Fiddle leaf fig plants are known for their beautiful, large, heavily veined, and glossy leaves. These plants are generally expressive when happy or under stress due to their surrounding environmental conditions. So, it’s a shame when these leaves, which took months to grow to their full size, turn an unhealthy brown.
Fiddle leaf figs have a temperamental nature and react quite dramatically to an inconsistent surrounding environment. Unfortunately, brown spots often start forming on these plants due to one of the many reasons that disturb it’s desired growing conditions.
For other plants, the browning of leaves or the development of brown spots can be easily resolved. But the fiddle leaf fig demands an immediate course of action and attention to its problems, which is why it is important to promptly address the problem and treat it till it recovers completely.
Why Do My Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves Have Brown Spots?
There can be one or more reasons your fiddle leaf fig has brown spots on its leaves’ tips, middle, or whole surface. The most obvious and common reasons for fiddle leaf fig leaves turning brown are overwatering and root rot, leaf scorch or sun burn, edema, and bacterial diseases.
1. Overwatering and Root Rot
Fiddle leaf figs originally belonged to Africa’s warm and humid regions, which is why they like a warm and brightly lit environment where they will be exposed to adequate humidity, sunlight, and water.
This stunning plant prefers well-draining and well-aerated soil and only requires watering once about a week or 10 days. If you are watering it more often, then overwatering may be the reason for the development of fiddle leaf fig brown spots.
Overwatering a fiddle leaf fig will not allow the plant to breathe properly, as its roots and soil sit in stale water for too long, eventually suffocating them. The waterlogged soil leaves no room for air for the roots, which fail to transport nutrients to the leaves and other parts of the plant.
Excessive watering will lead to root rot disease, a fungal infection that affects the plant roots, eventually killing them. The plant soil will start to give off an unpleasant smell, and older and bottom leaves of the fiddle leaf fig plant will start developing brown spots.
The brown and black spots will start developing from the base or edge of the leaves and eventually progress to the middle of the leaves. The decayed plant leaves will fall off the plant, and then the brown spots will target the newer growth on top.
How Can I Solve This Problem?
The first and foremost step is to immediately stop watering your fiddle leaf fig. Your plant requires ample drainage and well-drainage soil, and if the overwatering has led to the development of root rot, you must treat the roots first.
Gently remove your plant from its pot, and check for signs of root rot. They are infected if the roots appear blackish-brown and mushy and give off a rotten odor.
Remove the wet soil and then trim the rotten and blackened roots. Afterward, you can plant your fiddle leaf fig in a clean, dry potting mix. Thoroughly check the drainage holes of your plant and whether they are blocked by debris. Afterward, remove all the dead leaves and those with brown spots, as they will not restore their original color.
2. Leaf Scorch or Sun Burn
If the fiddle leaf fig leaves appear burnt and brown, it means that the plant was exposed to scorching intense sunlight. Fiddle leaf fig requires plenty of indirect and a little direct sunlight. It demands soft sunlight from a western or south-facing window, but the strong afternoon sunlight can burn it.
If a fiddle leaf fig gets too much sun, it will develop light to dark brown spots on its leaf surface. The spots may look bleached, having a yellow ring around them. The burnt leaves will take on a crispy shriveled look, and the upper growth is more prone to sunburn than the bottom leaves.
How Can I Solve This Problem?
There isn’t much you can do about the sunburnt leaves, and it is better to remove them from the plant body as they will not recover their lost green color.
Remove your plant from the direct rays of the sun and place it in a suitable environment where the fiddle leaf fig will get a chance to recover. These plants are used to high temperatures but not extremely bright sunlight. The recovery will depend upon the extent of damage caused by the sun.
It is better to relocate the fiddle leaf fig if it is placed near a reflective surface, amplifying the heat and intensity of sunlight from faraway sources.
Edema is very easy to identify in a fiddle-leaf fig plant. It can be identified by the red or brown spots development on the newest growth of the fiddle leaf fig. Edema commonly results from excessive moisture stress, and its main reason is inconsistent watering frequency.
The plant roots often absorb more water from the spoil than the leaves require, which results in pressure accumulation in the fiddle leaf fig. Excessive pressure causes the leaf cells to burst, and the blisters are evident as dark brown spots or bruises.
Edema is a common phenomenon in actively growing fiddle leaf fig plants, and often plant owners feel the need to supply more water to their plants so they can grow properly. But even if the plant owners know the risks of root rot, they risk overlooking the development of edema in the plant.
How Can I Solve This Problem?
Edema is by far the easiest to handle among all other fiddle leaf fig plant problems that cause the development of brown spots. Even though the plant cells pop and burst due to excessive moisture, the condition is harmless and goes away as the leaf matures and starts consuming water properly.
Edema results from irregular watering schedules, so ensure that you adjust your watering frequency while listening to the signs that your plant is trying to tell you.
If the watering schedule is still not fixed after the edema brown spots development, the new growth will keep showing bruises. A moisture meter will help you determine whether you are giving adequate water to your plant.
4. Bacterial Diseases
Bacterial infections are also the leading cause of fiddle leaf fig leaves turning brown. Fiddle leaf figs are sensitive plants that can contract bacterial contamination from unsterilized tools, dirty hands, or other foreign plants brought inside the house.
While root rot, caused by a fungal infection, is the most common plant infection in fiddle leaf fig, bacterial infections also show their symptoms by developing spots on fiddle leaf fig leaves that range from tan to brown.
Root rot produces dark brown to black spots on the plant, but bacterial infection leaves spots are lighter in color. The affected leaves may also turn yellow around the brown or tan spots during bacterial infection.
The root rot spots generally affect the edges of fiddle leaf fig leaves or the stem and start decaying the bottom leaves first, eventually progressing to upper new growth. Bacterial infections cause the development of multiple spots on the plant leaves and affect the older and bottom and newer and young growth all at once.
How Can I Solve This Problem?
The best strategy to protect your fiddle leaf fig from bacterial infections is to thoroughly inspect the new plants you are planning to place beside your fiddle leaf fig. The other plants might recover from the disease fast, but if your fiddle leaf fig is infected, it will suffer greater harm by losing its beautiful foliage.
Prevent bacterial infection spread to your fiddle leaf fig by sterilizing your tools and cleaning your hands before you deal with your plant. Disinfect any new pot in which you plan to plant your fiddle leaf fig, and afterward, ensure that you do not overwater the plant, as it will enhance the damage caused by any bacterial infection.
After you have ruled out the signs that your fiddle leaf fig plant may have a fungal infection rather than a bacterial infection, you can proceed to remove all the affected leaves. Repot the plant with fresh potting mix, and allow it to dry in between watering. Ensure that your fiddle leaf fig is getting plenty of sunlight.
Fiddle leaf fig may develop brown spots on it’s leaves for a variety of reasons. This plant is considered a challenging houseplant, and while it looks breathtaking as it decorates any corner of your indoor spaces, it demands lots of attention and care for its growing conditions.
Out of all the factors that govern proper growth of fiddle leaf fig, taking care of its watering schedule and sunlight intensity should be your topmost priority.
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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.