These incredible houseplants are somewhat low maintenance once in the right environment, but it’s not uncommon for their leaves to begin curling if something isn’t right. This is often one of the earlier signs of trouble so hopefully, if there are no other signs of unhappiness, you should have caught the problem fairly early.
In this article, we will go through each of the main causes of curling leaves on a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree as well as going through how to treat the issue and prevent it from cropping up again. Diagnosing the cause of curling leaves on Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees can be a little frustrating, however, as there are quite a few different causes that can have the same impact. The best thing to do is to go through the list and eliminate the causes one by one until you find which best fits your plant and what’s going on.
Overwatering is a common cause of curling leaves on a Fiddle Leaf
Whilst overwatering can have some severe effects on Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees and other houseplants, curling leaves are often an early warning sign that things aren’t going well. This can appear alongside leaf loss and yellow leaves as the issue progresses.
Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees like their soil to dry out and don’t deal so well with waterlogged potting mix. They need a well-draining mix and you should only water then the top few inches of the soil are dry to touch.
It’s important that you diagnose the issue of overwatering quickly as if it progresses too far, can cause plant death. So to confirm that is what is causing the curling leaves on your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree, you need to check the soil moisture.
Unpot your plant and check for rot and waterlogged soil. If the roots have started to rot they will be mushy and dark in colour. Healthy roots however are pale and firm to touch. If you find the root system has started to rot, trim away the infected parts and add fresh (dry) soil.
Moving forward, to prevent the issue from happening again, adjust your watering schedule so that you are either watering less frequently or deeply. Either will help give your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree enough time to dry out. You also want to be making sure that you check the soil has dried out before rewatering.
Underwatering can also cause curling Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree leaves
If your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree’s potting mix gets too dry, the foliage will curl and start to wilt. This is because houseplants start curling their leaves as a way to slow down moisture loss. Often curling leaves is a reversible problem but as soon as they have started to crisp up and turn brown, there is no going back.
Check the potting mix to confirm that underwatering is the cause of the curling leaves on your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree and start to water a little bit each day for a week. This will stop your plant from going into shock by a sudden change in the environment. The leaves should soon start to perk up and stop curling after being watered.
Curling leaves can indicate humidity issues
Though Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees are tolerant of average humidity, persistently dry air can result in your plant’s leaves curling up. Luckily, this is a pretty simple issue to fix as there are so many different ways you can increase the humidity for your plant.
We often recommend using a humidifier as this takes all of the worries of dry air away and means your plant can thrive in its ideal environment. They are pretty affordable too so a great investment for plant parents and a lot cheaper than forking out to buy new replacement plants!
Other ways you can increase the humidity is by using a spray bottle to mist your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree, showering it every now and again or using a pebble tray.
Extreme temperatures can cause curling leaves on your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree
Native to tropical regions, Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees love warmth but are quite sensitive to extreme temperatures and both hot and cold air can cause curling leaves.
In summer you want to watch out for hotspots that form around sunny windows as the hot air can dry out the leaves and cause them to start curling. You also need to watch out for AC units as the cold air can be quite damaging to your plant, even if it is a nice rest bite from the heat for you.
During winter, make sure that your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree isn’t near any drafty windows or external doors as the cold air flow from outside can slowly cause real issues for your plant without you realising.
Using a digital thermometer will be your best friend here and help you spot any changes in temperature before they’ve caused curling leaves or other issues.
Watch out for direct sunlight
Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees really don’t like much direct sunlight in summer as it can scorch their incredible leaves. But even before it’s caused irreversible damage such as brown or yellow patches, too much light can cause curling leaves.
This is because the leaves dry out in the hot direct sunlight but also because the leaves curl up to protect themselves against the sun.
More often than not this is totally reversible and placing your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree in a slightly shadier spot will see the leaves start to stop curling in a few days.
Curling leaves can also indicate overfertilization
Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees aren’t heavy feeders and you can still see plenty of new healthy growth without any fertiliser at all. But one of the causes of too much fertiliser is curling leaves as the residual nutrient salts can toxify the soil and damage the roots. This can result in Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree leaves curling and browning as the roots become unable to deliver what the plant needs.
Remove any fertiliser spikes or replace the soil if you are using pellets or water-soluble fertiliser and hold off feeding for at least a year to let your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree recover.
Those are the most common reasons Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees start to develop curling leaves. It’s important you work to diagnose and treat the issue as early as possible to give you the best chance at reviving your plant and preventing permanent damage.
The most important thing to remember is often Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree leaves curl due to excess water loss or insufficient water delivery to the leaves. This will help you narrow down the causes and use the root system to give you clues. Curled leaves may straighten back once the issue has been solved, but even if this doesn’t happen, any new foliage will return to its normal appearance.
To learn more about how to best care for your plant, check out our Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree care guide.
Written by Billy Dawson