Discovering brown leaves on your beloved fiddle leaf fig plant can be a real bummer. It can be disheartening when you don’t understand why your leaves are turning brown, and it can lead to some frustration. The good news is that there are generally only four main culprits for your fiddle leaf fig leaves to turn brown.
Why Are My Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves Turning Brown?
Don’t worry; chances are good we can fix your plant from yellowing and turning brown and return it to its old happy green self!
Top 4 Reasons Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Is Turning Brown
- Root Rot
- Bacterial Infection
- Too Dry
- Insect Damage
The four most common reasons for the leaves turning brown are root rot from too much water, bacterial infection, dryness from underwatering or low humidity, or insect damage due to a pest infestation.
Not to worry, you’ve come to the right place. I will walk you through these four main reasons for brown leaves and show you what to look for to determine the problem at hand.
I have over 150 houseplants in my home, and I am positive I can help keep any of your houseplants thriving with my houseplant tips!
Root rot is one of the most common causes of fiddle leaf fig leaves turning brown. This is a fungal infection caused by the roots sitting in too much moisture in their pot home. Basically, the plant gets mushy roots, so having your plants on a steady watering schedule and ensuring your pot has a drainage hole is beneficial.
As you can imagine, an abundance of moisture in the pot results from overwatering and poor soil drainage. Once your roots are infected, they can turn brown and mushy and unable to transport nutrients to the rest of the plant. Hence, the leaves turn brown due to a lack of nutrients.
Typically root rot will affect older leaves on the plant first, leaving the younger, healthier leaves intact. This is because your plant prioritizes the young leaves with its limited ability to distribute nutrients.
If you suspect the problem is root rot, gently remove the topsoil or the entire root ball system from its pot if needed and inspect the roots.
If your leaves have just a few brown spots, then simply let your plant dry out for a week or two with some good sunlight, giving the roots enough time to recover. Also, remove any infected leaves with brown areas to make room for new growth.
If there are multiple infected leaves, and the roots look pretty brown and mushy, you will want to cut away and remove both the damaged roots and leaves. Then re-pot with well-draining soil and try to water less in the future.
Here is an example of what root-rot looks like:
A bacterial infection on your fiddle leaf fig plant can have similar symptoms to root rot. The main sign that your beautiful plant has a bacterial infection is the leaves turning yellow in addition to light brown spots.
When the problem is root rot, the leaves usually keep their dark green coloring as the brown spots appear and spread. When the problem is a bacterial infection, the entire leaf will begin to turn yellow as the brown spots spread.
Another difference between root rot and a bacterial infection is that the latter generally is seen more on newer leaves compared to older leaves that the root rot is seen on. A bacterial infection is probably the culprit if your newer leaves are dying while the older ones look healthy.
The unfortunate news here is that a bacterial infection can be a bit more difficult to heal than root rot is. The earlier you can catch the infection, the better the plant’s chance of saving.
First, you will want to remove all the leaves with brown spots on them. These leaves are already infected and probably can’t be saved. Next, repot your plant with fresh soil.
Once your plant has been repotted, make sure to place it in a spot that gets good sunlight. Take it easy on the watering for a few weeks as the plant recovers.
Diagnosing brown spots on your leaves from dryness is a bit simpler than the other causes listed above. The leaves will turn a tan color and start at the edge of the leaf.
The leaf will begin to curl, and the entire plant can look noticeably dry and wilted. If you notice the soil receding from the edge of the pot, then dryness is almost definitely your problem.
First things first, take a look at where you have the fiddle leaf fig plant located. Is it near a heating vent or in intense sunlight? Try moving it to a better location in your house.
Next, it’s time for some water. Give your plant a thorough watering and continue to do so about once a week. Keep checking in on the plant regularly to monitor its improvement. Misting your plant twice a week or setting up a humidifier can also be included for the first couple of weeks as you nurse it back to full strength.
Going forwards, make sure to water a bit more than you were before noticing the dry, wilted leaves.
If you want more information about humidifiers for plants, I have a blog post: The Best Humidifiers for Plants.
Brown spots on your fiddle leaf fig plant may stem from insect damage. This isn’t a very common problem, but nevertheless is certainly possible that you have spider mites, aphids, or fungus gnats.
The telltale sign of insect damage is very small, dark red or brown spots that will then turn into holes in the leaves. Take a close look at the plant and see if you can observe any small insects. Make sure to search on the underside of the leaf. If you can see little bugs or weblike material, then they are definitely responsible for the leaf damage.
Don’t panic. Insect infestations are typically easy to deal with!
First off, you’ll want to quarantine the plant away from all of your other plants. Taking the plant outside is the best option if the weather permits. We want to make sure we keep the rest of the plant family healthy.
Next, let’s eradicate these pesky insects. I recommend using a neem oil product or an organic insecticidal soap. Neem oil works great but can be smelly (it can smell like sulfur).
Spray all of the leaves with your neem oil or insecticide thoroughly, including the underside and where the leaf attaches to the stem. Give it a week or two and inspect the plant again. Repeat as necessary until the infestation is eliminated.
If your plant has fungus gnats, you can resolve that issue with Sticky Yellow Traps.
- Sometimes exposure to temperature extremes can cause your fiddle leaf fig plant leaves to fall off. Either too hot or too cold. These plants like warm, humid places with consistent moisture and even temperatures.
- Keep the soil of your fiddle leaf fig moist but not soggy. Watering when the top 3-4 inches of the soil is dry.
- When you notice damaged leaves, removing those damaged areas with some sharp scissors is good. It will help the plant distribute its energy and resources effectively.
- Have patience! It takes time for your plant to adjust to the changes you make to it.
1) How often should I water my fiddle leaf fig plant?
When the top 3-4 inches of soil is dry, you should water your fiddle leaf fig plant. This can be done once a week, but it is important to monitor the soil and adjust accordingly.
2) How do I know if I have insect damage on my fiddle leaf fig plant?
The telltale sign of insect damage is very small, dark red or brown spots that will then turn into holes in the leaves. Look closely at the plant and see if you can observe any small insects. Make sure to search on the underside of the leaf. If you can see little bugs or weblike material, then they are definitely responsible for the leaf damage.
3) Where can I buy a Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant?
4) Should I cut the brown leaves off my fiddle leaf fig?
Yes, I recommend trimming off any damaged sections of a leaf or the entire leaf if it is completely brown. This will aid in the plant’s recovery and appearance. I recommend using sharp pruning shears or scissors to remove brown leaves, make room, and save your plant’s energy for growing new leaves.