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7 Causes of Fiddle Leaf Fig New Growth Dying (And Solutions)

The thrill of watching your fiddle leaf fig flourish is diminished when you notice dying new growths appearing on your plant. This common issue could have several causes or even a combination of causes.

Overwatering or underwatering is a common cause of fiddle leaf fig new growth dying. Reduce watering so that the soil is only slightly moist and never soggy. Furthermore, your plant may be subjected to high salt levels, nutrient deficiencies, or extreme temperature changes.

Fiddle Leaf Fig New Growth Dying
Fiddle Leaf Fig New Growth Dying

[1] Getting Too Much or Too Little Water

Root damage is the most common cause of new growth death on a fiddle-leaf fig. It is frequently caused by giving your plant too much or too little water.

Is Your Fiddle-Leaf Fig Too Thirsty?

Fiddle-leaf figs are native to tropical Africa and thrive in moist, humid environments. That is why these tropical natives require consistent watering.

If the soil remains dry for an extended period, it will compact and damage the root systems.

Furthermore, bone-dry soil absorbs less water and fewer nutrients. As a result, these valuable resources will not reach the tender new growths where they are most needed.

It won’t be long before you notice other symptoms of a thirsty plant:

  • Crispy or crunchy, curling leaves
  • Light pot
  • Leaf wilting
  • Leaves of your fiddle-leaf fig will lose their bright green hue
  • Crusty, light soil
  • Indiscriminate shedding of foliage
  • Drooping leaves

How to Fix

If you keep the soil evenly moist but never soggy, your fiddle-leaf fig will produce beautiful and healthy new growths. However, if you’ve allowed the soil to completely dry out, your plant needs a good soak:

  1. Place your thirsty plant in the tub or sink without a drip tray or saucer. Run the water until the basin is 3-4 inches deep. Check that the water is lukewarm.
  2. Allow your fiddle-leaf fig to soak moisture through the bottom drain holes for 30-45 minutes.
  3. Check the soil moisture after the specified time has passed. Has water soaked up to the top two to three inches of soil?
  4. Consider watering your plant from above if the soil has not been saturated. This will help with saturation.
  5. When the oil is evenly moistened, drain the basin and set your plant aside to allow it to drain properly. Replace the saucer and return the plant to its original location.

Is Your Fiddle-Leaf Fig Overwatered?

Watering your fiddle-leaf fig is beneficial, but too much water will cause more harm than good. Excess water in the soil will drown and damage the roots.

If left to its own devices, overwatering frequently results in root rot. Typically, the youngest and smallest roots die first. However, rot disease can often kill entire sections of the root system.

This reduces your plant’s ability to absorb nutrients and water. New growths will suffer the most and often die if these essential materials are unavailable, even if your plant is in abundance.

Even before root rot appears, your fiddle leaf fig may exhibit a variety of other signs of overwatering:

  • Yellowing leaves.
  • Soggy potting soil.
  • Wilting, despite watering your plant.
  • Leaf drop (lower leaves often fall off first).
  • Brown spots on foliage (you may notice shaded brown patches in leaf middles and around the margins).
  • Mold growth on the soil surface.

How to Fix

If you catch the problem early enough, your plant might be saved with the right care and attention.

  1. Examine the roots of your fiddle-leaf fig. It’s a foolproof way to tell if it has root rot.
  2. The overwatering case is mild if you only find a few brown spots/yellow leaves. Almost all of the roots will be intact. Allow your fiddle leaf fig to dry out for about 2 weeks, in this case, to give the roots time to recover.
  3. On the other hand, root rot is present if you find brown, black, or mushy roots. Remove all affected roots and treat the remaining ones with fungicide or hydrogen peroxide.
  4. Remove all affected leaves, especially those with brown spots.
  5. Repot your fiddle-leaf fig into a new container using new well-draining potting soil (Amazon link).

Take care not to make the same mistake again in the future. Allow the top 1-inch of soil to dry before watering again from spring to fall (the growing season). During the winter months, it drastically reduces watering.

[2] Brown Spots on Leaves

Brown spots on new leaves can spell disaster. They not only destroy tender leaf tissue and impede photosynthesis, but these dark brown lesions can also become infected.

Brown spots will spread, expand, and eventually kill new growths in either case.

Of course, brown spots do not appear on the leaves by themselves. They could appear for a variety of reasons, which could include:

Reason #1 – Root Rot

If otherwise green new growths develop browning edges or dark brown spots, your fiddle-leaf fig most likely has root rot.

The problem usually arises because your plant has been sitting in too much water due to overwatering or poor drainage.

Brown spots are caused by fungal infections in the roots, which can spread to new growths. Leaf drops, dark brown mushy roots, and smelly soil are also common symptoms.

How to Fix Fiddle-Leaf Fig Root Rot

If you suspect your fiddle-leaf fig has root rot, unpot it and look at the roots to see if they are soft, black, or brown.

Don’t put extra strain on your beauty if only a few leaves are affected by brown spots. Give your fiddle-leaf fig a couple weeks without water to let the root system recover. Remove any affected leaves and ensure that there is plenty of light.

It will require extreme measures if there are many brown spots on the leaves. Remove any roots that have been affected and any leaves that have turned brown. Keep your fiddle-leaf fig from drowning in its new pot.

Reason #2 – Pest Damage

Fiddle-leaf figs are not prone to pest infestations but are susceptible to spider mites and scale insects.

The damage they cause to leaves is most noticeable when the small brown spots they leave behind eventually sink in and become lifeless holes.

Spider Mites

Keep an eye out for spider mites, which are tiny, almost transparent bugs commonly found on the backs of leaves.

Under a magnifying glass, you may notice some small mobile dark brown or red dots if spider mites are present. Look for cottony webbing and yellowish bumps as well.

How to Get Rid of Spider Mites from your Fiddle-Leaf Fig
  • Use rubbing alcohol – Mix one part isopropyl alcohol and four parts water to create a remedy for spider mites. Spray or wipe down your fiddle-leaf fig leaves.
  • Spray insecticidal soap – You can wash spider mites off the leaves using a soapy solution.
  • Use Neem oil spray – I highly recommend spraying your plant using neem oil (Amazon link). This horticultural oil is effective yet safe and non-toxic.

Scale Insects

Scales can be especially problematic for fiddle-leaf figs. This is particularly true if your plant has been stressed and weakened by other factors such as disease or overwatering.

These small, soft-bodied insects frequently hide on stems and the undersides of leaves. They suck sap and produce honeydew, which can support the growth of black sooty mold. Affected leaves may turn yellow or fall off the plant.

How to Get Rid of Scale Insects from your Fiddle-Leaf Fig
  • Treat your plant with insecticidal soap (Amazon link) to smother the scale insects.
  • Spray your plant using neem oil.
  • Hand removal can also do the trick for adult-scale insects.

Reason #3 – Your Fiddle-Leaf Fig is Too Dehydrated

Brown spots on leaves are easy to tell if your plant is overly dry. The first sign is dry brown or tan spots on the leaf tips and edges, causing the leaves to curl.

Your fiddle-leaf fig will either be crispy or wilted. Due to shrinkage caused by excessive dehydration, the soil may compact and recede from the container.

This means that irrigation water will never reach the root ball because it will run through the gap between the soil and the pot.

Solution

Water your plant thoroughly until liquid flows out of the drainage holes. Check on your fiddle-leaf fig to make sure it’s getting enough water.

Check to see if the humidity level is too low. If this is the case, consider regularly using a humidifier, humidity tray, or misting system.

If your plant is near a fireplace, heater, or heating vent, move it. The same applies if the environment is excessively hot or receives too much direct sunlight.

[3] Red Spots on Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves

Red spots on foliage can eventually stymie new growth, resulting in the death of new leaves. Several factors are most likely to blame, including:

– Edema

Edema is the most likely cause of red spots on fiddle leaf fig foliage. It is caused by overwatering and other factors that cause excessive moisture stress.

The first symptom is a smattering of small water-soaked bumps on the undersides of leaves. They will eventually rapture as the plant absorbs more water than it uses. Dark red bruises will appear as a result of dead cells and tissue.

How to Fix

Mild edema is not caused for concern. It’s expected because your fiddle-leaf fig requires more moisture for new leaf development.

Watering regularly is essential for removing other cases of edema. Allow at least one inch of soil to dry between waterings.

– Spider Mites

Spider mites prefer young, tender foliage. They are visible as small moving dark red or brown dots, particularly on the undersides of new leaves. I’ve already mentioned using rubbing alcohol, insecticidal soap, or neem oil for this.

– Fungal or Bacterial Infection

Fungi and bacteria can also cause brown or reddish-brown spots on fiddle-leaf fig leaves. Plants that have been overwatered or are in distress are the most vulnerable.

The most effective treatment will be determined by the type of fungus or bacteria involved.

Bacterial infections are difficult to treat. As a result, prevention is critical: reduce overhead irrigation, avoid handling wet plants, and isolate sick plants immediately.

Copper or sulfur-based fungicides should be sufficient for fungal problems.

To reduce the chances of bacterial and fungal infections, avoid overwatering, splashing water on leaves, and overhead watering.

[4] Yellowing Leaves

In fiddle-leaf figs, yellow leaves are usually the first sign of trouble. Perhaps your plant is undernourished (primarily due to a lack of nitrogen), lacks adequate light, or has root rot due to overwatering.

Aside from root rot, bacterial leaf spots are the most damaging things to your plant. It causes yellowing and brown spots on the leaves.

Yellowing of the leaves occurs as the brown spots spread in bacterial leafspot. Yellow concentric rings usually surround the brown spots.

When a plant has root rot, the foliage usually remains dark green; it only turns yellow when the plant is severely malnourished.

The bacterial problem, on the other hand, prefers new growth. If new growths are turning yellow, bacterial leaf spot is most likely to blame.

How to Fix

Yellow leaves caused by non-bacterial causes are usually simple to treat. For example, moving your plant to a brighter location will solve the lack of light issue.

However, treating bacterial leaf spot disease can be difficult. It gets even worse if the infection has spread. It is possible that you will have to remove and destroy the entire plant.

If the damage is minor, remove all of the affected leaves. Give your plant enough light and refrain from watering it until it recovers.

[5] Lack of Nutrients and Iron

Nutrient deficiencies can prevent your fiddle-leaf fig from growing new leaves. Nitrogen deficiency, in particular, causes new leaves to turn pale yellow and stunted.

The deficiency will result in thin or dying new growth if left untreated. Another dangerous deficiency is a lack of iron.

It causes dark spots to appear on new growth. They will eventually become white and stunted before dying.

How to Fix

Use elemental sulfur to acidify the soil. If the pH of the soil is too high, you can improve the iron content by adding ferrous sulfate or chelated iron.

If the soil is deficient in nutrients, consider repotting your plant.

A small amount of nitrogen-rich fertilizer should suffice for the lack of nitrogen.

[6] Exposure to Temperature Extremes

When your fiddle-leaf fig is exposed to temperature extremes, new growths will wilt, die, or even drop. This can happen if you expose it to too cold or too hot conditions.

How to Fix

Ensure your fiddle-leaf fig is kept in a temperature range of 60-85°F (15-29°C).

Keep your plant away from drafts, both cold and hot. These include areas near heating vents, fireplaces, air-conditioning vents, open windows, heaters, etc.

[7] Too Much Fertilizer

Fiddle-leaf figs are heavy feeders. But there’s such a thing as too much of a good thing. 

Excess fertilizer salts will accumulate in the soil when you apply too much fertilizer or too frequently. Unfortunately, these tropical plants are susceptible to high salt levels in the soil.

They will burn the root system and disrupt the absorption of nutrients and water, both essential to the development and health of new growth.

How to Fix

Extremely high levels of fertilizer salts in the soil leave you with only one option: repotting.

Mild cases can be treated by repeatedly flushing the soil to remove excess salts.

How Do I Get My Fiddle Leaf Fig To Grow New Leaves?

– Use an Organic Fertilizer

A fiddle-leaf fig that is sprouting new growth requires a lot of nutrients. It will quickly deplete soil nutrients. Organic fertilizer, such as fish emulsion, is recommended.

The benefit is two-fold. Organic fertilizer is nutritious, containing nearly every nutrient your plant requires. It does not, however, add fertilizer salts to the soil.

– Regular Watering

Overwatering causes root rot, which is the most lethal to new growth. Underwatering is also ineffective. It would be best if you established a regular watering schedule.

Allowing 50-75% of the soil to dry between waterings is ideal. However, I recommend waiting until at least an inch to two inches of topsoil has dried.

– Remove Any Diseased or Damaged Leaves

Sanitation is essential for keeping your fiddle leaf fig healthy and disease-free. Remove any damaged, diseased, or dead leaves from the area. This is because they harbor or spread disease pathogens.

– Place the Plant in a Well-Lit Area

Fiddle-leaf figs require a lot of light to develop and grow new lush leaves. As a result, place your plant in a well-lit area where it will receive plenty of bright, indirect light.

– Use Good Potting Soil

Soil that drains well but can still hold enough moisture for the plant to flourish is ideal for spider plants.

Because this plant prefers a slightly acidic environment, keep the soil pH below 7.0. For the basic DIY soil to have the desired characteristics, you should use two-thirds peat and one-third perlite.