We fiddle leaf fig owners try to do right by our fiddles, but sometimes we don’t get it quite right. Or something happens beyond our control that throws our poor trees into crisis mode!
What should you do when this happens?
How do you help your tree bounce back after a serious insect infestation, a bacterial infection, an accident, or after your pet used the pot as a litter box?
Some people might give up on a severely damaged tree, but what if you’re really attached to your tree?
What if it has sentimental value? Don’t worry, there’s hope!
Fiddle leaf figs are surprisingly resilient.
They have a reputation as fussy trees (which drives me NUTS) but they’re actually just sensitive, which means they’re excellent at letting you know when something’s off.
Fiddles can be prone to leave damage and will drop their leaves when really stressed, but they can always grow new ones. I’ve seen people revive these trees from just a naked stick, so it really ain’t over ‘til it’s over with these plants. Even if the worst happens, as long as you have a green, living stem or trunk, your fiddle can make a comeback!
Sometimes, this stuff happens, but it doesn’t have to be the end of your fiddle. Here’s what to do when disaster strikes.
How to Treat Major Fiddle Leaf Fig Problems
#1: Serious insect infestation
Spider mites, fungus gnats, mealybugs, oh my!
Insects can cause big problems for your fiddle, and while we try to catch infestations early, sometimes we miss the signs until the problem has spread.
Different insects call for different courses of action, but there are a few tricks that work well for getting rid of just about any pest:
Houseplant Leaf Armor. This natural treatment is fantastic for killing off most insects, as well as bacteria and fungus. (It works just like neem oil but without the unpleasant smell.) It also cleans and adds shine to your houseplant’s leaves! Give your tree a good spray down.
Sunlight. Make sure your tree gets plenty of light. Many insects are drawn to dark, damp conditions, and sunlight helps create the opposite environment! Read this article to know how much light your fiddle leaf fig needs.
Removing what you can see. Manually removing insects can do wonders in reducing the overall population on your tree. If you can pick insects off with tweezers or your fingers, do it. If there are too many, try giving your tree a nice shower or use a kitchen syringe to squirt them off.
Once you’ve treated what you can see, you might need to take measures for the specific pest.
Here are our articles for getting rid of insects:
- The Ultimate Guide to Fiddle Leaf Fig Insect Problems
- How to Treat Scale on Fiddle Leaf Figs
- How to Get Rid of Spider Mites on Your Fiddle Leaf Fig
- How to Get Rid of Fungus Gnats on Fiddle Leaf Fig Plants
- Surprisingly Invisible Places to Look for Mealybugs on a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree
- Pests Bugging Your Fiddle Leaf Fig? Pros and Cons of Releasing LadyBugs Indoors
They also include pictures, so check these out if you aren’t quite sure what you’re dealing with.
#2: Bacterial infection
A severe bacterial infection can be difficult to treat, but there are extreme measures you can take to save your tree so that it can return to its former glory!
If the condition doesn’t improve after that or if most leaves are affected but you still want to save your tree, here are a few things you can do:
Remove ALL affected leaves. Our usual rule is to not remove more than 10% of the leaves at once to avoid throwing the tree into shock, but this is an exception. Bacterial infections spread from leaf to leaf. It is best to remove all affected leaves to give your tree a chance at survival.
Repot and remove all affected soil. Repotting is another measure we prefer to take care with because it can put your tree in shock, but this is a matter of life and death here! Repot your tree and remove as much of the old soil from the roots as you can, and maybe give it a few hours to dry out a little. Then repot in fresh, fast-draining soil in a CLEAN pot with drainage.
Make sure you use clean tools and hands for all of this.
Even if you’re left with a bare tree, it could still bounce back with time and proper care.
Read on for more info on how to treat major fiddle leaf fig problems.
#3: A pet urinated in the pot
We can take all kinds of measures to keep our furry friends away from our fiddles, but sometimes the litter critters can still outsmart us!
If your pet has used your tree’s pot as a litter box, act quickly. The chemicals in pet urine, especially cat urine, can burn your roots and severely damage the tree.
Repot the tree immediately and make sure to flush as much of the old soil out of the roots as you can. Clean the pot (or use a new on) and repot with fresh soil. Then get the tree back on its usual care schedule and let it settle in.
And maybe try some new tricks to keep Fido and Fluffy away!
#4: Leaf damage from moving, falling over, or being attacked by a pet
Accidents happen. Maybe your children knocked over your tree during an indoor soccer game, or your kitten decided to scale your tree’s trunk, or maybe your poor fiddle got banged up during your cross-country move.
These incidents might leave your tree with torn or holey leaves, a broken pot, or even damaged roots.
The best thing to do is to return your tree to the consistency it loves. Put the tree upright, add more soil to the pot if necessary, or put it in a new pot if the old one was damaged. Don’t remove any leaves for now, but continue with its care schedule until it stabilizes again.
Once the tree seems to have recovered, you can start removing or trimming any damaged leaves little by little. Remember not to remove more than 10% at once.
#5: Severe dryness
Sometimes we return from vacation to an extremely dry fiddle. Or we forget about the heating vents near the tree when the heat comes back on in the winter.
Remember, it ain’t over til it’s over, so as long as the stem/trunk is alive, you’ve got a shot.
Fiddle Leaf Figs Are Resilient
While it may take lots of time and care for your fiddle to make a full recovery, it can be done! You don’t have to say goodbye to your fiddley friend just yet.
Use all of these tips to treat major fiddle leaf fig problems and then join our community on Facebook to chat with other fiddle leaf fig owners.
Grab the Essentials for Your Fiddle Leaf Fig:
- Premium Fiddle Leaf Fig Potting Soil
- Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant Food
- Root Rot Treatment
- Houseplant Leaf Armor to protect against insects, bacteria, and fungus (As an added bonus, it also cleans and adds shine to your plant’s leaves!)
- Moisture meter to always know when your plant is thirsty.
To learn more:
- 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.
- Make sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter.
- 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!
- Click to join our community on Facebook: Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant Resource Group.