How to Treat and Fix Fiddle Leaf Fig Brown Spots
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fiddle leaf fig brown spot ultimate troubleshooting guide

How to Treat and Fix Fiddle Leaf Fig Brown Spots: The Ultimate Guide

One of the most common concerns that fiddle leaf fig owners face is how to fix fiddle leaf fig brown spots on the beautiful leaves of their plant. It’s disheartening to see brown spots spoiling the beautiful large green leaves of your ficus lyrata, and the condition can be frustrating and confusing because it takes a bit of experience to determine what is causing the brown spots on your fiddle leaf fig.

It’s important to diagnose the problem quickly and treat your plant to help it fully recover. There are actually four main causes of brown spots:

  • Root rot
  • Bacterial infection
  • Dryness
  • Insect damage

When beginning to look for the cause of the brown spots, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Is your fiddle leaf fig too dry?
  • Are you overwatering your fiddle leaf fig?
  • Is it getting too much sun?
  • Is it not getting enough light?

And here are some questions to get you started with diagnosing the specific cause of the brown spots:

  • Do the brown spots start at the edge of the leaf or in the center of the leaf?
  • Are they very dark brown (almost black) or lighter brown (more tan in color)?
  • Do you see many spots on each leaf or just one large brown area?
  • Do the brown spots result in the leaves eventually falling off?
  • Are they affecting older leaves near the bottom of your plant or younger new leaves near the top of your plant?

Once you’ve taken a good look at your brown spots and reviewed the characteristics, it’s time to figure out what the cause is.

I’ve found that the best way to tell what’s causing your brown spots is to review several photos of the most common conditions to identify the problem with your plant. Here’s your definitive photo guide to brown spots in fiddle leaf figs!

Fiddle Leaf Fig Brown Spots From Root Rot

Arguably the most common cause of brown spots in a fiddle leaf fig is root rot from overwatering.

Root rot is a fungal infection that takes place when the roots sit in water for too long and don’t have adequate drainage. Not enough sunlight can make this problem worse. Too large of a pot can also cause your plant’s roots to remain too wet between waterings.

One interesting feature of root rot is that it tends to affect older leaves first, as your plant attempts to save the newer growth that is closer to valuable sunlight. The lower leaves of your plant are the ones root rot will affect first, so begin your search there.

Fiddle leaf fig roots in particular need fast-draining soil and ample drainage. If your fiddle leaf fig has brown spots from root rot, you’ll want to act quickly. Try our Root Rot Treatment to treat your infection before it spreads, and use our Houseplant Leaf Armor to protect your fiddle leaf fig from bacteria, fungus, and insects.

Here are the telltale signs of root rot:

  • Very dark brown or black spots that spread throughout the leaf over days or weeks
  • Dark brown spots at the base of your leaf
  • Leaves that are dropping off of your plant

The brown spots may start as small black spots, then will get larger, until the entire leaf drops. If you think your plant has root rot, you can use a moisture meter like this one to take a moisture reading near the bottom of the roots. If your reading is very wet, root rot is likely the cause.

Root Rot in Fiddle Leaf Figs Photos

It takes a bit of experience to determine how to treat and fix fiddle leaf fig brown spots. Follow this ultimate guide to find out how.
Root Rot on Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves
It takes a bit of experience to determine how to treat and fix fiddle leaf fig brown spots. Follow this ultimate guide to find out how.
Brown spots on the bottom leaves of a fiddle leaf fig often indicate root rot.
It takes a bit of experience to determine how to treat and fix fiddle leaf fig brown spots. Follow this ultimate guide to find out how.
Spreading black or dark brown spots followed by leaf drop commonly indicate root rot.
It takes a bit of experience to determine how to treat and fix fiddle leaf fig brown spots. Follow this ultimate guide to find out how.
Black or brown spots spreading from the base of the leaf show root rot originating from deep within the plant

Fungal Root Rot Case Study

 How to Treat Brown Spots Caused By Root Rot

Generally, root rot is very treatable, especially if you catch it early.

Since root rot is generally a problem of poor drainage, you’ll want to address your drainage immediately. Make sure you have a well-draining container, fast-draining potting soil, and that you aren’t watering too frequently.

The next thing you’ll want to do is assess the damage. If there are just a few brown spots on the leaves, you do not need to repot your plant. Let your plant dry out for two weeks or more until the roots have adequate time to recover. Remove the affected leaves and make sure your plant has enough sunlight.

If you’re not sure whether your plant is getting too much water, you can use a moisture meter to make sure the roots are drying out between waterings. Then your plant should recover with proper drainage and watering. Take a look at our Ultimate Watering Guide here to learn more about proper watering.

However, if the damage is severe or spreading rapidly, you’ll want to perform root surgery and repot your fiddle leaf fig.To do this, remove your plant from its pot and hose down the root ball. Cut away any brown, mushy roots. Make sure you have proper drainage and repot with fast-draining house plant soil like this. Follow good watering practices in the future to make sure the problem doesn’t reoccur.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Brown Spots From Bacterial Infection

Bacterial infections in fiddle leaf figs can be very frustrating and hard to treat.

The problem mimics the symptoms of brown spots from root rot, but is often more difficult to fix.

Here are the signs of a bacterial infection:

  • Brown spots will be lighter in color than from root rot, ranging from tan to dark brown.
  • Spots will form across the leaf, not necessarily at the edges or the base of the leaf as with root rot.
  • Your plant may drop leaves both at the bottom and top of the plant.

Whether your brown spots are from root rot or a bacterial infection, our Root Rot Treatment will help your plant recover, and our Leaf Armor will protect it from future bacterial infection.

 Bacterial Infection in Fiddle Leaf Figs Photos

Bacterial Infection on Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves
Brown spots from a bacterial infection are often lighter, ranging from tan to dark brown.
Brown Spots on Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves due to Bacterial Infection
Brown spots from a bacterial infection will affect all leaves throughout the plant equally.
Fungal vs. Bacterial Root Rot
 Compare these two classic examples of fungal vs. bacterial root rot. The fungal is the black circular dots, and the bacterial is the brown that does not have as much of a circular pattern but more of a spreading pattern.

How to Treat Brown Spots From a Bacterial Infection

Unfortunately, this is one of the hardest conditions to treat in a fiddle leaf fig.

The key is to treat the spots as early as you can before the damage spreads too far. The treatment is similar to treating root rot: you’ll want to make sure your plant’s roots dry out between waterings and that it’s getting plenty of sun.

If the damage is not severe, cut off all of the leaves with brown spots and repot your plant with fresh, sterile soil in a container with good drainage. Give it plenty of light and go easy on watering until it recovers.

Consider using our Leaf Armor, which was designed to protect your houseplant from not just bacteria, but also from insects and fungus.

Another good way to treat bacterial infections is to put your fiddle leaf fig outside in the shade to recover, depending on your climate. Fresh air, plenty of sunlight, and warm conditions can help your plant recover. Just be sure that your plant is protected from direct sunlight and doesn’t get too cold (less than 50 degrees) or too hot (greater than 95 degrees).

However, if your plant has more than 50% of the leaves affected by brown spots and the condition is spreading, you may be better off starting over. Discard the plant and start fresh with a healthy specimen. You may want to contact the store where you purchased your plant to see if they’ll replace it.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Brown Spots From Dryness

Very dry fiddle leaf fig plants can quickly develop brown spots, which typically are more tan in color than brown, and start at the edge of the leaf and spread inward.

The relative humidity for your plant should be between 30-65%, so if your home humidity is much lower or your plant is near a heater, you may need to create more humidity for your fiddle leaf fig by misting or changing locations.

Brown spots can happen slowly or very rapidly on a hot day, like for the fiddle leaf fig pictured below, which was left outdoors on a 110-degree day. This leaf completely dried out in less than 12 hours.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Brown Spots Dryness
This leaf completely dried out while outside on a 110-degree day.

In this next photo, you can see a completely dry plant that was left without water for over two months when its owner went on vacation. A telltale sign of dryness is the drooping of the leaves, which have lost their turgor pressure from lack of water.

Very dry fiddle leaf fig plant after being neglected.
In a very dry plant, the leaves will droop due to a lack of turgor pressure.

Using a moisture meter like this one lets you know when your plant is thirsty. Consistent adequate water is essential for your fiddle leaf fig to thrive!

Read our Ultimate Watering Guide for more information.

How to Treat Brown Areas on a Dry Plant

The basic treatment for a dry plant is making sure you’re not underwatering. Your plant needs to be watered when the top inch of soil has dried out, any more and you risk not giving your plant enough water. If you notice soil shrinkage, you’ll want to repot your plant to make sure your root ball is getting adequate water. Repotting is easy, and there are just a few simple steps to follow to do it successfully.

If your fiddle leaf fig is in an environment with low humidity or near a heater, consider moving it to another location. Water regularly (try once a week) and monitor your plant to make sure it’s getting enough moisture.

You can try misting every one to three days or using a humidifier near your plant if your home is very dry, though this is not typically necessary unless a heater is running near your plant. After treating your plant for dryness, get your plant on a good watering schedule and you should begin seeing new growth in a week or two as long as the plant itself is still alive.

Brown Spots on Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves From Insect Damage

Insect damage in a fiddle leaf fig plant is thankfully less common.

The giveaway to diagnose insect damage is small dark spots that damage the plant leaves that turn into holes in the leaves. This happens more commonly in the new, tender growth.

You can also look out for any insects on your plant (use a magnifying glass) or any white or gray insect webs. If you find any evidence of insects living on your plant, you’ll know this is the cause of your brown spots.

Insect damage can start as very small black or reddish spots that turn to holes.
Here’s evidence of mealy bug infestation on fiddle leaf fig plant.

How to Treat Brown Spots from Insect Damage

Insect infestations are easy to treat.

Use our Leaf Armor, designed for houseplants to protect against insects, bacteria, and fungus. (This product works just like neem oil but without the unpleasant smell! As an added bonus, the Leaf Armor also cleans and adds shine to your houseplant’s leaves.)

Spray all the leaves of your fiddle leaf fig thoroughly. Turn each leaf to spray the underside and don’t forget where the leaf meets the stem. Wait two weeks, inspect again, then repeat the spraying process if needed.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Brown Spots From Physical Trauma

Brown spots on a new plant that show up a week or so after you move your plant are often from physical trauma. This is because the large leaves on a fiddle leaf fig are often damaged during a move and the bruises left of the plant will turn brown over time.

Often, these spots look like cracks or tears. Brown spots from physical trauma are certainly a bummer, but they do not need treatment and your plant will generally recover very well. The telltale sign of brown spots from physical trauma is that they appear on an otherwise very healthy leaf and plant.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Brown Spots Physical Trauma 1
Brown spots that show up a week or so after a move may be due to physical trauma.
Fiddle Leaf Fig Brown Spots Physical Trauma 2
Cracks and brown spots resulting from physical trauma will appear on an otherwise healthy leaf.
Fiddle Leaf Fig Brown Spots Physical Trauma 3
Cracks, holes, and brown spots can occur from bruising from physical trauma.

To treat brown spots from physical trauma, you just need to give your plant some time and TLC to help it heal. You can remove damaged leaves if you want, but if the problem is just physical trauma, a damaged leaf shouldn’t affect your indoor plant’s health.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Brown Spots From Sunburn

If your plant gets too much direct sunlight, it can get a sunburn, which manifests as light brown spots that sometimes look bleached.These spots will appear predominantly on the top leaves and can even show some red and yellow coloring, depending on how recent the burn is. The leaves should be removed by pruning, and the plant should be relocated to a more protected location with a lot of indirect light, and minimal direct sunlight.

Bleached or brown spots that occur on the top leaves of a plant may indicate sunburn.
It takes a bit of experience to determine how to treat and fix fiddle leaf fig brown spots. Follow this ultimate guide to find out how.
Sunburns in fiddle leaf fig plants can range from brown in color to red or yellow.
This fiddle leaf fig leaf displays a mild sunburn.

Even though fiddle leaf fig leaves are susceptible to sunburn, you are able to acclimate your plant slowly to direct sunlight. Read more and watch the following video about how best to acclimate your plant to full sun.

To treat your plant’s brown spots from a sunburn, you will need to remove the affected leaves with sharp, clean pruning shears, and remove the cause of the sunburn by moving the plant to a spot that gets less sun. Do not prune off all of the leaves. Try to only take off about 10% of the leaves at a time to prevent your plant from going into shock.

What Should You Do About Brown Spots on a Fiddle Leaf Fig?

Once you’ve diagnosed the cause of your fiddle leaf fig plant’s brown spots, you’ll want to correct the issue in a hurry to help your plant make a full recovery.

To stop the brown spots and keep them from returning:

If your fiddle leaf fig still needs help or you would like to protect it in the future, we’ve spent over a year creating a treatment to protect your plant from root rot infections.

Our Root Rot Treatment is a natural plant bio-stimulator, enhancing your plant’s existing immune response and promoting growth.

It was designed with input from microbiologists, fiddle leaf fig growers, and botanists. It provides protection against the common Pythium, Phytophthora, and pseudo-fungi that cause root rot in fiddle leaf figs. It’s gentle and safe for your plant, designed to be used every time you water, along with fiddle leaf fig plant food. Get your Root Rot Treatment today on Amazon.

Will the Damaged Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves Repair Themselves?

Unfortunately, damaged fiddle leaf fig leaves will not repair themselves. If the brown spots bother you, you can remove the entire leaf from the plant with clean, sharp pruning shears. Take care not to remove more than 10% of total leaves at once to avoid shocking your plant.

How to Avoid Fiddle Leaf Fig Brown Spots in the Future

Proper care is the only way to avoid brown spots in the future. If your plant is suffering from root rot, you may need to repot it into a container with better drainage and well-draining soil to prevent excess water from causing root problems.

If a bacterial infection is to blame, correcting the watering conditions and waiting it out is your best bet. Very dry plants will recover after a good soaking and protection from too much heat.

Keeping Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Healthy in the Future

Now that you’ve diagnosed the cause of your fiddle leaf fig plant’s brown spots and you have a Root Rot Treatment, you’ll want to make sure you keep your plant healthy in the future.

Make sure your plant has the proper soil and drainage, follow watering best practices, and make sure to fertilize with Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant Food each time you water to keep your plant strong.

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