Ask a Question forum: Why new Fiddle Leaf Tree leaves coming out already brown?

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Name: Abi Thomas
FL (Zone 9a)
abthom
Aug 10, 2016 10:18 AM CST
Hi all,

I bought a beautiful Fiddle Leaf Tree a few months ago - it was doing great until recently. Every new leaf is growing out covered in reddish brown spots. Sometimes they fall out but a few have grown large with the brown spots. The other older leaves are all a beautiful dark green. Does anyone know why the new leaves are growing out brown? I water it once per week and it's by a window with alot of filtered sunlight. I repotted it in fertilized potting soil about 1 month ago when the leaves first started coming out brown - but that didn't help it.

I appreciate any thoughts and advice! I am a novice.

Thank you!


Name: Tara
NE, Florida (Zone 9a)
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terrafirma
Aug 10, 2016 10:21 AM CST
Welcome! abthom, to NGA!

Our own @drdawg grows these beauties. I put a page out to him. Hopefully he'll pop in soon, and maybe be able to help you out.
[Last edited by terrafirma - Aug 10, 2016 10:22 AM (+)]
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Name: Abi Thomas
FL (Zone 9a)
abthom
Aug 10, 2016 11:38 AM CST
Thank you, terrafirma!
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
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drdawg
Aug 10, 2016 1:14 PM CST
For me at least, this is a toughie. I only have the single, 25+ year old "mother" tree, and she's never had any real problems. Thus, I don't have any first-hand experience in dealing with what you see. I'm simply going to list some things to look for and consider:

1. Look closely for insects and mites. If you see any cottony areas where the leaf-stem meets the trunk on the underside of the leaves, that's mealy bugs. If you see fine webbing, you have mites. You might have to get out a magnifying glass to see these small critters. Mites in particular will suck the life out of young, tender leaves. The older, more mature leaves are too tough for them to harm. Whether you can identify pests or not, I would make up a solution of alcohol/water, 50/50, wet a soft cloth with the solution, and gently rub all the leaves and the leaf-stems. Do it on all the leaves and stems, not just the ones that you see damage on. Repeat this in 4-7 days.

2. When you re-potted, tell me what the roots looked like. Were they firm and not mushy?

3. Are you using tap water? I have great tap water here but many localities have very poor water quality, as least when it comes to dissolved solids. Unless you know that your tap water is excellent, switch to rainwater or distilled water.

4. This could be a water quantity problem, rather than a water quality problem. Fiddles that have a good, healthy root system, and a good leaf canopy, will use huge amounts of water. Part of that equation is because their leaves are so large that they will transpire far more volume of water than your average houseplant. Rather than simply watering on a set-schedule, look at and stick your finger an inch deep in that potting soil. If it feels completely dry, water. If it feels moist wait. If in doubt, wait a day or two. Also, make sure your potting soil drains extremely well and that there are nice, large drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. I make all my own potting soils to fit what I am growing. Thus, I don't use commercial potting media. I use a lot of coarse perlite and cypress wood chips (clean mulch) to aid in drainage. Also, water until a good bit of water comes out those drainage holes. Depending on the pot size, this might take a lot more water than you would think. Empty that cache-saucer after drainage.

5. This is a tropical tree and as such does best with moderate or high humidity. I don't know where you are located (you need to go into your "Profile"and put your city/state in there, so that your location shows when you post), but if you have central AC, the humidity in your home will be very low. Can you take your tree outside and spray it down well every day? Do you have a bright, shady spot where you could actually leave it outside for a time each day? If the tree could get a few hours of early morning sun or VERY late afternoon sun, that's even better. My plants (the mother tree and her divisions) stay outside from April till November.
They will only stay inside when the weather begins to get below 60 F. If you can't get her outside to spray, how about a shower, leaving her in the shower for a while to allow her drain and dry a bit? Speaking of AC, be sure your plant is not sitting where an AC register is blowing directly on it.

6. I would not fertilize until the leaves begin to return to normal. In my opinion, fertilizer seldom aids a plant that is suffering, when the problem(s) is generally not a fertilizer deficiency.

7. This could be a virus, but I have never had a virus associated with any of my plants (as far as I know). Fiddles are incredibly tough plants and I just don't think viruses are much of a problem. But that's just a guess on my part.

I am sorry I can't simply tell you want the problem is. I just don't have the experience. Good luck and keep us posted on what you find, what you do, and how the plant is doing. It would be nice to see more photos, showing the full plant and the pot.
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: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
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plantladylin
Aug 10, 2016 2:09 PM CST
I at first wondered if the issue could be related to temperature changes; hot to cooler temps or cooler to hot and humid but it may be due to Spider Mites. If it is a mite problem you can mix water and isopropyl alcohol 50/50 in a bottle and spray the foliage which will kill the mites. I'm not familiar with spider mites but I found this page with a leaf photo stating the damage to the leaves is due to mites and it sure looks a lot like your leaf photo: http://houseplantguru.blogspot.com/2015/04/playing-fiddle.ht...

This page lists diseases etc. that affect Ficus plants: http://looking-at-plants.com/plants_a_-_z/ficus_lyrata but nothing listed looks like the leaf on your plant.

This University of Fla. IFAS Extension service page lists a few Ficus diseases and control. I haven't had a chance to read through it but perhaps there is info on the page that might help: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/PP/PP30800.pdf





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Name: Abi Thomas
FL (Zone 9a)
abthom
Aug 10, 2016 6:16 PM CST
Wow, thank you so much, drdawg and plantladylin! You were both extremely helpful and informative! I don't see mites or insects but I'll go ahead and do the alcohol solution on it. The plant is indoors in AC so I put it outside where it will get some humidity and early sun - I live in Florida the perfect place for humidity! Perhaps I am underwatering it - when I felt the soil it was pretty dry and when I repotted it I think it was pretty dry then too. I had read that Fiddle Leaf trees didn't like too much water so I was really limiting it - I will try to give it more from now on. I am going to try everything you both recommended and I'll report back in a few weeks. Thank you again, I truly appreciate it Lovey dubby Hurray!
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
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drdawg
Aug 10, 2016 8:14 PM CST
I water my fiddle leaf plants basically every single day when they are outside. The only time I don't is when we have a good rain. With well-draining soil, in my opinion, you can't overwater them. Ask my "mother" plant. She'll tell you the same thing. Whistling

Good luck. And welcome to NGA/ATP. Do update your profile with your location.
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: Abi Thomas
FL (Zone 9a)
abthom
Aug 11, 2016 10:07 AM CST
So I took a closer look with the plant now outdoors and I believe there are mites - I saw tiny white dots with fine white webbing (like a fine spider web??). Well, I cleaned all the leaves with the alcohol solution so hopefully that does the trick going forward. Thanks again!
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
Aug 11, 2016 10:50 AM CST
Good job, Abi. Your finding those fine spider webs tell me for certain that's what you have. I don't know that is the only problem, but your plant should be on the road to recovery. Keep us posted.
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.

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