Brown spots. Dropping leaves. Slow growth. There are a few common ailments that can sicken or kill your prize fiddle leaf fig tree. The good news is that most of these problems are easily cured if you know what to look for. Here are 6 ways to tell if your fiddle leaf fig tree is healthy—and what to do if it’s not.
1. Are there brown spots on the leaves?
One of the most common problems with fiddle leaf fig trees is brown spots on the leaves. This can seem tricky to diagnose since there are two main culprits that are opposites: over- and under-watering. But it’s pretty easy to tell which sin is harming your plant if you take a closer look.
Are your brown spots starting in the middle of the leaf and spreading? This is likely caused by a fungal disorder due to over-watering. Keeping the roots too wet can lead to root rot, a fungus that will spread to the leaves and eventually kill your plant. If your plant has root rot, stop watering now, repot with well-draining soil and proper drainage, and cut off the affected leaves (using sharp pruning shears like these).
The best option is to use a root rot treatment to help rid your fiddle leaf fig of root rot completely. Using our Houseplant Leaf Armor will also help protect your plant from insects, bacteria, and fungus.
If your plant’s brown spots are starting on the edge of the leaves and spreading inward, the cause is likely dry air, drafts, and under-watering—basically a dry plant. Set a reminder to water your plant every single week and try to move it to a more humid area and away from dry air or heater vents. Use a moisture meter like this one to help you know when your plant is thirsty.
Brown spots can also be caused by leaf trauma, which is common during shipping, so if your new plant arrives with injured leaves, cut them off at the stem and wait for your plant to recover.
To learn more about what brown spots on your fiddle leaf fig mean, read this comprehensive post about brown spots and how to treat them properly.
2. Are the new leaves smaller than the older leaves?
If your fiddle leaf fig tree has new growth, that’s a good sign. If the newest leaves are larger than the older leaves, that’s a great sign! This means that your plant is healthy enough to invest resources toward new growth.
If the new leaves are smaller than the existing leaves, it may be a sign that your plant doesn’t have the right nutrients to grow well. Focus on the fundamentals of watering properly, providing adequate sunlight, and fertilizing your plant with Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant Food.
3. Is your fiddle leaf fig tree dropping leaves?
One common and serious problem is a plant that drops its leaves. This means you need to act fast to save your plant before it’s too late. There are a few causes to consider, basically under-watering and over-watering. How can you tell? If the oldest leaves towards the bottom of your plant are falling off first, it’s likely over-watering. If the leaves are falling off throughout the plant, it’s likely under-watering or too dry of an environment. Refer to The Ultimate Watering Guide to fix your plant in a hurry.
4. Are the leaves turning yellow?
Yellow leaves on a fiddle leaf fig plant have three probable causes. The most likely culprit is lack of sunlight, followed by poor nutrition. A third cause is an insect problem, but this is much less likely. If you suspect insects, look for small brown spots where the insects will attach to your plant and bleed the sap, causing the leaves to turn yellow and fall off. (Remember, our Houseplant Leaf Armor will help protect your plant from insects.)
It is more likely that your plant’s yellowing leaves means it’s getting too little sun and too much water. Let your plant dry out and make sure it’s getting enough light. If you still have problems, make sure you are fertilizing your plant at least every other time you water it so it has the nutrients it needs for dark green growth.
5. Does your fiddle leaf fig tree have stunted growth?
A healthy fiddle leaf fig tree should be putting out new leaves every 4 to 6 weeks during the growing season. Growth tends to be in spurts, where the plant will grow 2 to 4 new leaves in a matter of a few days. In the winter, it’s normal not to have any new growth. If your plant seems to have stunted growth, that’s a clue that it doesn’t have the resources it needs to thrive. Make sure it gets adequate sunlight, proper watering, has well-draining soil, and then invest in a good plant fertilizer to give it the nutrients it needs for new growth.
6. Is your plant dirty or dusty?
In order to efficiently perform photosynthesis, your plant needs to absorb light through its leaves and breathe in carbon dioxide. If your plant is too dirty or dusty, it can have trouble breathing and absorbing light. Make sure you shower your plant every three to six months to keep it clean and healthy.
Click here to read the best ways to clean your fiddle leaf fig leaves. Try our Leaf Shine to clean your plant’s leaves, add shine, and also protect it from bacteria, fungus, and insects!
Once you figure out what is wrong with your fiddle leaf fig plant, it’s easy to correct your problem and put your plant on the fast track to health.
Be consistent with your plant’s care and be patient while it recovers. Look for consistent new growth of large, dark green leaves as signs of a healthy fiddle leaf fig tree.
- Read four things killing your fiddle leaf fig tree and how to save your plant from each deadly threat.
- To learn more, sign up for our free Fiddle Leaf Fig Care 101 Webinar or enroll in our free Fiddle Leaf Fig Course for advanced fiddle leaf fig care.
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- Read The Fiddle Leaf Fig Expert, your complete guide to growing healthy fiddle leaf fig plants. The book is available in full-color paperback or Kindle edition on Amazon now!