When a fiddle leaf fig isn’t happy, the first place you’ll notice problems is the leaves! Those big beautiful leaves can give us clues about our fiddle’s well-being, so it’s important to get good at fiddle leaf fig leaf troubleshooting. And today, we’re going to talk about an issue that often mystifies fiddle leaf fig owners: small brown spots on mature leaves.
Fiddles can sometimes develop black, dark-brown, red, or tan spots, and they all mean different things. The size of the spots and their location on the leaf or even on the tree can indicate their root cause.
Small brownish-red spots that appear on the tops or undersides of mature leaves can have a few different causes, so let’s walk through those so you can give your fiddle the proper treatment!
Causes of Small Brown Spots on Mature Leaves and How to Treat Them
Cause #1: Edema
Most fiddle leaf fig owners who have had fiddles long enough to see new leaves know all about edema. This condition typically affects new leaves when a fiddle leaf fig has received inconsistent watering. It’s not dangerous, and the reddish-brown speckles fade as the leaves grow, but this does take time.
If you notice that some of your mature leaves near the top of the tree still have the characteristic reddish-brown spots on their tops and undersides but the lower leaves don’t, there’s a great chance it’s just fading edema. It’s especially telling if the spots are more concentrated on the leaves higher up on the tree.
If you determine that the spots are caused by edema, no worries! Just be patient and continue to give your fiddle leaf fig the best care and most consistent conditions possible.
Cause #2: Spider Mites
If tiny brown or red spots have recently appeared on your mature fiddle leaf fig leaves as well as the newer leaves, you could have a spider mite infestation.
Spider mites are a species of arachnids similar to ticks. They aren’t actual spiders, so the arachnophobes out there can breathe easy! But spider mites CAN damage your fiddle, so it’s best to deal with an infestation right away.
To tell for sure if you have spider mites or if it’s just a fading case of edema, grab a magnifying glass and examine the spots. If they’re moving, you’ve got spider mites. Spider mites may also leave white, wispy webbing on your leaves, so keep an eye out for that as well. You may also notice small holes beginning to form where the spider mites are starting to eat the leaves.
So how do you get rid of spider mites?
Luckily, spider mites are fairly simple to treat, especially when compared to some other pests.
First, quarantine your spider mite-infested fiddle away from other plants. Spider mites travel when their webbing catches in the air, so they can easily move to your other houseplants.
Now it’s time to get the spider mites off your fiddle! The best way to do this is with a shower, so try giving your fiddle a lukewarm shower in your bathroom or hosing it off outside (only do this in warm weather!). Use a showerhead or a hose to spray off the tops and bottoms of the leaves. You can also do this in a sink if your fiddle is small. If the infestation is slight, you can even use a kitchen syringe to spray concentrated jets of water at the spider mites.
Once you don’t see any more dots, rinse any dirt or debris down the drain and leave your fiddle to drain.
When your fiddle is dry, spray it down with Houseplant Leaf Armor to protect the leaves from any more pests as well as dust, bacteria, and debris.
That’s it! Be sure to check your fiddle’s leaves regularly to make sure the spider mites don’t return. If they do come back, repeat this process and try using a neem oil-based product to kill any insects or eggs and discourage further infestations.
Soon your fiddle will grow healthy, spot-free leaves!
For more information, read the rest of our fiddle leaf fig leaf troubleshooting guides: