Why Are My Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves Turning Brown? And Other Fiddle Problems Explained

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Not to worry, you’ve come to the right place.

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 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. Don’t worry, chances are good that we’ll be able to save your plant and get it back to its old happy self with a bit of time and care.

What are the causes of brown leaves on a Fiddle Leaf Fig plant?

Why are my fiddle leaf fig leaves turning brown? Well, the most common reasons for the leaves to be turning brown are root rot, bacterial infection, dryness, or insect damage. 

Not to worry, you’ve come to the right place. I am going to walk you through these four main reasons for brown leaves and show you what to look for to determine the problem at hand.

Root Rot

One of the most common reasons that fiddle leaf fig leaves turn brown is from root rot. This is a fungal infection caused by the roots sitting in too much moisture in its pot home.

As you can imagine, an abundance of moisture in the pot is the result of overwatering and poor soil drainage.

Once your roots are infected, they can turn brown and mushy and become 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 is prioritizing the young leaves with its limited ability to distribute nutrients.

If you suspect the problem to be root rot, gently remove the topsoil or the entire root system from its pot if needed and inspect the roots.

The solution: If your leaves have just a few brown spots, then simply try letting your plant dry out for a week or two with some good sunlight, giving the roots enough time to recover on their own. Also remove any infected leaves.

If there are multiple infected leaves, and the roots look pretty brown and mushy, you’re going to want to cut away and remove both the damaged roots and leaves. Then repot and try to water less in the future. Using a better draining soil or pot is also a good move here if you are repotting.

Here is an example of root-rot.

Photo Courtesy of: Mt Vernon Edu

Bacterial Infection

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 brown spots.

When the problem is root rot, the leaves will 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. If your newer leaves are dying while the older ones are looking healthy, a bacterial infection is probably the culprit.

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 chances of saving the plant.

The solution: First off, you will want to remove all of the leaves that have 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 works to recover.

Dryness

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.

The Solution: 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 nice 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 can also be included for the first couple of weeks as you nurse it back to full strength.

Going forwards, make sure to be watering a bit more than you were before noticing the dry, wilted leaves.

Insect Damage

It’s possible that brown spots on your fiddle leaf fig plant are stemming from insect damage. This isn’t a very common problem but nevertheless is certainly possible.

The telltale sign of insect damage is very small, dark red or brown spots that will then turn into holes on 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. Insects are typically easy to deal with.

The solution: 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 is permitting. We want to make sure we keep the rest of the plant family healthy.

Next, let’s eradicate these pesky insects. I would recommend using a neem oil product, or all organic insecticidal soap. Neem oil works great but can be a bit smelly (it can smell sulphury).

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.

 

Bonus Tips

  • 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, it’s good to remove those damaged areas with some sharp scissors. 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.

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