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Solving Common Issues with Fiddle Leaf Figs

Solving Common Issues with Fiddle Leaf Figs


Is your fiddle acting finicky? Fiddle leaf figs (Ficus lyrata) are some of the most dramatic, beautiful houseplants you can own, but they’re also prone to several potentially puzzling problems. Consult this quick guide to help identify and solve the most common issues with these gorgeous trees!

Yellowing Leaves

What’s Causing the Problem?: Overwatering

Yellow, discolored leaves are among the most common problems among fiddle leaf figs, and it’s often caused by a well-meaning carer who has simply gone overboard with watering. Fiddles thrive in soil that is kept relatively moist, but it should not be consistently waterlogged or soggy. Too much water (especially combined with insufficient drainage) can cause the roots to rot, leading to dull-looking leaves.

How to Fix It:

First, inspect your fiddle leaf fig’s pot; blocked drainage holes, or even a lack of drainage holes, may be causing the problem. If the water has somewhere to escape, give the pot some extra time to dry out in between waterings. Check the soil daily with your finger and water again once the soil is dry up to your second knuckle.

Other Possible Causes:

Not Enough Light

Fiddles are a bit particular about lighting; they need plenty of bright indirect light. Fiddles do well when they’re near a bright light source but aren’t in the direct path of intense rays. If your home has a location that receives indirect light from two windows (perhaps a south-facing and east-facing, or south-facing and west-facing), it might just be the perfect spot for your fiddle!

Dropping Leaves

What’s Causing the Problem?: Watering or Temperature Issues

If your plant’s leaves were turning yellow prior to dropping, overwatering may be the culprit. However, if the leaves seemed to be a normal color before falling off the tree, your fiddle leaf fig might be falling victim to a different problem; extreme temperatures.

How to Fix It:
Check around your plant for any vents or possible heat sources. Drafts from chilly air conditioning or too much hot air can stress out your plant, causing it to drop leaves quickly. If necessary, move your fiddle to a bright location with consistent temperatures.

Presence of Insects or Damaged Leaves

What’s Causing the Problem?: Pest Infestation

While a pest infestation is never good news, it’s rarely the end of the world. Inspect your fiddle leaf fig regularly, especially on the undersides of the foliage, to catch insect problems early. If you notice obvious signs of bugs (webbing, small holes, discolored ‘dots,’ or the actual insects themselves), act quickly—the sooner you treat the issue, the easier it will be!

How to Fix It:

Most houseplant pests can be managed with a natural pesticide like insecticidal soap, neem oil, antiseptic, or pyrethrin spray. Always follow the package instructions, and reapply regularly for several weeks to ensure you’ve fully eradicated your uninvited guests.

White or Tan Patches

What’s Causing the Problem?: Overexposure to Sunlight

Oops, your plant has a sunburn! This is a common problem for fiddle leaf figs that are kept in direct sunlight. (Too bad they don’t make SPF for houseplants!)

How to Fix It:

You can either move the plant to a location with less direct light, or you can try adding a sheer curtain to the light source to diffuse the intensity of the rays. The leaves will not recover, so you may want to remove the most damaged ones for aesthetic reasons.

Black or Brown Spots on Leaves

What’s Causing the Problem?: Bacterial Infection or Root Rot

While the origin of these infections may be different, the symptoms can look the same, as does the treatment. Infections can be very difficult problems to treat in fiddle leaf figs, but it’s worth a try.

How to Fix It:
Remove the plant from the pot and gently massage the root ball to separate roots and release trapped soil. Use sharp, clean scissors to remove any mushy, rotten-looking roots. Repot into fresh, sterile soil. We recommend consulting an expert at Roger’s Gardens for further treatment advice.

Other Possible Causes:


If the leaves are dry and crisp, browning may be caused by a lack of moisture. Ensure you’re watering appropriately, and the air near your plant is fairly humid.

Fertilizer Burn

Applying too much fertilizer can burn roots and cause damaged or discolored leaves. Water thoroughly to flush your plant, and always apply fertilizer after watering in the future.

Got a problem with your fiddle leaf fig that isn’t on this list? Make sure to take plenty of photos and visit us at our garden center in Newport Beach. Our houseplant experts can offer personalized advice to help you nurse your fiddle back to health!

For more information on the care of Fiddle Leaf Fig Plants, view Fiddle Leaf Water and Care Tips with Haley Fox.