The Fiddle Leaf Fig plant is well known for its violin-shaped large leaves that are heavily veined. The ruffled green foliage can make this plant the focal point of any room within your house.
But if the leaves turn brown, it can destroy the overall appearance of your Fiddle Leaf Fig.
It becomes difficult to avoid brown leaves if you do not know the reason behind them. Let’s discuss the causes and remedies for brown leaves on your Fiddle Leaf Fig.
Why Does My Fiddle Leaf Fig Have Brown Leaves?
There are four reasons for brown leaves on Fiddle Leaf Fig. The cause behind browning directly relates to the pattern in which the leaves brown. The most common and detrimental issue is root rot that can damage the plant roots leading to the death of the plant. Other issues include bacterial infections, pest damage, and dryness.
The Four Main Causes of Brown Leaves on Fiddle Leaf Fig
Poor drainage and overwatering usually lead to root rot. It is a common reason for brown leaves if your Fiddle Leaf Fig sits in moisture for too long. You should let the roots of your plant dry a bit between watering to help them function properly.
The root rot can spread from the roots to the leaves. Once the leaves are infected, they turn brown and fall off.
A major symptom of root rot is the browning of older leaves at the bottom. As a saving mechanism, the plant tries to save the young leaves at the top after the roots start dying.
Root rot can only be confirmed by taking your plant out from the soil to inspect the roots. Healthy roots are white, whereas infected roots are mushy and brown.
In my experience, a simple solution is to use a moisture meter to take readings for the soil near the roots or at the bottom. If the reading is too wet, your plant might be infected with root rot.
If the leaves are small, stunted with brown spots, there is a bacterial problem.
You can differentiate the bacterial leaf spot from root rot using a simple trick. If the leaves are yellowing as the brown patches spread throughout the leaves, it is a bacterial infection. Else if the leaves are browning but are still dark green, it is root rot.
The presence of bacteria is also confirmed by leaves that are more brown than black. In most cases, bacterial leaf spot impacts the new growth.
Bacterial infections are not restricted to a certain location because different areas start browning, including leaf margins or the leaf area near the stem.
If the humidity around your plant is lower than 30-65%, the environment is too dry, which causes brown leaves. Another symptom of dryness is if your Fiddle Leaf Fig has dry areas that are tan or light brown.
The leaf edges of a dry Fiddle Leaf Fig will turn brown and curl. The plant will also have a wilted appearance.
Soil shrinkage also indicates dryness. With a lack of moisture, the soil near the edges of the pot will shrink. As a result, the water will never reach the roots because it runs between the soil and the pot.
Pest damage in the form of brown leaves is rare for a Fiddle Leaf Fig, and it mostly impacts the new growth. You can use a magnifying glass to inspect your plant for pests.
The browning of leaves with holes and webs confirms a pest infestation.
Four Ways to Treat Brown Leaves on Fiddle Leaf Fig
Protecting Your Plant from Root Rot
Ensure two things to avoid root rot; fast-draining potting mixture and container with drainage holes. You should also avoid excessively large pots because this allows the soil to remain wet for too long.
Hose the root ball with water and prune the infected roots and brown leaves. You should repot your plant in a fresh, fast-draining soil mix.
If only a few leaves are brown, you can skip repotting. Allow your plant to dry out for about 2 weeks to help the roots recover. However, if several leaves are browning very rapidly, you should immediately repot your plant.
Avoid overwatering and ensure proper sunlight for your plant because overwatering combined with lack of sunlight is a disaster that ends in root rot.
Your plant will soon recover with adequate drainage and a revised watering schedule.
I would also suggest using a natural bio simulator that promotes growth and strengthens the existing immune system of your Fiddle Leaf Fig plant. These treatments can protect your plant against several fungi that lead to root rot.
Treating Bacterial Infections
If your Fiddle Leaf Fig does not respond well to the treatments mentioned for root rot, the issue might be a bacterial infection or bacterial leaf spot.
The treatment for bacterial leaf browning is similar to that for root rot. For a small infection, you can trim the damaged leaves and repot your plant in a sterile potting mix.
You can also move your Fiddle Leaf Fig plant to a shady location outdoors to help it recover if your climate permits. Fresh air, warm conditions, and plenty of light help in fast recovery.
But always ensure you protect your plant against cold damage and never expose it to very hot or cold outdoor temperatures.
If more than 50% of the leaves have browned, repotting is the only solution.
Increasing the Moisture in the Atmosphere
You can protect your plant from dryness by doing the following.
- Relocate your plant if it’s sitting near a heater.
- To resolve the humidity issues, mist the plant every 2-3 days or install a humidifier near your plant.
- If your plant is located in a location with extreme temperature, move it to another location with moderate temperature.
- Water your Fiddle Leaf Fig thoroughly to moisturize the root ball but ensure the excess water drains from the bottom.
- In addition to watering regularly, monitor the moisture content of the soil to make sure the water reaches the roots.
Common houseplant pests like spider mites, mealybugs, or aphids can be easily treated with neem oil. You can read our detailed guide about how to use neem oil on houseplants.
Another remedy for insect infection is a mixture of baking soda (1 tablespoon) with mineral oil (1 teaspoon). Fill a small spray bottle with the solution and apply it to all infected leaves or stems.
You can use any solution but make sure you thoroughly spray the leaves—especially the leaf joints and the undersides. Wait for two weeks after the initial application. If the pests return, continue treatment.
You should isolate the infected Fiddle Leaf Fig from other plants to avoid the spread of pests.
Frequently Asked Questions about Brown Leaves on Fiddle Leaf Fig
Should I remove the brown leaves on the Fiddle Leaf Fig?
You can remove all the leaves with holes and large brown spots to improve the health of your Fiddle Leaf Fig. Pruning the sick leaves can save your plant from further damage.
My Fiddle Leaf Fig has few small brown spots on the leaves. What should I do?
If your plant has few brown spots or patches, you should let it dry for about two weeks to recover from overwatering.
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Daniel has been a plant enthusiast for over 20 years. He owns hundreds of houseplants and prepares for the chili growing seasons yearly with great anticipation. His favorite plants are plant species in the Araceae family, such as Monstera, Philodendron, and Anthurium. He also loves gardening and is growing hot peppers, tomatoes, and many more vegetables.