5 Reasons Why Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves Are Turning Brown

A close up shot of a fiddle leaf fig leaf with a few brown crispy spots in the middle.

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Fiddle leaf figs are notorious for being a bit finicky and tricky to care for. They don’t enjoy sudden changes in their growing environment and have been known to drop leaves quite suddenly and dramatically if their needs aren’t met. To a certain extent, losing a few leaves here and there is no reason for panic and is generally to be expected when it comes to caring for any plant whether it's growing indoors or outdoors. However, if you notice that your fiddle leaf fig is consistently developing brown leaves then it’s likely that there is an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. 

There are several reasons that a fiddle leaf fig may begin to develop brown leaves or brown spots on its leaves. Here are the top 5 reasons that your fiddle leaf fig leaves are turning brown and what to do about it.

Underwatering

Fiddle leaf figs are particular about their water needs and underwatering will quickly lead to brown, crispy leaves. These tropical trees should be watered regularly and the soil should never be allowed to dry out fully. Also, ensure that you are watering your tree deeply during each watering. This means that the soil is being saturated with water and then the excess water is being drained from the pot through the drainage hole. 

Overwatering

While underwatering can lead to a fiddle leaf fig developing brown leaves, so can overwatering. Confusing, we know. If your fiddle leaf fig is being overwatered, it is definitely something that you want to address and fix right away as overwatering can quickly lead to root rot which can kill your tree. If you suspect overwatering is the culprit, it is best to repot your fiddle leaf fig so that you can check the roots over for signs of root rot. You can also provide your tree with fresh soil to remove any excess water from the pot.

Overwatering can happen for a number of reasons, but most commonly it's a result of watering too frequently or a lack of adequate drainage. Ensure that the soil is partially dried between waterings and that your fiddle leaf fig is planted in a soil mix that is amended with plenty of perlite to increase drainage. Also, your fiddle leaf fig should always be planted in a pot with a drainage hole to allow excess water to escape the pot.

Lack of Humidity

These trees are native to warm, humid environments and although they do well in most household humidity levels if the air is too dry they are likely to develop brown, crispy leaves. Try increasing the humidity around your fiddle leaf fig by placing a small humidifier nearby. Fiddle leaf figs should also be kept away from any air vents or drafty windows which will dry out the air significantly around the tree.

Leaf Burn

While fiddle leaf figs enjoy lots of bright light they are susceptible to leaf burn if they are exposed to prolonged periods of harsh direct sunlight. Leaf burn will present as brown, crispy spots on the tree’s leaves in the areas where the sunlight hits. Any fiddle leaf fig with signs of leaf burn should be moved immediately so that no further damage can occur. Alternatively, direct sunlight can be diffused using a sheer curtain or window film. Keep in mind that these trees prefer bright, indirect light when grown indoors.

Lack of Light

Usually, a lack of light will result in the lower leaves of a fiddle leaf fig turning yellow, but it can also cause brown leaves so it’s important to be aware of it. A fiddle leaf fig tree that is not getting enough sunlight is also more susceptible to overwatering since a tree receiving more light will use more water than a tree receiving less light. This means, for example, that if you have two fiddle leaf figs in your home and one is in a brighter location it will need to be watered more often than the other. Watering both at the same time will cause the second tree to become overwatered. All of this is to say that brown spots due to a lack of light can go hand in hand with brown spots due to overwatering. Ensure that your fiddle leaf fig is receiving several hours of bright, indirect light. Usually, this requires that the tree is within a couple of feet of a bright window.