Why Does My Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Have Brown Spots?

Not long ago, I was right where you are: sitting at my laptop, googling: why does my fiddle leaf fig tree have brown spots?!

I have long been a fan of the gorgeous FLF. Who isn’t? It’s the darling of the internet right now: it’s popping up in magazine spreads and within Instagram squares.

I love FLFs, but I couldn’t keep one alive. My Mom gave me a baby FLF for Christmas, which I promptly killed within a year.

My track record wasn’t great.

My poor, sad FLFs. Mama’s sorry.

So when my little sister bought me two beautiful FLFs that were a good five feet tall each, I trembled in my shoes. I mean, I loved them, but I knew my heart would be broken if I killed them in the same way I killed my ten-inch-tall plant a few years back. I, also, happened to have just had my VBAC, and had a newborn and a toddler to care for.

Well, I almost did kill the plants, but just as their beautiful glossy leaves were getting covered in big unsightly brown spots, and just as leaves were beginning to drop, I hopped online (rocking a baby in my arms as I did so), and researched until I found the answer. Within a month, my FLF trees were growing beautiful, glossy, spot-free leaves! And they’ve thrived ever since!

Ah, so much better!

These are the three things I changed to save my FLF tree:

  • I started drenching the plants with water every 7-10 days (instead of tossing a cup or two of water on it a few times a week).
  • I moved them to a south-facing window.
  • I ran a humidifier next to them

That’s it! Will these three things save your FLF tree too? Read on to find out more!

The First Step

First of all, take a look at the brown spots, you can tell a lot about the issue from inspecting what type of brown spots your FLF has on the leaves.

Do they occur only on the outer edges? Then you are probably overwatering. Do they occur throughout the leaf, and are your leaves drooping? Then you are probably underwatering. Are there tiny rust-colored spots all over the leaf? Then you are watering inconsistently (you need to water on a schedule, about every 7-10 days).

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See those tiny, rust-colored spots? They are a sign that I was watering too inconsistently.

The three most common problems when it comes to brown spots are:

  • Not enough sun
  • Underwatering
  • Overwatering and/or root rot

Let’s take these one at a time.

Does your plant have enough sun?

Can your fiddle leaf fig tree see the sky, from where it is sitting? If it cannot, then it is not getting enough sun. FLF trees don’t like being in direct sunlight–so don’t set it out in your backyard in the full sun, or it will scorch the leaves. But they do love filtered sun, so right next to or in front of a window is perfect. South-facing windows are the BEST. I had to put both of my plants into my toddler’s room, because he had the only south-facing windows, but they loved it so much in there, that I left them.

Signs that your plant isn’t getting enough sun:

  • If it is not directly in front of a window, it probably isn’t getting enough sun.
  • If it is leaning towards the light, then it is probably thirsty for the sun.

Are you underwatering

A lot of people underwater these plants, because they are so afraid of overwatering. But underwatering can solve a lot of issues too! You should be thoroughly soaking your FLF tree every 7-10 days (or when the first two inches of soil is totally dry). Water it enough that water runs out the bottom of your planter. Just be sure to empty the try so that your FLF tree doesn’t sit in the water (which will cause root rot).

Signs that your plant is thirsty:

  • Its leaves are drooping.
  • The brown spots occur throughout the leaf.
  • The soil is dry.

Or are you overwatering?

Sometimes it is easy to water FLFs too often, thus resulting in overwatering! Remember, that you want the soil to dry out in-between watering sessions.

Signs that you are overwatering:

  • The brown spots occur only on the edges of the leaves.
  • You’ve been watering more often than every 7-10 days.
  • The potting soil is damp all the time.

A few more things to consider:

  • FLFs LOVE humidity (they are tropical after all) so be sure you aren’t drying them out too much, especially in the winter months. If your home is on the dry side, run a humidifier next to your plant.
  • FLFs don’t need big pots. You only want 2-3 inches of soil on either side of the plant’s root ball. Don’t put them in a planter bigger than that.
  • FLFs like to be left alone. Set them in one spot, and leave them there. They don’t like to be moved very often.

What do I do now?

Hopefully by now, you have a suspicion of what your FLF needs. Does it need to be moved to a different place in your house? Need more water or less?

Take action!

Here are a few things you may need to keep your FLF tree happy!

What other questions do you have about Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees?

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