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5 Causes Of Fiddle Leaf Fig Root Rot And How To Treat It

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

Fiddle leaf figs can be feisty little guys and being a parent to these cuties is all about love and patience. But, when they’re happy, they’re one of the most incredible house plants. With fan-like leaves and an Instagram-worthy appearance, they remain one of the most popular house plants.

While they’re finicky at times, the only thing worse than an unhappy little fiddle leaf is a fiddle leaf that’s fallen victim to root rot. Especially when their leaves start turning brown.

Root rot is a common problem that leaves many house plants looking rather sad. The fiddle leaf, however, takes quite the knock when its roots begin to rot. If it goes untreated, it can lead to a rapid decline in your houseplant’s health.  

So, what exactly is root rot? And how can you get your baby looking shiny and healthy again? With a little TLC and the right kind of knowledge, you can treat your plant and prevent root rot from happening again.

Causes of Fiddle Leaf Fig Root Rot

We all want to see our babies thriving, and a common mistake that newbie plant parents make is overwatering their house plants. Each plant is completely different, which means that you’ll need various schedules for watering them.

Here are some of the main causes of root rot in fiddle leaf fig: overwatering, poor drainage, bacterial or fungal infections.

The main concern with overwatering your plant is that they can soon fall prey to various bacteria and fungi that remain dormant in the soil. These organisms are natural inhabitants of the soil, and when you’re giving the soil too much water, the organisms can thrive. 

Aside from overwatering, a bad drainage system can end up hurting your plant in the long run. Water remains stagnant and blocks off the oxygen to your plant’s roots.

The rotting root and fungal infection that is brought on by too much water can creep its way up the plant’s stem and all the way to its leaves.

Signs of Fiddle Leaf Root Rot

Identifying early signs of root rot is a tricky task for a beginner plant parent. Even some green thumbs have a tough time spotting the first symptoms.

Identifying Unhappy Pant Soil

Because the roots are tucked away nicely in a bed of soil, you won’t be able to access the damage that is being done. Even though the plant may appear to be relatively dry, their roots down below may be suffering in soggy soil.

And the soil is the first sign of a struggling pant.

●      Mushy brown roots, wet and soggy soil

●      Waterlogged soil and roots that often remain wet for days or even weeks

●      A funny and unpleasant smell that the roots and soil give off

The best way of checking for damage is to gently remove the plant from its pot while taking care to keep the roots intact.

Noticeable Signs of Fiddle Leaf Fig Bacterial Infection

Because identifying problems beneath the soil is tricky, there may be other indications of root damage that slowly make an appearance.

Soon you’ll notice that their sturdy leaves begin to droop, which is unusual for a happy FLF. This is a prime example of overwatering your plant. But you’ll have to keep in mind that just because your plant has drooping leaves doesn’t mean it’s got root rot. It could also be a reaction to the climate and humidity levels.

Another symptom is your fiddle leaf fig turning brown at the base of the stem and on the leaves. In some cases, the entire leaf can turn brown.

This all because of the pesky little fungal infection brought on by too much water and not enough drainage. And you know what happens when a leaf isn’t green? There’s no chlorophyll, which does the job of absorbing light to transfer it into food.

Sometimes the brown spots start at the edges of the leaves and make their way around the plant.

How to Treat Root Rot: Saving Your Baby

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

So now that you know what the issue is, you can start saving your plant baby from any further damage. Root rot doesn’t mean that your plants are ready to say goodbye and head for certain death. 

From the initial traces of distress, you can assess your plant and its roots to determine how severe the rotting is. Are the roots all soggy and a little bit smelly? Is the bottom of the pot all mushy and wet?

If so, your best option is to repot your plant and clean the roots up.

Start by gently taking the plant out by its root ball to access the damage. You’ll need to give the roots a good rinse and remove any of the ones that look like they’ve gone past the point of no return. Snip away the ones that are really damaged.

For extra protection, dip the now clean roots into a fungicide solution that will help kill off any remaining root fungus.

With fresh, fast-draining soil and a pot with adequate drainage, you can give your plant a new home. A top tip is to line the bottom of the pot with stones, as this allows for better drainage.

Next up, place your FLF in a bright space, with no direct sunlight – they prefer gentler sun exposure. Make sure you don’t water your plant until the soil is completely dry. This could be anywhere from a week to two weeks.

It might be tempting to give your plant that extra bit of love by watering, but it’s always best to underwater than over.

Another simple fix is to remove some of the browning leaves and prune the brown spots. Just take care to not trim away too much of the plant. A good rule of thumb is to cut away a max of 30% of the plant.

How to Prevent Root Rot

Now that you’ve treated your plant, you’ll need to be taking extra precautions to make sure that you don’t land up with the same mistakes again. But trust me, it’s a lot simpler to do once you know what the problem is.

As with other house plants, fiddles leaf’s like to dry off between watering sessions. They need enough time to absorb all the water and let their roots breathe.

Unfortunately, there’s one scary fact that needs to be mentioned. Root rot is contagious. Meaning your other plants could land up in the same stich as your FLF. So, keeping the problem at bay means you’re protecting the whole family.

Some simple tricks and tips to avoid the nasty fungus:

●      Stick to a regular watering schedule. This will help you keep track of the amount of water going to your plants, so you won’t end up overwatering in fear of forgetting to water them.

●      Provide proper drainage. Drainage holes are a super simple fix to preventing a water build-up. If your fancy pot doesn’t have holes, you can always use a plastic pot with holes, and place it in your existing plant pot.

●      Check the soil regularly. Before watering, check that the soil is dry enough. You can even let the soil get a little too dry before watering again.

●      Aerate the soil. You can use an old chopstick that’s laying around somewhere in the kitchen and create holes inside the soil. This helps oxygen flow better to the plant’s roots, which prevents moisture build-up.

Other Fiddle Leaf Fig Problems

There are several problems that FLF faces, but that’s not to say that they’re nuisance house plants. In fact, their issues are relatively easy to fix, as long as you have the patience.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Brown Spots: Insect Infestation

This is a sightly rare instance, but sometimes a plant can be infected with insects that eat their gorgeous leaves.

A gentle, neem oil product designed for houseplants can be used to kill the insects. Just remember to use it on the underside of the leaf as well.

Brown spots on a fiddle leaf fig can also be a sign of your plant being too dry.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves Falling Off

Leaves falling off a fiddle leaf fig can either be a sign of over or underwatering, but also a sign of temperatures being too hot or too cold. These plants love good lighting, but not direct sunlight.

Also, make sure that they’re not sitting too close to a radiator or the air-conditioning.

Misting your fiddle leaf helps keep them nice and clean, as well as improving the humidity levels.

Fool-Proof Method for Avoiding Root Rot and Brown Spots on Fiddle Leaf Fig

If you’ve encountered the problem of root rot, there’s no need to panic. It can happen to any one of our beloved plants, but that’s not to say the issue can’t be fixed! Follow these simple, yet effective tips and tricks to caring for your baby.

The plants add a beautiful touch of green to any household with good lighting. As long as you plan your watering schedule, and stick to it, and have adequate drainage you’ll have a long and happy life with your FLF.

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