Brown spots on Fig leaves is a common problem with fiddle leaf fig, so it’s not uncommon for plant parent to be worried about fiddle leaf fig brown spots on leaves.
They belong to the Ficus genus of plants, which contains over 800 species. They are native to the rainforests of Africa and Asia, where they grow in the dappled sunlight that filters through the tree canopy above.
In the wild, fiddle leaf figs grow to more than 50 feet tall and can live for hundreds of years. In their natural habitat, fiddle leaf figs receive a lot of indirect sun but little direct sun.
Their leaves are broad and leathery so that they can absorb as much light as possible.
If you’re not familiar, fiddle leaf figs (Ficus lyrata) are quite popular these days and for good reason. They’re striking, large, and pretty easy to care for. However, even though fiddle leaf figs are fairly hardy and generally easy to grow, sometimes they can get sick.
If you’ve ever noticed brown spots on your fiddle leaf fig leaves or have had your plant drop a ton of leaves in a short period of time, you’re not alone.
This is a common issue that plagues many fiddle leaf fig owners and it’s essential to address this problem quickly if you want to save your plant.
The most common cause of brown spots on fig leaves is too much direct sunlight or sunburn. This will leave dark brown patches on the leaves which may then fall off.
It is most likely to happen with young plants or after repotting when the root system is still developing and has not yet been able to adapt to its new environment.
What Causes Brown Spots on Fig Leaves?
There are several reasons why brown spots might appear on the leaves of your fiddle leaf fig. These include:
Overwatering: Overwatering can lead to brown spots on fiddle leaf fig.
The brown spots are caused by bacteria or fungi that grow in waterlogged soil.
Waterlogged soil is a result of overwatering. A good way to check if you are overwatering your fiddle leaf fig is to inspect its roots.
If the roots are white and healthy, then it’s an indication that the plant is getting enough water.
However, if you see that the roots are starting to turn black or mushy, then this means that you are overwatering it.
Another sign of overwatering is yellow leaves that fall off easily. This is a sure sign of root rot and probably the reason behind your fiddle leaf fig brown spots.
Incorrect watering schedule: The most common cause of brown spots is incorrect watering.
Fiddle leaf figs hate wet feet so it’s important that you follow a regular but infrequent watering schedule. It’s best to water your fiddle leaf fig when the soil is dry down to 2 inches deep.
You should be able to feel this with your fingertip. This could mean once every 7-10 days or even longer in winter when the plant is dormant and isn’t growing very much.
Pests & insects: Brown spots can also be caused by pests or insects like aphids, mealybugs, scale and spider mites.
These pests are usually found at the base of the plant, around the soil and underneath the leaves.
They feed on the juices of your plant and leave behind a sticky residue called “honeydew”.
This sticky residue attracts ants and mold which can further damage your plant and cause fungal diseases, so it’s important to get rid of these pests as soon as possible.
Pests can be removed by washing off the leaves with water, using insecticidal soap or neem oil, or taking more drastic action like cutting off infected stems and branches.
Low Humidity: As a tropical native, the fiddle leaf fig requires a high level of humidity.
If your home is particularly dry or cold, this can cause brown spots on the leaves of your plant.
This can also happen if you have a furnace or air conditioner that blows directly on the plant. In this case, provide more moisture through regular misting or by placing a humidifying tray beneath the pot.
Cold Temperature Drafts: Brown spots on the leaves of your fiddle leaf fig can also indicate that it has been exposed to cold drafts or temperature fluctuations during travel.
Keep your plant away from drifty windows and doors and make sure to keep it out of direct sunlight as well to prevent scorching.
Too much direct sunlight: The leaves of your fiddle leaf fig need indirect light to flourish.
Direct sunlight will cause the leaves to burn and turn brown, or even fall off.
The solution here is simple; move your plant away from the window or out of direct sun.
Too little water Do not overwater your plant! Overwatering can cause root rot and make the leaves yellow or brown at the tips.
Water when the top layer of soil feels dry to the touch. If you notice that your plant is wilting, it is probably too late to save it with water.
The solution here is to stop watering for a few days and let the soil dry out completely before watering again.
Not enough water Fiddle Leaf Fig plants need lots of water! When they do not receive enough water, their leaves will turn brownish.
Insufficient Light A lack of light will cause older leaves to yellow and fall off.
If your plant has a lack of light for long periods of time, it may also cause brown spots to appear.
Fungal Disease This can occur if your plant is watered over its needs and left in areas with high humidity.
The most common types of fungal diseases are leaf spot and root rot.
How To Care For Fig Tree To Avoid Brown Spots On Leaves
The fiddle leaf fig tree care tips below can help you to keep your plant healthy and thriving.
Plant Size: A fiddle leaf fig will grow 5′-12′ tall and spread 4′-10′ wide, so it’s important to have adequate space.
Soil: Fiddle leaf fig trees like well-draining soil.
Fiddle leaf fig plants should be grown in pots that have sufficient drainage holes at the bottom.
You can use a standard potting mix or a potting mix that has been amended with perlite, bark chips or coconut coir, all of which will help the soil to drain properly.
If you repot a fiddle leaf fig into a container that doesn’t have drainage holes, make sure to use a pot liner like this one so that any excess water doesn’t pool and drown the roots of your plant.
Watering: When it comes to watering your fiddle leaf fig tree, more is not better!
It’s best to water them when their top 1″-2″ of soil has dried out.
How often this is will depend on temperature and humidity levels, as well as the size/type of container you use for your plant.
Sunlight: The rule of thumb is that if your fiddle leaf fig is getting more than 5 hours of direct sunlight per day, then it’s getting too much!
Solution: Move your plant away from where it’s getting direct sunlight.
If you have a fiddle leaf fig that isn’t near a window and it has brown spots on its leaves (assuming you don’t have any bugs or fungus), then it could be due to improper watering.