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Fiddle leaf fig (Ficus lyrata) is a popular houseplant that grows beautiful and large fiddle-like leaves. However, many fiddle leaf owners find many problems in the plant and start wondering why the plant is dying. We will understand all the reasons and their solutions to be aware of the problem.
Common signs that your fiddle leaf fig is dying can be yellowing leaves, brown spots on leaves, droopy leaves, excessive loss of leaves, and plant leaning on sides. Noticing the signs early on will help you to understand the causes and fix them on time.
Figuring out what is wrong with your fiddle leaf fig can be challenging, but usually, the causes are lack of humidity, poor drainage system, overwatering, under-fertilization, etc.
It takes a lot of research and years of experience to understand the problems and their causes. As a beginner with fiddle leaf figs, you might get overwhelmed with all the information, but a good understanding will help you to take care of your fiddle leaf fig better.
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Leaves are turning yellow
Fiddle leaf figs are famous for their magnificent green leaves. If the leaves suddenly start becoming yellow, then you know there is a problem with it.
Yellowing leaves don’t necessarily mean that your fiddle leaf fig is dying. The problem might not be severe and can be treated easily.
One of the reasons can be overwatering. Many owners end up watering the plant more than what is required. And the plant shows signs through yellow leaves.
Overwatering can be a reason for root rot in your fiddle leaf fig, which is a severe problem and should be treated immediately.
Another reason for yellowing leaves can be insufficient light. Fiddle leaf figs need at least 6-8 hours of indirect light.
If it is not getting enough light, it will not be able to photosynthesize, due to which the leaves will turn yellow.
Lack of fertilizers is also a cause of yellow leaves in fiddle leaf figs. Fiddle leaf figs can absorb all the essential nutrients from the soil in their natural habitat.
But as a houseplant, it will only get the nutrients that you give it through fertilizers. Fiddle leaf figs need plenty of fertilizers, so the leaves will turn yellow if it is not getting enough.
If you have repotted your fiddle leaf fig recently and it has started showing yellow leaves after that, the reason is probably that the plant is going through stress.
Fiddle leaf figs appreciate the consistency and like to remain rooted. They might not respond well to significant changes such as transplantation.
Some of the other problems of yellowing leaves might be temperature fluctuations, pests, or soil acidity.
Brown spots starts appearing
If you notice dark brown spots spread throughout the leaves, starting at the bottom of the plant, the reason for this might be overwatering.
When you overwater the plant, the soil retains the water, and the plant sits on it for longer than usual, which leads to root rot. Signs of root rot include brown spots on the leaves.
On the contrary, even underwatering can also be a problem that causes brown leaves. Fiddle leaf figs don’t like to sit on the water, but they don’t like dry soil.
When the soil gets dry due to lack of water, the plant cannot absorb enough nutrients or water from the soil that make it dry and dehydrated.
When you notice light brown spots on the edges of the leaves that have a dry and crispy feel to them, then you know that your fiddle leaf fig is underwatered.
Low humidity is the reason for various problems, including brown leaves.
Fiddle leaf figs enjoy a warm and humid climate like the African rainforests. Even if you cannot provide as much humidity, the level should not go below 30-65%. Anything below that will make the leaves go brown.
If your fiddle leaf fig is infested by pests such as scales, mealybugs, or spider mites, there will be small brown spots, and if you take a close look, you might be able to spot these pests.
If your fiddle leaf fig has bacterial infections, it will start affecting the young leaves. Other than turning yellow, these leaves will also turn brown and eventually fall off the plant.
Leaves are drooping
You might notice one day that the beautiful large leaves of your fiddle leaf fig are suddenly droopy. Don’t worry, as the reason for droopy leaves is that the plant is underwatered.
If you give it some water immediately, within an hour, you might start noticing a difference. It might take some more time, depending on the condition of the plant.
You need to maintain a balanced watering schedule to not see droopy leaves on your fiddle leaf fig.
Excessive loss of leaves
If the leaves of your fiddle leaf fig are falling down and if you feel that it is more than usual, you might start thinking that the plant is dying. But the condition might not be that severe.
Fiddle leaf figs enjoy consistency, and even the slightest change can cause stress or shock the plant. The plant tends to lose a lot of leaves due to this problem.
If you have brought a new fiddle leaf fig home, or have relocated it, or even transplanted it, and it has started losing leaves after that, stress might be the cause.
Another reason can be that your fiddle leaf fig is getting exposed to dry conditions. It’s great if you are not overwatering the plant, but you should remember that the soil should not be arid.
You should water the plant when the soil feels cold and a little moist.
Letting the soil get completely dry will make the leaves dry, which will tend to fall off.
It would be best if you avoided keeping the plant near an AC or any heating machine as the air will make the plant dry, and it might even die due to that.
Leaves are losing color or turning white
You might notice that the leaves of your fiddle leaf fig are losing color or turning white. One of the reasons can be sunburn.
If your fiddle leaf fig is getting too much direct sunlight, the leaves will start bleaching and become white and discolored.
In this case, the leaves on the top are more likely to get affected as the lower leaves are not directly exposed to the sun due to being under the upper leaves.
Sunburnt leaves don’t usually recover, so you need to prune the leaves and move it to an area where it gets indirect light.
Another reason can be a fungal infection called mildew infection. If the plant is not getting enough light and air, it encourages the growth and spread of mildew.
Mildew infection is when you notice a white powdery substance on the stems or leaves. It can spread all over the plant and kill it.
This is a severe condition, and you will need to remove the white leaves and allow airflow along with using a humidifier and applying neem oil to get rid of the infection.
Fiddle leaf fig is getting leggy
When your fiddle leaf fig grows too tall and has a thin and weak stem, that is when you have a leggy fiddle leaf fig.
Many reasons can make your fiddle leaf fig leggy. One of which is insufficient light. Fiddle leaf figs need bright and indirect light to remain healthy and strong.
If there is a lack of light, the fiddle leaf figs will start becoming weak. You will notice a long stem with very few leaves on them.
Insufficient fertilizers can also make the plants weak and leggy. If you are not giving it enough fertilizers, the plant will not get enough nutrients from the soil.
Not pruning the plant frequently can also lead to a leggy fiddle leaf fig.
Pruning helps the plant remain in shape and also helps stimulate growth hormones.
When you forget to prune the plant often, your plant becomes weak and leggy.
Leaves are starting to curl
If the foliage of your fiddle leaf fig starts curling on the sides, it means that your fiddle leaf fig is underwatered.
Along with curling leaves, you will also notice brown areas around the leaves. These start at the edges and move towards the center of the leaves.
Another reason for curling leaves can be the changes in temperature and humidity.
If you have relocated the plant or if the season has changed, there will be a change in the plant’s environment. This can cause the curling of leaves.
If the temperature is higher than usual, give more water to your fiddle leaf fig and use a humidifier that can increase the humidity for the plant.
Tips to keep your fiddle leaf fig healthy
Take a look at this general overview of all the things you need to take care of to avoid all the problems that make you feel that your fiddle leaf fig is dying. These will also help you to have a healthy fiddle leaf fig.
1. Proper watering and a sound drainage system
Erratic watering is one of the most common problems that fiddle leaf owners are guilty of. It is essential to understand your plant’s water requirements and maintain a proper watering schedule.
If you don’t know where to start, give your fiddle leaf fig one cup of water every week and adjust as per the plant’s requirements.
Make sure that the pot has enough drainage holes that are not blocked.
You can put some stones before adding the potting soil to the pot so that the soil doesn’t plug the drainage holes.
Using well-draining soil that is light and has all the required nutrition will help the excess water drain.
Fiddle leaf figs grow long roots that eventually become rootbound.
Rootbound plants cannot absorb the nutrition or water from the soil, so you need to transplant the plant using a larger pot.
Even if the plant is not rootbound, you should repot it every 2-3 years because the soil tends to get acidic over time and fails to retain nutrition.
Repotting with new potting soil helps the plant to remain healthy.
3. Pruning and cleaning
Pruning helps the plant to stay in shape and encourages new growth. If there are any damaged leaves or stems, you should prune them to let the plant have a fast recovery.
The fiddle leaf figs tend to accumulate a lot of dust as they have large leaves. Cleaning the leaves helps the plant to get rid of pest infestations and also photosynthesize effectively.
4. Correct placement
Insufficient light leads to a lot of the problems that we have mentioned above. Ensure that you are giving enough light to your fiddle leaf fig.
Ensure that you choose a spot that gets enough indirect light for your plant to thrive in. Placing the fiddle leaf fig near a south-facing window would be ideal as it will get a lot of light throughout the day.
Don’t place the plant near a fireplace or heating machine like that can burn the leaves. The air coming from the AC can also be harmful as it will make the fiddle leaf fig dry.
Place a humidifier in the room if there is low humidity in your area so that the plant doesn’t become dry.
5. Appropriate fertilization
Fiddle leaf figs need ample nutrition for their growth. They grow big leaves that require a lot of energy and nutrition.
You should use a gentle fertilizer that has an NPK ratio of 3:1:2. Nitrogen encourages new leaf growth, and phosphorus promotes root growth, making it the ideal fertilizer formula for the fiddle leaf fig.
It would be best if you fertilized the fiddle leaf fig at least once a week except for the winter months.
Winter is the dormant period for plants when they rest and don’t grow actively. Giving fertilizers during the winter months will only burn the roots and damage the plant.