Why are My Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves Turning Yellow?

Fiddle leaf fig leaves turning yellow is something you should investigate. Sometimes it is nothing. But that’s not a risk you can take since yellow leaves on fiddle leaf fig plants can also mean problems.

As such, take the time to investigate further.

Don’t worry because once you figure out what the cause it, the solution is almost always straightforward. So, brunt of the work is in identifying the issue.

Why are the Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves Turning Yellow?

The most common reason fiddle leaf fig leaves turn yellow is overwatering. But there are other reasons as well including insufficient lighting, nutrient deficiencies, pests, soil issues, temperature stress and transplant shock.

Therefore, it is always worth narrowing the root cause because you don’t want to apply a solution that ends up not solving the problem.

 

Causes of Fiddle Leaf Fig Yellow Leaves

Since there are many possible causes for fiddle leaf fig leaves turning yellow, it is important to identify the actual cause. That’s because each culprit has a specific solution.

Therefore, just guessing what the problem is and applying a different fix not only does not solve the problem but can worsen the issue.

Below, I’ll go through each of the reasons why your fiddle leaf fig has yellow leaves.

And for each cause, I’ll explain what’s happening, how to identify it and how to fix it.

 

Overwatering

The most common reason for yellow leaves in fiddle fig leaves is overwatering.

Overwatering can be caused by a few different things. These include:

  • Watering too frequently
  • The soil has insufficient drainage
  • Your pot does not provide ample drainage

Often, it is watering too often that’s the problem.

This is the case with many beginner houseplant owners since they get too generous. As a result, they end up watering the plant when the soil is still wet.

Another issue is using a fixed watering schedule. This means you’re watering the same way during spring as you do in summer and winter.

Unfortunately, this does not work since the hot weather in summer will cause the soil to dry much faster. Meanwhile, the cold winters means soil takes much longer to dry.

Thus, it is much easier to overwater during winter.

The thing is the fiddle leaf fig only needs moderate watering. And its roots don’t like sitting in water for long periods of time.

So, when they end up being overwatered or the soil does not drain excess liquid well, the roots can suffocate because they don’t get enough air due to being overwhelmed by water.

As a result, root rot happens.

When this occurs, the damage in the roots prevents them from absorbing water and nutrients from the soil efficiently.

After a while, the lack of nutrients hinders chlorophyll production. The combination of the two cause yellowing leaves.

 

How to Fix It

So, if you suspect overwatering, the first thing I always do is check the roots.

The roots may or may not have root rot. However, this is a safety check. That’s because root rot does not give you second chances. Therefore, it is better safe than sorry!

If there is no root rot, allow the soil to completely dry out first to help the plant recover from overwatering. Then start watering slowly with an adjusted schedule.

If there is root rot, prune the rotted roots and repot the plant into a new, fresh, dry, well-draining soil.

I like to disinfect the root system and the pot as well in case the cause of the root rot is fungal.

This can happen since damp environments allow fungi to develop and spread. And if fungal disease is the cause of root rot, you want to dispose of the soil as well.

Once you repot the plant, don’t water it for about a week.

This will help it recover.

Then begin with a modified watering schedule.

With the fiddle fig leaf, it is a good idea to let part of the soil dry out between waterings. So, don’t be a hurry to water the plant.

Instead, wait until the top half of the soil has dried before adding more water.

Doing this will prevent overwatering.

 

Insufficient Drainage

The other reason for overwatering is usually insufficient drainage.

Drainage will fall under 2 different categories as I’ve mentioned above.

One is the soil.

The other is the pot you’re using.

The reason both are important is that even if you’ve perfected how and when to water your fiddle leaf fig, it can still end up with yellow leaves.

The reason for fiddle leaf fig leaves turning yellow is excess moisture. And poor drainage will cause this.

What happens is that you water just enough with the correct timing.

However, instead of allowing the moisture to drain over time, the soil ends up retaining most of the moisture. So, the roots still end up sitting in too much water.

This brings you back to the risk of suffocation and fungal infection. Both of which lead to root rot.

Similarly, if you use the correct soil and it does drain the liquid, the wrong kind of pot can mess everything up as well.

If your pot does not have drainage or any way for the excess liquid to escape, it will just pool and accumulate at the bottom of the pot.

And more you water, the more liquid builds up which keeps the soil wet yet again.

This likewise increases the risk of root rot.

 

Related

 

How to Fix It

Therefore, to avoid yellow leaves in fiddle leaf fig plants, ensuring ample drainage in addition to knowing when and how to water is important.

To fix the drainage issues causing fiddle leaf fig yellow leaves, you need to address two things.

  • Make sure you’re using well-draining soil.
  • Use a pot that has drainage holes at the bottom.

Well-draining soil will retain some water which is enough to keep the roots hydrated.

At the same time, it will quickly drain excess water, so the roots don’t end up swimming in water for extended periods of time.

This will prevent waterlogged soil. And in the process prevent overwatering.

The second thing to ensure is that the pot you use has drainage holes.

This will allow any liquid that drains from the soil to drip out of the pot instead of just accumulate at the bottom and keep the soil wet.

If you want to play it even safer, you can use a clay or terracotta pot.

These are porous which allow moisture to seep out through the material. This helps prevent too much water in the soil.

 

Lack of Light

Another reason for fiddle leaf fig yellow leaves is insufficient light.

Here, it is important to understand why light is essential to plant life. And why all plants need some light (at the very least) to survive.

The reason is that light is the raw material that plants use for photosynthesis.

And the leaves absorb light from the sun or artificial lighting to support its health and growth.

In photosynthesis, the light is turned into sugars (carbohydrates) that the plant can use to create energy. And it is this energy that it uses to support its growth, leaf development and do all the essential functions it needs to live.

This is why where there is insufficient light, plants grow slower, or their growth can even get stunted. Similarly, they produce fewer leaves. And the foliage that emerge are smaller as well.

This is due to lack of light (raw material) to create enough energy to support its need.

One important thing that the plant is able to produce in the process is chlorophyll. Insufficient photosynthesis results in low chlorophyll production.

Chlorophyll is the compound that causes leaves to be green. So, lack of chlorophyll leaves you with yellow leaves.

Similarly, chlorophyll also happens to be what allows leaves to absorb light.

Therefore, low chlorophyll causes less light absorption which again affects photosynthesis and energy production.

So, the vicious cycle will weaken the plant.

 

How to Fix It

Fortunately, fixing lack of light is easy.

All you need to do is move the plant to a location with more light. But be careful how you do this.

The fiddle leaf fig enjoys medium to bright, indirect light. This is where it will grow at its best. Therefore, this is your target lighting condition.

The east and west facing windows are ideal for this.

However, too much intense light including strong, direct sunlight exposure for more than 3 or so hours daily can burn its leaves. So, avoid that.

Additionally, excess light can also turn your fiddle leaf fig’s leaves yellow. Later on they will become brown.

As such, avoid the extremes.

Keep the plant away from insufficient light. But also avoid very harsh, intense light.

 

Nutrient Deficiencies

 

How to Fix It

 

 

Transplant or Repotting Shock

If you just transplanted or repotted recently and you noticed your fiddle leaf fig leaves turning yellow, it is likely transplant stress or shock.

In general, the fiddle leaf fig does not like being moved.

And it enjoys staying in its home and having a consistent environment.

As such, this can happen when you move the plant from one pot to another. It can also happen it you move the plant from a container to the garden or vice versa.

Don’t forget that this can occur just as well the first time you bring the plant home from the nursery.

The changes in its environmental conditions can cause this kind of stress. Although, it could also be how the plant is treated during repotting.

The plant does not like to be manhandled.

This is why it is not a good idea to aggressively pull it out of its pot or jar it out of there when it seems stuck.

At times, transplant or repotting shock can occur if the roots get damaged during the process. Or if they are left in the open exposed to the air for very long periods of time.

 

How to Fix It

Fiddle leaf fig yellow leaves due to the stress of transplanting or repotting shows how temperamental the plant can get in some things.

As such, avoid repotting unless necessary.

You only need to repot every 2 or so years when it becomes root bound.

Additionally, be gentle when repotting. And be careful when handling the roots. Don’t hit them hard when trying to remove stubborn excess dirt.

Similarly, if you dig up the plant, be careful not to shove the trowel into the roots as this can damage them.

Watering the plant before you repot also helps reduce the risk of stress.

After repotting, water thoroughly as well.

If transplant or repotting shock occurs, the best thing you can do is give it time to recover.

It can take weeks for this to happen. And all you can do is take good care of it during this time by giving it proper lighting and care.

But once it recovers, it will begin growing again.

 

Inconsistent Temperatures

Fiddle leaf fig yellow leaves can likewise be caused by temperature issues.

Here, there are two things to watch out for.

  • Cold temperature that’s below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Inconsistent or fluctuating temperatures.

The fiddle leaf fig is a tropical plant. Therefore, it is used to warm weather.

Just as importantly, in the tropics, there’s pretty much only one climate, hot. It is hot during the spring and gets hotter in the summer.

The fall cools down a bit back to around spring temperatures. Yes, it is still hot, nevertheless. And winter is likewise warm to hot for the most part albeit cooler than the rest of the year.

To give you an idea, you can wear a t-shirt, shorts and flip-flop all day during November through March. And on some days, still find yourself sweating in this attire just bit sitting down or leisurely walking.

As such, the plant is not used to the cold.

And it is not accustomed to sudden changes in temperature.

So, drops in temperature below 50 degrees can cause its leaves to turn yellow. Its growth will also slow down or get stunted.

And if the temperature continues to drop or it is left in the cold for very long periods of the, its leaves will drop as well.

 

How to Fix It

Luckily, it is easy to prevent temperature stress that’s causing the fiddle leaf fig leaves to turn yellow.

The most important thing is to be aware of the temperature.

If you keep the plant outdoors, make sure to bring it inside once the weather gets colder around fall. Don’t leave the plant outside during winter.

Also, indoors keep it away from things that will cause temperature changes.

This includes air conditioners, radiators, stoves, heaters, fireplaces and cold drafts. All of these can lead to yellow leaves in fiddle fig leaves.

On the other hand, if your fiddle leaf fig already has yellow leaves due to cold temperature, move it to somewhere warmer.

Its ideal temperature is between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. And this is where it will feel most comfortable.

You’ll need to prune the yellow leaves since they won’t turn green again.

 

Pest Problems

Pests can cause yellow leaves on fiddle leaf fig because these bugs will damage the leaves.

The most common pests that will bother this plant include mealybugs, spider mites, aphids and scale. All of these are sap sucking insects.

Unfortunately, the sap of the plant contains moisture and nutrients.

So, while a few bugs won’t affect the plant, they can cause significant damage when then grow into an infestation.

The more moisture and nutrients to take from the plant when they feed, the more yellow leaves it will have since it will lose its energy.

In the beginning, yellow patches occur. But after a while, entire leaves will turn yellow. Some will also have brown spots and develop holes due these pests.

 

How to Fix It

The most important thing with pests is to spot them early.

Since there is no way to prevent them from occurring, regular inspection becomes very important.

Similarly, it is essential to isolate and immediately treat the plant once you see any bugs. They are much easier to get rid of when there’s only a few of them.

My first line of defense is always spraying the bugs with water. This is the simplest solution to get rid of them.

Using a showerhead or garden hose on low stream is enough to dislodge the bugs.

If you get them all, you’re done.

Sometimes, it can take 3 to 5 times with a few days in between to get them all.

Another popular option to deal with bugs is to use neem oil.

Here, you can use the pre-mixed spray or a concentrated one. If you use the latter, make sure to dilute it enough with water.

Too much neem oil will not only kill the bugs but will eventually damage your plant’s leaves and kill it as well. I’ve had this happen to me twice during the first time I used neem oil.

Avoid this at all costs.

You can likewise us insecticidal soap which is very effective

 

Acidic Soil

Soil that is too acidic can result in yellow leaves on fiddle leaf fig plants as well. This is due to stress as well as nutrient deficiency.

Soil pH is very important because affects the availability of minerals.

What this means is that with the right soil pH, the roots are able to absorb the nutrients they need from the soil.

But soil pH that’s too high or too low will cause nutrient deficiencies in some nutrients and excess in others. That’s because some minerals will be more available to the plant while it won’t be able to absorb others.

This will happen due to incorrect soil pH, regardless if you’ve supplied enough fertilizer in the soil.

Thus, try to keep the soil pH for the fiddle leaf fig around neutral or slightly acidic only.

Another reason for fiddle leaf fig turning yellow from acidic soil is stress.

Soil can get acidic over time depending on what you put into it. For example, some fertilizers may cause soil to get more acidic over time. The same is true for fungicides or certain insects in the soil.

 

How to Fix It

To fix soil pH issues, make sure to maintain soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0 for the fiddle leaf fig. This will prevent yellow leaves.

It will allow the plant to absorb nutrients efficiently from the soil to avoid deficiencies or excesses.

Similarly, this is why it is a good idea to replace the soil annually or every 2 years. This will allow you to give the plant fresh soil that’s loose and well-draining.

Soil not only can change pH over time it can get compacted, dense or change in texture depending on the ingredients used and what you’ve added to it.

If your fiddle leaf fig has yellow leaves from acidic soil, the simplest thing you can do is replace the soil. This is the ideal solution for container plants since it is simple to do.

If your fiddle leaf fig is on the ground in your garden, then you may want to do a soil pH test. There are many quick and easy soil pH home test kits that will quickly let you know the results.

Depending on whether the soil pH is too high or low, you can use lime or sulfur to adjust it.

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