The gorgeous and vibrant fiddle leaf fig is the perfect addition to any home. Proud owners will know how lovely it is to watch new leaves, shiny and green, begin to uncurl and the ambience which it brings to the room.
Usually perky, standing strong and tall, it can be alarming when you see your beloved fiddle’s leaves drooping or the dreaded brown spots defacing the bright green.
Your first thought is probably, ‘my fiddle leaf fig is dying!’ But don’t panic just yet. Usually, the diseases which commonly plague fiddle leaf figs can be treated simply and effectively.
The first step is identifying the problem so you can work to bring your plant back to life. Keep reading to learn about common fiddle leaf fig diseases and how to treat them. Your plant will be back to flourishing in no time.
Six Common Fiddle Leaf Fig Afflictions
Are leaves falling off your fiddle leaf fig? Or can you see brown spots taking over, eventually causing the leaf to curl, turn black and drop? It all seems very sinister, but these are common symptoms for an unhappy fiddle leaf fig. See what may be causing it below.
Fiddle Leaf Fig Root Rot
A fiddle leaf fig with brown spots on the leaves and the dropping of older leaves may indicate root rot. This happens when a fungal infection develops from too much moisture in the roots. The culprit? Overwatering, or poor soil drainage.
The first step is to identify if it’s root rot by gently removing the fiddle fig tree from the pot and seeing if the roots are brown and mushy.
Fixing Root Rot in Fiddle Leaf Fig
The most important thing to cure root rot is to immediately start withholding water until the soil is dry — this can take up to two weeks. Before repotting the plant, you should add a layer of potting gravel to the bottom to improve the drainage.
Remove the leaves that have brown spots and be mindful of overwatering and stick to giving adequate water every 7-10 days.
In most cases, given time to dry out and heal, your fiddle leaf fig should make a full recovery.
Fiddle Leaf Fig Bacterial Infection
Another potential cause of brown spots on a fiddle leaf fig is a bacterial infection. You may also notice the leaves yellowing, which is a telltale symptom. Xanthomonas Campestris is the leaf spot bacteria disorder that attacks younger leaves especially.
Look out for yellowing leaves, multiple spots on a single leaf and affected leaves all over the tree. If your new leaves are suffering, it could be a bacterial infection.
Bacterial infections arise from bad sanitation, such as dirty hands or tools. It’s an uncommon affliction but can be fatal not only to your fiddle fig but other houseplants too if it spreads.
This is a tough disease to conquer, but there’s hope if it isn’t too severe and hasn’t overtaken most of the leaves.
Fiddle Leaf Fig Bacterial Infection Treatment
This is going to hurt, but it’s the only way to save your plant — you need to remove all of the affected leaves. This can seem disastrous if half of your leaves are sick, but effective pruning is your best treatment and will prevent spreading to the rest of the plant.
The next step is to re-pot your plant with fresh soil and a new, clean pot. Try to gently remove the old soil from the root system before repotting it.
During the recovery phase, your fiddle fig needs a lot of light, so try to find a bright spot with indirect sunlight. For the next few weeks, water your plant sparingly as bacteria spread in water and be sure not to mist your leaves.
Unfortunately, if more than half of the leaves are infected, it’s most likely a terminal case. Removing too many leaves may kill the plant from shock, so it’s probably time to say goodbye and try again with a new plant.
Insects are a gardener’s number one nemesis, but luckily for house plant lovers, they don’t usually pose too much of a problem. So, while insect damage is quite rare, if you notice brown leaf spots and the fiddle leaf fig losing leaves, you may be dealing with some unwelcome guests.
These intruders are often tiny and difficult to see with the naked eye. Grab a magnifying glass and inspect your fiddle leaf fig for little webs or insects.
If you notice that the spots on the fiddle leaf fig are turning into holes, this is another indication of insect infection. The insects are making a meal out of the leaves, which will eventually kill the leaf.
Mites are almost invisible, but you can spot their webs. And mealybugs are visible as tiny white puffs that tend to hang out on the leaves or along the stems.
Dealing with Insect Infection
This is one of the easiest fiddle leaf fig problems to treat. You can choose whether you want to use insecticidal soap or a natural or homemade remedy. Neem oil works well to get rid of insects, and you can easily find a houseplant neem oil product.
For a DIY remedy, mix two tablespoons of baking soda and a few drops of liquid soap. Spray the entire plant, making sure to reach underneath the leaves and in all the little nooks and crannies.
Move the fiddle fig away from any other houseplants as you don’t want to evict the critters from one plant just so they can hole up in the next. After two weeks, inspect your plant and if you spot some webs or insects, repeat the spraying process.
Root rot is a type of fungal disorder that occurs in fiddle leaf figs. However, there is another fungal disorder called anthracnose leaf spot. And what are the symptoms? You guessed it — brown leaf spots. But in the case of this fungal disorder, you may also see a sprinkling of black dots which are fungal colonies.
Leaf spot spreads quickly when the leaves are moist or if the conditions are humid. The leaves will begin to yellow, and the brown spots will grow.
Treating Leaf Spot
Remove the affected leaves and ensure that there is no debris left in the pot to decrease the spread. When you water your fiddle fig make sure that you don’t get any spray and moisture onto the leaves while it is recovering.
Fiddle Leaf Tree Sunburn
Are you noticing light brown or bleached spots, especially near the tops of your fiddle fig leaves? These spots may even have a slightly yellow or red tinge. These are signs of a sunburn caused by too much direct sunlight.
Sure, your fiddle leaf fig tree loves to be in a bright spot with a lot of light. But it blossoms in indirect sunlight and shouldn’t be in direct rays.
Fiddle Leaf Fig Care for Sunburn
Treating sunburn is simple. Use sharp pruning shears to remove sunburnt leaves. Get to know how much light a fiddle fig needs and move the plant out of the direct sun where it will benefit from plenty of sunshine but not direct rays.
Underwatered Fiddle Leaf Fig
The symptoms of underwatering are obvious and easily identifiable. Brown spots will appear at the edge of leaves, which will begin to curl and which will lead to the fiddle leaf fig leaves falling off.
Press a finger into the soil and notice if it’s very dry and hard and shrinking away from the edges of the pot, this is also telling of too little water.
Dealing with Underwatering
First of all, assess the environment that your fiddle fig is in. Is it near a heater, for example? As this can create a warm and dry environment which may affect the plant’s water requirements.
Fiddle fig trees need to be watered regularly, once every 7-10 days. A consistent watering schedule is key for a healthy fiddle fig. You can work off the size of the plant to determine the amount of water needed.
A general rule is a cup for a plant smaller than 2 feet, two cups for a plant over 2 feet and three cups if your plant is between 3 to 6 feet.
Check the moisture of the soil and ensure the top inch of soil is always moist. When you water the plant, check to see that water is leaking out through the bottom of the pot, as this shows good drainage and ensures the root ball is getting enough moisture. You can mist the leaves every few days to keep it hydrated or keep a humidifier near the plant.
Now You Can Heal Your Fiddle Fig Plant
After all this, it’s safe to say that brown spots equal sick or unhappy fiddle leaf fig. But by noticing some other small symptoms, such as yellowing leaves or very dry soil, you can figure out what’s ailing your troubled plant and get to work tackling the problem.
Your fiddle fig will tell you when something is wrong, and you just have to listen!
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