Trouble Alert 6 Reasons Fiddle Leaf Figs Have Brown Spots

Trouble Alert: 6 Reasons Fiddle Leaf Figs Have Brown Spots

Brown spots on fiddle leaf figs can be an extremely concerning sight for many plant owners. Not only are these spots unsightly, but they’re also a sign of an underlying issue that’s putting your beloved plant in distress.

In this article, we’ll dive into the possible reasons why your fiddle leaf figs’ big, lush leaves are getting brown spots. We’ll also provide some prevention and treatment tips to get your plant healthy again.

Root Rot

Root rot happens when the fiddle leaf fig’s roots are exposed to excessive moisture. When the soil is constantly moist, the roots become waterlogged and suffocated, causing them to deteriorate and rot.

When the plant starts experiencing root rot, it becomes difficult to absorb water and nutrients, leading to stress and brown spots in the leaves.

Additionally, excessive moisture provides fungi with a favorable environment to grow in. These fungi can produce toxins that can harm the fiddle leaf fig and turn its leaves brown.

If you think the cause is root rot, carefully remove the plant from the pot and check the condition of the roots. If you see dark, slimy, and mushy roots, then you’re right that the cause is root rot.

Prevention and Treatment Tips for Brown Spots Caused by Root Rot

To prevent root rot, use well-draining soil so moisture won’t sit on the soil for a long time.

Additionally, do not overwater the plant. Wait until the top 1 to 2 inches of the soil’s surface is dry before watering it again.

If you suspect the roots are already rotting, wash the roots and trim the affected areas. It’s also essential that you change the soil in the pot.

We advise using well-draining soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH. It’s also better if the soil has components that make it disease-resistant like active charcoal.

Dry Environment

Fiddle leaf figs don’t like sitting in excessive moisture, but that doesn’t mean their environment should be dry.

When the plant doesn’t get enough water, its ability to take essential nutrients is hindered. This can result in nutrient imbalance, leading to brown spots in the leaves.

Additionally, fiddle leaf figs are tropical plants, so they get stressed when there’s not enough humidity in their environment. As a stress response, the plant’s leaves may develop brown spots.

Prevention and Treatment Tips for Brown Spots Caused by Dry Environment

If your home’s humidity level is low, consider using a humidifier to increase the humidity level. A 40% to 60% humidity range is ideal for fiddle leaf figs.

If you don’t have a humidifier, you can place a bowl of water near the plant. As the water evaporates, the humidity level near the plant increases.

Misting the plant every now and then can also help increase the humidity around the plant. Just be careful not to overdo it, as it can create a favorable environment for bacteria to grow.

Ensuring that the plant is receiving enough water is also essential. Don’t let the soil completely dry before watering to avoid causing stress and nutrient imbalance on the plant.

Too Much Direct Sunlight

The brown spots on the leaves of a fiddle leaf fig may be a sign of sunburn caused by exposure to direct sunlight.

Fiddle leaf figs are sensitive to direct sunlight, so exposing them for extended periods can scorch the leaves and damage the leaf tissues. The damage often appears as brown spots on the leaf surface.

Prevention and Treatment Tips for Brown Spots Caused by Direct Sunlight

Avoid exposing fiddle leaf figs to direct sunlight longer than 6 hours, especially during summer. Afternoon sunlight may also be too hot for the plants.

Place them near a south-facing window to provide them with their required sunlight. Don’t forget to put sheer curtains on the window to filter the light coming in.

If you can’t move the plant, provide shade during the hottest time of the day to avoid direct sunlight.

There’s not much you can do to save the already damaged leaves, so just trim them away and protect the healthy leaves.

Lack of Light

While fiddle leaf figs are sensitive to direct sunlight, they still need light. It’s ideal for them to receive bright, indirect light.

When the plant doesn’t receive enough light, it becomes stressed. Leaves may turn yellow or brown as a response to the stress it’s experiencing.

Additionally, photosynthesis becomes challenging since the plant isn’t receiving much light. As such, the plant is unable to produce enough energy to sustain itself, causing some leaves to die and turn brown.

Prevention and Treatment Tips for Brown Spots Caused by Lack of Light

Move the fiddle leaf fig to a brighter location or provide artificial lighting if you suspect that lack of light causes the brown spots. A location near a window that receives plenty of light is ideal for them.

Trimming the affected leaves can also be helpful for the plant. This will help the fiddle leaf fig to redirect its energy to healthy leaves.

It’s also advised that you monitor your watering schedules. Plants placed in low-light areas are more susceptible to overwatering, as the plant grows slower.

Pest, Fungal, or Bacterial Infection

If the brown spots start on the edges of the leaves and almost all the leaves are affected, then it’s likely that the plant is suffering from bacterial infection.

Bacterial infection typically starts by damaging the roots and impairing their ability to absorb oxygen, water, and nutrients. This will inevitably harm the leaves, leading to brown spots.

Additionally, pests like spider mites, fungus gnats, and mealybugs can cause harm to fiddle leaf figs and turn their leaves brown.

Spider mites and mealybugs infest the plant by piercing and sucking on the plant’s sap, while the larvae of fungus gnats attack the plant’s roots. All three can cause significant damage to the plant, resulting in dying and browning leaves.

If you find white or gray coatings in the plant’s leaves, that’s most likely mealybugs. On the other hand, if you find white and yellow spots that look like dust on the plant, those are probably spider mites.

Fungus gnats are different, though. They’re like mosquitos that fly around the plant, so they’re easy to spot.

Prevention and Treatment Tips for Brown Spots Caused by Pests or Bacterial Infection

Fiddle leaf figs are susceptible to various diseases, including bacterial infection. That’s why it’s crucial that you check on them frequently.

Regular inspection also helps detect infection as early as possible. Once the infection becomes severe, it may become almost impossible to treat the plant.

If the plant is suffering from pest and bacterial infection, the first thing you want to do is to isolate it from other plants. This will prevent the pests and bacteria from moving to a different plant.

For minor infections, it’s best to change the soil. Trim away the affected roots and repot the plant to a new, sterile soil to get rid of the bacteria.

You can also start using fungicide or bactericide that’s available on the market to completely get rid of the bacteria.

If more than half of the plant is already severely affected, there may not be much that you can do. In this scenario, the best thing to do is to get rid of the plant and raise a new one.

Excessive or Insufficient Fertilizer

Excessive fertilizer can burn the fiddle leaf figs’ roots due to the high concentration of nutrients and salt in the soil. 

Too much salt in the soil can draw water out of the roots, causing them to dehydrate. This will also damage the root cells and impair the plant’s ability to uptake water and oxygen, leading to brown spots in the leaves.

Similarly, brown spots will start appearing when there’s a nutrient imbalance in the soil that’s caused by excessive fertilizer. When there’s a high concentration of nutrients in the soil, they can become toxic to the plant and cause stress.

That said, a lack of fertilizer will also harm the plant. If there aren’t enough nutrients for the plant, it will be unable to perform the physiological processes necessary for its growth.

Prevention and Treatment Tips for Brown Spots Caused by Improper Application of Fertilizer

If you suspect the plant is suffering from excessive fertilization, flush the soil with water to remove the excess salts. Don’t block the pot’s drainage holes to let the water drain away.

After this, cut down on fertilization. When the plant finally recovers, you can gradually reintroduce fertilizers to avoid shocking it.

If the cause is insufficient fertilizer, just simply add more and wait for the plant to recover.

To prevent all of these from happening again, make sure that you follow the instructions for the fertilizer you’re using. 

It’s also best to use a fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 3:1:2, as fiddle leaf figs need a lot of nitrogen, and too much phosphorus can be harmful.