Here at Fiddle and Thorn, Fiddle Leaf Figs are one of our favourite plants, I mean it’s in the name! They can be a little sensitive and sometimes will begin to drop their leaves as a sign of discomfort in their environment. The main reasons why a Fiddle Leaf Fig is losing leaves are insufficient watering, root rot, shock and insufficient light. It is important to look out for any dropped leaves as they are often a symptom of a bigger problem.
Sudden change in environment can cause a Fiddle to start losing leaves
Fiddles have sturdy leaves, which can sometimes make us believe they are hardy plants that can cope in most environments. However, they are a little sensitive when it comes to their comfort zone. They don’t like to be moved around too much and a sudden change of environment can be quite harmful to your Fiddle Leaf, causing them to begin losing leaves. They can become quite stressed and this often results in leaves being shed, most commonly the lower, older leaves are dropped in this scenario.
Different lighting and humidity levels can be quite a shock to your Fiddle Leaf and might be why it’s losing leaves as it can take some adjusting before the new environment becomes its new comfort zone. If you have moved house, the physical knocks it may have received in packing up and transit may have also caused some shock.
Don’t worry too much if your Fiddle Leaf has dropped some leaves after being moved to a new spot, it is totally natural. As long as the new environment caters for its light and space requirements, it should adjust nicely and regain strong and healthy growth.
Not enough water can cause your Fiddle Leaf Fig to lose leaves
Another common cause of Fiddle Leaf Fig losing leaves is insufficient watering and dry soil. Although they don’t like to be swimming in water, it’s not great to let the soil fully dry out. The best way to check whether or not you are overwatering is the ‘finger test’. Dig a finger a few centimetres into the soil to feel if it is too dry. Another method we use is the ‘lifting method’. If your Fiddle Leaf is still fairly small we suggest picking it up a pre and post watering to get a feel for what the difference in weight is like. However, we recommend not picking up your Fiddle Leaf if it is over 1 metre tall as they can be quite heavy. The most reliable way to check the moisture levels in the soil is by using a moisture meter.
You can tell if your plant is too dry by looking at the way in which the dry parts have developed on the leaf. If the brown spots are at the edge of the leaf, rather than in the middle, this is a sign of a dry plant. Another thing to look out for is which leaves are turning brown. If you find there are dry spots on leaves throughout the plant, from top to bottom, this also points to dry soil being why your Fiddle Leaf is losing leaves.
If your Fiddle is losing leaves, it can indicate dry air
Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees are also quite sensitive to dry air and this may be causing yours to lose its leaves. Make sure it is not near a radiator, heating vent or AC unit as the air will be too dry. Fiddle Leaf Figs also dislike drafts so keep them away from any doors or windows that might be drafty to prevent them from losing any more leaves.
There are a few ways to increase the humidity for your Fiddle Leaf but the best way to get a nice consistent level is by using a humidifier. Our plants love this one from Amazon.
Root rot can cause your Fiddle to start losing leaves
This is one of the most common issues that impacts all types of houseplants. Root rot occurs when you have been giving your plant too much water and the soil becomes waterlogged. Your Fiddle Leaf Fig’s roots can become susceptible to rot if the soil is too wet for long periods of time. This causes instability in the plant and often means your plant will lose some of its leaves.
The best way to spot whether it is root rot is to look at the leaves a little closer. If you see brown or black spots all over the leaf, it usually means that the plant is waterlogged. If the dry brown leaves are towards the bottom of the plant, closest to the roots, this also indicates root rot. Use a moisture meter to double-check the moisture levels in the soil before adjusting your watering schedule. If it’s waterlogged then we recommend replacing the potting mix with fresh high-quality potting mix immediately.
Not enough sunlight can also be why your Fiddle is losing leaves
Your Fiddle may also be losing some of its leaves due to insufficient light levels. Fiddle trees like a bright spot so make sure that you place your tree near a window. South-facing windows suit them the best, but any large window should offer enough light. The only thing to watch out for is that your Fiddle Leaf Fig is not getting any direct light. Even a few hours a day can cause the leaves to burn. Using a light meter can help you establish the best spot for your Fiddle.
Make sure to clean your Fiddle’s leaves
It is really important with Fiddle Leaf Figs that you check the leaves often for any signs of bugs, dark and dry patches or dust. This can often give you an insight into why your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree is losing leaves and allows you to spot issues before they’ve really taken over your plant.
It’s important to remember that your plant takes in sunlight through its leaves so it’s vital that you keep them clean. Wipe over each leaf with a microfibre cloth to remove any dust. Every now and again use a damp soapy cloth to give a full clean. Make sure to also look out for signs of bugs or small holes and treat immediately to stop your Fiddle losing any more leaves.
Irregular watering can cause your Fiddle to lose some leaves
As we mentioned above, Fiddle Leaf Figs are plants that like consistency and comfort. Irregular watering can easily harm them and be why they start losing leaves. If you find that your Fiddle is displaying signs of both under and overwatering, it’s possible that it may be both. If your watering schedule is not consistent and you are giving your plant different amounts of water at different intervals each week, it may be harming the health of the plant.
To overcome this, remove all of the worst affected leaves and start by setting a watering schedule for yourself. Water your plant once a week, until some of the water is coming out of the bottom of the pot into the saucer. Before watering again the next week, double-check that the top few centimetres of the soil is dry. Adjust slightly according to the seasons and growth periods.
Your Fiddle Leaf might be losing leaves due to natural ageing
One more factor to consider which is a lot less worrying is whether your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree is losing leaves as part of the natural shedding process. As your plant ages, it focuses its energy on growing new bigger leaves. This often means it has to sacrifice some older smaller leaves to conserve energy. This results in your Fiddle Leaf losing some of its older lower leaves.
As long as there are no other warning signs, you have checked and eliminated every other option, and your Fiddle Leaf is growing more new healthy leaves than it is losing, then you probably have nothing to worry about.
Looking after your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree shouldn’t be stressful and it’s always upsetting when they start losing leaves. They are incredible plants and will reward you for looking after them well. It is very common for fiddles to drop some of their leaves but just make sure you are aware of what is causing this so you can treat it appropriately!
Check out our Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree care guide for more information on how to care for your plant and keep it thriving.
Written by Billy Dawson