Fiddle leaf fig brown spots are something you need to handle as soon as you see them. These can be bothersome and frustrating because it can be sometimes hard to tell why it is happening.
Plus, the beautiful green leaves of the plant are getting messed up by the presence of the spots.
Therefore, it is important to properly identify the cause and promptly begin treatment.
What Causes Brown Spots on Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves?
Brown spots on fiddle leaf fig is usually caused by root rot due to overwatering. This is a serious problem since it means that there has been damage to the roots of the plant usually caused by a fungal infection. As such, the overwatering may have been caused by watering too frequently or inadequate drainage.
Similarly, bacterial infections can cause brown spots on fiddle leaf fig plant leaves. Pests are another possible cause along with dryness.
As such, it is important to identify what the actual cause is in order to properly treat the issue. And because some of the causes are more serious than others, they require more immediate attention.
This will prevent the problem from spreading even more while you eliminate other potential causes.
This means prioritizing which ones to check first is important. Also, take note of the behavior and characteristics of the fiddle leaf fig’s brown spots.
How the spots look, their number, size, location can help you identify one cause from another.
Below, I’ll take you through each of the causes for brown spots on fiddle leaf fig plants. And discuss the best way to fix each one.
Brown Spots on Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves Caused by Root Rot
The most common cause of fiddle leaf fig leaves brown spots is root rot. More specifically root rot caused by fungal infection.
Note that root rot happens due to overwatering. And when the roots end up sitting in water for extended periods of time, two things usually happen.
One is they suffocate because the water prevents them from getting enough air. This causes root rot which can eventually destroy the plant.
However, the wet environment also encourages fungal infections. And when fungi grow, they can eat through the roots causing root rot as well.
While the two effects are different, they end up in the same place. You’ve got rotted roots that don’t function anymore. So, these fail to absorb moisture or nutrients from the soil no matter how much you water or fertilize it.
What’s worse is that both will spread. So, the more roots are damages, the weaker the plant gets. After a point it can die if you don’t intervene.
Brown spots on fiddle leaf fig plants appear due to fungal infection and not when the roots rot due to suffocation. As such, you’ll know immediately which kind of root rot it is.
This infection will work its way up the plant from the roots to reach the leaves. Therefore, the brown spots on foliage are a later stage symptom, which means the roots have already sustained damage by then.
If not treated immediately, the leaves can turn completely brown then drop off.
How to Treat Brown Spots Caused by Root Rot
If you suspect brown spots on fiddle leaf fig plant’s leaves is due to root rot, or the plant is being overwatered, immediately unpot the plant and check the roots.
This is the only way to verify whether or not it is root rot.
Root rot is easy to spot. And before you even take a close look at the roots, you’ll likely take a whiff of its foul odor. This is a rotten smell that sometimes can be noticed on the surface of the soil.
To check, wash off the soil and look at all the roots.
Healthy roots are white and a little translucent in color. They are pliable and firm as well. On the other hand, rotted roots are black or brown in color. They are soft and mushy as well.
If you see the latter, you’ll need to prune the rotted roots.
Also, because the cause is a fungal infection, it is very important to get rid of all the soil. You do not want to bring any of the soil to the plant’s new pot. Therefore, wash off any soil thoroughly.
And carefully dispose of all the soil.
Prune all the affected leaves as well. You don’t want them to keep spreading the infection.
Next, you’ll need to disinfect the plant’s roots.
Use a solution made from 1 tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide for every cup of water. You can fill the sink with this or a large container. The goal is that the solution needs to be enough to sink the entire root ball and root system in.
Submerge the root system and make sure every healthy root and the bottom of the plant. You want to kill all the fungi.
Also, use the same solution to clean the pot. That will have remnants of the pathogen as well.
Once done, allow the pot and roots to dry.
Then, repot. You can use a new pot or the same pot after it has been disinfected. Use fresh, dry, well draining potting mix.
Don’t water the plant for about a week. This will give it time to recover.
Also, adjust your watering routine so that you allow the soil to dry between waterings. Make sure to use well-draining soil and a pot with drainage to avoid overwatering in the future.
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Brown Spots on Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves Due to a Bacterial Infection
Besides a fungal infection caused by overwatering, your fiddle leaf fig leaves’ brown spots may be caused by a bacterial infection.
While both cause disease, they are caused by different microorganisms. As such, the symptoms will look different, and the treatment is likewise different.
Unfortunately, bacterial infections are a headache to treat because they’re hard to get rid of and are often stubborn.
Bacterial infections are usually accompanied by yellow leaves. The spots will also occur of different areas of the plant. Both old and new leaves will have them. So, if you see new, small leaves with spots, this often means it is bacterial.
The brown spots are usually irregular shapes as their margins are not uniformly shaped.
After a while, the leaves will also drop.
How to Treat Brown Spots Due to Bacterial Infection
The problem with bacterial infection is if it has spread too far, you’re likely not going to be able to save the plant. So, try to spot the problem as early as possible.
Once more than 50% of the leaves are affected, the odds of your fiddle leaf fig surviving goes down significantly. That’s because the infection will keep spreading.
In case this happens, you will need to start over.
Some people will just buy a new plant. But I suggest looking for any healthy stems that are still not affected by the bacteria. Make sure they are healthy.
Take these cuttings making sure there are at least 2 nodes on each of the cuttings. Then propagate in soil or in water. This will allow you to grow a clone of the plant at home.
Make sure to do this early as well since once there are no stems with nodes left unaffected, the window to propagate is closed.
Hopefully, it does not come to this. But this is an insurance that you can get a new plant even if you lose the current one.
But if the infection is caught early, your first step is to prune the all the affected leaves.
Then make sure the soil is not wet. If it is, pour out any excess liquid immediately.
Move the plant to a warm location with good ventilation. Keep the plant under bright, indirect sunlight as well.
The combination of good lighting, air circulation and warmth will speed up the soil drying process. You want the soil to dry as soon as possible since bacteria grow and spread in moist environments.
You can also repot the plant in dry soil. This lets you skip the part when you have to wait for the soil to dry on its own.
Doing so will let the plant start recovery.
Brown Spots on Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves Caused by Dryness
While overwatering can cause a host of problems for houseplants, it is likewise a bad idea to let them go dry. This is the case for the fiddle leaf fig plant.
And if you notice the plant develop brown spots that are more tan in hue rather than the saturated brown color, it is worth checking the soil.
Tan/brown spots that begin on the edges of the leaves and work their way going in the leaf usually means you’re dealing with an underwatered fiddle leaf fig plant.
Why does this happen?
The soil is dry.
More specifically, it could be because the soil just dried out if you haven’t been watering the plant or life somehow has gotten in the way.
Similarly, it can happen more abruptly during summer when the temperature suddenly rises and stays high for a few days. This speeds up evaporation dramatically causing the soil to dry faster.
In some cases, it could be humidity as well.
Humidity is less about moisture in the soil but more able moisture in the air. Humidity can drop significantly during the winter and in hot, dry summers. So, this can cause browning in the leaves as well.
How to Treat Brown Areas on a Dry Plant
If dryness, lack of moisture or underwatering is the cause of the brown spots, you can easily fix it by watering the plant.
But first, you want to check the soil.
This is the only way to confirm your suspicion.
Feel the soil and stick your finger into the soil. When brown spots on fiddle leaf fig appear due to dryness or dehydration, it often means the soil is very dry.
So, stick your finger into the soil as deep as you can and feel for moisture. If the soil feels very dry, then you’ve verified your suspicion.
Usually, the entire root ball will be dry by this point or very close to it.
Once you have confirmation, water the plant.
Make sure to water thoroughly. Deep watering is the best way to hydrate the roots.
To do this, add water directly to the soil. You can rest a hose set on low on the rim of the pot or use a long neck watering can to water the soil directly.
Keep the water running until you see liquid dripping from the bottom of the pot’s drainage.
Then allow the soil to completely drain. This part will take 10 to 30 minutes depending on how big the plant is. But never skip it.
This will ensure the soil ends up moist and not overwatered or waterlogged. It also prevents excess moisture. At the same time, it ensures the roots get enough water to drink to hydrate themselves.
Brown Spots on Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves Due to Pests
Pests are a menace. And they are attracted to houseplants with lovely, lush leaves because they will feed on them.
When doing so, they will inflict damage and leave small black or brown spots on the leaves. These spots will get bigger and turn into holes over time if you don’t treat the pest problem.
Because the pests are very tiny, inspection is best done with a magnifying glass.
The most common pests that will bother your fiddle fig leaf plant include spider mites, mealybugs, whiteflies, aphids and scale.
How to Treat Brown Spots Due to Pests
When treating pests, it is very important to spot them early.
The earlier you spot the pests, the easier it will be to eradicate them. That’s because they are fewer in number. Fewer bugs make them less stubborn to get rid of.
In contrast, once they grow into an infestation, not only do they inflict more damage they will also take much longer to completely wipe out.
I like to use a garden hose or shower head to get rid of pests. Just be thorough and spray any bugs you see. Make sure to spray the bottom of the leaves since that’s where these insects like to hide and lay their eggs. The nooks and crannies between the stem and petioles are also popular hiding places.
Only use a light stream of water as this is enough to dislodge the bugs from the plant without damaging the leaves.
Try to get all of them. It make take 3 to 4 sprayings. But this is the simplest way since when there are no more insects left, you’re done.
Alternatively, you can spray with neem oil or insecticidal soap spray as well.
Will Damaged Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves Turn Green Again?
Unfortunately, this will not happen. There is no reverting back to their original healthy green color after the brown spots have appeared.
This is likewise the case for brown tips and edges. And is also what happens to yellow, striped, brown or other damaged or affected foliage.
As such, don’t try to leave them on the plant in hopes that they will recover.
Instead, prune them using a sterile pair of scissors or pruning shears. You can use rubbing alcohol and cotton to sanitize the blades before cutting into the plant.
Should You Cut Off Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves with Brown Spots?
Yes. Remove the affected leaves. This is true for leaves with brown spots as well as any abnormalities. Therefore, prune yellow and brown leaves as well.
As a rule, cut of any leave that are affected in any way by infection. That’s because the pathogens tend to spread if you don’t get the affected areas off the plant.
Additionally, brown spots on fiddle leaf fig plant won’t recover and just disappear. Because the leaf gets discolored along the way, you’ll never see the affected leaves turn green again.
Thus, the best option is to prune all of them.
However, only prune 10% at a time. You don’t want to prune a ton of them in a single sitting as this can shock the plant which adds to the problems.
Nevertheless, try to remove all the leaves at some point because pruning will encourage new growth.