Ficus lyrata, or fiddle leaf fig, is one of the most popular houseplants that produces big, beautiful fiddle-like leaves. It is a lush and big-leafed plant that is designated to form the perfect décor in any space and breathe some life into your house.
However, many fiddle leaf fig homeowners struggle with maintaining their FLF’s beauty. Its leaves may start to droop, become yellow, or develop spots- all of which point to the plant’s slow death. Noticing early signs can help you save your FLF, so you must check your plant often.
We understand that figuring out why your fiddle leaf fig can be challenging, but common causes include overwatering, under-fertilizing, and a poor drainage system.
Symptoms of a Dying Fiddle Leaf Fig
1. Improper Temperature or Improper Watering Schedule
If you find that the leaves of your fiddle leaf fig are dropping, it is a sign that your plant is dying. This could be because you are not watering it enough or the plant is not getting enough water. However, temperature also plays a massive role in determining how healthy your plant is. Extreme hot or cold temperatures can cause the plant to die as well.
To ensure that your plant does not die, switch its location. Is it too close to an air conditioner or heater? Move the plant to a different location if you need to. Keep in that fiddle leaf figs are meant to grow in tropical, humid, warm areas that receive loads of moisture and even temperatures. Hence, your plant will thrive if kept in similar conditions.
Keeping the fiddle leaf fig’s soil moist is important without making it too soggy. A good trick is to only water the plant when you find that the soil is 50 to 75 percent dry. You can also mist the plant every day to increase its humidity levels.
2. Root Rot
Another sign that your fiddle leaf fig is dying is if the leaves develop brown spots. This happens when the roots develop a fungal infection because of sitting in moisture for too long. Poor drainage and overwatering can lead to root rot, and if you are not careful, it could spread to the leaves of your FLF.
To check your plant for root rot, remove the pot and inspect the roots. If the roots are soppy and brown, root rot is to blame. If your plant only has a couple of brown spots on the leaves, allow the FLF to dry for two weeks so that the roots can recover over time.
Moreover, get rid of the affected leaves and place your plant in an area where it receives enough light. If the plant has developed loads of brown spots, you will have to cut the mushy, brown roots, along with the leaves that have developed brown spots. Then, repot your plant and take particular care of it so that you do not overwater it in the future.
3. Bacterial Infection
Are your fiddle leaf fig leaves starting to become yellow while developing brown spots? With root rot, the leaves are usually green in color with brown spots.
However, when your plant has a bacterial infection, the leaves will become yellow, and you will find the brown spots spreading. Coupled with root rot and bacterial infection, the leaves of your plant will eventually fall off, and the plant will die.
Bacterial leaves feed on new growth, so if you find that the new leaves growing from your plant are worse than the older leaves, blame it on a bacterial infection.
Unfortunately, a bacterial infection is the hardest to treat in an FLF. You can water the plant and provide it with the best care, but it might be too late to save your plant.
If you find that the damage is not as severe, you can get rid of all the leaves with brown spots and start repotting the plant in sterile, fresh soil. Allow the plant to recover, provide it with lots of light, and ease into a sustainable watering schedule.
4. Insect Damage
There are low chances that your FLF is dying because of insect damage, but it is not impossible. If you are suspicious about this, look for insects or webs on your plant using a magnifying glass. The usual giveaway for insect damage is finding spots on your plant leaves that become holes as time goes on.
Before you start to panic, you should know that insect infestations can be treated easily. All you need to do is get your hands on a neem oil product that is geared toward houseplants.
You can also use two tablespoons of baking soda mixed with two tablespoons of mineral oil and put them both in a bottle of water. Mix it up and spray this mixture onto the fiddle leaf fig.
It is essential to isolate your plant from other houseplants, as insects tend to spread within a short period of time. We recommend taking your fiddle leaf fig outside so that your pets and children do not get annoyed by the strong neem oil smell.
Once outside, you can spray the plant thoroughly. Remember to turn every leaf and spray towards the inside of the plant.
Check your fiddle leaf fig in two weeks and restart the spraying process if you still find insects or webs on your plant.
5. Dry Plant
It is easy to diagnose brown spots on dry plants as these tan areas start developing at the edge of the leaves, causing them to curl. Sometimes, you might even notice your plant looking dry and wilted, and the soil may have shrunk from the pot. This causes the water to seep from the pot and soil without reaching the root ball.
Check its location to bring your fiddle leaf fig back to life. Is it too close to a heater or kept in a dry environment? Try moving it to another spot in your house where the temperature is not as extreme. Moreover, check the soil of the plant often and only water it when it is 50 to 75 percent dry. The fiddle leaf fig must receive sufficient moisture.
You can also use a humidifier close to the plant or mist it every couple of days. Allowing the water to flow freely from the bottom of the plant pot is also a good idea, as this will ensure that the root ball is receiving water. Before you place your fiddle leaf fig back into the saucer, get rid of all excess water.
Have you started to find white and tan spots on the top of your FLF leaves? This could be because the plant is receiving too much direct sunlight, causing it to burn. This might result in your plant looking bleached and developing light brown spots.
Most of these spots will remain on top of the leaves and can sometimes become yellow or red in color.
To stop your fiddle leaf fig from dying, use a pair of sharp scissors to get rid of the sunburned leaves. Then, change the location of the plant and place it in an area where it does not receive direct sun rays.
How to Remove Dead or Damaged Leaves?
If you find that the leaf has become completely brown or there is a lot of damaged area on the leaf, we recommend removing it as it will help your fiddle leaf fig recover quickly. After all, there is no point waiting for the plant to heal itself. In fact, if you take too long, the damage might spread to other plants located close to the plant.
To remove damaged leaves from your fiddle leaf fig, you will need pruning shears or a pair of sharp scissors. Here is what you will have to do:
Use clean shears to trim brown leaf tips or spots. Only cut the damaged areas and leave behind a tiny margin of brown so you do not accidentally cut the healthy foliage.
If the entire leaf has become brown, start cutting individual leaves from the base of the plant. Gently hold the leaf in your hand and give it a tug – it might fall off itself. If the gentle-pulling method does not work, use the shears to cut through the stem.
Many things can cause a fiddle leaf fig to die, but if you know the signs and symptoms, you will be able to treat the problem instantly.
Remember to be patient with your plant and give it gentle love so that it grows into a beautiful, big plant that attracts compliments from everyone who visits your home.
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Hi! I’m Sophia, and I love plants – especially an expert in growing house plants. I stay in Chicago, United States of America, and through my blog and social media platforms, provide tips and tricks on how to grow healthy, vibrant plants indoors. Check out more here.