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9 Reasons For Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves Curling – Common Problems and How to Fix Them

Repotting fiddle leaf fig tree in big modern pot. Ficus lyrata l

Fiddle leaf figs are so beautiful and vibrant that you don’t want anything to mess with their aesthetic. Or even worse, it’s health. Just one potted fiddle leaf fig can brighten a room immeasurably while adding an element of style, colour and lusciousness to a small or large space.

Why is your fiddle leaf fig leaves curling? There can be plenty of reasons behind your fiddle leaf figs leaves curling, with the leading cause being underwatering. Lack of watering can cause the leaves to curl. Other factors that can cause your fiddle fig leaves to curl are overwatering, over-fertilizing, small plant pot, lack of nutrients to change in temperature.

A fiddle leaf fig is a finicky plant and demands rather specific living quarters. It wants a well-lit space without direct sunlight. It must have just the right amount of water – not too much or too little. It also needs good potting soil with adequate drainage, a decently humid environment, and plenty of love.

But not to worry, because it’s all very much worth it. And I have all the answers you need for your plant to thrive without a curl to its perfect green leaves.

Causes of Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves Curling Up

There can be plenty of reasons behind your fiddle leaf figs leaves curling. As we’ve mentioned, it doesn’t take a lot to upset this pot plant diva. So, let’s dive into the reasons behind the curl, and what you can do to remedy the situation. Or better yet, avoid it altogether.

Artificial plant, Fiddle leaf fig tree and monstera planted in black pot on room corner, Indoor tropical houseplant for home and living room interior.

Under-watering Leading to Fig Leaves Curling

Plants are complex living organisms, and as such, need multiple different sources of sustenance. Light is one, soil and its nutrients another, and water yet another. The latter is possibly the most important, as it makes up 80-90% of a plant.

If a fiddle leaf fig is under-watered that percentage will drop, leaving the plant unhappy. Its leaves may begin to curl, as it doesn’t have enough water to function optimally. This issue may also present itself as drooping fiddle leaf fig leaves.

How to fix it:

Fortunately, this is an easy fix. You need to feed your plant more water. Fiddle leaf figs thrive on a consistent watery diet and should be watered once a week, or at a push, once every 10 days. If you push it beyond this point, expect curling leaves to be knocking at your door.

Overfeeding with Fertiliser

As loving plant parents, we sometimes just overdo it a bit, in our attempts to make our plants as happy and healthy as possible. Unfortunately, with this particular plant, that love might just backfire.

Overfeeding with fertiliser can end up being just as bad as not giving your plant any fertiliser at all. Its leaves can, you guessed it, begin to curl. This is because it has too many nutrients to absorb optimally, and it might create an inhospitable environment for microorganisms.

It might also give your plant a sudden growth spurt, which might look good for a little while. But the root system will likely not grow at the same rate as the rest of the plant, and it won’t be able to supply the leaves with enough water. This can also cause the leaves to curl at the edges.

How to fix it:

The best way to combat over-fertilisation is by repotting your fiddle leaf fig with new soil. Think of it as giving it a new lease on life. Just be sure to follow my step-by-step repotting guide, so that this second chance doesn’t end up being its last.

Inadequate Soil Type Causing Fiddle Leaf Fig Problems

Not all soil is created equal, and you might want to avoid soil from the lower rungs of perfection. Good soil has plenty of nutrients, and the ability to conduct water optimally. This means that it doesn’t stay soggy and wet for long. Nor does it dry up quickly and need to be constantly watered to retain adequate moisture. 

If you have bad soil in the pot of your plant, it will not be able to absorb all the nutrients it needs. Bad soil also generally does not have microorganisms living within it, and diversity in soil is as important as it is elsewhere.

How to fix it:

You can improve your soil in a number of ways. Fertiliser (in the right amounts) can come in handy here, as it reintroduces nutrients into the soil. Another, slightly more unorthodox method, is adding a few earthworms to your potted plant. Just one or two can aerate the soil and add tons of nutrients. But they might not love the bad soil either.

The last method of drastically improving soil type is by repotting your fiddle leaf fig. As mentioned previously, this should be done with care. And be sure to purchase really great soil from your local nursery, so that your plant can be its happiest self. And so that you’ll see no more leaves curling up.

Water Quality

It may sound odd, but water itself can be of differing quality. Rainwater and bottled spring water has the ideal pH value for optimum growth, which is a value of 6.5. You may find that distilled water or plain old tap water might stunt your plant’s growth, or even make the leaves wrinkle and curl, as it doesn’t deliver nutrients in the same effective way as water with the right pH value.

Plants should also be watered with lukewarm or room temperature water, as cold water can shock the plant.

How to Fix it:

This one is an easy fix. If you want your plant to receive the best possible nutrients and water, you can save rainwater and use that once a week. Alternatively, spring water is the way to go. But this may end up becoming a little expensive.

Too Much or Too Little Light Exposure

As we’ve discovered, fiddle leaf figs are particularly pedantic. They want just the right amount of light exposure to grow optimally. A bright room that receives plenty of light during most of the daylight hours will do the job.

However, too much light exposure will also make your fiddle leaf fig act up, by curling, drooping or developing brown spots. It should not receive direct sunlight. So, as much as it enjoys the light, it doesn’t enjoy too much of it.

How to Fix it:

As always, prevention is better than cure. But either way, do not put your fiddle leaf fig on a windowsill that gets light through it during the day (which is most windowsills). If you see a fig tree leaf curl, and you suspect the light its getting is an issue, take a look around your living space. Identify a spot that is light, bright, and out of direct sunlight. 

Fiddle leaf figs don’t love being moved to new environments, but sometimes they just need to suck it up for their own good. Move your fiddle leaf to the spot you’ve identified. But don’t expect its leaves to unfurl too quickly, as it might take your plant a little time to adjust to its new environment.

Lack of Nutrition Causing Fig Tree Leaves Curling

Like all life forms, fiddle leaf figs need plenty of nourishment to thrive. A lack of nutrition can cause your fiddle leaf fig leaves to curl up, or a number of other problems to present themselves. But you can’t simply give these divas any old nutrients. They are plant-specific, and each needs its own blend.

Fiddle leaves require a fertiliser with high nitrogen content, as well as phosphorus and potassium. These elements should be at a ratio of 3-1-2 for optimum growth and no curls.

How to Fix it:

If you suspect that your plant is not satisfied with the food it’s given (good soil, indirect light and a weekly watering), then you may want to give it fertiliser. The above-mentioned fiddle leaf fig-specific ratio is best, and you might be able to find it at your local nursery.

If you have no luck with this specifi
c type, a general-purpose fertiliser might also do the trick. It’s easy to overdo it with strong fertilisers like your first choice. So, whenever you are giving your plant its special food, keep in mind that overfeeding with fertiliser is just as bad as the opposite.

Temperature Stress

Since this leafy green originated in West Africa, where it grew in lowland tropical rainforest, it comes as no surprise that humidity and heat are what suits it best. You can imagine them growing under a thick canopy of trees, where the heat and moisture were trapped among the ferns and underbrush, and where the sun was locked out.

Most likely, you’re living in very different circumstances to its original habitat. If you live somewhere cold and the plant gets chilly, it could react with a curl in its leaves. Or if your space is dry, cool, drafty, overly sunny, etc. you could face similar issues. Its ideal temperature is 18 – 23 degrees celsius.

How to Fix it:

Changing the temperature of your living space is not a simple thing. Particularly because you want this to suit you and your household, not just your beloved plant. However, there are a few simple things you can do to make your environment suit your plant better, no matter where you live.

Firstly, check if it is getting a draft where it currently sits, and move it if it is. Then also see if its space is bright enough, without it falling under direct sunlight. Lastly, be sure that it is not close to a heating vent, as this will quickly dry out your plant, and can also cause your fiddle leaf fig tree leaves drying out.

Root Rot from Overwatering Fig Trees

Repotting fiddle leaf fig tree in big modern pot. Ficus lyrata l

Overwatering has the potential to be just as bad as underwatering. I myself have seen a few plants fall to overenthusiastic watering endeavours. Fiddle leaf fig trees like to dry out a little between waterings. So, while they should be well watered once a week, too much water will result in soggy soil and root rot, eventually drowning your plant.

Root rot will appear as soft, soggy roots that no longer have the ability to absorb nutrients for the plant. Also, too much water might, in the short term, swell up the plant and then turn the fiddle leaf fig leaves brown.

If your plant is suffering from root rot and it is not quickly addressed, leaves may turn from brown to black and curl up, eventually falling off. So you know that if it’s at the curling point, things are very serious.

How to Fix it:

First, you’ll remove the plant from its pot. If it’s in a plastic pot, consider cutting the pot from around the earth, so that your roots will be fully safe. If it’s in a ceramic pot, remove the plant from it very carefully.

If the roots are soft and mushy, root rot has taken a hold of your plant. If it is not a total mess, leave it out to dry for a bit, until the roots have had a chance to recover. If the rot is very bad, you’ll need to cut away the badly rotted roots before returning it to its pot.

If you suspect that your pot is part of the problem, get a planter with good drainage, so that this issue does not reappear. You could also add a root supplement to your new plant pot system, if you want to be extra sure that your roots grow well from this point on.

Diseases Causing Fig Trees Leaves Curling

Besides root rot, your fiddle leaf may develop one of a few different fungal disorders. This is because the environment that they like is the same one that funguses love. It’s a tricky situation.

Anthracnose leaf spot is a disease that spreads through fiddle leaf leaves. They appear as brown spots, but they may grow steadily, and black dots will form. These are fungal colonies.

How to Fix it:

Fortunately, anthracnose spots are quite easy to fix. Simply cut off the infected leaves. They can’t be saved, and the fungus can spread, so it’s better to remove them altogether. Then, from this point on, avoid wetting its leaves when you water your plant.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Leaves Curling Because of an Insect Infestation

You may not be the only one who likes the leaves of your fiddle leaf. Insects such as mites, aphids and mealybugs may decide to feast on your prized plant. This will mean that they take the nutrients that your plant needs and injure its leaves and body. This can show itself in brown spots and a curl.

How to Fix it:

If you act quickly, you can deal with this problem simply and effectively. Wipe the leaves and stem of your plant with a soapy wet cloth. You can repeat this every few days until the insects are all gone.

Alternatively, neem oil is an organic, safe and effective way of ridding your plant of bugs. You can lightly spray the oil over your plants in the morning and evening, so that the oil doesn’t affect beneficial insects, such as bees.

Low Humidity & Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Problems

As previously mentioned, these plants are used to plenty of humidity and thrive in warm and moist climates. To be specific, the ideal humidity should be 30 – 65%. If your plant is in a space with low humidity, it may dry up and curl.

How to Fix it:

The best way to fix a humidity problem is by adding a humidifier near your plant. Then it’s sure to soak up the moisture happily. Alternatively, you can mist your plant occasionally. However, don’t do this too regularly, as they like to be a little moist, but not wet.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Leaves Curling Up Due to Pot Size

Because fiddles leaf figs are constantly growing, albeit slowly, you need to reevaluate your pot size every now and then. If the pot is too small, roots will fight for nutrients and this will cause slowed growth, and possibly wrinkling and curling leaves. If your pot is too large, root rot might take speedy advantage of the space.

How to Fix it:

The right pot size for you ficus lyrata is one that is a third wider than your plant’s root ball. If your tree has outgrown its pot, it needs to be moved to a larger pot. But be sure to do this gently, as they don’t like to be moved.

Once relocated, you’ll need to give them a few weeks before they really start to thrive in their new environment. Fiddle leaf figs always have a bit of an adjustment period when their living conditions are changed.

How to Prevent Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves Curling – Answered!

There are plenty of ways that a fiddle leaf can get a bit of a curl. They are finicky plants and want the best of everything. Or at least, their best.

Fortunately, if you know how to deal with them, their care routine is simple. And if you follow it, you might never come across a wrinkle at all. If you do happen to see curls or wrinkles in your precious green leaves, one of these methods is sure to do the trick.

Frequently Asked Questions

With such a complex plant, you likely have even more questions. And since I strive to give you all the information you need to grow a thriving fiddle leaf fig tree, I’ve got the answers for you.

Why are my Fiddle Leaf Fig leaves wrinkling?

With fiddle leaf trees, wrinkling leaves are synonymous with curling leaves. It’s simply an inconsistency in the leaf’s smoothness. So you’ll find that the same reasons behind curling leaves, will be the causes of wrinkling leaves

Why are my Fiddle Leaf Fig leaves turning brown and falling off?

There are a number of causes that could be behind this tragedy. You can read my post about fiddle leaf fig leaves turning brown to find the reason for your particular plant.

Why are my Fiddle Leaf Fig leaves cracking?

Cracking or splitting leaves are most often caused by too much air flow. Which might sound odd, but a fan or lots of natural air flow will upset the humidity that fiddle leaf figs require, and this can result in cracking.

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