Fig Tree Leaves Dropping Off?

It’s common knowledge that fig trees lose their leaves during summer.

But why does it happen? What causes them to drop their leaves? Does it have something to do with temperature or humidity level or even sunlight intensity?

Let us know your thoughts!

What Causes Fig Trees To Drop Their Leaves During Summertime?

Figs are tropical plants native to South America and Africa. They are one of the most popular fruit trees worldwide. They are known for their edible fruits which include raisins, dates, prunes and many others. The leaves of fig trees are used in various ways including flavoring food products such as jams and jellies.

Summertime is the time when figs produce their largest number of leaves (Fig. 1). Fig trees need lots of water to survive so they will start shedding their leaves after reaching a certain stage in the season (Fig. 2).

The reason why figs shed their leaves depends on several factors such as:

Temperature – When the temperature reaches around 30°C (86°F) then the leaves begin to fall off. This is because these temperatures cause the plant cells to become damaged and die. If there is too much heat, then the plant becomes stressed and eventually dies.

Light – The amount of sunlight can also cause the leaves to start falling off. Since the summertime is usually a hot period of the year, the leaves will begin to fall off as a way to protect the trees from getting burnt.

Sunlight is very important for plants since it is necessary for photosynthesis. Photosynthesis involves the tree absorbing light in order to produce sugars and starches. During the summer months, there is a lot of sunlight so the tree is able to absorb plenty of light for photosynthesis to take place. During the winter, sunlight is not as strong so the tree has to absorb more of it in order for photosynthesis to continue. It does this by producing more leaves and branches so it can maximize the sunlight that it gets.

Humidity – Humidity is also an important factor in causing fig trees to lose their leaves. In areas with low humidity, the tree will begin losing leaves since there is not enough water to go around. There are some trees that can survive in low humidity areas such as the African Olive but the Mediterranean type which fig trees belong to need a higher level of humidity.

The Best Time To Prune A Fig Tree

Fig trees typically drop their leaves during summertime as a way to protect themselves from extreme heat and sunlight. Since the shedding of leaves is a natural process, you might be wondering whether or not you should prune them. Pruning can have a direct effect in the growth and health of fig trees during the following year.

Should You Prune Fig Trees Back In The Springtime?

You might find that after the tree loses its leaves, some branches are bare while others still have leaves on them.

Sources & references used in this article:

Leaf change and fruit production in six neotropical Moraceae species by K Milton – The Journal of Ecology, 1991 – JSTOR

Leaf drop affects herbivory in oaks by IS Pearse, R Karban – Oecologia, 2013 – Springer

Phenology of two Ficus species in seasonal semi-deciduous forest in Southern Brazil by E Bianchini, JM Emmerick, AVL Messetti… – Brazilian Journal of …, 2015 – SciELO Brasil

Deciduous leaf drop reduces insect herbivory by R Karban – Oecologia, 2007 – Springer

Changes in leaf hydraulic conductance during leaf shedding in seasonally dry tropical forest by TJ Brodribb, NM Holbrook – New Phytologist, 2003 – Wiley Online Library

Leaf decomposition rates in Costa Rican lowland tropical rainforest streams by J Stout – Biotropica, 1980 – JSTOR

Phenological characteristics of the tree layer of Kumaun Himalayan forests by PK Ralhan, RK Khanna, SP Singh, JS Singh – Vegetatio, 1985 – Springer

Phenology of deciduous and broadleaved-evergreen tree species in a Mexican tropical lower montane forest by G Williams-Linera – Global Ecology and Biogeography Letters, 1997 – JSTOR

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