Why Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant Has Brown Spots: Causes & Treatments

Fiddle leaf fig plants (Ficus lyrata) have become one of the most popular houseplants in recent years, thanks to their big gorgeous leaves which add a nice touch of cozy nature to any indoor space. However, as with any plant, fiddle leaf figs can experience various issues affecting their health and appearance. One of the most common issues is brown spots on the leaves, which can concern plant owners. It’s not just ugly to see, but it may be a symptom of a bigger issue. So in this blog post, we’ll discuss why fiddle leaf fig plants may have brown spots and what you can do to prevent and treat them. Also, let’s face it: fiddle leaf fig plants can also be moody and sensitive. So it’s important that you know how to care for a fiddle leaf fig plant.

Intro to Fiddle Leaf Fig Plants – A Quick Overview

Before we dive into the causes and prevention of brown spots on fiddle leaf fig leaves, let’s first provide an overview of this popular houseplant. Fiddle leaf fig plants are native to the tropical rainforests of West Africa and can grow up to 50 feet tall in their natural habitat. Whoa, that’s a 5-story building! As a houseplant, however, they typically grow to around 6 feet tall, making them a great choice for indoor spaces with high ceilings.

Fiddle leaf fig plants have large, violin-shaped leaves that can reach up to 18 inches in length. The leaves are thick and leathery, with a glossy dark green color that adds an elegant artisan touch to any room. I actually own two and the moment I brought them to each room, the vibe completely transformed. I wish I had gotten them sooner!

As a tropical plant, fiddle leaf figs require a warm and humid environment to thrive. They also need bright, indirect light and well-draining soil to prevent issues like root rot. But some love being right in front of the window, so be sure to monitor how your plant reacts to different lighting (direct or indirect). And remember to rotate the plant so that it doesn’t bend too much in the direction of the light.

Causes of Brown Spots on Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves

Now, let’s discuss the various factors that can cause brown spots on fiddle leaf fig leaves:

  1. Overwatering – One of the most common causes of brown spots on fiddle leaf fig leaves is overwatering. Fiddle leaf figs prefer moist soil, but they can’t tolerate standing water or soggy soil. When the soil is too wet, it can lead to root rot, which can cause the leaves to turn brown and fall off. I love the cactus soil from The Sill. I mix half of it with regular soil.
  2. Underwatering – On the other hand, underwatering can also cause brown spots on fiddle leaf fig leaves. When the soil is too dry (or old), the leaves can become wilted and dry, eventually leading to brown spots. Make sure to check the root of your plant. When you water it, does the water run straight out of the? If so, you need new soil and possibly a bigger pot.
  3. Improper lighting – Fiddle leaf figs require bright, indirect light to thrive. If they are placed in an area with too little or too much light, it can cause the leaves to turn brown and even fall off. But others love standing right by the window. Start with indirect light and if you notice that your plant isn’t doing so well, test more light by getting it closer to the window.
  4. Pest infestations – Fiddle leaf figs are susceptible to pest infestations, such as spider mites and mealybugs. These pests can damage the leaves and cause them to turn brown and dry. There are some natural remedies for plant pest infestations here.
  5. Diseases – Fiddle leaf figs can also be affected by various diseases, such as:
    • Bacterial Leaf Spot: Bacterial leaf spot is caused by the bacteria Xanthomonas campestris, and can cause brown, water-soaked spots on fiddle leaf plant leaves. These spots can expand and become surrounded by yellow halos. Bacterial leaf spot is highly contagious and can spread quickly from plant to plant, so it’s important to isolate any affected plants and dispose of them properly.
    • Fungal Leaf Spot: Fungal leaf spot is caused by several different types of fungi, including Cercospora and Colletotrichum. It can cause small, circular brown spots on fiddle leaf plant leaves, which can grow larger and merge over time. Fungal leaf spot is typically caused by overwatering or poor air circulation, so it’s important to ensure that your fiddle leaf plant is not overwatered and has adequate air circulation.
      • Anthracnose is a fungal disease that affects the stems, branches, and fruits of plants. It appears as dark, sunken lesions on the affected plant parts and may cause them to crack or become deformed. Cool, wet weather conditions typically cause anthracnose and it can spread quickly through a plant or garden if left untreated.
    • Root Rot: Root rot is a fungal disease that can cause brown spots on fiddle leaf plant leaves, as well as wilting, yellowing, and dropping leaves. It is caused by overwatering, which leads to the roots becoming saturated and unable to absorb oxygen. To prevent root rot, ensure that your fiddle leaf plant is not sitting in standing water and is planted in a well-draining soil mixture.
    • Edema: Edema is a condition that can occur in fiddle leaf plants when the plant takes up more water than it can transpire, leading to the formation of brown, blister-like spots on the leaves. Edema is typically caused by overwatering or low humidity levels, so it’s important to ensure that your plant is not overwatered and is in an environment with adequate humidity.

Prevention and Treatment of Brown Spots on Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves

Now that we know the causes of brown spots on fiddle leaf fig leaves, let’s discuss how to prevent and/or treat them:

  1. Proper watering – To prevent overwatering, make sure to only water your fiddle leaf fig when the top inch of soil feels dry. When you water, make sure to water deeply and allow the excess water to drain away. To prevent underwatering, check the soil regularly and water before it becomes completely dry.
  2. Proper lighting – To ensure that your fiddle leaf fig receives the proper amount of light, place it in a bright, but indirect, area of your home.
  3. Pest control – To prevent pest infestations, regularly inspect your fiddle leaf fig for signs of insects and treat promptly if necessary. You can use insecticidal soap or neem oil to control pests. Check out guide to natural pest control for plants.
  4. Disease control – To prevent diseases, avoid overwatering and make sure your fiddle leaf fig is planted in well-draining soil. If you notice signs of disease, such as brown spots or yellowing leaves, prune affected leaves and treat with a fungicide.
  5. Humidity control – Fiddle leaf figs require a humid environment to thrive. You can increase humidity by misting the leaves with water or placing a tray of water near the plant. You can also use a humidifier to maintain a consistent level of humidity.
  6. Proper feeding – Fiddle leaf figs require regular feeding to stay healthy and vibrant. Use a balanced fertilizer with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, and feed every 4-6 weeks during the growing season. See our guide to: Growing Season for Fiddle Leaf Plants.
  7. Repotting – Fiddle leaf figs require repotting every 1-2 years to prevent root bound and promote healthy growth. When repotting, choose a pot that is 2-4 inches larger than the current one, and use well-draining soil.
  8. Improve air circulation: Poor air circulation can contribute to several types of plant diseases, including fungal leaf spot. To improve air circulation, ensure that your fiddle leaf plant is not crowded with other plants and is in a location with adequate ventilation.
  9. Use fungicides: If the problem is fungal leaf spot or another type of fungal disease, you may want to use a fungicide to treat the problem. Follow the instructions on the label carefully, and apply the fungicide to the affected leaves and surrounding areas.
  10. Use insecticides: If the problem is caused by pests, such as spider mites or mealybugs, you may want to use an insecticide to treat the problem. Again, follow the instructions on the label carefully, and apply the insecticide to the affected leaves and surrounding areas.
  11. Prune affected leaves: If the problem is isolated to a few leaves, you may want to prune them to prevent the problem from spreading to other leaves. Use clean, sharp pruning shears and carefully dispose of the affected leaves.

Brown Spots on Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant Conclusion

Brown spots on fiddle leaf fig leaves can indicate various issues, including overwatering, underwatering, improper lighting, pest infestations, and diseases. By taking proper care of your fiddle leaf fig plant, including proper watering, lighting, pest and disease control, humidity control, feeding, and repotting, you can prevent brown spots and ensure that your plant remains healthy and vibrant. If you notice brown spots on your fiddle leaf fig leaves, don’t panic. You can bring your plant back to its full health and beauty with proper care and attention. I’ve saved my fiddle leaf plant when it looked like a lost cause, and the leave perked right back up. So you can, too!

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