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A glorious tropical tree, the fiddle leaf fig (Ficus lyrata) is widely cultivated as a houseplant. When fully grown, it makes a stunning focal point in a living room or workplace.
The fiddle leaf fig prefers strong light with moderate humidity and is susceptible to overwatering, which can lead to several problems. The most common challenge is browning leaves in spots, on the edges, or generally – for which there are several causes.
Table of Contents
- Growing a Fiddle Leaf Fig
- Grooming Your Fiddle Leaf Fig
- Propagating Your Fiddle Leaf Fig
- Fiddle Leaf Fig Toxicity
- Common Diseases of the Ficus Family
- Brown Spots on Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves: The 4 Common Causes
- Bacterial Infection Causes Brown Spots on Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves
- Brown Spots on Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves Caused by Root Rot
- Dryness Causes Brown Spots on Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves
- Insect Damage Causes Brown Spots on Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves
- Keeping Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Healthy
- FAQs Fiddle Leaf Fig
Several factors could cause brown stains on fiddle leaf fig leaves. The brown stains on a lovely large green, unusually shaped foliage detract from its appeal but can easily be solved – here’s how.
First, let’s explore the general needs of our fiddle leaf fig. While we’re at it, let’s ensure we’re talking about the same plant; the name is popular in referring to both the Ficus lyrata and the Philodendron bipennifolium.
It’s not uncommon for the same common name to be used for many plants, as we see here. Our review is of the Ficus lyrata, commonly marketed as a Fiddle Leaf Fig houseplant.
Growing a Fiddle Leaf Fig
Fiddle leaf figs can be difficult to grow and require a specific amount of light and humidity, and they detest damp or dry soil and drafts.
The information provided here will assist you in locating them in your house and providing them with the care they require to perform at their best.
Placing Your Fiddle Leaf Fig
Fiddle leaf figs demand bright light (they prefer early sun). They generally grow enormous and tall when they are happy.
Drafts irritate them. A happy fiddle leaf fig tree may reach a height of 10 feet (even 39 feet in ideal conditions).
You may need to relocate your outgrown fiddle leaf to a protected position outdoors, such as a patio. Please protect it from the wind, the sun, and the cold.
Watering Your Fiddle Leaf Fig
Watering is the second most crucial aspect to master. Both overwatering and underwatering can lead to issues.
Yellow or brown leaves that drop early are signs. When watering, it’s better to go easy on the water. How can I tell when it’s time to water?
When the top two inches of soil are dry, water. Allowing the pot to sit in the drained water is not a good idea. Root rot is caused by allowing plants to sit in too much water.
Fertilizing Your Fiddle Leaf Fig
Burnt leaf margins can also be caused by overfeeding your plants. Fertilize your fiddle leaf at least twice a year, once in the spring and once in the summer.
Use a general-purpose fertilizer for houseplants. Read the instructions carefully and remember that “more is not always better.” To be safe and avoid burning your plant, use 50 percent of the suggested strength, but never more than the label suggests.
Fiddle Leaf Fig Humidity Needs
The Fiddle Leaf prefers higher relative humidity because it is native to Africa’s tropical rainforests. Browning of the leaf border indicates that they are low in humidity.
Avoid placing your plant near a heat source since the relative humidity will be lower. Group plants together to improve humidity, or install a tiny humidifier next to it if you want to boost its growth.
Grooming Your Fiddle Leaf Fig
You can eliminate dust accumulation by wiping the leaves with a soft, damp cloth. If the borders of the leaves have turned brown, cut them with scissors, keeping the leaf form in mind (yes, they will survive).
Remove any fallen or dead leaves. Every time you water, keep an eye out for insects and illnesses. Make it a habit to do this every time you water so you can deal with problems immediately.
Pruning Your Fiddle Leaf Gig
Yes, the fiddle leaf can be pruned. The new growth on the tips of the branches should be pinched off to produce a bigger and bushier plant.
When pruning, the wounds will leak a milky-white sap. Be careful to blot and wipe up to avoid leaking on the floor. If you cut the trunk back, fresh leaves will emerge from it.
Propagating Your Fiddle Leaf Fig
Start with a 6-inch stem tip cutting connected to a leaf and submerge it in water to allow roots to form. Another option is to use air layering.
Fiddle Leaf Fig Toxicity
Common Diseases of the Ficus Family
|Greasy-appearing spots are yellow and then die and have a yellow halo.||Glomerella (Colletotrichum)||Avoid overhead watering. Apply a fungicide to protect plants.|
|Angular yellow spots are limited in size by veins. Spots become brown, and leaves fall.||Xanthomonas campestris||Purchase plants free of disease. Avoid overhead watering.|
|Leaves wilt, die, and fall. Small and eventually large branches die. The wood under the bark is black.||Phomopsis||Maintain even soil moisture—prune branches when they are small. Protect plants from injury.|
|Mature leaves have large brown blotches. Young leaves appear puckered or distorted and brown.||Temperatures below 40° F.||Management: Do not place plants near air conditioners. Maintain temperatures above 40° F.|
|Areas between the leaf veins are yellow and dying.||Aphelenchoides||Discard infected plants. Remove infected leaves from plants not severely affected and avoid overhead watering.|
|Leaves are yellow and fall.||Low soil moisture and low relative humidity.||Maintain even soil moisture.|
Brown Spots on Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves: The 4 Common Causes
This evergreen shrub or tree may reach a height of 39 feet, has a spreading crown, and is occasionally epiphytic (live on the surface of other plants) in the wild, strangling the host.
Their main attraction is their large, leathery, fiddle-shaped (and -sized) leaves. Fruit is seldom seen in interior locations, and it loves medium to bright light, dry soil, and medium relative humidity at temperatures above 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
As advised above, you must closely monitor your Ficus Lyrata for any changes in the leaves, soil surface, or trunk. If you notice brown spots on the leaves, the cause will generally be one of the following:
- Bacterial Infection
- Root Rot
- Insect Damage
Answering the following questions will help you identify the cause of the browning of your leaves:
- Do you notice a lot of dots on each leaf or just one big brown area?
- Do the brown spots appear first on the leaf’s border or in the center?
- Do the dark stains cause the leaves to fall off eventually?
- Is the hue dark brown (nearly black) or softer brown (more tan)?
- Are they harming the older leaves at the bottom of your plant or the newer leaves at the top?
It’s time to figure out what’s causing your brown spots once you’ve examined them thoroughly and analyzed their features.
Bacterial Infection Causes Brown Spots on Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves
A bacterial infection might be to blame if your plant exhibits some signs of root rot but does not respond to treatment.
Unfortunately, this is a regular occurrence with plants purchased from big-box retailers. Bacterial brown spots are distinguished by their hue, which is less black and browner.
- To identify a bacterial infection, look for the following features on your leaves:
- Bacterial leaf spot can affect any part of a plant, including older, bigger, and newer, smaller leaves. Consider a bacterial issue if you notice little leaves with stunted development, yellowing, and brown patches.
- Bacteria will generate several brown patches on a leaf rather than a single huge brown region.
- Bacterial spots have wavy edges and can appear anywhere on the leaf, along the border, or where the leaf joins the stem.
In addition to the brown patches, the yellowing of the leaves is another indicator of bacterial illness.
The leaves of root rot are normally dark green with dark brown spots, but the leaves of bacterial leaf spot turn yellow as the brown spot spreads.
Your leaves will ultimately fall off due to root rot and bacterial leaf spot.
How to Treat Brown Spots From a Bacterial Infection
Regrettably, bacterial infections are one of the most difficult problems to treat in a fiddle leaf fig. The idea is to treat the spots as soon as possible to prevent the harm from spreading too far.
The treatment is similar to that for root rot: make sure the roots of your plant dry out between waterings and that it gets plenty of sunlight.
If the damage isn’t too serious, cut off all the leaves with brown spots and repot your plant in a container with adequate drainage and fresh, sterile soil. Allow lots of light and water sparingly till it recovers.
Depending on your environment, another helpful option to treat bacterial infections is to place your fiddle leaf fig outside in the shade to recuperate.
Fresh air, plenty of sunlight, and mild temperatures can all aid in the recovery of your plant. Just make sure your plant isn’t in direct sunlight and doesn’t get too cold (less than 50 degrees) or too hot (more than 100 degrees) (greater than 95 degrees).
If your plant has more than half of its leaves afflicted by brown spots and the issue is spreading, you might choose to start over.
Remove the plant and replace it with a healthy one. If your plant is damaged, you should contact the store where you bought it to see if they would replace it.
Brown Spots on Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves Caused by Root Rot
Brown leaves on a fiddle leaf fig are most commonly caused by a fungal infection caused by the roots resting in too much moisture.
Root rot is caused by excessive watering and inadequate drainage, and it spreads from the roots to your plant’s leaves.
To work correctly, the roots of a fiddle leaf fig must be somewhat dry between waterings. When the leaves become infected with the fungus, they begin to turn brown and finally fall off.
The only way to know whether your plant has root rot is to take it out of the pot and look at the roots.
Signs of Root Rot
Remove the damaged roots and brown areas on the leaves, then repot the plant, being careful not to over-water it in the future.
When your plant gets thirsty, you may use a moisture meter to determine when it needs to be watered. You can, however, diagnose root rot and cure your plant without having to repot it.
Root rot has an intriguing feature: it usually affects older leaves first, as your plant tries to conserve fresh growth closer to valuable sunlight.
Root rot might be to fault if you detect more brown patches on your older growth near the bottom of the plant. The falling of leaves is another indicator of root rot.
The brown spots may begin as little black dots and grow in size until the entire leaf falls off. If you suspect your plant has root rot, take a moisture reading towards the bottom of the roots with a moisture meter like this one.
Root rot is the most likely reason for a moist reading.
Root rot is the most likely cause of brown patches on fiddle leaf fig leaves if you feel you’ve been overwatering it or it has inadequate drainage.
A lack of sunshine can exacerbate this condition. In addition, a huge container might cause your plant’s roots to stay overly damp between waterings.
How to Get Rid of Root Rot Brown Spots
Root rot is often easy to cure, especially if caught early.
Because a lack of drainage usually causes root rot, you’ll want to take care of it immediately. Make sure you’re using a well-draining container and fast-draining potting soil and not overwatering.
The next step is to determine the extent of the damage. You don’t need to repot your plant if there are only a few brown patches on the leaves.
Allow your plant to dry out for two weeks or more to allow the roots to heal. Remove any injured leaves and make sure your plant is getting adequate light.
If you’re unsure if your plant’s roots are wet, check using a moisture meter to see if they’re drying out between waterings.
Then, with adequate drainage and watering, your plant should recover. To learn more about appropriate watering, check out our Ultimate Watering Guide.
If the damage is serious or spreading quickly, you’ll need to repot your fiddle leaf fig and undertake root surgery. Take your plant out of its container and hose the root ball down. Remove any mushy, brown roots.
Repot with fast-draining house plant soil like this if you don’t have appropriate drainage. To avoid a recurrence of the situation, use excellent watering methods in the future. If your fiddle leaf fig still needs help or you would like to protect it in the future, consider getting special treatment to protect your plant from root rot infections.
Dryness Causes Brown Spots on Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves
Dry plant brown spots are easy to identify since they have dry tan or lighter brown regions that begin at the leaf’s edge and curl the leaf.
At times, your plant will appear wilted or dry, and the dirt may have withdrawn from the pot (shrinkage). Water may flow between the pot and the soil, never reaching the root ball.
Brown spots might appear if you forget to water your plant regularly or if it’s in an extremely dry climate.
Your plant’s relative humidity should be between 30 and 65 percent, so if your home’s humidity is considerably lower or your plant is near a heater, you may need to spray or move it to provide more humidity for your fiddle leaf fig.
Brown Areas on a Dry Plant and How to Treat Them
If your soil is shrinking, repot your plant to ensure your root ball is getting enough water. Consider transferring your fiddle leaf fig to a different spot if it is in an extremely dry area or near a heater. Water your plant at least once a week and keep an eye on it to ensure it’s getting adequate water.
If your house is really dry, you can spritz your plant every one to three days or use a humidifier near it; however, this is rarely necessary unless your plant is near a heater.
Insect Damage Causes Brown Spots on Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves
Thankfully, insect damage to a fiddle leaf fig plant is uncommon. Small black stains on plant leaves that develop into holes in the leaves are a dead giveaway of insect damage, which occurs more frequently in fresh, delicate growth.
Use a magnifying lens to search for any insects on your plant and any white or gray insect webs. If you notice any insects on your plant, you’ll know what’s causing the brown patches.
Keeping Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Healthy
You’ll want to ensure your fiddle leaf fig plant stays healthy in the future now that you’ve identified the reason for its brown spots and devised a treatment strategy.
FAQs Fiddle Leaf Fig
To maintain your plant healthy, ensure it has the right soil and drainage, follow watering guidelines, and fertilize regularly.
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