Fiddle leaf figs, aka "Ficus lyrata," are notoriously challenging to grow, which can be disappointing because they are a fairly expensive indoor plant, generally costing around $100 each. One of the most common signs of stress on the plant is the dropping of its leaves. In this post, we'll discuss the reasons why the leaves may drop, as well as how to care for the plant when they do.
To prevent your fiddle leaf fig plant from dropping leaves, you need to pay special attention to every aspect of its care. This includes monitoring its sunlight exposure, environmental temperature, watering regimen, and regularly inspecting the leaves.
The most common reasons why leaves drop off of fiddle leaf fig plants:
- Watering Issues
- Chemical Burn
- Cold Temperatures
- Insect Damage
- Plant Shock
- Root Stress
Now, let's discuss each issue and its remedy in more detail.
How to Remedy and Revie Your Fiddle Fig Leave Plant
Watering issues quickly cause problems for a fiddle leaf fig and are often the most common reasons for the plant's issues. Underwatering and overwatering the plant can cause stress and affect the plant's ability to absorb needed nutrients from its soil.
The excessive amount of moisture within the soil becomes a breeding ground for roof rot. Root rot is a condition that will eventually weaken the roots of your plants, and if not mitigated, may cause it to die. If you notice that the plant's leaves are beginning to droop, this may be a sign that you are over-watering it. You can save an over-watered plant by decreasing the amount of water that it receives and ensuring that it has proper drainage and air space around its roots.
Not providing the plant with enough water and can also cause the leaves to fall off. If the plant doesn't have an efficient amount of moisture to help sustain its leaves' growth, the leaves will become thirsty, grow wilted (and droop), and eventually fall off. If you notice that the soil is starting to pull away from the plant's pot, this could be a sign that it is too dry and needs more water.
Treating an under-watered fiddle fig leaf can be challenging, however, as it takes a lot of patience and monitoring. If the plant is lacking nutrients in addition to moisture, you may also need to provide it with a quality fertilizer or submerge the entire pot briefly in water. Once the plant is sufficiently hydrated, it's best to place it and a shaded area of your home, away from drafty areas and windows.
Another common cause of dropping leaves on the plant is a chemical burn. The fiddle leaf fig can have bad reactions to harsh detergents, plant insecticides, and fungicides. It's common for new plant owners to go a bit overboard with these chemicals when trying to combat insect infestations, but it's important to use them in extreme moderation on the plant.
To save a plant with a chemical burn, you'll need to thoroughly rinse the solution off of the plant by placing it in the shower. It's also important that you do not place it in direct sunlight after applying any chemical solutions. Before applying any new chemical to your plant, it helps to research any organic or all-natural insecticide options first, as they don't expose your plant to as much stress.
A cold and/or drafty environment can quickly cause health issues with the plant and result in dropping its leaves. It's a tropical plant that grows naturally in Western Africa and fairly warm and humid temperatures. So when maintaining them indoors, it's best to create a similar environment (of 55 degrees Fahrenheit or above) so that they can thrive under the best conditions.
Even if you keep your plant in an area that is warm during the day but drops significantly in temperature during the night, this could spell disaster for your plant. The best way to treat a plant exposed to less than ideal temperatures is to slowly transition it to a warmer environment.
Note: Transitioning it too quickly can also cause damage, so it's best to do it over the span of a few days.
If your fiddle fig plant is suffering from a pest infestation, depending on the severity of the infestation, it can damage its leaves, resulting in them falling off.
Spider Mites & Mealy Bugs
Spider mites and mealybugs are the most common pests of the fiddle fig leaf. If you see thin, silky strands of webbing or powdery wax-like coatings on the leaves of your plant, it could mean that you have a spider mite or mealybug infestation. Signs can also include small groups of dots on the tops of the plant's leaves. Spider mite infestations can be remedied by hosing the plant down and spraying it with a natural insecticide every four or five days until they have been fully eradicated.
Any major changes to the plant's environment can cause a high amount of stress. And as you may guess, this stress can result in leaves dropping off of the plant. These changes include drastically changing the temperature (or humidity) of the plant's environment, placing it in direct sunlight or shaded areas for an extended period of time, especially after moving it from an area with opposite lighting. Fortunately, you can remedy your plant's condition if it's suffering from shock by slowly transitioning it from one environment to another.
Healthy roots are essential for the life of your plant. If the roots become damaged due to factors such as over-watering, under-watering, over-fertilization, limited space, or root shock from transplanting or re-potting, they can restrict the nutrients that travel up to the leaves of the plant, causing them to drop off eventually. Root stress can also cause the plant's leaves to appear droopy, yellow or brown, and/or wilted. If your fiddle leaf fig is experiencing root stress, the most important thing to do is avoid causing any additional stress on the plant.
So, for example, do not attempt any pruning or propagation until the plant has completely recovered. The first step to treating root rot is to place the plant in a new pot with a solid draining system--you don't want any standing water in the pot's saucer. Next, check the soil regularly to ensure that it is not overly wet or too dry. Also, avoid any unnecessary trimming or movement of your plant, except for moving it to a more appropriate environment if the current temperature is too cold or drafty.
Will leaves grow back on fiddle leaf fig?
No, they don't grow back, unfortunately. It's important to continually monitor your fiddle fig leaf plant and pay special attention to its leaves, as they won't grow back once they fall off.
How do I know if my fiddle leaf fig is dying?
If your fiddle fig leaf is dying, you will notice the signs fairly quickly. Let's discuss the most common ones.
Excessive Leaf Dropping
It's normal for all plants to shed leaves as they grow. And if your plant sheds leaves sparingly as it grows, it's typically in good shape. However, if you notice that it's dropping leaves at a faster rate than it's growing them, it may be a sign that the plant is in bad condition.
Leaves Turning Brown, Yellow, or Curling up
Leaves that are browning, turning yellow, or curling up on the ends are a tell-tale sign that the plant is not in a healthy state. This can be caused by several factors, such as moisture issues or root-related problems. Also, if your tree's leaves are starting to wilt or droop, this is also a sign that it's in a state of high-stress and at risk of dying.
How do you revive a dying fiddle leaf fig?
Reviving a dying fiddle leaf fig starts with first removing whatever is causing stress on the plant, such as insect infestations, bad environmental conditions, improper watering, etc. Next, you'll need to remedy the issue(s) accordingly and monitor the plant on a daily and weekly basis to ensure that it slowly recovers from the stress.
Wrapping Things Up
We hope that this post has helped you learn more about how to treat an unhealthy fiddle leaf fig plant. Once you nail down the reason that your plant's leaves are falling off, you're one step closer to helping it heal.
Be sure to check out our other posts before you go: