Fiddle Leaf Figs are one of our favourite houseplants, it’s literally in the name. Their bold luscious green leaves make them stand out in any space and their care routine tends to be pretty simple. However, if you spot your Fiddle Leaf Fig developing brown leaves, it can be difficult to treat correctly if you aren’t sure about what is causing them. Luckily we have developed a simple guide to diagnosing the problem so your plant can get back to full health very quickly.
The most common causes of brown leaves in Fiddle Leaf Figs are: overwatering, underwatering or a lack of humidity.
Overwatering can cause brown leaves
The signs: darker brown spots throughout the leaf, starting at the bottom of the plant.
If you notice that your Fiddle Leaf Fig is developing dark brown spots on its leaves, a common cause of this is overwatering. We tend to recommend a little and often approach towards watering and this is especially the case with Fiddles. They don’t really like being sat in puddles of water so you need to ensure you have good drainage and do not give them too much water at once.
Overwatering can quickly lead to root rot which is very harmful to your plant. You will notice that the lower leaves are the first to turn brown and drop off as it takes hold of the plant from the roots up. Alongside browning leaves, it can also cause the plant to become unstable and not pick up any nutrients. If not caught quickly, this can often be a killer for your Fiddle. If you think you might have overwatered your Fiddle Leaf Fig it’s important to check the soil right away and change it out completely if necessary.
Make sure to check the moisture in the soil before you water your plant. The easiest way to check this is by digging your finger into the top two centimetres of the soil to see how moist it is. If you want to make it super easy consider investing in a moisture monitor, these little things give you all of the data you need to keep your tree happy and healthy.
We also recommend picking up your Fiddle Leaf Fig before and after watering. This should give you a feel for when your plant might need a little more water, simply by giving them a lift. However, we only recommend this if your Fiddle is no bigger than 1/1.5 metre tall as they can get quite heavy quite quickly so be careful!
You can find more information on prevention and treatment in our root rot guide.
There are several causes of brown Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree leaves
Underwatering can also cause brown Fiddle Leaf Fig leaves
The signs: lighter brown patches on the leaves, starting from the edge. The leaves will curl up and look dry. Will affect leaves throughout the plant.
If you notice that your Fiddle Leaf Fig is developing light brown spots or dry crispy edges on the leaves, then it may be that you are underwatering your plant. Another sign to look out for is that the rest of the leaf will still look healthy, whereas an overwatered plant will have browning/yellowing throughout the leaf.
Although they don’t like sitting in water, they also don’t like their soil being too dry for longer periods of time. The easiest way to tell is again just by checking the moisture in the soil and adjusting your watering schedule accordingly.
If you find that your Fiddle Leaf Fig feels very dry, water it a little every other day for a week. Your first instinct might be to give it loads of water straight away but this can actually be harmful to your Fiddle if the soil goes from one extreme to the other. Instead, you want to reintroduce frequent watering for a week or two and this should solve the problem.
If you just can’t get on the right watering schedule it could be worth investing in a good quality self watering plant pot, these take all of the trouble out of the process and will make sure that your plant isn’t resting in stagnant water – eliminating the risk of root rot or other watering based issues.
Diagnosing brown Fiddle Leaf leaves can be tricky
Brown leaves can also indicate a lack of humidity
The signs: dry crispy edges of the leaves.
They prefer a humid environment as they originate from tropical forests. If you find that the edges of your Fiddle’s leaves are turning brown, then it may be because the air in your home is too dry for it.
There are few really simple techniques to keep the humidity higher than normal for your Fiddle; you can spray down the leaves with a mist bottle every few days, sit your plant in a tray with water and some pebbles, put your plant in the bathroom and leave the shower on hot for 5 minutes or for a quick and easy solution you could invest in a humidifier to keep the levels perfect year round.
You can pick up a good humidity monitor to keep track of everything if you’re more concerned. Make sure to also move your Fiddle Leaf Fig away from any air conditioning units as these create very dry air!
You can find out more about increasing the humidity for your Fiddle (and other houseplants) in our humidity guide.
Check the brown leaves closely for pests
Pests can also cause brown leaf spot on your Fiddle
The signs: small dark brown spots on the leaves that turn into holes. If you look closely the pests will be visible.
A slightly less common reason why your Fiddle Leaf Fig may have brown leaves is a pest infestation. It can happen that pests such as mealybugs, spider mites and scale insects take hold of your beloved plant.
If you find pests on your plant we recommend giving the whole plant a shower. Keep the shower pressure so as not to damage the leaves, but Fiddles are pretty sturdy so this shouldn’t be too much of an issue if you are careful. Alternatively, wash down each leaf with soapy warm water and replace all of the soil to get rid of the pests. You should also treat your Fiddle Leaf Fig with an organic insecticide to fight the infestation.
Make sure to check over your other plants in the room to see if any other plants have pests. Keep your Fiddle (and other infected plants) a good distance away from any of your other houseplants as you don’t want the pests to spread.
A happy and healthy Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree
Brown leaves on your Fiddle Leaf Fig isn’t the end of the world if you have caught and correctly diagnosed the problem early. By shifting your watering schedule and keeping a close eye on your plant, it should return to full health quickly. Don’t expect the brown leaves to all of a sudden turn luscious green, what’s done is done. Don’t pull away the brown leaves as this can harm your plant. Instead, wait for them to drop naturally or prune away the brown parts once your plant has resumes healthy growth.
You can find our full guide to Fiddle Leaf Fig care here.
Written by Billy Dawson