How To Fix Overwatered Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus Lyrata)


Potted indoor Fiddle Leaf Fig plant.

You may have noticed that your once striking Fiddle Leaf Fig has started to develop brown or yellow leaves, that its leaves are wilting, dropping off, or becoming speckled with red spots.

These are indications that you’re overwatering your plant, but how do you solve the problem?

Don’t worry! The information in the following article will make sure you have all the necessary tools to bring your Fiddle Leaf Fig back to full health.

When you overwater a Fiddle Leaf Fig, brown patches will spread over the leaves. Leaves may also turn yellow or drop off, and your plant may stop growing. Overwatering can cause root rot, nutrient deficiency, and mineral build up, as well as other problems, which cause this damage to your plant.

How do you fix an overwatered Fiddle Leaf Fig?

  • Adopt a watering schedule. Water your plant at the same time every week to let roots dry out.
  • Make sure the pot has large drainage holes and use a potting mixture of gravel and soil.
  • Use a moisture meter to ensure you only water your plant when it needs it.

Signs of Overwatered Fiddle Leaf Fig

Fiddle Leaf Fig showing signs of overwatering.
  • Root Rot

Root rot causes brown spots to appear on the edge and in the center of leaves. These spread and cause leaves to drop.

To know for sure if your plant has root rot, inspect the roots themselves. Roots with rot will look mushy, damp, and brown.

  • Leaves Turn Brown and Wilt

If the leaves of your plant are turning brown, with shaded patches appearing either in the center of the leaves or around the edges, this is a sign of overwatering. Leaves will also appear to shrivel and wilt.

  • Yellowing of Leaves

Leaves which have started to go yellow are a strong indication of overwatering. This discoloration may appear on the lower leaves of the plant first.

  • Leaves Dropping

Leaves fall from a plant when it is trying to conserve energy. This often indicates a problem within the plant.

Leaves dropping from your Fiddle Leaf Fig can point to overwatering, which in turn has caused root rot or a nutrient deficiency.

  • Stunted Growth and Curled leaves

Fiddle Leaf Figs frequently produce new leaves. Every 4 – 6 weeks they will have new growth.  

A reduction in the growth of new leaves could point to over watering. Over watering can also cause leaves to curl.

  • Edema

Edema is characterized by a dappling of small red or brown spots that appear on the leaves of Fiddle Leaf Fig plants.

These spots appear when the plant’s roots have taken in more water than the plant can handle.

This causes cells in the leaves to burst. The dark spots on the leaves are these dead cells.

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How to Fix Overwatered Fiddle Leaf Fig

If you’ve spotted signs of overwatering in your Fiddle Leaf Fig, you’ll be glad to know that you can start to solve the problem right away.

Below, you will find several solutions for how to help your overwatered Fiddle Leaf Fig recover.

Repot Your Plant

If your plant is suffering from overwatering, repotting your Fiddle Leaf Fig will help for the following reasons:

  • The soil may be too waterlogged. In this case, it can be useful to start again.
  • The original pot may not have had sufficient drainage, ensuring good drainage will avoid overwatering in the future.
  • If the container was too big for your plant, the soil may have held too much moisture, risking damage to your plant’s roots and leaves (Edema).

Instead of repotting with soil alone, put 1 – 2 inches (2.5 – 5cm) of gravel at the bottom of the pot to help with drainage. Place soil on top of the gravel.

Choose a pot with plenty of large drainage holes in the bottom to make sure that excess water can drain easily.

You should repot your Fiddle Leaf Fig every 1 – 2 years. When repotting, choose a pot which is 3 – 4 inches (7.5 – 10cm) larger in diameter than the previous pot.

Repotting will solve problems relating to improper drainage and waterlogged soil, which cause Fiddle Leaf Figs to be overwatered.

Don’t Overwater

Once you notice that you’ve been overwatering your Fiddle Leaf Fig, you can take immediate action to make sure that you don’t continue to do so.

You should measure the amount of water that you give to your Fiddle Leaf Fig and avoid freehand pouring.

These plants only need 1 – 4 cups of water per week, depending on their size.

Measuring the water, and being consistent with the amount, is important because it avoids accidental overwatering.

This will stop your plant from sitting in excess water, which is one of the biggest problems a Fiddle Leaf Fig can face.

Check The Lighting

The amount of light that your Fiddle Leaf Fig receives affects how much water it needs.

If your plant doesn’t get enough light, it may suffer from root rot as a result of overwatering. Light creates warmth, which helps the water in the soil to evaporate.

Fiddle Leaf Figs prefer bright rooms with consistent sun. It’s best to avoid direct sunlight as it can lead to leaf-burn.

You should avoid keeping your plant in the shade, as this is when the problems with overwatering begin.

  • Fiddle Leaf Figs prefer inside temperatures to be between 65 – 75ºF (18 – 29ºC), this provides the perfect climate to make sure that the soil doesn’t stay wet for too long.
  • Use a thermometer to check the temperature of your rooms and choose the best place for your Fiddle Leaf Fig, whilst also considering its fondness for bright light.

Source: Department of Horticultural Sciences, Texas A&M University

Follow a Watering Schedule

Fiddle Leaf Figs are sensitive to when they get watered. Adopting a regular watering schedule is an easy way to make sure that you’re not overwatering your plant.

Firstly, Fiddle Leaf Figs should only be watered once the top 2 inches (5cm) of soil is dry to the touch.

These plants generally only require watering once every 1 – 2 weeks. Start keeping a note of when you water your Fiddle Leaf Fig and check the dryness of the soil the following week.

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If the top two inches are still moist, check again after a few days.

Make a note of how many days it takes until the topsoil has completely dried out and use this information to form your watering schedule.

Water your plant the same amount each week to maintain consistency.

It may not seem like watering your plant once every 1 – 2 weeks is enough, but it’s really important that the roots have time to dry out.

Unnecessarily frequent watering will likely cause root rot or other problems linked to overwatering, for your Fiddle Leaf Fig.

Use a Moisture Meter

A moisture meter is a great way to solve overwatering problem.

Moisture meters are small devices with “legs” which are placed into the soil. These “legs” have sensors that monitor the amount of moisture in the soil.

The display of the moisture meter can show if the soil is dry, moist, or wet.

This is an easy way to find out what the conditions are like near the roots of your Fiddle Leaf Fig – the roots may still be wet even if the topsoil appears dry.

By using a moisture meter, you can tell when the soil is dry enough to require watering, as well as easily prevent overwatering.

Using a moisture meter is also a great way to detect if there are problems with drainage in the pot, which will cause problems for the roots.

Combat Root Rot

Root rot can be a big problem for your Fiddle Leaf Fig and is caused by overwatering. The roots sit in excess water and rot as a result.

Act quickly when you notice browning leaves which can indicate root rot. Brown spots spread across the leaves and eventually cause the leaves to drop.

  1. Start by checking your plant’s roots for rot. Before removing your plant from its pot, squeeze the base of the planter to loosen the soil.
  2. Hold your Fiddle Leaf Fig gently by the trunk and carefully pull it out of the container.
  3. Assess the appearance of the roots. If they are very wet, and appear mushy and brown, you will need to remove some roots.
  4. Clean off the root ball with water so that you can clearly see the roots.
  5. Use sharp pruning shears to remove any squishy, brown roots which are affected by rot.
  6. Repot your plant using a clean container as well as fresh gravel and soil to stop the rot from transferring.

Removing rot helps fix the current problem. You can prevent root rot by avoiding overwatering in the future: ensure your plant is in an appropriately-sized pot, has the right soil, receives the right amount of light, and is watered with the correct frequency.

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How to Water Fiddle Leaf Fig

Following a few simple watering rules can make a lot of difference when it comes to the happiness of your Fiddle Leaf Fig.

Once you’ve got the hang of how your plant likes to be watered, caring for it will become a whole lot simpler.

  • Watering Rules
    • Always water the soil, not the leaves. Getting water directly on the leaves will damage them and mean that the roots of your plant don’t get enough water. Water directly into the soil at the base of the plant.
    • Make sure the topsoil is completely dry before watering. This will avoid the roots sitting in too much water, which the Fiddle Leaf Fig really hates!
    • These plants prefer lukewarm water, or water at room temperature because cold water can shock the roots.
  • Watering Frequency
    • Develop a watering schedule so that you water your plant at the same time each week.
    • Fiddle Leaf Figs only need to be watered once every 1 – 2 weeks. Keep an eye on how long it takes for the topsoil to dry and create a watering schedule accordingly.
  • External Factors Which Influence Watering Frequency

The key to looking after a Fiddle Leaf Fig is consistency. This also means paying attention to external factors and adjusting watering accordingly, so that your plant is always receiving the same amount of moisture.

  • A lot of sunlight will result in water evaporating faster from the soil.
    • If it is particularly sunny, or warm, you may need to adjust your watering schedule to compensate for the water being lost due to the warmth.
    • When it is humid, water doesn’t evaporate as quickly. You may need to water your plant less if there is a lot of humidity because plenty of moisture is present in the air.
    • Similarly, in less humid environments you may need to water your Fiddle Leaf Fig slightly more.
  • Water Quality
    • Tap water can often contain chemicals such as chlorine and fluoride.
    • Minerals and salt can also be present in tap water. Chemicals and minerals can burn your Fiddle Leaf Fig’s roots and leaves.
    • Collected rainwater is the best water to use on your plant, as it simulates the water of its natural habitat.
    • Distilled or filtered water is better for your Fiddle Leaf Fig than tap water, as many of the chemicals and minerals have been removed.
  • How Much to Water/When to Water
    • Water your Fiddle Leaf Fig in the morning or in the evening. These are the coolest times of the day. Watering when its cooler means that the water evaporates slower and your plant has more time to absorb the moisture.
    • The amount that you should water your Fiddle Leaf Fig depends on its size:
Size of Fiddle Leaf FigAmount of Water (per week)
<2ft. (<0.6m)1 cup (240ml)
2 – 3ft. (0.6 – 0.9m)2 cups (480ml)
3 – 6ft. (0.9 – 1.8m)3 cups (720ml)
>6ft. (>1.8m)4 cups (960ml)

When to Water After Transplanting Fiddle Leaf Fig

Transplanting your Fiddle Leaf Fig needs to be done with care because they are sensitive to movement and environmental changes.

To ensure minimal damage whilst preparing to transplant your Fiddle Leaf Fig, follow these steps:

  • Don’t water your Fiddle Leaf Fig before transplanting it.
  • Allow the soil to dry out significantly before attempting to remove your Fiddle Leaf Fig from its original pot.
    • The soil should still be moist enough to hold together, but it should not be squishy. Dry soil will make it easier to remove your plant from its container.
    • Try to avoid watering your Fiddle Leaf Fig for at least one week before transplanting.

Once you have transplanted your Fiddle Leaf Fig, water it well in its new container.

By not watering your plant until it is in its new container you are helping in several ways:

  1. It makes the process of removing the plant from its original container easier, causing less damage.
  2. Watering after transplanting will help your Fiddle Leaf Fig settle better in its new pot.
  3. Watering the new soil at the same time as the soil that you transplanted with your Fiddle Leaf Fig will allow it to become one cohesive body of soil.

Common Mistakes When Watering Fiddle Leaf Fig

It can be easy to overwater a Fiddle Leaf Fig. Not allowing time for the soil to dry out can cause several problems for your plant.

Root rot occurs when roots don’t have a chance to dry, whilst excess water can flush nutrients out of the soil causing a deficiency.

Similarly, overwatering can cause cells in the leaves to burst from excessive pressure.

These problems can cause aesthetic issues to begin with, such as browning leaves, but can lead to your plant dying if nothing changes.

So, let’s have a look at the most common mistakes when it comes to watering your Fiddle Leaf Fig:

  • Overwatering can simply be caused by watering too much. Drenching your lovely plant in water or watering too often can drown your plant.
  • Inconsistent watering is also a problem for Fiddle Leaf Figs. It can result in the soil not drying out between watering, or drying out too much, and cause problems relating to both overwatering and underwatering.
  • Watering the leaves of your Fiddle Leaf Fig should be avoided. Getting water directly onto the leaves causes damage. It also does nothing to help feed your plant. Watering directly onto the soil fast-tracks water to the roots.
Common MistakesHow to Avoid
Inconsistent WateringDevelop a watering schedule so that you water your plant once a week, at the same time.
Watering too MuchWater your plant according to its size: <2ft. (<0.6m) = 1 cup (240ml) per week 2-3ft. (0.6 – 0.9m) = 2 cups (480ml)3 – 6ft. (0.9 – 1.8m) = 3 cups (720ml)>6ft. (>1.8m) = 4 cups (960ml)
Wet Soil from OverwateringMake sure that there are enough holes in the bottom of the pot to allow for good drainage. Put a layer of 1-2 inches (2.5 – 5cm) of gravel in the planter before covering with soil to improve drainage.
Watering the Leaves and Not the Roots When watering, aim the watering can into the soil at the base of the plant, and avoid watering from above.
Watering During the Heat of the Day  Water in the mornings or evenings when it is cooler.

FAQs

How do you revive a dying Fiddle Leaf Fig?

  • Give it enough sunlight – in a bright room for at least a few hours a day
  • Keep it away from cold air and drafts.
  • Water approximately every 10 – 14 days with room temperature, rain/distilled water.
  • Check for root rot and remove rotten roots if present.
  • Transplant into a pot with good drainage holes and a combination of soil and gravel.
  • If the stem is bendy and the plant is very sick, chop off the stem to 12 inches (30cm) and it should grow back.

How can you tell if a Fiddle Leaf Fig has root rot?

  • A Fiddle Leaf Fig will show signs of root rot in its leaves.
  • Dark brown spots will appear on the edges of the leaves and in the middle and will spread.
  • The leaves will drop off.
  • Checking the roots can confirm the presence of root rot. Rotting roots will appear wet, brown, and mushy.

Should I remove brown leaves from my Fiddle Leaf Fig?

  • Don’t remove brown leaves when they first appear, wait a few weeks before removal – they may even recover if they are not too damaged.
  • It is better to cut the brown parts out of the leaves instead of removing the whole thing.
  • If the leaf has not recovered after a few weeks, cut it off using sterilized shears.

Arifur Rahman

I'm the owner of gardenforindoor.com. After completing my bachelor of science in agriculture, I'm serving as a civil service officer at the Department of Agricultural Extension, Bangladesh. I started Garden For Indoor to make your indoor gardening journey easy and enjoyable.

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