In an ideal world, your Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata) would serenade you with a symphony of broad, richly veined, glossy leaves.
Brown tips, on the other hand, are a sour note that all too many indoor gardeners have heard. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to give your poor fig a tune-up and restore your fig to gleaming harmony.
Leaves with brown tips indicate that your Fiddle Leaf Fig is overly dry. Watering every 7-10 days and maintaining 40-60%humidity will quickly correct this. Other contributing factors include excessive sun exposure, poor water quality, over-fertilization, pests, and disease.
Brown Leaf Tips in Fiddle Leaf Figs: Common Causes
Fiddle Leaf, Your Fig cannot play you a tune to express its emotions. The only way to tell if something is wrong is by the state of its leaves.
Brown tips are probably one of the simplest corrections to make. When stressed, figs will completely drop their leaves, so rest assured that even if something is wrong, your fig is merely sulking rather than dying.
Let’s find out some of the more likely causes of your discord together.
Underwatering Causes The Leaves to Dry Out
Dry brown tips that feel crisp to the touch indicate that your plant is dehydrated. For the majority of figs, this is simply due to dehydration.
Inspect your plant’s soil. Is the surface dry to the touch? Does it have a crumbly texture, with a gap forming between the growing medium and the pot’s wall? Is it pleasantly light?
These are all indications that you should give your fig a drink.
Begin by thoroughly soaking your Fiddle Leaf Fig. For dehydrated plants, I recommend watering from below. To accomplish this, first:
- Choose a basin or tub that is at least half the height of your pot.
- Take your thirsty plant out of its saucer or tray and place it in the basin.
- Fill the basin halfway with clean water, up to the height of your pot. Rainwater is ideal but filtered or distilled water are also viable options.
- Allow the water to enter the pot via the drainage holes. Fill up as needed to keep the water level at halfway.
- Allow your plant to soak in water for at least 30 minutes.
- Allow your fiddle leaf fig to drain for ten to fifteen minutes before returning it to its saucer or tray.
Watering from below gives your Fiddle Leaf Fig enough time to replenish itself. Water quickly finds its way to the roots and into the leaves. It’s a great way to rehydrate a thirsty fig.
If you have a large fig that is difficult to move or do not have access to a large enough basin, you must water from above.
Because badly dehydrated soil holds water poorly, it still necessitates a light touch. Large amounts of water dumped on top will simply flow through, never benefiting the plant.
Add water in small amounts, allowing it to slowly percolate into the soil. Allow yourself plenty of time. When small amounts of water drain through and your soil are evenly moist, you’ll know you’re done.
Once you’ve re-hydrated your Fiddle Leaf Fig, it’s just a matter of keeping it watered on a regular basis to avoid brown tips.
Avoid watering on a regular basis. Your fig may require more or less water than a schedule can provide depending on the time of year, the weather, and the size and growth rate of your plant.
Checking the soil at least once a week is the best way to water your fig. Water Fiddle Leaf Figs when the top two inches of soil are dry.
The simplest way to check this is to stick your finger into the soil. Your fig will want water at times and not at others. However, it is important to inspect the soil.
If you’re not sure if you want to go digging in the dirt, a moisture meter is a great tool that will tell you if the soil is wet, dry, or just right. (Check out the prices on Amazon here).
Overwatering and Root Rot
Over-watering, on the other hand, causes significant damage. Your poor Fiddle Leaf Fig will perish if you give it too much water.
When water accumulates, it drowns the roots. Your plant eventually withers and dies as its leaves turn yellow and then brown eventually drop off completely.
When the roots start to die, they rot. Fungi found in the soil attack and completely destroy them.
With prompt intervention, an over-watered fig can be saved, but once rot sets in, you’re in for much bigger problems.
Surprisingly, over-watering frequently resembles under-watering. When the roots die, your fig will no longer be able to drink enough water.
Its leaves dry out, resulting in brown tips that are indistinguishable from those of a plant that has been under-watered.
Inspecting the soil is the best way to check for over-watering. Is it muddy and wet? Is the odor offensive? Is water dripping from the pot when it is lifted? Is your pot too heavy? All of this points to over-watering.
I only water to a complete soak when it’s dry. Then let it dry in between watering. During the summer weather every two weeks and once a month a complete saturated soak.
During fall and winter watering should only be once a month to avoid sitting in damp soil. I lost a lot of foliage due to moving my fiddle from one window to another.
Be careful with the cold or hot drafts. Indirect sun loves moisture/ humidity so if your home lacks it try to mist the leaves every other day. If you have overwatered here are the thing you should do:
First, allow the soil to dry. Remove any trays or saucers from beneath the pot and allow any water to drain.
Next, examine your soil. Is there a smell? Is your fig moving around in the pot? Is there any discoloration or blotchiness around the stem?
If you answered no to these questions, you caught the problem early enough, and your Fiddle Leaf Fig is likely to recover now that it has had a chance to dry out.
However, the rot has set in if the majority of those symptoms are present.
Your next step should be to repot your plant. If possible, use clean, new soil and a new pot. Make sure your pot has adequate drainage with at least three holes to prevent the soil from becoming waterlogged.
While repotting, inspect the roots. Clean shears or scissors can be used to remove any dead, slimy, or disintegrating roots.
Once your fig has been repotted, gently water it and return it to its original location.
Read this article to save your overwatered fiddle fig plant.
Chlorine and Fluoride in Tap Water
Fiddle Leaf Fig The quality of their water is especially important to figs. Municipal tap water is treated in order to promote human health.
Many cities add chlorine to prevent disease, while others add fluoride to assist citizens in maintaining healthy teeth.
For plants, however, this is a death sentence. These chemicals accumulate in the soil and can completely kill your plant.
If you suspect that the state of your Fiddle Leaf Fig’s foliage is due to poor water quality, the first step is to flush the soil. This will get rid of any chemical buildup and allow your plant to heal.
- Take your plant out of its saucer or tray.
- Fill your pot with water until it flows freely from the drainage holes.
- Allow 5 to 10 minutes for any remaining chemicals to dissolve.
- Rep Step 3 to get rid of the last of the buildup.
- Allow for a fifteen-minute drain before returning to its original location.
As previously stated, rainwater is ideal for all indoor plants. After all, it’s what they get in the wild. If you are unable to collect your own, filtered or distilled water will suffice.
Low Humidity Levels
A humid growing environment is ideal for Fiddle Leaf Figs. Transpiration is the process by which they lose moisture through their leaves.
A higher humidity environment means your fig will lose less moisture as it transpires, keeping it hydrated. Figs can tolerate humidity levels as low as 30% but prefer levels closer to 60%.
A well-watered Fiddle Leaf Fig with brown tips indicates that the growing conditions are too dry, and the leaves are unable to retain water.
Simply mist your fig with clean water from a spray bottle for a quick fix. This will increase the humidity in the area.
Another option is a pebble tray. Smooth stones should be placed in a shallow dish or pan. Place them near your fig. and cover them with clean water.
The water in the tray will gradually evaporate, resulting in small pockets of local humidity. I like to place smaller plants on the dry surface of the stones to ensure that the moisture gets to where it’s needed.
You should also consider grouping your tropicals. Your little arrangement will create a patch of humidity as they transpire, keeping each other hydrated and looking good to boot!
The larger the figure, however, the less practical these solutions become! If you have a large Fiddle Leaf Fig, you should consider investing in a humidifier to do the hard work for you.
Salts Build Up Due to Over-fertilizing
Fertilizer is an issue for fiddle leaf figs. Inadequate growth results from a lack of resources. If you use too much fertilizer, the mineral salts in the fertilizer will accumulate. This harms your plant in the same way that chemical buildup from city tap water does.
There is too much fertilizer in the soil if there are visible deposits of mineral salts on the surface.
First, flush the soil of any build-up as described above. Avoid fertilizing for at least three months after that.
Consider a Fiddle Leaf Fig fertilizer with a specific purpose. (Check out the price on Amazon here) Make sure you only put in the amount of water your fig needs, and nothing more.
Too Much Sun Exposure
Fiddle Leaf’s Fig may be a prima donna, but they despise being in the spotlight. They fall from the rainforest floor and burn when exposed to direct sunlight for an extended period of time.
They also dry out much faster, resulting in dehydration symptoms.
If your brown tips are blotchy and irregular, and they appear on the most brightly lit part of your plant, your fig is probably sunburned.
A fig that gets too much light will also show signs of under-watering, even if you water it thoroughly.
This is a simple fix: move your plant out of direct sunlight. Your Fiddle Leaf Fig required indirect but bright light.
Keep an eye out for sunbeams, especially as the seasons’ change and the light levels in your growing environment shift.
If you must keep your fig in a warm, bright environment, keep a close eye on its water levels to avoid dehydration.
No plant is immune to disease, and Fiddle Leaf Figs are no exception. Brown tips on the leaves can be caused by bacterial spots or fungal infections.
As previously stated, root rot is the most common of all fungal infections that can affect figs. Plants that have been overwatered are the most susceptible to fungal diseases.
Bacterial infections can also cause issues, most notably speckling or discoloration of the leaves.
Brown tips that spread inwards and become larger and blotchier, often turning into holes, are symptoms of the disease.
Check for root rot and re-pot if necessary. If that doesn’t solve the problem, you may be dealing with something more serious.
Keep your plant quarantined to prevent the disease from spreading from the infected plant to others in your collection.
Consider an all-purpose disease treatment spray next. Because it is often difficult to tell which disease is fungal or bacterial, an all-purpose spray will eliminate everything at once. (Check out the prices on Amazon here)
Some diseases, unfortunately, are resistant to treatment. If no amount of tender care is working, it may be best to discard the entire plant, pot, and all.
Perhaps your Fiddle Leaf Fig has unexpected visitors. Mealybugs, whiteflies, aphids, and spider-mites all enjoy feasting on your poor fig.
Examine the veins of your plants, as well as the nooks and crannies where the leaves meet the branches and trunks. Mealybugs are identified by small tufts of white fluff.
Spider mites create delicate silky threads. Aphids and whiteflies are easier to spot, as they are tiny bugs that congregate on the veins and suck the sap from your unfortunate fig.
Begin by giving your Fiddle Leaf Fig a bath to get rid of pests. Milder infestations can be treated by rinsing with a showerhead or hose.
Pesticides are required for more serious infestations. Because of its gentle effectiveness, neem oil is a favorite here.
Whatever method you use, make sure to treat every 5 to 7 days as eggs hatch and new creepy crawlies emerge.
Why You Should Cut Off Dying Leaves
Fiddle Leaf Fig Figs will drop their leaves at the slightest hint of stress.
When your leaves begin to brown, it’s only a matter of time before this finicky performer throws a fit and dumps every blemished leaf.
You can cut to the chase and simply remove them once they begin to die. Trim them all the way back to the trunk. This will encourage the plant to produce new leaves, and your fig will soon be back to its best.
How to Trim Brown Leaf Tips
However, if your Fiddle Leaf Fig only has a few leaves with a hint of browning at the tip, it’s better to simply trim them back rather than lopping them off entirely.
Cut along the natural curve of the leaf’s edge with clean scissors or shears. Only the brown parts of the leaf should be removed.
If you cut into the green part of the leaf, the injury will cause it to turn brown, and you risk spreading the damage.
Be wary of sap. When cut, toxic Fiddle Leaf Figs ooze a white sticky sap. Wear gloves if possible, and wash your hands thoroughly after pruning regardless.
Tips to Prevent Fiddle Leaf Brown Tips
- Only water when the top two inches of soil are dry, and no more.
- Use clean, chemical-free water, preferably rainwater.
- Ensure proper drainage.
- Avoid excessive exposure to sunlight.
- Keep the growing environment moist.
- Keep an eye out for pests and diseases.