Plant SOS! My Fiddleleaf Fig!

Plant SOS! My Fiddleleaf Fig!

Ok, popping in with a crisis. Pardon my terrible cell phone shot but this is a bit of a plant emergency and I didn’t have a chance to take pictures today — so this random one will have to do for now.

Sorry to jolt us all back to ugly reality after that perfect GORGEOUS COTTAGE FARMHOUSE post, haha, but we need to get over it and move on, right? Or, no. I don’t want to move ON. I want to move IN. Gah. I might have to repost the pics again later just so we can stare at it some more.

But meanwhile, back in the real world….my PLANT! MY FIDDLE LEAF FIG!

Plant SOS! My Fiddleleaf Fig!

Remember my beautiful fiddle leaf fig?

I mentioned when I posted about it that it had a few brownish edges on the leaves and you all had great advice. I decided I must be overwatering so I cut back.

Wellllll, I thought I was getting the hang of it and the leaves were looking better. It even started getting lots of new bright green leaves! I had visions of it growing bigger and stronger, and then…..

And then, lately there have been MORE brown edges, brownish STEMS and the leaves are DROPPING to the floor.

EEK! I’m killing it!


Should I move it to more sun? More water?  I have not been overwatering it so that cannot be it. Am I under-watering now? OY, I need help.

Why can I not keep a plant alive when I love them so much? Sigh.


Plant Killer


  1. Have you fertilized it!!

  2. Don’t panic!!! I have a hibiscus that I have wintered in the house for 3 winters now. The secong year when I brought it in in the Fall, it dropped ALL of it’s leaves!!!!!!!!!!!! I thought for sure it was dead but I am pig headed when it comes to lants:) I stripped any leaves remaining and then cut the whole plant back about a foot. It worked!!!!!!!!! It is beautiful and it bloomed ALL winter inside. I live in Pa. so it HAS to come in. I hope your plant lives, I have wanted a fiddle leaf fig FOREVER and can’t find one:( XO, Pinky

  3. Can I tell you, I opened your Farmhouse post from yesterday several times through the day! Your posts are always treasures. Even this one, because I would so love a fig tree… but worry it would be fussy and not last. I would guess your beauty needs a bit more light. If you prefer not to move it, maybe a mirror tucked behind to double the light would help?

  4. Wish I could help, Melissa, but have never had a fiddleleaf before. If it is anything like a ficus, they seem to go through occasional “seasons” where some leaves turn yellow and drop. It passes however. Do you feed your plant? Perhaps it needs a little boost to help get through a rough time. Good luck. Don’t give up yet.

  5. Fig trees do not like to be moved around. I used to vacuum daily (when I was younger and cared) and would move mine to run the vacuum. I learnt to just vacuum around it. Mine did better without any direct sun. Hope this helps!

  6. janpartist says

    There is a large fiddle leaf fig in the reception area where I work and it has been thriving for years. It stays in the same place, gets very bright indirect light, and watered every two to two and a half weeks.

  7. Hi Melissa, I’m in pretty much the same boat as you. I’ve had my fiddle leaf fig for a little less than a year and until recently it had been thriving and growing by leaps and bounds. Now the ends of some of the leaves have started to brown. Just a few days ago I searched around online and found that browning of the ends usually means overwatering (which I am often guilty of…). Also, I have never fertilized mine – likely part of the problem as well. I’ll be checking back on this post to see if there are any other tips – I love my fig and would hate to lose it!

  8. I’m an indoor plant killer too, I think I just try too hard. I keep trying to grow basil in my sunny kitchen and it always seems to go downhill from the time I begin caring for it. I’m not experienced with this plant, however when I’m at a loss for what to do I put it in a protected spot outside and let Mother Nature nurse it back to health for a bit.

  9. I don’t know if it is being over watered, but one way to be sure that you are only giving it a needed amount is to water it with ice cubes. They are pre-measured amounts and they melt slowly, so you’re not dumping in water that just runs right through.

  10. Try misting it, that might help.

  11. Patti Engelhardt says

    OMG! I am LOVING your blog! And thank you so much for this post! I have TWO Fiddleleaf figs! They live outside in a shady part of our house. But, the bigger ones leaves are yellow. I think he is getting too much water. But, the little one has the same issue yours is having. Maybe he is getting just a touch too much sun. Good luck! I think I am going to move mine indors, the smaller one, and see how he does :)good luck!

  12. I just posted about keeping houseplants alive yesterday, actually! I have found Fiddle Leaf Figs to be very finicky though. Brown edges usually mean too much sun, but yours is not near in a window. Leaves that turn completely brown are from underwatering, yellow leaves overwatering. Hmmm. Try Miracle Gro houseplant fertilizer, once a month (despite the bottle saying to use it with ever watering – too much can burn it.) Good luck – your tree is so pretty – I hope it lasts!

  13. Poor thing! I hope you figure out whats wrong, its really a beauty.

  14. lynelaine says

    When this happened to my palms, someone told me that salts and minerals can build up in the soil from the water source. You shouldn’t overwater, but when you do, you should give it enough water so that it runs through and flushes the salts and minerals out of the soil. Something to consider!

  15. So sorry you are having a problem with the Fig. I loved yours so much I was a copy cat and bought one for myself couple months ago. I work for a florist/green house so asked our experts about your problem. Fiddle Leafs like medium bright indirect light/not direct sun. Water thoroughly ONLYwhen top inch of soil is dry. Do NOT let plant stand in water in saucer. They also get very root bound and must be repotted if that is the case. Mine had coils of surface roots visible so I had it repotted before delivery. Over watering is the biggest problem. I add water slowly and when I see it draining into saucer…Stop! If you over do and get a saucerful, use a turkey baster to remove the excess. I have not done this yet but instructions are to fertilize every 4-6 weeks with Peter’s House Plant fertilizer thru growing season. (March-November) following instructions on package. I am in Montana and it is very dry here/low humidity so mine dries out pretty quickly. I water about weekly.

    • Thanks so much Diana for all the info and asking the the experts! I actually CAN see some roots so maybe I need to repot it! And thanks for the fertilizer tip and when to do it, I’m going to try that too. :-)

    • Out of all the advise follow what Diana C said. Pot up one or two pot sizes and water through ! Do fertilize but it’s not THE problem. Probably lack of water. I used to be a professional indoor plant tech. And this is the best advise of all the comments. Good luck!

      • Thanks Meg!

        • Diana C. says

          Melissa, My Garden Center tells me the Peter’s fertilizers are now under name of Jack’s Fertilizers. Same company, same product, new name. (That should be an easy name to remember!!!) :) They make many varieties so choose the one for houseplants. Your issue has prompted me to go get some today to get off on a good start! Good luck. Keep us posted on how it goes!

  16. from my husband who could make a popsicle stick grow – It may have a disease or a fungus. It might also need to be transplanted to a bigger pot. I would suggest taking it outside, washing all the dirt off the roots and spraying them with a fungicide. Then transplant to a bigger pot using fresh potting soil. She could also take one of the leaves to a local nursery and have them analyze it.

  17. If you are using tap water, it could be there is too much salt in your water. You might want to try distilled water instead. Too much salt can burn the leaves.

  18. My fiddle leaf fig had the same problem. My friend, who has beautiful houseplants, suggested that I get a moisture meter. My plant is looking much better now. The digital moisture meter I bought has a chart listing plant names and moisture levels from 0.0 to 9.9. For the fiddle leaf fig, they suggest a reading of 1 before watering. It’s better than just feeling the soil surface and guessing if it’s time to water. I use it for all my houseplants now. Hope this helps.

  19. It is too far of the windows even if you think the light is enough in you place. Keep watching the water and take it outside!!! The sun will be is best friend!!

  20. i am having the same problem with my fiddle leaf fig. i found some sort of expert online and he emailed me and said if i take it outside then all the leaves will burn off and new ones will grow in their place. i figure i’ll give it a shot, because right now it is super ugly with all of its leaves browned.

  21. If you do decide to repot it, make sure you have proper drainage. Oftentimes, the plants bought from nurseries have just been plunked in pots with no real drainage system in place. You may want to use some sort of drainage material at the bottom of the pot (broken potting shard, small pebbles, etc) before adding soil. This helps to ensure that the roots aren’t soaking in water. Good luck!

  22. Indirect light and casual watering occasionally…every other week.

  23. Hi – Mine looked EXACTLY like this with the brown spots and was dropping its leaves like crazy. I put it outside on my patio and sprayed it with a fungicide spray from Home Depot. Its called DACONIL in a red spray bottle. I left it outside in filtered sunlight and it started to grow new leaves. It was great after a couple of months so I brought in back indoors and put it in a corner near a window with plenty of sunlight. It has filled out and is growing new leaves constantly. I even showed it to my sister that lives out of town on facetime yesterday and she couldnt believe how good its doing!!

  24. Patricia says

    Go to Swanson’s or Skye or Molbaks (Seattle area only) and ask them for something you can’t kill. I’ve kept a corn leaf palm alive for decades! There are plants with drama that just go on looking good for years with no fussing. Learn to love something a whole lot easier.

  25. BTW…..mine likes water!! I give mine a big cup of water every other day!!!

    • and mine is still in the original smaller pot and looks about the size of yours. The brown spots have nothing to do with size of pot and dirt, etc… its a fungus on the leaves and it needs the sunlight – that is it! Sandy

      • Well, maybe it just wants more sun! We do live near Seattle and then sun isn’t always around. The plant is not by a window but it is across from a nice big window, so who knows. I could try more light and a little more water! I’m starting to think maybe I haven’t watered it enough now so maybe I’ll increase the water a little and see if that helps.

  26. The woman that mentioned having one in her office building is on the right track. Bright, indirect light, watering every two weeks, and if you have a lot of fluoride in your water, it is a good idea to pour some water into a pitcher, leave it to sit overnight, fluoride will evaporate. Much better for your plants.

  27. Dear plant killer. I too suffer from your same affliction. I have given it totally up. Except for the orchids that I bring in once a month and then kill sort deliberately as I cannot ever get them to re-bloom. In fact, our outdoor space is quite Darwin as well. If it doesn’t live, it gets ripped out and I try something in its place. And have you noticed that you have now got tons of advice, some conflicting on how to make your plant grow. I say give up. Don’t beat yourself up. It’s not your fault. Just your black thumb.

  28. Huh. Maybe all these comments will help me stop killing plants, too! Hope your Fiddleleaf Fig feels better soon!!

  29. You are not alone. I have killed 5 of these so far. Littler ones, but nevertheless FIVE! I’ve even been instructed by my dear husband to stop trying. But, somehow a new one came home with me this last week. Oops!

  30. Kimberly says

    Three things I learned about the Fiddle Leaf Fig – their roots are close to the surface so if you water and the water drains to the bottom and their roots are closer to the surface then they aren’t getting the water. I more frequently water but LESS water when I do. Meaning, I use the sprayer on my nozzle and give a spray to the top soil and that’s it. The other thing is they don’t like to be in direct sun light. They need lots of sunlight but NOT DIRECT sunlight. So put them in a sunny room but make sure their leaves aren’t getting direct sun. Finally, do you wipe your leaves? They can get quite dusty and then the leaves can’t absorb the nutrients from the sun so I take a wet paper towel and wipe down each leaf (and talk to my fig tree while I do it telling it how beautiful it is). This has kept mine very happy. Hope this helps.

  31. I water my FLF plant only once a week. The leaves perk up nicely after it’s watered. It’s been going strong for a year or so with no dropped leaves. It’s in a sunny room but doesn’t get strong, direct light. Hoping it hangs on for you, Carey

  32. I bought a self-watering pot. That works great. There’s no way to overwater..

  33. I am experiencing the same thing with my tree that I brought home about a month ago. What did you find out that you were doing wrong or not doing enough of? My leaves are exactly like yours in the pic. My tree in a corner away from direct sunlight and draft.

  34. Mary Wacker says

    I’ve been in interior plant maintenance for nearly thirty years. Your best options are: move to more light! Ficus trees (including fiddleafs) need light. Second: the brown spots are bacteria from too much water and too little light. Mix 1/4 c. of hydrogen peroxide in one gallon of water and water with this a couple times. Existing brown spots will not disappear, but new growth should be better. Good luck.

  35. I am having the same problem with my fiddle leaf fig. Leaves turning very brown (sometimes up to half the leaf) and many leaves falling off. It is very large (8-9 feet) and in corner of brightly lit room in Scottsdale AZ. Wondering if too much water or light? I read through the comments and it sounds like I may be overwatering. I waited a week and a half between waterings and it seems like more leaves fell off (I checked with my moisture detector and it was all the way dry to the 10 ” or so it went into the pot). Any suggestions appreciated.

  36. I bought my 4 foot fig tree from a reputable nursery mid-December. Not long after I brought it home, it grew a cluster of three new leaves. Shortly after that, the leaves started turning brown and falling off one-by-one, starting from the bottom up. I immediately moved the tree away from the back door to avoid any drafts and started watering it once every two weeks, as opposed to twice a week. All of the leaves have now fallen off, with the except of the three newest leaves. I thought it was a goner, but much to me surprise, four new clusters of leaves have started growing from the end of the stalks. Will my tree eventually fill out or will there just be leaves on the ends?

    After reading these posts, sounds like I need to get a moisture meter and re-pot it to give it more room and good soil/plant food. I do notice that some of the roots are visible and seem to be growing in a circular pattern at the top outer rim of the pot. Is this normal? Any advice is appreciated.

  37. First, Julia, yes it is normal for pot bound plants (particularly trees) to grow roots that wind around the pot. It sounds like yours is severely in need of repotting. Care well for it for now, and in the spring repot it. Be careful over the winter to make sure it gets enough water. Potbound plants dry out extremely quickly. When you do repot, give it a good root pruning. You can find instructions for doing this online.
    If the brown spots on the fiddle leaf fig are fungus, you can just give it a soil drench once a week with neem oil (see instructions on package). Neem oil is a natural way to control bugs, and fungus. Other than water, and fertilizer, it’s your plants best friend.
    Most fertilizers are formulated in a way that it’s easy to burn your plants. DynaGrow makes superior fertilizer. I highly recommend their products. You should fertilize with half strength solution every time you water (about once a week). Once a month every plant should be flushed with plain water or even more dilute fertilizer solution (1/4 strength) to get rid of the accumulation of salts from the fertilizer. This is just part of proper container culture, but something every book on plants I’ve ever read has left out.

  38. Hi,like many of you my fiddleleaf is loaded with brown spots. Although I am getting new growth will the areas where the leaves have fallen grow back in.

  39. I have a very large fiddle leaf that I have had for two years now. It’s in a corner with bright filtered light. I used to water it exactly every two weeks and give it vitamins once a month. It did great the first 6-8 months. As it grew bigger I kept up the same watering schedule and it began to drop leaves. 20 to be exact. So imagine my panick. I read everything, tried everything and still it was struggling. So then I decided as a last ditch effort I would take it outside and flush it out really well and let it get a good dose of sunshine and fresh air. Well it worked ! It perked up. I trimmed off the brown edges with a pair of scissors and let it be. Now I don’t fuss over it as much and it is fine. Water every 2 1/2-3 weeks. Flush out every couple of months, vitamins once in a while and that’s it :). Almost time for repotting. I’ll let you know how that goes.

  40. How is your fig doing?! I’ve had mine for three months and the edges are browning. Not dropping to the floor though ?

  41. The leaves are green on mine and falling off. I feel terrible. What can I do?

  42. Hi Ladies, I have read most of your post about your fiddle-leaf fig (flf) and I did learn a few things. But what I didn’t see was . . . wait for it . . . dish water! Yes, I read somewhere that when you’re finished with your dish water, to use it to water your indoor and outdoor house plants. I know it sounds crazy, but it works. I rescued my flf from an alley. It had only two leaves on it and was in dire need of a transplant to a larger pot. I figured since it was free, I had nothing to lose. I’d always wanted one, but couldn’t afford the size I wanted. So since I use Dawn for my dishes, I knew it would help and it does. My flf is flourishing and in the summer I had it outside with dappled sunlight in the shade of a tree. I only water it once a month and I never fertilize it. I’m waiting until it touches my ceiling before I cut it and push the cutting into the pot to start another one. That will also make the original plant sprout a few branches. Also, if your roots are pushing out the bottom, DO NOT let it sit in water after watering it! I am so proud of my tree. I named her Tessa. My rubber tree is named Rob. Along with my chihuahuas, these are my children.
    I hope this is helpful.

  43. Hi! My fiddle leaf fig is looking the same way… Were you ever able to figure out the issue?

  44. It needs to be repotted

  45. maria stinson says

    i watered mine with crushed egg shells and i make banana skin tea and i used that everytime i water and seems to be doing just fine.gave me two leaves at the same time.i named mine precious cos they are very

  46. Shelby the great says

    I bought my fig early summer, had it outdoors in the shade until temps got below 42f. It’s easily doubled in size since I bought it. I repotted it immediately with high grade soil. I watered it every other day (unless it was dry) and always wet the leaves when I did so. and it loved it. Grew new leaves every week. Now that I’ve moved it inside I’ve kept it out of direct sunlight and away from any heaters. I only water it when the topsoil is starting to be visibly dry. It’s already grown four new leaves since being indoors. I had a couple smaller leaves just drop from it recently. They were some of the oldest leaves I would say. And I think they just got old to be honest. I have no other signs of distress, and it’s continuing to grew large new leaves. It could just have been the slow result of moving it indoors and it reaclimating. I also cleaned the leaves with a little bit of coconut oil after I moved it indoors. SInce I wouldn’t be able to wet the leaves as regularly I thought that would help them from being too dry. And spray them periodically. Hope this helps!! I love my fig it’s growing so beautifully!!

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