August 16

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How to Solve Common Problems with Fiddle Leaf Fig Plants: Tips from Houseplant Experts

8 common fiddle leaf fig problems – houseplant experts explain how to fix them

If you’re a plant owner or an enthusiast, then you know how much care and attention is needed to keep your green babies thriving. The fiddle leaf fig, scientifically known as Ficus lyrata, is a popular houseplant that many people adore for its lush and beautiful leaves. However, even the most aged and experienced plant owners can face troubles with their fiddle leaf figs.

In this article, we have approached houseplant experts Melvin Rosenbloom and Sarah Smith to shed light on eight common fiddle leaf fig problems and how to fix them. From insect infestation to root problems, we will guide you through each problem and provide you with easy solutions to ensure your fiddle leaf fig stays happy and healthy.

One common problem that fiddle leaf fig owners face is leaf drop. It’s natural for older leaves to drop as the plant ages, but if you notice a significant drop in leaves or if the leaves are dropping prematurely, it could be a sign of a bigger issue. Melvin Rosenbloom advises to first check the watering schedule and make sure you’re not overwatering or underwatering your plant.

Another problem that commonly occurs with fiddle leaf figs is pest infestation. Pests like spider mites, mealybugs, and scale insects can easily find their way into your plant, leading to wilting leaves and overall decline in health. Sarah Smith suggests regularly inspecting your plant for any signs of pests and treating them with organic insecticidal soap or neem oil.

One issue that many fiddle leaf fig owners encounter is leggy growth. This happens when the plant doesn’t receive enough direct sunlight, causing the stems to stretch and the leaves to become sparse. To fix this problem, Melvin Rosenbloom recommends moving your fiddle leaf fig to a brighter spot and rotating it every few weeks to ensure even growth.

Knowing the right watering schedule and understanding your fiddle leaf fig’s moisture needs is crucial in preventing many problems. Overwatering can lead to root rot, while underwatering can cause wilting and dryness. Sarah Smith advises to feel the top inch of soil and water your plant only when it feels dry to the touch. Using well-draining soil and pots with drainage holes is also essential for preventing moisture-related issues.

In conclusion, if you’re looking to keep your fiddle leaf fig thriving, it’s important to be aware of common problems that can arise. Whether it’s pest infestation, leaf drop, or watering issues, our experts have provided you with the best tips on how to fix them. By following these guidelines and providing your fiddle leaf fig with the right care and conditions, you can enjoy a beautiful and healthy plant for years to come.

8 common fiddle leaf fig problems

Every fiddle leaf fig owner needs to know how to fix these common problems.

  • 1. Overwatering: If your fiddle leaf fig isn’t getting enough water, its leaves may start to droop. Check the soil moisture before giving it more water.
  • 2. Leggy plant: If your fiddle leaf fig has long stems and lacks foliage on the bottom, it may need more light. Try moving it to a brighter spot, or consider using a grow light.
  • 3. Pests infestation: Tiny spots on the leaves or webs on the stems could be a sign of pests like spider mites. Check your plant regularly and treat any infestations with an appropriate pesticide.
  • 4. Wilting leaves: If your fiddle leaf fig’s leaves are wilting, it could be due to underwatering or overwatering. Check the soil moisture and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.
  • 5. Lack of nutrients: Fiddle leaf figs are heavy feeders and need regular fertilization. Use a balanced fertilizer or a specialized plant food for fiddle leaf figs to keep them lush and healthy.
  • 6. Root rot: If your fiddle leaf fig’s leaves are turning brown and falling off, it may be a sign of root rot. Check the roots for any signs of rot and repot the plant in a well-draining soil if needed.
  • 7. Not enough humidity: Fiddle leaf figs naturally grow in tropical regions with high humidity. If the air in your home is too dry, misting the leaves or using a humidifier can help increase the moisture around the plant.
  • 8. Low light: Fiddle leaf figs need bright, indirect light to thrive. If your plant is not getting enough light, move it closer to a window or consider using a grow light to supplement the natural light.

If you’re dealing with any of these issues, don’t worry! With proper care and attention, your fiddle leaf fig can bounce back and continue to grow into a lush and beautiful plant.

Published by: Melvin Rosenbloom, gardening expert

For more information and expert advice on fiddle leaf fig care, check out my book “The Fiddle Leaf Fig Expert”.

1 Leaf drop

Leaf drop is a common problem that many fiddle leaf fig owners face. If you notice the leaves on your fiddle leaf fig are turning yellow and falling off, you might be worried. However, there are several common reasons why leaf drop occurs and solutions to fix the problem.

  • Overwatering: One of the most common reasons for leaf drop is overwatering. Fiddle leaf figs like to dry out slightly between waterings, so make sure you’re not watering them too frequently.
  • Underwatering: On the other hand, if your fiddle leaf fig isn’t getting enough water, the leaves may also drop. Check the moisture level in the soil and water it when it feels dry to the touch.
  • Poor lighting conditions: Fiddle leaf figs need bright, indirect light to thrive. If your plant is not getting enough light, it may start losing leaves. Move it to a brighter location, but avoid direct sunlight.
  • Pests: Another issue that can cause leaf drop is a pest infestation. If you notice tiny spots or webs on your plant, it could be a sign of pests. Check the leaves and stems carefully for signs of pests and treat accordingly.
  • Roots could be cramped: If your fiddle leaf fig is looking leggy and the roots are growing out of the bottom of the pot, it might be time to repot it. Inspect the roots and move the plant into a larger pot if necessary.

If you’ve tried these solutions and your fiddle leaf fig is still experiencing leaf drop, it’s best to consult with a houseplant expert. They can help determine the underlying issue and provide specific advice for your particular plant.

2 Yellowing leaves

2 Yellowing leaves

Naturally, these plants will drop leaves as they age, so a few yellowing leaves is no cause for concern. However, if you notice that your fiddle leaf fig has a lot of yellowing or dropping leaves, it may indicate that something is wrong.

The first thing you should do is check the soil moisture. Leggy fiddle leaf figs are often a sign of overwatering, which can cause the leaves to turn yellow and drop. Make sure the soil is well-draining and that the roots are not sitting in water.

If the soil is dry and the leaves are yellowing, it could mean that the plant is not getting enough water. Fiddle leaf figs like to have their soil moisture kept consistent, so make sure you are watering regularly and giving the plant enough water each time.

Another common issue that can cause yellowing leaves is a lack of nutrients. Fiddle leaf figs are heavy feeders and require regular fertilization. Make sure you are using a balanced fertilizer and following the instructions on the package.

If you’ve ruled out issues with water and nutrients, pests could be the culprit. Check the leaves and stems for any signs of pests such as tiny spots or webs. If you find any, treat the plant with an appropriate pesticide or consult with a plant care expert.

If none of these solutions seem to be helping, the yellowing leaves could be a sign of an aged plant. Fiddle leaf figs have a shorter lifespan and can become harder to care for as they get older. If your plant is aging, you may need to adjust your care routine or consider replacing it with a younger, healthier plant.

3 Brown and crispy leaves

3 Brown and crispy leaves

Brown and crispy leaves are a common issue for fiddle leaf fig owners and can be caused by a few different factors. Here are some possible reasons and solutions:

  1. Overwatering: Overwatering is one of the most common problems that can lead to brown and crispy leaves. Make sure you are not giving your fiddle leaf fig too much water. Check the roots to see if they are rotting or if the soil is too wet.
  2. Inadequate drainage: Fiddle leaf figs need well-draining soil. If the water is not able to flow out of the pot, it can lead to overwatering and root rot. Make sure your pot has drainage holes and consider using a soil mix specifically made for tropical plants.
  3. Too much direct sunlight: Fiddle leaf figs prefer bright, indirect sunlight. If your plant is getting too much direct sunlight, especially during hot summer months, it can cause the leaves to become brown and crispy. Move your plant to a spot with filtered light or use sheer curtains to diffuse the sunlight.
  4. Dry air: Fiddle leaf figs are native to tropical rainforests, so they prefer a humid environment. If the air in your home is dry, especially during the winter months, it can cause the leaves to dry out and become brown and crispy. Increase the humidity around your plant by using a humidifier, placing a tray of water nearby, or misting the leaves regularly.
  5. Nutrient deficiency: If your fiddle leaf fig is not getting enough nutrients, it can lead to brown and crispy leaves. Make sure you are using a balanced houseplant fertilizer and following the recommended dosage instructions. Feed your plant regularly during the growing season and reduce feeding in the winter months.
  6. Pests: Pests like spider mites and mealybugs can infest fiddle leaf figs and cause damage to the leaves. Check your plant regularly for any signs of pests, such as tiny webs or sticky residue. If you notice an infestation, treat your plant with natural or chemical pest control methods.

If you’re still not sure what’s causing the brown and crispy leaves on your fiddle leaf fig, it’s always a good idea to consult with gardening or botanical experts who can provide further guidance. Remember, every plant is different, and finding the right care routine may take some time and adjustments.

4 Drooping leaves

If your fiddle leaf fig’s leaves are drooping, it’s usually a sign that something is off with its care. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Overwatering: Overwatering is a common issue that can lead to drooping leaves. Make sure to let the top inch of soil dry out before watering again. Ensure that your fiddle leaf fig is in a well-draining pot and that excess water can escape from the drainage holes.
  • Underwatering: On the other hand, underwatering can also cause drooping leaves. Make sure to check the moisture level of the soil regularly and water your plant when the top inch becomes dry. Fiddle leaf figs typically need consistent moisture, so keep an eye on their watering needs.
  • Low humidity: Fiddle leaf figs prefer higher humidity levels, ideally between 50-60%. If the air in your home is too dry, it can cause the leaves to droop. Consider using a humidifier or placing a tray of water near the plant to increase humidity.
  • Insufficient light: If your fiddle leaf fig is not receiving enough light, it may become leggy and the leaves may droop. These plants thrive in bright, indirect light. Make sure to place your fiddle leaf fig near a window with filtered sunlight or provide supplemental artificial light if needed.
  • Pests: Pests such as spider mites and mealybugs can infest fiddle leaf figs and cause the leaves to droop. Inspect your plant regularly for any signs of pests, such as tiny dots or webbing on the leaves. If you notice an infestation, take prompt action to eliminate the pests.

To address drooping leaves, assess the conditions in which your fiddle leaf fig is placed and make any necessary adjustments. Providing proper care, including adequate watering, light, and humidity, will help your plant recover and regain its lush appearance.

5 Insect infestation

Insect infestation is another common issue that fiddle leaf fig owners may encounter. Insects such as spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs can find their way onto your fiddle leaf fig plant and cause damage.

If you notice tiny webs or sticky residue on the leaves, it’s a clear sign of a spider mite infestation. These pests can suck the sap from the leaves, causing them to turn yellow and drop off. To treat this infestation, you can wipe the leaves with a mixture of water and dish soap, or use a natural insecticide specifically formulated for spider mites.

Aphids are another common insect that can infest your fiddle leaf fig. They are small, soft-bodied insects that usually congregate on the bottom of the leaves. You may notice yellow spots on the leaves or distorted growth if your plant has an aphid infestation. To get rid of aphids, you can try washing them off with a strong stream of water or using a natural insecticidal soap.

Mealybugs are another common pest that can affect fiddle leaf figs. These tiny, white insects hide in the crevices of the leaves and stems and feed on the plant’s sap. If your plant has a mealybug infestation, you may notice white, cotton-like spots on the leaves and stems. To eliminate mealybugs, you can use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to wipe them off or use a natural insecticidal spray.

To prevent insect infestations, make sure to regularly inspect your fiddle leaf fig for any signs of pests. Keeping the plant in optimal conditions, such as providing enough light, watering properly, and ensuring good airflow, can also help prevent insect infestations. Additionally, avoid overfertilizing your plant, as this can attract pests.

If you find that natural methods are not effective in treating the infestation, you may need to resort to chemical insecticides. However, be sure to read the label and follow the instructions carefully, as some insecticides can harm your fiddle leaf fig.

6 Poor growth

If your fiddle leaf fig is showing signs of poor growth, it can be quite concerning. There are several factors that can contribute to this issue, so let’s take a closer look at them:

  • Light: Fiddle leaf figs thrive in bright, indirect light. If your plant is not getting enough light, it may lead to poor growth. Make sure to place your fiddle leaf fig in a spot where it can receive bright, filtered light for several hours each day.
  • Water: Overwatering or underwatering can both result in poor growth. Fiddle leaf figs like to have consistently moist but not soggy soil. Check the moisture level of the soil before watering and adjust accordingly.
  • Soil: Fiddle leaf figs prefer well-draining soil. If the soil is too compacted or retains too much moisture, it can hinder proper root growth and lead to poor growth. Consider repotting your plant into a well-draining soil mix specifically formulated for tropical plants.
  • Nutrition: Fiddle leaf figs require regular feeding to support healthy growth. Use a balanced fertilizer formulated for houseplants and apply it according to the packaging instructions. A lack of nutrients can cause stunted growth and weak leaves.
  • Pests: Pests like spider mites and mealybugs can infest your fiddle leaf fig and cause poor growth. Inspect your plant regularly for any signs of pest infestation, such as tiny webs or white cotton-like spots on the leaves. If you notice any pests, treat your plant immediately using an appropriate insecticide or by wiping the leaves with a damp cloth.
  • Environmental conditions: Fiddle leaf figs prefer warm and humid conditions to promote healthy growth. If the temperature or humidity levels in your home or country are not suitable, it can affect the growth of your plant. Consider providing additional humidity by using a humidifier or placing a tray of water near the plant.

By addressing these factors and providing the best possible care for your fiddle leaf fig, you should soon see an improvement in its growth. Don’t worry if your plant goes through periods of slower growth or drops a few leaves, as this is natural for an aging or adjusting plant. With a little patience and attention, your fiddle leaf fig will be looking lush and thriving in no time!

7 Red spots on leaves

If you notice red spots on the leaves of your fiddle leaf fig, it can be a sign of various problems. Here are some common issues that could be causing the red spots and how to fix them:

  1. Pest infestation: Check the underside of the leaves for tiny pests such as spider mites or scale insects. If you find any, treat your plant with an appropriate insecticide.
  2. Overwatering: If you’re giving your fiddle leaf fig too much water, it can lead to root problems and root rot. Ensure that your plant is in well-draining soil and that you’re not watering it too frequently.
  3. Lack of sunlight: Fiddle leaf figs need bright indirect light to thrive. If they’re not getting enough light, the leaves may develop red spots. Move your plant to a spot with more natural light.
  4. Nutrient deficiency: Fiddle leaf figs require specific nutrients to stay healthy. If they’re not getting enough, the leaves may develop red spots. Consider using a balanced fertilizer to provide your plant with the necessary nutrients.
  5. Disease: Certain diseases can cause red spots on the leaves. If you’ve ruled out other problems, consult a gardening expert or a plant disease specialist for proper diagnosis and treatment.
  6. Temperature fluctuations: Extreme temperature changes, especially cold drafts, can stress fiddle leaf figs and cause red spots. Ensure that your plant is in a temperature-controlled environment.
  7. Age: As fiddle leaf figs age, their leaves may naturally develop red spots or other discolorations. If the spots are minimal and your plant is otherwise healthy, it’s nothing to worry about.

If you’re experiencing red spots on the leaves of your fiddle leaf fig, try to identify the underlying cause using the information above. By addressing the specific problem, you can help your plant regain its health and beauty.

8 Leggy stems

8 Leggy stems

One of the most common problems with fiddle leaf figs is the development of leggy stems. Leggy stems refer to the long, thin stems that have a sparse arrangement of leaves. This is often caused by a lack of sunlight, overcrowding, or improper watering.

To fix this problem, you need to assess the lighting conditions and make sure your plant is getting enough sunlight. Fiddle leaf figs thrive in bright, indirect light, so find a spot near a window where it can receive plenty of natural light. If the plant is not getting enough light, it will stretch its stems in an attempt to find more light, resulting in a leggy appearance.

Poor watering practices can also contribute to leggy stems. Overwatering can cause root rot, which can lead to wilted leaves and leggy growth. On the other hand, underwatering can cause the leaves to droop and eventually fall off. To avoid this, make sure to water your fiddle leaf fig when the top inch of soil feels dry. Use your finger to check the moisture level and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

If your fiddle leaf fig is already showing signs of leggy growth, you can prune the stem to encourage bushier growth. Simply find a node on the stem, which is a point where the leaves are growing, and make a clean cut just above it. This will encourage new growth and help create a more compact and lush plant.

In some cases, if the stems are too leggy and the plant is not responding to pruning, you may need to consider moving it into a larger pot. This will give the plant more space to grow and allow for better root development.

Another option to consider is to propagate your fiddle leaf fig by taking stem cuttings. This will allow you to start a new plant and give your current plant a fresh start.

It’s important to note that fiddle leaf figs grow naturally in the tropical rainforests of West Africa, where they receive consistent light and moisture conditions. Recreating these conditions in your home can be challenging, but with proper care, your fiddle leaf fig can thrive and bring beauty to your space.


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