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Why Is My Fiddle Leaf Fig Turning Brown?

A common issue that plant owners encounter is browning leaves, which may be caused by improper watering, lighting, temperature, humidity, and pest infestations.

Fiddle leaf fig is a popular houseplant known for its large, lush, and strikingly beautiful leaves. However, many plant owners struggle to keep their fiddle leaf figs healthy and vibrant.

This article investigates the most common causes of brown fiddle leaf fig leaves and provides tips on preventing and treating this issue.

Signs Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Is Sick

The fiddle leaf fig, or Ficus lyrata, is a popular indoor plant but it does require proper care to thrive.

Common symptoms your plant is sick include:

  • Browning or yellowing leaves

  • Drooping or wilting foliage

  • Stunted growth

  • Leaf drop

  • Not producing new growth

  • Leaves are becoming thin and papery

Five Reasons Fiddle Leaf Figs Turn Brown

Several reasons fiddle leaf figs may turn brown:

1. Overwatering

One of the main reasons for brown spots on fiddle leaf fig leaves is poor drainage. This excess water causes the roots to become waterlogged and may lead to root rot and bacterial or fungal infections. Symptoms of too much water include drooping leaves, mushy roots, dark brown or black spots on the edges of the leaves, and edema or water blisters on the underside of the leaves.

Solution: To prevent overwatering, let the soil dry out between waterings. Test the moisture level by placing a finger about an inch into the soil. If you notice it is dry, it's time to water.

Ensure the pot has good-sized drainage holes and a well-draining soil mix. If you notice brown spots, trim affected leaves and adjust your watering schedule.

If you suspect root rot, cut off the unhealthy sections of the root ball and repot the plant in fresh soil.

2. Underwatering

Underwatering makes the leaves droop, turn yellow, or develop crispy brown spots.

Solution: To prevent underwatering, water your fiddle leaf fig when the top inch of soil feels dry. Water thoroughly and ensure the water drains out the bottom of the pot.

You can also increase humidity levels by misting the leaves or using a humidifier. If the leaves have brown spots, they will not turn green again, but with proper watering, your fiddle leaf fig plant will produce healthy new leaves.

Underwatering can cause crispy brown spots on the edges of leaves.

3. Wrong Lighting

Inadequate lighting or sudden changes in light exposure also causes problems with fiddle leaf figs, such as slow growth, small leaves, and brown spots on the leaves.

Here are some causes of and solutions for inadequate lighting:

Bright, Indirect Light

Fiddle leaf figs require bright, indirect light to thrive, so if the plant is not receiving enough light, it leads to poor growth and unhealthy leaves.

Solution: Move your plant to a brighter spot near a window that receives plenty of bright, indirect light. If your plant is far from the window or receives too much direct sunlight, you may need to move it to a different location in the room or filter the light with a sheer curtain.

Sudden Changes In Light

Moving your fiddle leaf fig suddenly from a low light to a bright light location, or vice versa, may cause the leaves to develop brown spots or edges.

Solution: Gradually acclimate your plant to the new lighting conditions by slowly increasing or decreasing the amount of light it receives over several days to a week.

Too Much Light

Excessive direct sunlight leads to sunburn and damages the leaves. Symptoms include light brown spots and dropping leaves.

Solution: Move your plant to a location with bright, indirect light, or filter the direct sunlight with a sheer curtain.

4. Unsuitable Environment

Low humidity levels, exposure to cold drafts, or excessively dry air also cause problems with fiddle leaf figs, such as brown edges, crispy leaves, leaf drops, and wilting.

Here are some causes and solutions:

Low Humidity Levels

Fiddle leaf figs prefer moderate to high humidity levels, so if the air is too dry, it causes the leaves to develop brown edges, curl, or drop.

Solution: Increase humidity levels by regularly misting the leaves with water, using a humidifier, or placing a tray of water near the plant.

Exposure To Cold Drafts

Fiddle-leaf figs are tropical plants and do not tolerate cold temperatures well. The leaves will turn brown and drop if the plant is exposed to cold drafts.

Solution: Move your plant away from cold drafts near a window or door. Place a plastic sheet or cloth over the plant to protect it from cold drafts if necessary.

Excessively Dry Air

Fiddle leaf figs are also affected by excessively dry air, which turns the leaves brown and makes them curl or drop.

Solution: Increase humidity levels by misting the leaves with a humidifier, or placing a tray of water near the plant. You can also group plants together or place them on a pebble tray of pebbles.

Unsuitable environments can cause brown, yellow, droopy leaves.

5. Insect Infestations

Pest infestations such as spider mites or mealybugs cause brown spots or patches on the leaves. Pest infestations are a common problem with fiddle leaf figs and damage the plant if not addressed promptly.

Here are some causes and solutions for pest infestations:

Common Pests

Common pests that harm fiddle leaf figs are mealybugs, spider mites, and scale insects. These pests cause yellowing or browning of leaves and stunted growth.

Solution: Regularly inspect your plant for signs of pest infestation, especially on the undersides of leaves and near leaf joints. If you find any pests, immediately isolate the plant and treat it with an appropriate insecticide, insecticidal soap, or neem oil.

You may have to repeat the treatment several times to eradicate the pests completely.

Poor Plant Health

A weak or stressed fiddle leaf fig is more susceptible to pest infestations.

Solution: Maintain your plant's health by providing it with adequate water, light, and humidity levels, and avoid over-fertilizing. Keep leaves free of the dust and debris that attracts pests by wiping them regularly with a damp cloth and homemade leaf shine.

Contaminated Soil

Pests also infest fiddle leaf figs through contaminated soil.

Solution: Use fresh, well-draining soil when repotting your plant, and avoid using soil used for other plants. Quarantine any new plants before placing them near your fiddle leaf fig to prevent the spread of pests.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will Brown Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves Turn Green Again?

No, brown fiddle leaf fig leaves will not turn green again once they have turned brown. Once a leaf has browned, it means that the cells in the leaf have died and no longer produce chlorophyll, which gives leaves their green color.

Should I Cut Off Brown Leaves On My Fiddle Leaf Fig?

Yes, cutting off brown leaves on a fiddle-leaf fig tree is generally a good idea. Dead or damaged leaves indicate an underlying problem, such as overwatering, underwatering, or pest infestations.

Removing these leaves prevents further damage and also promotes new growth. You should use sharp, clean pruning shears to make a precise cut close to the stem, avoiding leaving any stubs or tearing the leaf.

Remember that fiddle leaf figs can live many years and grow into large tree-like plants. The older leaves at the bottom of the plant will naturally turn brown and drop as the plant ages. If the plant is otherwise healthy, losing lower leaves is normal and not a cause for concern.

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