Ask a Question forum→My Fiddle Fig Tree Needs Your Help

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San Diego CA
sabrinabrookfield
May 9, 2020 12:43 PM CST
Thanks for reading my post. Plant experts, I need your guidance. My fig tree, which I purchased seven months ago at a nice nursery, is having a lovely growth spurt -- but has also developed a sudden issue affecting the mature leaves at the bottom of the plant. As you can see in the photos, the browning is generally in the same spot near the bottom of the leaves by the stem (not along the top edges). Little black gnats that resemble fruit flies are a real problem and I'll catch 75 a day in bowl of vinegar. That would imply over-watering, yet all of my other plants are watered twice as often. Bad drainage? I initially potted the plant with Miracle Grow soil and haven't fertilized it yet. Any idea what's wrong? Should I risk the trauma of trying to get the fig out of its pot to check the roots?



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[Last edited by sabrinabrookfield - May 9, 2020 1:06 PM (+)]
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Name: one-eye-luke US.Vet.
Texas (Zone 8a)
Quitter's never Win
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oneeyeluke
May 10, 2020 1:45 AM CST
Its normal for indoor plants to drop their oldest leave to make room for the new ones on top. Your plant is fine and looks very good at this time. Use a lot of yellow stickies to help catch those flying pests. When the leaves look like the bottom photo you can remove them but leave anything with a lot of green for photosynthesis.
NOT A EXPERT! Just a grow worm! I never met a plant I didn’t love.✌
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
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WillC
May 10, 2020 10:13 AM CST
How long ago did you repot your plant?

Did you leave the original rootball intact or did you remove some of the original soil? If so, how much?
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
San Diego CA
sabrinabrookfield
May 10, 2020 12:37 PM CST
Hi Will -- I repotted the the plant only once, early last October when I first got it. It wasn't root bound so I just left the roots alone and I estimate that 90% of the original soil was transferred to the new pot. The pot was one size bigger than I would normally have chosen. The first new leaves sprouted in late February and two more sets have followed.

The browning that eats away at the leaves near the stem started suddenly a few weeks ago; it feels dramatic for six leaves to go bad in such a short time span. (My last fiddle-leaf fig tree grew to eight feet without ever losing a leaf.) Two more leaves are now showing the beginning signs of browning.

I broke COVID self-isolation yesterday to go to the nursery. The associate I spoke with suggested that the problem might be fungus larvae and sold me a pesticide by Bonide called Systemic Houseplant Insect Control with 0.22% imicaloprid, but I'm reluctant to use it. Do you think this the proper way to proceed?

Thank you for your time!
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
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WillC
May 10, 2020 2:49 PM CST
How do you determine when to water and how much do you give it?

Imidacloprid applied as a soil drench should be effective in treating the fungus gnat larvae, but will have no effect on the lower leaf loss although I don't think that is a serious problem. If you use any pesticide read all the fine print and follow all recautions. Don't use it if there are pets or toddlers that might mess with the soil.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
San Diego CA
sabrinabrookfield
May 10, 2020 9:22 PM CST
Living inland from the coast in a warm climate, my other plants demand water twice weekly. I've only been watering the fig tree once a week though for the past month -- twice weekly prior to that. I honestly think it would like more, because I see noticeable growth spurts in the young leaves whenever it's watered. I don't want to risk root rot though, as wouldn't the gnats imply that I was over-watering?

How much water? Probably 32 ounces of spring water. The pot is pretty big, measuring 14" across, so it's never enough liquid that it drains out the bottom.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
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WillC
May 11, 2020 8:11 AM CST
You cannot reliably judge if it needs water by your other plants. Likewise, growth spurts are not good indicators of water needs.

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. Then wait until the top half-inch inch of remaining soil is dry before adding just enough water so that it dries out similarly again in about a week. Experiment a bit to see just what the right amount of water is.

The fungus gnat larvae do require some moisture to survive, but their presence does not necessarily mean overwatering. In general, it is best to err on the side of underwatering, but not so much that it jeopardizes the plant. Your FLF does not tolerate dry soil as well as many other plants so you may not be able to let the soil dry out enough to eradicate the larvae.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
San Diego CA
sabrinabrookfield
May 11, 2020 9:06 PM CST
Sending a big thank-you to both Will and oneeyeluke! Much appreciated.
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Houseplants Keeper of Poultry Vegetable Grower Region: Maryland Composter
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sallyg
May 12, 2020 6:31 AM CST
32 ounces seems like plenty of water. But if it -never - drains out the bottom do you know if the bottom of the roots have actually gotten moistened? Maybe after removing extra soil, you should add more water until it does drain, at least once.
i'm pretty OK today, how are you? ;^)

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