Ask a Question forum: Fiddle Leaf Fig HELP!

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Michigan
Roomeg
Feb 9, 2017 2:49 PM CST
I purchased my first Fiddle leaf fig tree in mid December of 2016. A few weeks after purchase I noticed "dry" brown spots in the leaves, I have been misting it regularly because it is very dry and cold here in Michigan during the winter and watering every week to week and a half when the top inch of soil dry, and the soil underneath is lightly moist. The lady at the nursery from where it was purchased had told me the brown spots can be due to not enough water but and now finding out it can be a symptom of TOO MUCH water. Are the brown spots from overwatering or underwatering?

Before I had found this out I gave it a little extra water than normal last week and moved its location (for about 36 hours) and thats when things began to go downhill. About a day after it had the extra drink I was told about the brown spotting issue and immediately pulled it out of the pot and put the tree onto newspaper to help quickly wick the extra water away. Since then it has lost about 4 leaves (which it has not lost any prior to this incident) 3 of them were leaves on the bottom of the tree. The growth on top has also started to droop, from my knowledge which is a sign it needs water. at this point Im confused as to if I should leave it to dry out thoroughly due to the brown spots before giving it water or if I should give it a tiny bit of water due to the droopy leaves. HELP! I want to save my plant before it is too late! Ive added a photo of the brown spots on the leaves as well as an image of the whole tree. hopefully someone can help me out!
Thumb of 2017-02-09/Roomeg/b0d6ae
Thumb of 2017-02-09/Roomeg/2624a3

Name: Lin
Southeast Florida (Zone 10a)

Region: United States of America Deer Region: Florida Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Feb 9, 2017 7:02 PM CST
Hi Roomeg, Welcome!

Fiddle-leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata) are popular houseplants and indoor heat in winter can dry them out rather quickly. Ficus lyrata is somewhat drought tolerant and water should be reduced during the winter months but the soil should still be kept just slightly moist. Like many Ficus, this one requires high humidity but when grown indoors, good air circulation is very important to prevent leaf spot and fungus.

~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot! ~


Michigan
Roomeg
Feb 9, 2017 7:09 PM CST
What would you suggest to help get it back on track? I'm a bit confused, are the brown spots from over or under watering? Or just from low humidity? I increased misting to at least once per day but that lead to no visible changes. Any help is greatly appreciated!!
[Last edited by Roomeg - Feb 9, 2017 7:09 PM (+)]
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Name: Lin
Southeast Florida (Zone 10a)

Region: United States of America Deer Region: Florida Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
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plantladylin
Feb 10, 2017 7:38 AM CST
You're plant looks healthy to my eyes and since you've only had it for a couple of months, it may just be adjusting to it's new home. I'm not sure if misting once daily will make much difference; in it's native habitat, it receives constant humidity 24/7 and the nursery/greenhouse it came from would also be quite humid. Most indoor heat in winter creates very dry air with little air circulation. To raise the humidity levels around the plant, sit the pot on a tray of moist pebbles and replace the water in the tray as it evaporates. I'd also suggest having a fan going to increase air circulation as well.

@Drdawg Ken may be able to offer suggestions; he grows a lot of the Fiddle Leaf Ficus and hopefully others who grow it as an indoor plant will be able to help with advice also.
~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot! ~


Name: Ken Ramsey
Vero Beach, FL (Zone 10a)
Tropical Plants & More
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
Feb 10, 2017 9:08 AM CST
Welcome! @Roomeg.

I agree with everything that Lin @plantladylin has told you. I don't know whether this tree has three separate "trunks" or has branched from a single trunk. Regardless, this is a really large root-ball supporting a lot of huge leaves. You don't tell me enough about the actual growing conditions to get a read there, so more specific information on the conditions would be helpful.

The browning of the leaves can be caused by a wide range of problems. I would think that water would be the first issue, lack of humidity the second issue, and simply a change in growing conditions overall the third issue. Heck, even the stress of transporting the plant(s) from the nursery to the home could be a factor.

Keep in mind that these are outdoor trees that we (try to) adapt to houseplant conditions. This can be a challenge, particularly if these trees never see the out-of-doors. Also, because their leaves are so huge, anything wrong with them will be magnified.

Since a plant with such huge leaves will utilize gobs of water due to the transpiration of those leaves, I try to keep my fiddles constantly moist. Not soggy, mind you, but moist. Since your plant appears to be in such a small pot, I would suggest up-potting. If the pot is 12" across (I can't tell in the photo), move it into something like an 18" pot. Not only do those roots need to be able to spread, you also want enough potting soil so that it can retain moisture better and longer. Be sure to use well-draining potting soil.

I do mist my 25+ year old "mother" plant ever 3-4 days when she is inside. I have central air/heat, and this removes humidity like crazy. I also utilize fans to gently move the air around my tropical plants. That being said, all my tropical plants will go outside in March/April and will remain outside until November. They are all under a canopy of oak and cedar trees so that they only get morning and very late afternoon sun. Growing them outside just makes them healthier and thus stronger.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
http://www.tropicalplantsandmo...
I don't have gray hair, I have wisdom-highlights. I must be very wise.
Michigan
Roomeg
Feb 10, 2017 4:15 PM CST
Thanks for the advice @drdawg! My tree is just a single plant that has had the lower branches braided. At the very bottom of the plant is where you can see it is just a single trunk going into the soil.

As far as growing conditions I live in Michigan in a 100 year old farm house. I sits more toward the middle of the house and not directly next to a window because there are certain areas of our home that remain colder than others and I get worried about putting my plants in those areas. During the day it gets hit by light exposure from 3 different facing windows; south, North, and east, although it's not in a super bright location. We usually keep our thermostat between 60-68 both during the day and night and with the house being so big it's hard to maintain a very humid environment so I mist the leaves multiple times a week hoping that it helps. It was not until the last week leaves started falling off and the top growth began to wilt. Since then it seemed to be doing fine with exception to the dry brown spots.
Michigan
Roomeg
Feb 10, 2017 4:18 PM CST
Aslo, it has only lost about 5 leaves. It has not been dropping them like crazy, it has been a few days since the last one dropped. I'm not sure if that makes a difference or not as to what may be going on.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Vero Beach, FL (Zone 10a)
Tropical Plants & More
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
Feb 10, 2017 5:11 PM CST
Do your up-potting when you can and try to keep that potting soil slightly moist. Be sure the plant is not sitting directly under a heat vent. This would tend to dry it out too quickly.

As I said, some of what's going on may be caused by the stress of moving the fiddle from pretty much ideal growing conditions (nursery) into not so ideal conditions. Thus the leaf drop may be stress related and not necessarily due to any one factor. You have a dilemma in its placement. These plants thrive on very bright light since in nature they are outside-growing trees.

When spring finally arrives in earnest in Michigan, try to find a spot outside, even if its just for a day or two at a time. The plant will be happier.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
http://www.tropicalplantsandmo...
I don't have gray hair, I have wisdom-highlights. I must be very wise.
Michigan
Roomeg
Feb 10, 2017 6:56 PM CST
Great! I'll give that a try, I was hesitant to mess with the roots and potting situation with it being under stress so I held off because I didn't want to harm it any further. Are the brown spots attributed to just under watering or overwatering as well? I have heard both, which is confusing. When I gave it a little bit more water last week than normal, thats when it started dropping the leaves and now the top growth is drooping despite the soil being moist but not overly saturated.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Vero Beach, FL (Zone 10a)
Tropical Plants & More
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Feb 10, 2017 9:16 PM CST
You already stressed the plant by removing the entire root-ball from its pot. Up-potting won't matter a bit. Trust me with this. I have grown hundreds of fiddles over several decades. Growing them is second-nature to me. Look again at all the suggestions I made. I can't help you more than the advice already out there.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
http://www.tropicalplantsandmo...
I don't have gray hair, I have wisdom-highlights. I must be very wise.
Michigan
Roomeg
Feb 18, 2017 8:14 AM CST
Took your advice and potted up in a quick draining soil, I also moved it to a much brighter location. Seemed to be doing better but the top growth is still drooping with the soil being moist. Leaves are still turning brown from the edges and falling off.
Michigan
Roomeg
Feb 18, 2017 8:19 AM CST
2 healthy leaves dried up like this within days and fell off. . .
Thumb of 2017-02-18/Roomeg/08b18b

[Last edited by Roomeg - Feb 18, 2017 8:22 AM (+)]
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Name: Ken Ramsey
Vero Beach, FL (Zone 10a)
Tropical Plants & More
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Feb 18, 2017 8:40 AM CST
Keep in mind that your plant is more than likely still showing the results of the stress. These stress-related signs don't simply disappear within a few days and often it will take weeks to see new, healthy growth. You must be patient. Mother Nature is at work here and you can't rush her. If you have followed my suggestions, you have done all that I would do for my own plant. Just give her some time. I hope she will rebound and grow well for you.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
http://www.tropicalplantsandmo...
I don't have gray hair, I have wisdom-highlights. I must be very wise.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Feb 20, 2017 2:24 PM CST
I consult on Ficus lyratas regularly in home environments. The leaf spotting is most commonly caused by the plant's efforts to adapt to reduced light. In the photo, I see that yours has very tight leaves that are a clear indication that it was grown in very bright greenhouse light that is far more intense than what you can provide. The plant adapts by dropping lower and interior leaves so that it can continue to grow new leaves at the ends of the stems. The more light it receives, the more leaves it can support.

Although watering improperly can also cause these symptoms, it is reduced light that is the most common cause. Do what you can to move your Lyrata right in front of your sunniest window. The center of the room may appear to be very bright to human eyes, but light intensity drops off dramatically with every foot of distance from the light source.

Humidity and temperature are not a cause for concern in this case.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
Contact me directly at [email protected]
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Michigan
Roomeg
Feb 22, 2017 9:17 AM CST
Thanks @WillC ! In my efforts researching more about ficus lyrata I actually came across some information that expressed the browning was due to low lighting as well. About a week ago, after potting up I moved it in front of the best window I could. Most of ours have cold air returns or heating vents sitting right underneath them so I had to take a chance by putting it in our hallway down from our back door. I was worried it may get a draft from the door but the weather here in Michigan is really starting to pick up. Since moving it I have really noticed it is doing better, there were 2 small branches that the leaves "dried" up on within a day or two and those branches almost look shriveled. However the rest of the tree seems to be doing well and I have not noticed the brown spots growing. . The top growth is even starting to perk back up!

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