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Why Does My Fiddle Leaf Fig Have Brown Leaves? (3 Possible Causes)

Why Does My Fiddle Leaf Fig Have Brown Leaves? (3 Possible Causes)
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The fiddle leaf fig is a gorgeous plant that is known for its foliage and looks incredibly pretty. The plant is an excellent addition to any garden and does really well in indoor environments as well.

But, you need to make sure that you properly care for the plant. The oversized leaves of the fiddle leaf fig make it look really good, but if the plant’s requirements are not met, it’s going to suffer.

You need to understand that the fiddle leaf fig is going to exhibit some pretty obvious signs that indicate a problem, and it’s imperative for you to ensure that you take action right away, otherwise the health of the plant is only going to worsen with time.

Known as the ficus lyrata, the fiddle leaf fig has become a popular choice for people who want to add a splash of green color to their house. The plant is native to western parts of Africa, and is found in regions ranging from Cameroon all the way to Sierra Leone.

It is found in tropical rainforests, and this might give you a better idea about the conditions that the plant prefers. The ornamental aesthetic appeal of the plant makes it a unique addition to any setting, and it will really complement the outlook of the place.

The height of the plant is going to vary depending on where it is grown and the environmental elements that are available to the plant.

But, one of the problems that you are likely to encounter with the plant is brown spots on the leaves.

Brown spots on your ficus lyrata are indicative of a much more serious problem, and the bigger problem is that if you don’t know exactly what’s causing the problem, it’s going to be much more difficult for you to treat it the right way.

So, if you notice brown spots appearing on your fiddle leaf fig, your first course of action should be to try and diagnose the cause of the problem. Without understanding exactly what’s wrong with your fiddle leaf fig, you will find it virtually impossible to fix the problem.

However, before you start trying to figure out a way to treat these brown spots, you need to take a comprehensive look at understanding exactly what the plant needs to thrive.

You might want to go through a few guides to better understand exactly what the fiddle leaf fig needs and then determine what you are doing wrong.

What Causes These Brown Spots?

Basically, there are four common reasons why brown spots appear on the leaves of the fiddle leaf fig. To figure out the exact reason, you have to first look closely to see what exactly is causing these spots.

You need to examine the plant to determine the following issues:

  • Do the brown spots begin at the edge of the leaves or in the center?
  • Are they light brown or dark brown?
  • Do you see several spots on a particular leaf, or are the spots spaced out?
  • Do these brown spots eventually grow to the point where the leaves fall off?
  • Do these brown spots primarily affect the older leaves that are found at the bottom of the plant, or are they affecting the newer leaves at the top?

Once you have taken a good look and understand exactly what’s causing the problem, it’s time to get started on determining the cause and fixing the problem.

Here are some of the major issues that can cause root rot, and how to fix them.

1 – Brown Spots Caused by Root Rot

One of the major reasons why brown spots tend to appear on the leaves is due to root rot. A fungal infection in the roots can eventually cause the roots to start “rotting” and this could turn out to be a serious problem in the long run.

This usually happens when the plant ends up sitting in excessive moisture for far too long.

The biggest cause of root rot is usually overwatering and poor drainage. If you have potted the fiddle leaf fig, you need to make sure that there are appropriate sized drainage holes at the bottom and the plant does not receive lots of water.

If the soil is not properly draining, you will notice brown spots appearing on the leaves as well.

The only way to figure out whether the problem is caused by root rot or not is to take the plant out of its container and then inspect the roots on your own. If you notice a mushy texture on the roots and they are brown, you should know that it’s a clear sign that your plant is succumbing to root rot.

You need to take care not to overwater the plant at all costs. Ideally, the best thing to do before you add water to the plant is to first poke your finger in the soil and check whether the soil is dry or not.

Never water the fiddle leaf fig when the soil is already moist, as you run the risk of causing root rot.

When the soil is dry, only then should you water the plant. Also, you might want to consider using a hygrometer as well. A moisture meter can make it easy for you to reliably determine the level of moisture in the soil.

Another thing you need to understand is that when the plant succumbs to root rot, the brown leaves will appear on the older leaves first. They will slowly begin to spread over time, but the older leaves will turn brown first.

That is because the plant tends to save the newer growth by exposing it to important sunlight and thus preventing excessive buildup of moisture.

Another symptom that your plant has fallen prey to root rot is when the leaves begin to drop. The brown spots usually begin as small, black dots, and will continue to spread from one leaf to another, until they have taken over an entire portion of the plant, and will start to fall.

We have already talked about treating this problem. But, what about the roots that have already gotten moist and mushy? The best way to deal with this problem is to repot the plant.

You need to take the plant out of its container and then cut all of the mushy roots completely. Then, repot it in properly draining soil and make sure that there are sizeable holes at the bottom of the drainage container.

You will have to closely observe the plant and make sure that it gets access to appropriate amounts of sunlight and adequate amounts of water once it has been replanted.

The plant will take a few weeks to settle and take to its new environment, and once it does, you will notice new growth again.

2 – Brown Spots Appearing Due to a Bacterial Infection

Another reason why brown spots might begin to appear on your plant is due to a bacterial infection.

Bacterial infections are usually quite stubborn and difficult to fight, and you will have to be very careful when dealing with one, because there is a significant risk that it’s going to eat up the entire plant.

Unfortunately, bacterial infections are quite common if you purchased the plant from a larger store. A key differentiator of spots that appear due to bacterial infections is that they are considerably more brown as compared to other spots, which might have a hint of black in there too.

If your plant succumbs to root rot, it won’t take long before it falls prey to a bacterial infection as well. You need to make sure that you take action as quickly as possible, otherwise the plant is going to sustain a great deal of damage over time.

Also, you should know that the bacterial infection is going to attack different parts of the plant.

They will also focus on older and larger leaves, as well as the new growth. If you notice any new leaves that have stunted growth or brown spots appearing on it, you should immediately treat it as a bacterial issue, and look for suitable alternatives to fix the problem.

Also, you should know that bacteria can cause many brown spots to appear on one leaf, so don’t just expect one large spot per leaf.

These bacterial spots will probably have irregular margins and they can occur almost anywhere on the leaves. You won’t be able to figure out any set pattern for the appearance.

Another clear sign that your plant has succumbed to a bacterial infection is when you notice signs of yellowing on the leaves, apart from the brown spots that are present. If these brown spots are appearing due to root rot, the leaves are generally going to remain dark green, but the brown spots will pop up.

On the other hand, if it’s a bacterial infection, the leaves are also going to develop a yellowish tinge, which indicates a slow death if you are not careful and do not treat the problem quickly.

Treating the bacterial infection is not going to be easy. It’s actually one of the hardest things to do, and even experienced gardeners struggle at it. The important thing is to identify the signs of the bacterial infection before it spreads throughout the plant.

The treatment is also relatively similar to treating root rot: you need to make sure that you inspect the roots of the plant and make sure that they aren’t wet. Then, you will have to cut the mushy roots and make sure you repot your plant in fresh and sterile soil, especially in a container that has good drainage.

You will also want to make sure that the plant gets access to plenty of sunlight along the way. During its recovery phase, you will want to make sure that you reduce the watering as much as possible.

It’s always better to provide the plant with less water during the recovery phase as compared to pouring large amounts of it on the plant.

Another important thing that you can do to quicken the recovery process is to keep the plant outdoors in the shade. Give it access to partial shade, and you will notice an upturn in its fortunes.

You have to make sure that the plant gets plenty of fresh air and sunlight to promote healthy growth. If the conditions are warm, the chances of improvement will increase significantly.

But, you should know that if your plant has more than 50% of its leaves that have succumbed to the bacterial infection and they continue to fall off, it might be a wise idea to just start over.

Bacterial infections spread really quickly, and you have to make sure that you deal with the problem otherwise it’s going to spread to all parts of the plant.

If it spreads too much, you should consider discarding the plant and starting over.

3 – Brown Spots Due to Dryness

Another major reason why these brown spots might appear is because of dryness. The plant may get dry due to a variety of reasons, and it’s important for you to make sure that you water it adequately to get rid of the problem. Dryness is relatively easy to treat at the end of the day, you don’t have to worry about much except for watering the plant.

Also, you might want to ensure that the conditions are slightly more humid around the plant. It’s recommended that you water the plant on a regular basis for a few days to see if that fixes the issue.

These are just a few things that you should know about taking care of the plant and getting rid of the brown spots that appear on the leaves. As long as you take quick action and fix this problem, it won’t be a big issue.

But, if you let it persist, it could eventually kill your plants.