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8 Signs of Sunburned Fiddle Leaf Fig (And Solutions)

Fiddle Leaf Figs prefer bright but filtered light, with no more than a few hours of direct sunlight in the morning. More than that may cause figs to burn. Move sunburned Fiddle Leaf Figs to a less sunny location, water thoroughly, and remove damaged foliage.

Your Fiddle Leaf Fig’s richly textured leaves beg for the boldness of the summer sun. They appear to crave the limelight.

However, it is all too common for Fiddle Leaf Figs to develop bleached-out, sunburned leaves. What should you do now to resolve this issue? Let’s start with the symptoms before we get to the solution.

Signs for a Sunburned Fiddle Leaf Fig

Leaves With Burnt Spots

Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves With Burnt Spots
Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves With Burnt Spots

Brown, crisp spots on the leaf are an early indicator that your Fiddle Leaf Fig is in need of some attention. These patches are often blotchy and unevenly distributed across the plant, especially near the light.

Brown Or White Foliage

Brown Or White Foliage Due to Sunburn

Your Fiddle Leaf Fig’s ability to produce food is hampered by sunlight’s strong ultraviolet radiation. This pigment not only converts sunlight into complex sugars but also gives your plant its lush green color. Without it, the leaf will wither and die.

Brown Leaf Tips

Brown Tips on Fiddle Leaf Fig
Brown Tips on Fiddle Leaf Fig

Fiddle Leaf Figs with brown leaf tips are technically showing signs of dehydration. If your plant spends a lot of time in the sun, it’ll become thirsty.

In addition to drying out the leaves and soil, the heat of the bright rays can cause your fig’s food production to go into overdrive, dehydrating your fig in the process.

To learn about other possible causes of brown leaf tips on Fiddle Leaf Figs, click here.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Bleached Leaves

 Fiddle Leaf Fig Bleached Leaves
Fiddle Leaf Fig Bleached Leaves

In the worst-case scenario, your Fiddle Leaf Fig’s leaves will be completely bleached. Sunlight at noon can completely destroy the leaves’ pigments, as well as their structure, before destroying the leaf itself.

When fig leaves appear washed out, gray or white, it’s a clear sign that they’re being exposed to too much direct sunlight.

Total Soil Dryness

When exposed to strong light, your Fiddle Leaf Fig will rely on whatever water it can find to stay hydrated. This causes the soil to be dry and light. Larger figs may fall out of the pot as the roots lose their grip.

A crumbly, dry soil indicates that your fig is fighting hard to stay alive.

Drooping And Wilting Foliage

Another sign of dehydration is drooping, wilted leaves. Your Fiddle Leaf Fig relies on water to fill out its leaves. In the absence of that water, the leaves become floppy.

Sunburn Treatment for Fiddle Leaf Fig

Treating a sunburned Fiddle Leaf Fig is simple. Contrary to popular belief, they are simply quick to adapt to changes in their environment. Leaf-dropping can be frustrating, but it also means that they respond well to changes in the growing environment.

Take The Pot Out of Direct Sunlight

To begin, simply move your Fiddle Leaf Fig from direct sunlight. Find a cooler, less brightly lit location where your fig can rest.

To keep the root zone moist, water the Fiddle Leaf Fig.

Then comes a thorough drenching to rehydrate your thirsty fig. I recommend watering the sunburned fig from the bottom up. You can do this by following these instructions:

  • Choose a basin or tub that is at least half the height of your pot.
  • Remove your fig from its saucer or tray and place it in the basin.
  • In your basin, add enough clean water to fill it halfway up the side of your pot. Rainwater is ideal for this, but distilled or filtered water can be used as well.
  • Allow your Fiddle Leaf Fig to soak in water for about 30 minutes. Flowing water from the pot’s drainage holes soaks the growing medium from the roots upward. Fill up the water tank as you go along.
  • Take your fig out of the basin. Before putting the pot back on the saucer or tray, let it drain for an additional 15 minutes.

This is the best method for rehydrating a plant that has been overheated and sunburned.

Your fig will immediately draw the water into its leaves and stems as the water circulates in the pot. You may be surprised at how much water your Fiddle Leaf Fig consumes during this process!

Watering from the bottom may not be an option if your fig is a mature specimen that is too large. You’ll have to water from the top down.

It takes some time to water dehydrated plants from above. Water is difficult to retain in dry soils.

To water from the top, add small amounts of water to the soil frequently so that it has time to soak in. As you sprinkle the water across the plant’s surface, give it a twenty-second rest period.

A small drip from the drainage holes indicates that you have added enough water.

After that, your soil is rehydrated enough to take a larger dose of water, so add more.

As it recovers, keep an eye on your Fiddle Leaf Fig and inspect its moisture level on a daily basis. You might find that you need to top it up sooner than expected!

When the top two inches of soil have dried out, water the plants. Many of you with a scientific bent may prefer to use a moisture meter  (Check out the prices on Amazon here) to check the soil’s moisture content, but I prefer simply poking a finger into the medium.

Should I cut off burnt fiddle leaf fig leaves?

Leaves are the powerhouses for plant growth. It’s important to consider the pros and cons of removing damaged leaves.

Leaves with no more than a third of the damage can be left to continue their work. You can trim away crispy tips with clean shears or scissors, carefully following the natural shape of the leaf.

Don’t cut into the healthy green tissue of the leaf. All that will do is kill those parts too, and you’ll have a delicate amount of brown edge regardless.

That said, you can always just remove the whole leaf. Fiddle Leaf Figs are notorious for dropping leaves without the slightest hesitation in stressful conditions. If they aren’t worried about losing a few leaves, you shouldn’t worry either.

Just cut them off at the base with clean shears. Be sure to wear gloves, as these figs produce a milky white sap that’s toxic and quite irritating.

Preventing Sunburn in Fiddle Leaf Figs

[1] Acclimatize Your Fiddle Leaf Fig to Prevent Sunburn

Preventing sunburn on your fig can be accomplished through a process known as ‘hardening off,’ which is another name for acclimatization.

To help your Fiddle Leaf Fig get used to the new light levels, this process is going to take a while. As long as you’re careful, you can get your figs used to high levels of light with ease.

Gradually shift the location of your plant from a shady area to one that receives more sunlight. Allow it a few days to a week in this new location. As soon as it acclimates, move it to a brighter area once more.

It may only take a few weeks for your fig to adapt to its new environment, depending on your light levels.

[2] Fertilize During Early Plant Growth

Make sure to fertilize your fiddle leaf fig each month from fall to spring because they are limited to the nutrients in their pot. During this period, your plant is in need of extra care and attention.

Growth will be slowed if these nutrients aren’t present. Your fig will become more brittle and more susceptible to sunburn if exposed to light that is otherwise fine.

When your fig is young, this is especially true. 

When watering, use a specialized fig fertilizer once a week to save yourself the hassle.

[3] Adjust The Watering Frequency With The Seasons

During the summer, your Fiddle Leaf Fig will require more water.  It also uses the extra light to stimulate growth, which is another thirsty activity!

If you keep your fig in a bright location, it may require two waterings per week. During this time, keep a close eye on the moisture levels.

[4] Alternate the Shade

In a bright environment, provide a shady spot for your plant.

During the hottest parts of the day, consider closing the drapes or blinds. You can also place your fig near statuary, bookcases, or other plants to provide shade during the day.

It’s simple to keep your Fiddle Leaf Fig’s lyrical leaves looking their best with a little care and forethought.