Brown spots on fiddle leaf fig (FLF) of the Moraceae family can pop up for several reasons, including improper watering, root rot, bacterial infection, or dryness.
Knowing the exact cause of spots is super important as the solution is decided after this.
We discuss all the causes and fixes here. So, continue reading.
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- Why Are There Brown Spots on Your Fiddle Leaf Fig?
- How Do You Fix Brown Spots on a Fiddle Leaf Fig?
Why Are There Brown Spots on Your Fiddle Leaf Fig?
The common reasons behind the brown spots on fiddle leaf fig are applying inadequate water, low humidity levels, and disease attacks. In addition, insect infestation, lack of nutrients, poor lighting conditions, and any physical damage can also lead to the emergence of brown spots.
– Watering Stress
One of the biggest reasons brown spots surface on the fiddle leaf fig is when you don’t apply enough water. When there is water stress, leaves begin to wrinkle up first. After some time, brownish spots emerge at the leaves’ outer edges. If the situation persists, the spots can also crop up on the middle part.
There are only two ways to check if the spots on the leaves are because of water stress. The first is to remember how many times you have watered the plant and how much. If you only added one cup, and that too after big gaps, then chances are the spots are due to watering stress.
The second way is to check the present soil condition. The plant is facing water stress if the top two inches are bone dry. You can also get help from a moisture meter to check the moisture level around the roots.
Just like underwatering, overwatering fiddle leaf fig plants are bad. Plants need just an optimal water level that fulfills all of their needs. Excessively applying it can lead to many complications, one of which is the emergence of brownish spots.
The spots on overwatered Fiddle Leaf can appear on any part and even on the stem. Similarly, brown patches can also pop up on the roots. These will be dark in color and sometimes turn into black spots.
As mentioned before, water stress is really bad for FLF plants. Similarly, brown to yellowish spots can also arise due to dryness. This condition occurs when the air is dry and has extremely low humidity. As FLF is a tropical plant, it naturally likes the moisture in the environment (more than 60 percent humidity to appear fresh).
To know if the spots are because of dryness, check the humidity of the surroundings using any hygrometer. Furthermore, dryness can also occur if you have placed the plant near a heater or air conditioner.
Plant response to dryness is very similar to being underwatered. The spots start on the leaves, tips, and edges and then move inward. This weakens them, and the brown to yellow leaves eventually fall off when you touch them.
– It Could Be Root Rot
Root rot (a fungal disease) occurs when you overwater plants for a long period. In this, big dark brown spots emerge on the leaves, and plants start to weaken. The reason is that this disease affects roots’ ability to absorb and take up nutrients. If you don’t stop watering or do something to treat it, fiddle leaf figs can die too.
To diagnose root rot, the first thing to do is to check the matured leaves. An interesting thing about this disease is that it affects the old leaves first; the spots are usually at the base. They are initially small but soon spread to a larger area. After a few days, brown leaves drop off.
In addition, you can check the roots, as rotting around certain root parts is easily visible. Furthermore, a fungal root feels soft and appears dark. The soil also indicates root rot. When you water the plant in this condition, the soil takes extra time to absorb it. So, if you observe water still floating on the soil after some time of watering, you are over-watering FLF, which has invited fungal diseases.
– Bacterial Infections
The FLF can also get infected by bacterial diseases, which are much more severe than fungal ones. The reason is plants affected by bacteria are harder to treat and die in most cases. So, if you don’t want to start from the beginning again, you should know how to diagnose bacterial diseases.
Spots caused by bacterial diseases are lighter in color but can turn tan if the condition gets severe. These surface predominantly on any section of leaves and can cause them to fall off. Just like root rot, older leaves are more prone to getting more damage than new ones.
– Insect Attack
Insects don’t usually attack fiddle leaf fig plants, so most growers are not worried about them. The damage caused by these insects is not severe either. Generally, spider mites, thrips, and aphids attack FLF leaves.
When insects suck sap, brown dots pop up. After some time, these dots turn into small holes, which indicates that your FLF plant is affected by pests. Predators usually target newly developed leaves as they are the juiciest. So, check them first!
Fiddle leaf fig trees can also have light brown to red spots on them if they face sunburn. It usually happens when you expose them to excessive sunlight or near a radiating light source (like bulbs).
To identify whether the reason for spots is sunburn, you will have to observe the plant keenly. Sun-scorching spots occur on the leaf side that is facing the sun. No spots or patches can surface on the underside of leaves, as light doesn’t directly affect it. So, if the fiddle leaf fig leaves have spots on the underside, the leaf scorch is not the reason.
– Too Little Light
Getting sufficient sunlight is critical for FLF plants. If it is low, plants cannot reach their growth potential addition to facing different fiddle leaf fig problems (one such problem is spots that can pop up on any leaf part).
The problem can worsen as a lack of light can lead to overwatering and, eventually, fungal diseases. It is because sunlight also plays its part in evaporating water. If there is no light and you water the plant, an “overwatering situation” can arise.
– Physical Damages
Another reason you see fiddle leaf fig Brown spots is the physical bruises. This usually happens during the relocation of pots. Furthermore, if you are re-potting FLF, it can also get bruises if you are not careful.
Bruises or physical damage can turn into brown patches over time. Such spots look similar to tears or cracks. The good thing about them is that they do not require any treatment. FLF plants can recover them independently if the physical damage is not too bad.
– Fertilizing Improperly
It would help if you always fertilized fiddle leaf fig plants properly. They need just one fertilization for the whole season. However, you can also apply fertilizers a second time if you think the growth is not optimal. Applying nutrients more than two times can cause spots on both edges and the middle of leaves. They first appear on edge and then move inward.
In addition to over-applying, not giving any fertilizer can also lead to brown patches. It is because malnourished FLF plants can’t keep their leaves all green. Usually, lighter spots pop up on under-fertilized plant old leaves and initially appear near the veins.
Edema is a condition in which tiny brown dots crop up on newly developed plant leaves. It is not a dangerous condition and does not cause much damage either. It happens when you need to follow the watering schedule properly.
In Edema, cells of new leaves soak up more water and then burst, which leaves a tiny brown spot. This condition has little damage intensity and does not even occur on mature leaves. Still, some plant care tips (like watering properly) can resolve this problem quickly.
How Do You Fix Brown Spots on a Fiddle Leaf Fig?
To fix brown spots on fiddle leaf fig, the first thing to do is to apply sufficient water. You should also change the pots’ locations if they face light stress. Then, apply appropriate sprays and remove the infected parts to get rid of insect and disease attacks.
– Improve Drainage
If the pot’s drainage is poor, then brown spots on fiddle leaf fig should be no surprise. The reason is that poor drainage leads to problems like overwatering, fungus attacks, bacterial diseases, etc. So, it would help if you gave “water passage” supreme importance when seeing patches on the leaves.
First, check if there is any clogging in the pothole. If there is, unclog it so that the excess water can pass. In addition, make sure the soil is well-drained. You can improve it by adding organic fertilizers and dead leaves. Furthermore, you can also turn over the top soil using a shovel to improve soil drainage.
– Water Sensibly
You already know that both overwatering and water stress can cause brown spots. Therefore, you must add water in controlled and sufficient amounts. It is advised to water fiddle leaf figs once a week. You should also fix a day for watering and then re-water the FLF plant again on the same day next week to avoid edema.
How much water you should add depends on the soil condition. It is advised to pour sufficient water to moisten the entire root ball. Generally, moistening the top two inches of soil is enough as water can leach down to the roots.
It would help if you also had a moisture meter in your gardening cabinet to avoid undesirable situations. This instrument will help you know whether the roots have dried out. If you use it and find out the soil around the roots is still wet, don’t apply the water, even if a week has passed since the last watering.
– Buying a Humidifier
If the humidity level is low in your area, then getting a humidifier will be good for you and your plants. Some people start misting FLF plants when there is dryness, but this technique is only useful for a few minutes.
Furthermore, applying moisture at regular intervals can invite fungal and bacterial diseases too. So, purchasing a humidifier will improve the humidity levels and can control the damage caused by dryness.
– Make Sure Plant Gets Proper Sunlight
Getting appropriate sunlight in a day is critical for plants to stay healthy. Excess and lack of it can lead to brown areas, predominantly on leaves. If the problem stays longer, plants will show stunted growth too.
So, make sure fiddle leaf fig pots are placed at a proper location. If you are growing them indoors, put the pots in an area where the light falls sufficiently on them through windows. If you are growing outdoors, ensure the neighboring plants don’t cast shade on them.
– Apply Pesticide
If the insect infestation is severe and you see brown dots on every leaf, go for pesticide or neem oil spray. The application instructions are printed on the bottle, which should be followed carefully to eliminate all the annoying insects.
– Root Surgery
If you detect fungal or bacterial diseases early, you can perform root surgery to treat brown spots on fig leaves. In this surgery, you carefully expose the roots briefly and cut off any infected part with scissors.
You should also remove the dirt next to the infected roots and add a new layer of well-drained soil. It is also better if you trim brown spots on fiddle leaf fig. After performing surgery, pat the plant back with care and follow the proper watering schedule to avoid the re-emergence of diseases.
If the fungal or bacterial disease is getting severe, repotting the plant is the only option. It would help if you first got a new pot of the proper size. The reason is that getting a bigger pot encourages the growers to add more water, which can lead to diseases.
After getting a suitable pot, add well-drained soil. Then, take an infected plant, remove the affected parts, and transplant it into a new pot. Furthermore, dispose of dropping leaves quickly to prevent the disease from spreading.
You now know why there are brown spots on fiddle leaf fig plants and how you can easily solve this problem.
Let’s sum up the key takeaways of the complete guide:
- It would help if you watered sensibly as both over and under-watering can cause brown spots.
- Make sure your plant also gets proper sunlight and fertilization.
- If the problem is root rot or bacterial infection, pluck out infected leaves, perform the root surgery, and re-pot fiddle leaf fig.
So, say goodbye to all the brown spots and let the fiddle leaf figs grow to their full potential!