Ask a Question forum: Brown spots only on new fiddle leaf fig leaves

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Los Angeles, CA
Image
Hg
May 4, 2020 1:34 AM CST
Hi plant community,

My newish fiddle leaf fig is having some trouble. I got it in early February from a local nursery who repotted it for me. By late February, half the leaves either had brown spots or had simply fallen off. I took it back to the nursery and they admitted they accidentally planted it in a succulent mix, or something else that wasn't retaining enough water in the pot. They repotted in a more appropriate soil (they said, and I believe them) and I took it home. The drainage seems to be good and it's in one of those plant stands off the ground about 10 inches.

For a while after (a little over 2 months), it was doing really well. It even sprouted new leaves on all of its branches. Crisis averted, I thought.

Last week though, I started noticing the newest leaves seem to have brown tips. Photos attached for reference. It did suddenly go from a bit rainy and crisp (as crisp as it gets in So Cal) to getting really hot here. I'm in Los Angeles and it did get to be 90+ for a couple of days around the time when these new leaves were budding.

It's next to a west facing window that gets good late afternoon light, but it's not too sunny that the leaves would scorch (I think?). My other fiddle sits right next to it and it's doing great. No brown tips on new leaves and it was also sprouting around the same time. I water them both together, every 12 days or so.

Perhaps I'm under watering, but the other fiddle is doing great, so I don't get it.

Thoughts on what could be going on? The plant was a gorgeous bushy one before the cactus mix fiasco and I'd like it to get back there one day. Thanks for any help!

Oh - PS, the other relevant piece of info may be that I have been dealing with a fungus gnat infestation on some of my other plants so I sprayed them all with a neem oil dilution. I don't recall if this FLF ever had the gnat issue but I sprayed the soil on all my plants and it seems to have helped.

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[Last edited by Hg - May 4, 2020 1:59 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #2226877 (1)
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
Image
WillC
May 4, 2020 9:27 AM CST
Your FLF never should have been repotted in the first place. Clearly, the nursery does not know what it is doing. Who knows what they did the second time and what kind of damage they may have done to the roots during one or both of the repottiungs. It often takes a few months for the symptoms of root damage to show up.

The fungus gnats are a consequence of the nursery using a potting mix that was contaminated with gnat larvae. Neem oil is not likely to be effective in treating them.

There is no way to know how it was repotted, the condition of the roots, or how it should be watered at this point. This is a problem that will be ongoing so I suggest that you return it to the nursery. If they give you a replacement, make sure they keep it in its plastic nursery pot and leave the soil and roots undisturbed.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Los Angeles, CA
Image
Hg
May 15, 2020 4:45 PM CST
Thanks for your help Will C! I contacted the nursery and they won't take it back because it's been too long! I emailed them pictures and they told me I overwatered. I'm pretty confident I didn't! In a non COVID world, I'd ask them to inspect it themselves.

I'm inclined to:
-leave it alone in its pot
-water when the soil is dry and
-hope for the best

...But I'm wondering if you think I should take it out and see if there's anything I can do to fix the likely root damage? It seems unlikely, I know. Just trying to see if there's anything I can do to salvage it.
[Last edited by Hg - May 15, 2020 4:47 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #2239933 (3)
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
Image
WillC
May 16, 2020 8:13 AM CST
Sadly, I'm not surprised that they would shift the blame to you. Even if they were to visit, they would tell you the same thing. Thumbs down

Please post a photo that shows how it is potted so I can better advise you on how best to water it.

Fortunately, FLF's are pretty tough and can survive a fair amount of abuse, so there is still hope for yours.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Los Angeles, CA
Image
Hg
May 16, 2020 11:41 AM CST
Sure! Hoping these photos are clear.

It's in this concrete like pot that's kind of porous. I watered it yesterday because it soil was dry for the top 1 1/2" or so. I guess I'm surprised it's already so dry again. Excess water drips into a plate underneath the stand, which I haven't picked up yet.

Maybe it's not retaining water? My other fiddle is in a plastic pot.

The leaves are starting to just drop off on their own now. It's so sad. Confused
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
Image
WillC
May 16, 2020 2:30 PM CST
Plants that are now in overly large pots have excess soil that tends to retain moisture for too long and suffocate the roots. However, the nursery probably added excess soil to the top of the original rootball that is drying out quickly.

I suggest that you remove all the soil you added to the top of the original rootball so that the uppermost roots are just barely covered. That will allow oxygen to penetrate the root zone more readily. Then wait until the top half-inch of remaining soil is dry before adding just enough water so that it dries out similarly again in a week. Experiment a bit to see just what the right amount of water is.

At best, recovery will be slow and it will continue to lose more leaves.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Los Angeles, CA
Image
Hg
May 16, 2020 3:13 PM CST
OK! Thanks a lot! It's better than doing nothing. Here's what it looks like with the excess soil removed.

Gonna buy your book, WillC. It's the least I can do for all the plant advice you've provided me :). Really appreciate it.

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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
Image
WillC
May 17, 2020 7:34 AM CST
You did a good job removing the excess soil. It should be easier to determine when to water now.

I hope you find my book helpful. Thank You!
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

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