Fiddle leaf fig brown spots on leaves

The fiddle leaf fig, also known as Ficus lyrata is a beautifully broad and dark green-leafed plant. This flowering plant is a part of the Mulberry and Fig family called the Moraceae. The leaves of this plant are fairly large in size and with its long-lasting nature; this plant variety can thrive in warm and humid climates and hence is perfect when placed in closed and indoor environments.

The Fiddle leaf Fig has a long growing period, and during this stage and after there could be a few fixable issues that might catch you by surprise. These problems can be anything from discoloration of the leaves to the appearance of brown spots.


When you begin to notice brown spots on the leaves of your Fiddle leaf Fig plant, be prepared to provide tremendous patience and constant care to bring your fiddle leaf fig plant back to normalcy.

This is so because there are many various reasons for why browning occurs with each reason being the opposite of the other making it very difficult to pinpoint at the exact problem almost immediately.

Well, of course, the first step is to identify the problem by keeping a close watch on the Fiddle leaf Fig plant to monitor whether the brown spots are increasing or expanding in size over a certain period in time. The positive to look for here is that if in case the brown spots are not spreading, then the plant has a chance to recover.

fiddle leaf fig brown spots on leaves

Basically, getting to the root cause is the very first step towards healing your plant naturally.

What causes brown spots on the Fiddle leaf fig plant

To decipher the exact cause of the brown spots on your Fiddle leaf Fig plant, you need to observe it closely keeping a keen eye on the various changes that show over time. The different causes for this discoloration can each produce a variety of visible symptoms-

#1- Brown spots caused due to root rot

This is one of the most common causes of the brown spots on the leaves of the Fiddle leaf Fig plant. In this case, the fungal infection starts from the roots and works its way up to the leaves. Two main causes for the roots rotting is mainly due to overwatering of the plant and poor drainage provided to the plant. 

It must be noted that the roots of the Fiddle leaf Fig need to dry out entirely between watering. Other causes include poor sunlight and an oversized container as this could also aggravate the problem. Once the root rot sets in, the leaves of the plant begin to turn brown and eventually fall off.

To detect the problem you will have to remove the plant from the pot and inspect the roots. If the roots are looking dark and squishy, it is a sign that root rot has set in. Two things can happen to the leaves which will help you to understand that root rot is the cause of the brown spots on your Fiddle leaf Fig.

First, you will notice the browning of the older leaves which would be towards the bottom of the plant and the second symptom would be the dropping of the leaves. Root rot symptoms start with small freckle-like spots on the leaves which gradually become larger brown spots and eventually the leaves fall off.

#2- Brown spots caused by a bacterial infection

The symptoms of bacterially infected leaves are different from the brown spots caused by root rot. In this case, the entire plant will get affected which includes the newer leaves and the stem as well. In fact, bacteria are known to attack the younger leaves first.

The brown spots on a bacteria-infected fiddle leaf fig plant are lighter in color than the ones found in the case of browning of the leaves from root rot. In the case of a bacterial infection, many small brown spots will be found on the leaves and this infection will eventually cause your leaf to fall off.

Bacterial infections are commonly found in plants bought from big super markets and wholesale stores.

#3- Brown spots caused by dryness

If your Fiddle leaf Fig’s leaves start browning from the sides in a light tan or brown color and spread to the center gradually causing the leaves of the plant to start curling, it is most definitely the lack of moisture that is the cause.

In this case, the whole plant starts looking wilted and this occurs in all probability when the soil has shrunk away from the pot leaving gaps on the sides of the container where the entire water seeps in while watering leaving the roots under-watered or dry.

The other reason for this dry condition of the leaves could be due to low humidity. The Fiddle leaf Fig thrives in humid conditions and when placed in an artificially heated or air-conditioned environment it tends to dry out which causes the brown spots on the leaves.

#4- Brown spots caused by insects

It is common for insects to cause brown spots on the leaves of the Fiddle leaf Fig plant. But in case this occurs the symptoms show up with first the appearance of the brown spots on the leaves followed by the brown spots evolving into small holes.

It is observed that the insects normally attack the baby or the newer leaves as they are fresher or you can say, tastier. These insects can be detected by using a magnifying glass or insect webs. Thankfully, this kind of problem is easily detectable and can be solved for.

#5- Brown spots caused due to sunburn

Although the Fiddle leaf Fig plant likes full sunlight, it needs to be acclimatized to the sun gradually by exposing it to direct sunlight slowly and increasing the duration of its exposure as the days go by. Sunburn of the leaves is spotted by the appearance of small brown spots with sometimes yellow rings around them that are brittle in nature.

The brown spots will be noticed on the entire leaf surface. The easiest way to decipher this cause is to observe as to which part of the plant is being affected. Whilst the top leaves will result in getting the brown spots, the leaves at the bottom of the plant will not be damaged by excessive sun as they are shielded by the top foliage. Its basic logic!

#6- Brown spots caused by under watering

Underwatering your Fiddle leaf Fig plant can cause dryness which in turn reflects in brown spots appearing on the leaves. This browning generally starts at the outer edges of the leaves and gradually spreads to the entire surface of the leaf.

The most obvious symptom that can be noticed is the drooping of the plant which then translates into the brown spots on the leaves.

Get rid of brown spots appears on Fiddle leaf Fig plant leaves

Once you have understood the causes of the brown spots on the leaves of your fiddle fig leaf, let us look at the remedies which will bring your plants back to their healthy selves:

#1: root rot

In the case of the root rot, you will have to remove the plant from the container followed by gently separating the dead roots and the leaves with brown spots from the plant and then repot the plant ensuring that the soil is well-drained, the pot has adequate drainage holes and that the roots of the plant dry out between the watering periods.

Be very cautious about not overwatering your fiddle leaf fig to avoid any reoccurrence.

#2- Bacterial infections

Bacterial infections are a bit more difficult to treat. You will have to start by ensuring that your infected fiddle leaf fig’s roots dry out between the waterings and that the plant is getting adequate sun shine. If the symptoms are mild, this method should rectify the issue.

On the other hand, there are a variety of products available in the markets that you can purchase right off the shelves that can be sprayed on the leaves to get rid of bacterial infections. If facing only mild symptoms, you could get rid of the problem simply by removing the infected leaves and repotting the plant with good quality well-drained soil.

If you see that more than 50% of the plant looks infected it is best to discard the plant and start afresh. Some gardeners want to remove the infected leaves altogether so that the infection does not spread.

#3- Dryness

In the case of the brown spots on your Fiddle Fig’s plants leaves are caused by dryness, consider changing the location of the plant, and placing it in an area where the temperature, sunlight, and humidity are conducive for the plant’s well-being.

It would also be advisable to repot your plant in the case of soil shrinkage so that the roots get an adequate amount of water. Misting the plant and the use of a humidifier will also help in this case.

#4- insect infestation

Damage caused by insect infestation is easy to treat. You can use Neem oil or a commercial spray designed especially to repel or kill any such insect that would cause brown spots on the leaves of your Fiddle leaf Fig plant.

While spraying the liquid, you must ensure that the entire surface area and the underside of the leaves are covered up to the point where the leaf meets the stem of the plant. You will have to give the plant about 2 weeks to show the results.

If you are not satisfied you can repeat the procedure once more. If this does not work, as the last resort you can consider removing the infected leaves and wait for new ones to grow. Do not keep adding repellent to your plant.

#5- Sun burn

When you notice that sun burn is causing the appearance of brown spots on your Fiddle leaf Fig’s leaves, you can immediately change the location of the container to a spot where there is a lesser amount of direct sunlight.  It is advisable to prune out the leaves with brown spots.

#6- Under watering

Lastly, when the cause of the brown spots appearing on the leaves of your Fiddle leaf Figs plant is under watering, you need to revisit the amount of water being provided to your plant and the time gaps in between the said watering.

Make sure that each time you water your plant; the entire root ball is soaked with water. Ensure that you never wait longer than when the top 2 inches of the soil is dry.

Fiddle leaf fig yellow leaves

The fiddle leaf fig plant with yellow leaves is an obvious sign of your plant’s ill-health and can indicate that your plant is under stress. Six major reasons can cause such a condition in the Fiddle leaf Fig plant, and they are-

#1- The lack of adequate sun light

The Fiddle leaf Fig plant loves plenty of light, and therefore if the leaves of your plant are turning yellow check the location of the container to ensure it is getting enough sunlight. This environmental factor that may be instrumental in turning the leaves of your plant yellow can be combated by placing the container near a window which is well lit.

If this does not suffice try to use grow lights for plants. This will most definitely restore the healthy green color in the leaves.

#2- Poor Nutrition

Not fertilizing your fiddle leaf fig regularly and adequately could result in the leaves of the plant turning yellow. Make sure that the fertilizer that you are using has sufficient nitrogen content as it is known to activate the cell growth and the division of the plants.

Nitrogen helps the chloroplasts to provide nutrients and energy to your Fiddle leaf Fig thereby keeping it green and lush. Hence it is important to remember that early fertilization is imperative to keep your plant growing and healthy. After the plant has fully matured, you can feed it every other week.

#3- Insect Infestation

Like the browning of leaves, insects can also turn your Fiddle leaf Figs yellow! Although rare in the case of healthy Fiddle leaf Figs, the infestation of scales, spider mites and mealybugs could be the cause of you’re the leaves turning yellow.

These pests attach themselves to the plant and suck out the sap causing the leaves to turn yellow and then eventually fall off. This can be easily cured by using pesticides or even an application of neem oil can get rid of those measly pests!

#4- Not getting the right amount of water

In the Fiddle leaf Figs plant, both under-watering and over-watering can cause the plant’s leaves to turn yellow. In the case of over-watering, root rot is liable to set in which translates itself into the yellowing of the leaves, and with under-watering, it is the dryness that causes the same condition.

Hence, it is absolutely essential to monitor the plant and the soil periodically to ensure that you are not going wrong with your watering regime.

This plant’s roots grow closer to the surface of the soil so mulching around the base of the pot will be a good idea and will help retain the water in the soil and keep it longer with the roots.

#5- The process of transplanting

It is worth making a note of this method called transplanting as it causes stress to your Fiddle leaf Fig plants and the shock can be seen when the leaves of the plant turn yellow.

First, it is the movement from either one pot to another or from indoors to outdoors, and next, it is the fluctuation of the temperatures that could cause the damage.

In such a case it is best to monitor the temperatures as closely as possible to prevent the yellowing of the leaves and then eventually losing them. You can make the move, but remember to do it gradually and not all at once.

#6- The soil

In the case of container-grown plants, the soil tends to get acidic in nature over long periods in time. Too much of acidity in the soil makes it difficult for the Fiddle leaf Fig plant to absorb the nutrients from the soil correctly which then leads to the yellowing of the leaves.

Regularly checking the soil with a soil meter for its acidic levels is a good idea especially when coupled with regular fertilizing and usage of regular alkaline water which works wonders for your plant keeping it green and kicking!

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Fiddle leaf figs with yellow leaves do create a panic amongst the gardeners but the good news is that this condition can be easily handled and although once the leaves turn yellow it is almost impossible to get their green color back, nevertheless, this sturdy and long lasting plant can continue to grow more and more leaves which naturally then can make up for any loss, whether brown or yellow!