Fiddle leaf figs (Ficus lyrata) have gained popularity because of their large and lush green leaves that can effortlessly add an aesthetic look to your living space. However, an unhealthy and unhappy fiddle leaf fig might have curling leaves. It might be daunting to find out the exact reason, but we will find that out.
Lighting issues and underwatering can lead to the curling of leaves in fiddle leaf figs. Move your fiddle leaf fig to a bright spot where it gets sufficient exposure to bright indirect light. Also, make sure you water the plant when the soil gets dry.
Other reasons include lack of humidity, improper fertilization, pest infestation, root rot, poor water quality, etc.
Identifying the cause and treating it is the only way to fix the curling leaves in your fiddle leaf fig.
Fiddle leaf figs need a lot of light, water, nutrition, and humidity to thrive. If there is a lack of these factors, the plant will show problems that include the curling of leaves. Therefore, keeping an eye on your fiddle leaf’s requirements can help you avoid problems such as curling leaves.
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Why is my fiddle leaf fig leaves curling?
There can be a lot of reasons behind the curling of your fiddle leaf fig. Here are some of the common ones:
- Lighting issues
- Lack of humidity
- Improper fertilization
- Pest infestation
- Root rot
- Poor quality water
- Pot size issues
- Wrong soil mix
- Temperature fluctuations
We will discuss these problems in detail and also understand how to fix these issues.
Fiddle leaf figs love long hours of light. Therefore, they need at least 6-7 hours of sunlight to remain healthy.
If they don’t get enough light, they will not be able to photosynthesize. This can cause curling of leaves as they will not get sufficient nutrition.
It would be best to remember that fiddle leaf figs don’t do well under direct sunlight. Instead, fiddle leaf figs thrive in indirect light.
So, if your fiddle leaf fig is exposed to direct sunlight, the leaves will get scorched, leading to the curling of the leaves.
Placing your fiddle leaf fig in a location where it gets 6-7 hours of continuous indirect light will be ideal for combating these problems.
For example, you can put it near a window that gets light throughout the day.
If you cannot provide enough sunlight to your fiddle leaf fig, you can get artificial lights and use them on your plant.
Also read: How much light do fiddle leaf fig need?
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All plants need water to perform the daily activities and absorb the nutrients from the soil. For example, fiddle leaf figs need a lot of water and moisture as they need a lot of energy to grow large leaves.
When you don’t give enough water to your fiddle leaf fig, or the soil gets too dry in between the watering sessions, the plant becomes dry. Therefore, the leaves start curling.
If you don’t know how much water your fiddle leaf fig needs, you can start by giving it one cup of water once every week.
Don’t let the soil get too dry as the fiddle leaf figs enjoy moisture.
Check the soil and water if the soil feels cold but not wet. Then, you can check how your plant reacts and adjust the watering schedule as per that.
Also read: How often should I water my fiddle leaf fig?
Lack of humidity
Fiddle leaf figs are native to the tropical rainforests in Africa. They get a high amount of humidity, and they thrive in that.
Even if you cannot provide that high amount of humidity to your fiddle leaf fig, you should make sure that it is not too low.
Fiddle leaf figs do well in 30-65% humidity and anything below is too low for this plant. Due to low humidity, the plant will not hold moisture as the soil will become dry quickly. Lack of moisture will then lead to the curling of leaves.
There are different ways to increase humidity for your fiddle leaf fig. You can opt for the one that works the best for you.
Humidifiers are widely used in households to increase the humidity level, which will help your plant. This is an easy and convenient way to maintain the proper humidity level inside your house.
You can create a pebble tray by taking a tray and placing pebbles on it, and then filling it with water.
Next, you need to place your plant on the tray. As the water evaporates from the tray, it will release moisture around the fiddle leaf fig.
If you have other plants in your house, you can keep the fiddle leaf fig near them as when the plants transpire; they release moisture that can increase the humidity for the fiddle leaf fig.
Also read: Should I mist my fiddle leaf fig?
If you are not adding enough fertilizers to your fiddle leaf fig, it will not get enough nutrition to support its growth. This will cause the curling of leaves.
In the rainforests, the fiddle leaf figs can suck all the nutrients from the soil as that nature deposits. But as a houseplant, the soil only gets nutrients when we add fertilizers to it.
Fiddle leaf figs need fertilizers that have an NPK ratio of 3:1:2. Fertilize your fiddle leaf fig once every 1-2 weeks. (Preferably Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Plant Food.)
Note: Don’t fertilize during the winter months as the plant remains dormant. Fertilizing during winter can burn the plant roots, which can also cause the curling of leaves.
Also read: Do fiddle leaf fig need fertilizer?
It is rare, but there are times when a bug infests a fiddle leaf fig. Some of the common pests that attack fiddle leaf figs are mealybugs, scales, and spider mites.
These pests feed on the plant’s sap and suck all the nutrients causing a nutrition deficiency in your plant. Nutrition deficiency leads to the curling of leaves.
If pests have infested your plant, make sure to keep it away from other plants and then start the treatment as soon as possible.
You need to shower the plant or wipe the leaves with soapy water to begin with. Next, you can use an organic miticide like rosemary oil or neem oil to eliminate the pests.
If you don’t have a miticide available, you can use dish soap, mix it with water, and spray it on your plant.
Also read: Do fiddle leaf fig attract bugs?
Root rot is caused due to overwatering. This is one of the most severe problems found in all plants.
Fiddle leaf figs need a lot of water, but they don’t like to sit on water for long. If you don’t have a sound drainage system, then the soil retains water for too long, and it causes root rot.
Root rot is a condition where the roots become mushy and brown instead of crispy and white. The roots stop functioning, and the leaves start curling due to a lack of water and nutrients.
If you doubt root rot, you can take the plant out of the pot and check the roots. If there is root rot, you need to start the treatment immediately.
You need to prune the damaged roots and all the other damaged parts and repot the plant to treat root rot.
If you want to avoid root rot, ensure that you are not overwatering the plant by understanding the watering needs and following a schedule.
The pot should have proper drainage holes to let the excess water drain out. And use a well-draining soil mix that doesn’t retain too much water.
Also read: How to fix root rot in fiddle leaf fig?
Poor quality water
The quality of the water matters because the regular tap water you are using contains minerals that are not good for the fiddle leaf fig.
These minerals build up in the soil and damage the roots, due to which the roots are not able to take in water or nutrients, making them dry and giving rise to the curling of leaves.
These harsh minerals can even burn the roots of your fiddle leaf fig.
If you think the quality of your water is the reason for the curling of leaves, you need to use filtered or distilled water as they don’t contain harsh minerals like your regular tap water.
If possible, you can also collect rainwater and use it to water the plant. If these are not available, you can take the tap water and keep it outside to get aerated, and the harmful minerals get reduced.
Pot size issues
Using the incorrect-sized pot can lead to a lot of problems. For example, if you are using a pot that is too small, the fiddle leaf fig will become rootbound.
The roots will not be able to grow and function properly, and the plant will stop getting the nutrition that will make the leaves curl.
Whereas in the case of a large pot, the soil might retain too much water, and the pot will hold a lot of water. This will lead to overwatering and root rot that will again cause curling leaves.
Therefore, you must be using the correct-sized pot that is neither too small nor too big.
If your fiddle leaf fig has outgrown the current pot, you need to repot it in a new pot that is a size bigger than the previous one.
It would be best if you considered repotting your plant every 2-3 years so that it doesn’t become rootbound and remains healthy.
Also read: What happens if you plant in a pot too big?
Wrong soil mix
The soil requirement varies from one plant to the other. Understanding which soil would work for your fiddle leaf fig is essential.
If you are not using the right kind of soil, it will retain water and damage the roots that will cause many problems, including the leaves curling.
In addition, using the wrong soil can create an environment for the bacteria and fungus to thrive in.
Fiddle leaf figs need a well-draining and aerated soil that contains all the nutrients it needs.
Make sure you are using soil with elements that make it a well-draining soil and contain all the nutrients that your plant needs.
Also read: What kind of soil do fiddle leaf fig need?
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Fiddle leaf figs appreciate consistency. Being exposed to even the slightest change can cause stress or shock the plant.
This can often happen if your fiddle leaf fig is not getting a consistent temperature. The ideal temperature for these plants is between 65 – 75ºF.
During winter, the temperature suddenly drops, and that if the plant is exposed to that temperature, the leaves will curl.
Cold drafts, the air coming from the AC, and keeping the plant near a fireplace will stress the plant, make it dry and cause the leaves to curl.
You can use a thermometer to check on the temperature and try to place the plant in an area that gets a consistent temperature.
How to prevent curling leaves in fiddle leaf figs?
Taking care of your fiddle leaf’s requirements and making sure that you’re not doing anything wrong will help you get rid of curling leaves.
Here are some points that you can keep in mind.
- Place the fiddle leaf fig in an area where it gets bright and indirect light for at least 6-7 hours every day.
- Try to come up with a watering schedule after understanding the water requirements of your fiddle leaf fig. The water requirements will vary depending upon the size of the plant.
- If you live in a cold region or have harsh winters where the humidity gets very low, use a humidifier or a pebble tray to increase the moisture for your fiddle leaf fig.
- Just like a watering schedule, have a plan for fertilizing the plant. Fertilizers are essential so make sure you are not giving the plant less or more. Avoid fertilizing during the winter, as that is the dormant period for the plant.
- Keep an eye on the plant to make sure that there are no pests. You can use organic miticides to keep the pests away.
- Don’t use regular tap water if it contains harsh minerals. Use filtered water or rainwater.
- Don’t use a pot that is too large or too small.
- Use a well-draining and healthy soil mix.
- Don’t expose the fiddle leaf fig to drastic temperature changes.
Sources: CABI.ORG, New York Botanical garden, University of Florida.
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