Houseplants forum: Fiddle leaf fig losing its gorgeous green leaves?!

Views: 1502, Replies: 18 » Jump to the end
Name: Sig Hafstrom
Oakland, California, USA (Zone 10a)
Image
Haffy
Jan 19, 2016 4:49 PM CST
Hi all!

I'm in Oakland, California, and have a five-foot, single trunk ficus lyrata indoors that's losing healthy-looking, glossy-green leaves. One moment the leaves are growing beautifully, looking fabulous, then suddenly they detach and fall with a thud, no brown spots, no drooping. A few leaves do have some brown spots, but nothing terrible, and they do fall off too, but mostly everything looks healthy.

It's growing in a room with east, north, and west facing windows, though the west-facing doesn't get a ton of light. The room is quite bright, but it does tend to stay damp in there. I got the fig in September, and it was fine for the first six or eight weeks, didn't have any new growth but didn't seem to suffer any shock from the new environment either. It lost a leaf or two after that, a couple-few leaves developed brown spots, but I figured it was just adjusting. I check the soil moisture and continued to water when the top layer of soil was dry.

We were away for a week around Thanksgiving and turned the heater off, so it got down into the 50s in the house. When we got back, the fig started dropping green leaves more frequently, so I figured it must be grouchy about the cold. We were running the heater more after that, and though it isn't too close to the vent, when the leaf-drop increased. I figured it must not like the dry air, so I put a deflector on the vent. Leaf-drop continued to increase - still healthy-looking green leaves here - so I dug around in the soil a bit and discovered it was staying rather soggy an inch or so down, and there was some dampness - though not standing water - in the saucer. That explained the brown spots at least. I stopped watering to get the soil back to a better moisture level - this was just about a week ago, so it's still pretty damp - but still so much leaf-drop! I'm at wit's end with this thing! I can find plenty of information about browning leaves falling, but nothing about losing green, healthy-looking leaves.

The soil was flushed when I bought the plant in September, and since there hasn't been any new growth - plus many greenhouses tend to over-fertilize - I haven't feed it at all yet. I'm about to move it to a brighter room. Giving it more light is the only thing I haven't tried yet, though the room it's in has the bright indirect light so many houseplants adore. The leaves are free of bugs, fungus, mites, as is the soil. I used to even say encouraging words to the fig, but now I yell, "you're not even trying!" and leave the room.

Can anyone help here? Please tell me my fig isn't doomed.
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
Image
plantladylin
Jan 21, 2016 8:27 AM CST
Hi Haffy, Welcome to All Things Plants!

I used to grow the Fiddle-leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata) but my plants stayed outside year-round so I can't offer advice on what may be happening with your indoor tree losing it's leaves; it may just be the time of year combined with lower light and lower humidity.. Here in Florida, many folks grow it as a landscape plant. The Fiddle Leaf Ficus (like others in the Ficus genus) prefers high humidity so perhaps your plant is needing additional humidity from the dry heat of winter? You can try sitting the pot on a tray of moist pebbles to raise the humidity around the plant; just remember to refresh the water in the tray as it evaporates.

@Drdawg Ken grows and sells the Fiddle Leaf Ficus so he can probably offer suggestions on what might be happening with your plant but he was having some back surgery so he might be off site for a few days. Hopefully others who grow this beauty as an indoor house plant will pop in with some tips for you until Ken can respond.

Again, Welcome!
Lin
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Mid-Atlantic Composter Region: Maryland Birds
Cat Lover Dog Lover Region: United States of America
Image
sallyg
Jan 21, 2016 12:33 PM CST
Hi! It sounds like you've already got good sense about the plant. Maybe it just needs more time to recover from the soggy soil, before the leaf drop stops.
With all due respect to plantladylin, and it is a lot of respect, I don't think a tray of pebbles is going to do much for humidity around a big plant like that.(from what I read from tapla). Someone else here has had a fiddle leaf for many years, and I don't think she puts any effort into humidity, other than keeping hundreds of other plants big and small all through her house Green Grin!
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Name: Sig Hafstrom
Oakland, California, USA (Zone 10a)
Image
Haffy
Jan 25, 2016 7:20 PM CST
Thank You! Thanks for the thoughts! While I agree plantladylin's humidity suggestion might not be quite on, it did make me think about how even with the heater going the house isn't all that warm. California houses really are drafty, plus we don't run the heater all that much - no point when the heat just leaks out! So maybe the problem is that it's too cold and damp and needs to be more warm and moist. I gently poked some holes in the soil for aeration, and put a heating pad under the pot to give the soil a bit of warmth. More Florida, less Oakland!

I'm starting to think about how nice a schefflera would look in that same spot, though... Shrug!
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Jan 25, 2016 8:48 PM CST
Hello, @Haffy. Welcome to ATP. As @plantladylin noted, I had major back surgery last Tuesday, and could not even sit at the computer (much less do anything else) until the last couple of days.

Though I am simply a hobbyist grower, I grow a lot of Fiddles, both divisions from my 25+ year old "mother" plant and seedlings. My plants have certainly totaled well over 100 and counting. I really don't do anything special with these plants and for me at least, they require pretty much the same care/conditions as most tropical plants. By the way, the vast majority of our houseplants are tropical plants

My plants get warm conditions. I try to keep my greenhouses and solarium at or above 50F.
My plants get bright light. Ideally I want my plants to have an eastern exposure during the spring and summer months and a southeastern, southern, or southwestern exposure during the fall and winter month. Strong inflorescent lighting can and should be used if lighting is rather weak.
My plants get spraying/misting every few days while they are inside during the fall and winter months.
My plants get regular watering but I don't water when the potting soil is damp. When in doubt, wait a couple of days to water.
My plants get regular fertilization but it is diluted to 1/4 during the fall and winter and 1/2 during the spring and summer.
My plants get air movement while they are inside but nature provides that movement when they are growing outside.

The most important factor for my plants to do well is having well-draining soil. I customize all my potting media and thus, I can control the drainage however I choose. I want my media to retain moisture, but no mater how often I water, I know the media will never remain wet. I do empty my catch-saucers since I don't want my plants to sit in water. Houseplant typically don't like "WET-FEET". I don't use pebble-trays with large plants. I just don't think these tray contribute enough to raising the humidity around large plants. I generally will water twice and fertilize once during the time my plants are inside and when outside, the plants get alternating fertilization/watering. The watering rinses out chemicals left in the potting soil from the fertilizers.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional interior landscaper
Image
WillC
Feb 6, 2016 8:26 AM CST
Hi Haffy,

I care for more than a dozen Ficus lyratas in a variety of indoor home and office locations in NYC. All of then are exposed to very dry air throughout the winter months and that is not an issue as long as they are watered properly.

You described the light as being bright indirect and in my experience most people overestimate light intensity. Lyratas must be right in front of a north or east facing, completely uncovered window. They can be off a bit to the side or a few feet back from a west or south window. I suspect that inadequate light is the primary cause of the leaf drop that yours is experiencing. That would also explain its staying moist for a long time because light determines how much a plant grows and how much water it requires.

Improve the light, but be patient as it will take a month or two for your Lyrata to recover. Plants tend to react slowly to changes in their environment.

You didn't mention repotting, so I will assume you have not done that. If you did, then that may very well be contributing to the problem.

~Will Creed, Interiorscaper
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
[url=www.HorticulturalHelp.com]www.HorticulturalHelp.com[/url]
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Feb 6, 2016 8:40 AM CST
Light is certainly important with the fiddle leaf, @WillC. After all, these are trees and in nature they grow in full sun! I am surprised that your plants do well in a north-facing window. This affords them very poor-quality light (minimal lumens). I am in the deep south, and though the north-light would be even stronger here than in NYC, I would never even consider putting any of my fiddles in that kind of light conditions. But since it seems to work where you are, apparently I am wrong in my thinking. Sticking tongue out
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional interior landscaper
Image
WillC
Feb 6, 2016 9:21 AM CST
Hi Ken,

Most plants grown in nurseries for indoor use are grown under shade so they don't fall apart as soon as they are moved indoors. Shade grown Lyratas have larger, darker green leaves and they do hold up quite well if located immediately in front of a north window, IF the window is large enough and completely uncovered during the daylight hours. Of course, they will do even better if they get several hours of direct sunlight, but not everyone has that option.

In my business, I have learned how to care for plants in less than ideal conditions. Many of them fare much better than one would expect from reading the standard literature.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
[url=www.HorticulturalHelp.com]www.HorticulturalHelp.com[/url]
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Feb 6, 2016 10:36 AM CST
I understand completely, Will. You do know I have a tropical plant business, right?

I live in a temperate zone, not in a subtropical zone. I have to utilize greenhouses during the fall/winter months because we get down in the 20's quite frequently. During the present seven-day period, we will have six mornings in the mid to upper 20's. All my tropical plants stay outside under trees during the spring/summer months. The only thing I use my greenhouse for then is to start vegetables, root plumeria, and cure my garlic. My greenhouses get far too hot, even with doors and vents open, four fans running, and heavy shading. About the only plants suitable would be the cacti, but I don't grow them.

Do you grow/sell/care for any of the epiphytic plants? That's my real love.

Ken
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.

Butterflies Daylilies Echinacea Heucheras Hellebores Hostas
Lilies Region: Northeast US
bluepoppy
Feb 23, 2016 8:20 AM CST
I have a Fiddle Fig..one stem..very thin. Wondering if I could top it to make it bush out.
If not is there a way to make the trunk thicker?? It is close to 5 ft tall.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Feb 23, 2016 9:05 AM CST
@bluepoppy, I have probably grown well over 200 fiddle leafs over the years and have several dozen as we speak. Given time, your fiddle will branch. This is a tree. But it will take several years. I cut my tallish, spindly plants back all the time, both to keep them shorter (I can't ship a plant taller than 3') and to encourage branching. If I had a 5' tree, I would cut it half-way up. Strip off the lower 3/4 leaves from the upper section, apply rooting hormone to the cut tip, and stick it in a pot of soil. Keep it warm and constantly moist. It might just root for you.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.

Butterflies Daylilies Echinacea Heucheras Hellebores Hostas
Lilies Region: Northeast US
bluepoppy
Feb 23, 2016 6:41 PM CST
thanks. I will try that.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Feb 23, 2016 8:37 PM CST
Thumbs up
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Nancy
North Texas (DFW) (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Cat Lover Houseplants Butterflies
Image
merkuree
Apr 14, 2016 4:23 PM CST
I have a Fiddle Leaf Fig that isn't doing well indoors (due to my fault) and I'm wondering if keeping it outdoors for the next few months will help? What's the maximum/minimum temperature they can tolerate? I can put it in my porch but I'm in North Texas and idk if it will be too hot/cold outside for it. I would honestly rather keep it indoors but people seem to have success with dying fiddle leaf figs outdoors.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Apr 15, 2016 6:22 AM CST
Nancy, the reason fiddle leaf ficus do better when outside (in the right conditions, of course) is because they are trees, and trees are generally going to grow best outside. My fiddle leafs are all outside, and we will have lows down into the mid-40's. My plants do fine with those low temperatures. They are all under large oak trees though. I would prefer the night/morning temperatures to be at or above 55 F though. These are tropical plants and do best with more moderate lows. You don't want your tree to get any direct sunlight between 11 AM and 3 PM. The leaves will sunburn.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Nancy
North Texas (DFW) (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Cat Lover Houseplants Butterflies
Image
merkuree
Apr 15, 2016 8:07 AM CST
@drdawg but what high temperatures? summers in texas can get over 100 F.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Apr 15, 2016 12:03 PM CST
Since all my tropical plants are under large oaks and cedar trees, they will stay cooler. We get in the mid to upper 90's all summer long and it is not unusual to get above 100. Also being under large trees, my plants will only get morning sun or late afternoon sun, which is ideal for most tropical plants. Well, my plumeria get full sun but a few of them will even have to be shaded a bit in the harshist part of summer.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Nancy
North Texas (DFW) (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Cat Lover Houseplants Butterflies
Image
merkuree
Apr 15, 2016 1:37 PM CST
@drdawg I just realized we're both in zone 8. I moved my struggling fiddle leaf figs outdoors today to the covered patio- current temperatures are 60s at night and 70/80s in the day. The temperatures will increase as the summer nears- but the figs will be protected from the sun as it gets into the 90s/100s. I'm hoping it will help them recover if I leave them outdoors for the rest of the year (until temperatures start dropping below 55 which will be closer to winter 2016). I want to give them the best chance to recover and being outdoors seems to help fiddle leaf figs. The only thing I can do now is water and wait. How often do you water your outdoor figs? Mine aren't going to get rainwater since they're covered. Thanks!
[Last edited by merkuree - Apr 15, 2016 6:31 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1117131 (18)
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Apr 16, 2016 1:58 PM CST
I do my best to keep my "Momma" fiddle moist at all times. She is 25 yrs. old and has been in the same 24-28" pot for the last ten years. I know she is terribly root-bound but she seems to be a happy plant. I also fertilize her regularly but at 1/2 the recommended dilution rate. She might get fertilized weekly.........weakly. Since I grow so many plants (800-1000), and the vast majority are outside from April till November, I am always watering/fertilizing something. I walk around with a hose that has a gentle "rain" end and just hose my plants, leaves and all. Since my fiddle is so root-bound, I could not overwater her if I watered her heavily every day. Beside, as long as you have premium potting media that drains extremely well, and excess water can run out of the drainage holes, I don't think anyone should have fear of overwatering. With their huge leaves that transpire a ton of water daily, these plants are heavy drinkers.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.

« Garden.org Homepage
« Back to the top
« Forums List
« Houseplants forum
You must first create a username and login before you can reply to this thread.

Today's site banner is by ge1836 and is called "Pacific Blue Ice"