and out, but it will recover.
Good luck -- they're beautiful plants!
I agree with what Rebecca has to say and would add that they also tend to shed their leaves twice a year, in the spring and fall. If you've recently turned on the heat they will shed. New leaves will soon grow.
By the way, I let the top 2" of soil dry out before watering again.