It can be difficult to pinpoint why your Fiddle Leaf Fig tree has brown spots. There are numerous reasons as to why this may be occurring, and fixing them can be challenging. You can identify the cause of a brown spot by considering the location, care routine, and coloring, finding a solution is easier.
If you recently purchased a Fiddle Leaf Fig houseplant and have witnessed brown spots, monitor it for a while to see if they worsen or spread. Often, spots generated from past issues will not require any action providing they do not spread because care issues may have caused the brown spots.
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Causes for Brown Spots on Fiddle Leaf Figs
When you discover brown spots on Fiddle Leaf Fig leaves, make sure they don’t spread or become worse. Once you have identified the source of the spots, you should be able to reverse any damage, and the plant should return to full health. These are the top reasons why your Fiddle Leaf Fig may be showing brown spots.
Leaf Scorch or Sunburn
Sunburnt leaves can range from white to yellow to light brown. Brown spots on the plant will appear crispy and can have a yellow ring circling the edge of the brown area. Sunburn on a Fiddle Leaf Fig is not localized to only the edges. It can be anywhere on the leaf.
- Is it receiving direct sunlight? Sunburn only occurs from the sun’s direct rays on the plant. It can happen when it is outside or through windows. If it is receiving direct sunlight, this may be the reason.
- Is it receiving more than average sunlight? If the plant has received more sun than normal, sunburn can occur. This plant is in full sun when grown in nature, but it does need to be slowly exposed to the sun to prevent sunburn. If the plant is new, it should only receive one to two hours of morning sunlight.
- Are you experiencing extreme weather conditions? In extreme sunlight or during a heatwave that registers above 100°F (38°C) sunburn can occur.
- Examine if the brown spots are occurring in areas with direct sunlight. If the areas that are below other leaves or hidden are fine, sunburn is causing it. You will see this only on higher leaves or anywhere the sun touches the plant.
If you answer yes to any of these, the answer to the brown spots may simply boil down to too much sun. To remedy this, place the house plant further away from sunlight and see how it does. If the sunburn is the cause, then it will thrive. If not, then the answer may be one listed below.
Brown spots can occur on a Fiddle Leaf Fig from underwatering. It will happen when the plant has become too dry and doesn’t have enough moisture for photosynthesis.
If you are noticing light brown crispy edges around the plant’s leaves, it may be under-watered. Underwatering it for prolonged periods will cause the brown areas to work their way in, eventually causing the plant to droop from insufficient water.
- Is the plant being fully saturated? Some people only give the plant a little bit of water or a certain amount in a cup. Saturate the full root ball every time you water it for it to thrive. If you aren’t sure of how much to water or when to water it, use a moisture meter to assist you.
- Was the previous time you watered greater than two weeks? How often you water this plant depends on environmental conditions. Generally, most will dry out within a few weeks, which can be the source of the brown spots.
- When you touch the soil, does it feel dry? There is a general watering rule to water the plant when the top two inches of the soil is dry. If the soil in your Fiddle Leaf Fig is bone dry (not moist), then it is too dry and needs to be watered immediately.
Overwatering isn’t always the culprit when it comes to brown spots. Brown spots can additionally occur from dry air. Since Fiddle Leaf Figs are a tropical plant, they require a humid climate (above 60%). They can adjust to lower levels, but dryness usually results from exposure to an air conditioner or heater that removes moisture from the air.
- The symptoms of dryness in the air mimic those listed for underwatering. To identify which is the cause, assume that the dark brown spots are from underwatering first. If they don’t go away, then assume that it may be due to dryness in the house.
- Is the brown color on the outer edges of the plant, or does the plant look like it’s crumpling? A dry atmosphere causes the leaves to get brown on the edges, and the leaves will droop.
- Is the plant close to a heater or air conditioner? Does it blow on the plant? If anything touches the plant, it will dry out. Change the location to resolve this issue.
- While this plant can survive in low humidity, it does better when the humidity is above 60%.
You can resolve dryness somewhat through regular misting, but this only increases the humidity level by a fraction. It also only lasts for a few minutes. Leaving the leaves wet from misting can result in bacteria forming as well.
The best option for dryness is to invest in a humidifier, which will increase the humidity in the room. However, make sure that it runs close to but doesn’t touch the plant.
Brown spots from overwatering can occur at any place on the leaf. The spots on an overwatered fiddle leaf fig range from dark brown to black and appear murky.
- Are the soil’s top two inches mostly dry before watering? This type of plant does well when the moisture level is mostly dry before watering. Water them when the top two inches are dry or invest in a moisture meter to be sure.
- If you are watering more than weekly, you may be overwatering it. While the need for water varies with the environment, they usually. only need to be watered once a week.
- Is there a drainage hole? Drainage is important for a Fiddle Leaf Fig. A drainage hole eliminates extra water, so the plant doesn’t sit in moisture.
To remedy this issue, wait a week and let the plant dry out before watering. See if this solves the problem. If it does, the brown spots on the damaged leaf should not spread. If your pot doesn’t have a drainage hole, then repot it to one that does.
These spots are related to overwatering. If you do not correct overwatering in time, it leads to root rot. If it has evolved into a serious problem, you may need to replant the Fiddle Leaf Fig and remove the rotting roots.
Evidence of root rot in a plant appears like brown to black spots on the affected leaves. Discovering if this is the case involves inspecting roots.
Identifying Root Rot
- Has your plant been overwatered? If so, you may have root rot.
- Does the pot have a drainage hole? If not, then it needs to be replanted.
- Check the plant’s roots. Are they dark, slimy, and soft? Normal roots are firm and woody looking. If they appear slimy, dark, and soft, then root rot has occurred.
- Does the soil drain well? Soil that retains water can also cause root rot. Soil that drains well will take extra moisture and filter it down the bottom of the pot after watering. If the plant takes a long time to drain or doesn’t drain, it may need to be replanted into a well-draining mixture of soil.
If root rot is the issue, replant it into well-draining soil. Remove as much of the previous soil with a hose or your hands. Cutters can be used to remove roots that are rotting. Then, plant the Fiddle Leaf Fig in the new soil, water, and ensure that it is receiving adequate drainage.
Lack of Light
Not receiving enough light can cause brown spots to appear and can have a hand in overwatering. When placed in adequate sunlight, the soil can dry properly, and the leaves can use more water to retain their health.
While these types of plants love the sun, they can grow in shade.
Identifying Lack of Light
- Does your plant receive direct sunlight? Sun helps to maintain the health of the plant and prevents disease.
- Is your plant resting between one to two feet of a window that receives ample sun? If it is too far away, the plant may not be receiving enough sun.
- Are the brown spots the result of root rot and overwatering? Inadequate light may have contributed to this issue.
- Is new growth more than 1.5 inches of stem between locations? If the leaves come in straggly, they are searching for light.
To fix this issue, place the plant closer to bright, indirect sunlight. If you cannot provide it with natural light, purchase a growth light and put it close to the plant.
These are the most common issues that cause brown spots on a Fiddle Leaf Fig. If you notice overwatering, eliminate the other causes as well to ensure that your plant is healthy since they are interrelated.
These simple tips should work on your plant, and it should return to health in no time.