Tropicals forum: Fiddle Leaf Fig Brown Spots

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ryan_b
Feb 20, 2017 4:34 PM CST
Hi everyone. I am very novice when it comes to plants, however I recently purchased a fiddle leaf fig approx 2 weeks ago and it has started getting brown spots on the leaves. I purchased it from a reputable nursery in Toronto, and maybe 1 or 2 leaves had a tiny bit of browning on it, but certainly not the whole plant. Since then, almost all of the lower leafs are going brown, the top leaves are perfect though. Any idea what is causing this? I did give it a bit of fertilizer, per the instructions given to me from the plant guy at the nursery. I'm thinking maybe that's the cause?

I checked for bugs and nothing. I live in a South facing condo and thought maybe I had it too far from the window so I've been using a full spectrum light on it throughout the day/evening but it hasn't helped. Today I moved it a bit closer to the window and started misting it with water to see if that helps. Am I over watering it? Can it be saved?

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

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Name: Alice
Saint Helena Island, SC (Zone 9a)
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ardesia
Feb 20, 2017 5:14 PM CST
Often plants that have been in a moist humid greenhouse will do that when they are moved to the drier conditions of a home. Ken (Dr. Dawg) grows and sells Fiddle Leafs, hopefully he will chime in with some professional information.
Minds are like parachutes; they work better when they are open.
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
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Bubbles
Feb 20, 2017 9:17 PM CST

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@drdawg your input has been requested for this thread. Thumbs up
Name: Ken Ramsey
Vero Beach, FL (Zone 10a)
Tropical Plants & More
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
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drdawg
Feb 21, 2017 6:39 AM CST
Welcome! @ryan_b

I agree with Alice. Simply the stress of moving the plant from a location that has near-perfect growing conditions to one that doesn't, will cause this to happen. Sometimes, these tropical plants also get chilled when moving them, and that can be part of what's going on. These huge leaves simply amplify the moving-stress related to the browning that you see.

Though some say misting won't help, in my experience fiddles do better with regular misting (every 1-3 days) when they are moved into a heated home, where the humidity will be very low. The same thing can happen in our central air-conditioned homes and businesses as well. AC removes water vapor big time. Also give the fiddle as much bright, indirect light as possible, supplementing light with fluorescents where necessary. Lastly, keep that potting soil constantly moist, but be sure the potting media is well-draining. You want it moist, not soggy wet. When the fiddle is better established, no longer having these brown leaves and having nice, new growth, it is OK to allow the top inch or two of soil to dry out between thorough waterings.

You have to be patient here, Ryan. Plant won't recover within days from these stresses. You may have to baby the plant for a month or more before you really see good results.
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: Alice
Saint Helena Island, SC (Zone 9a)
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ardesia
Feb 21, 2017 9:26 AM CST
That's it! I knew Ken would know how to say it better than I ever could.
Minds are like parachutes; they work better when they are open.
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 21, 2017 3:01 PM CST
I don't know so much about that, Alice, but thank you for the kind words.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
http://www.tropicalplantsandmo...
I don't have gray hair, I have wisdom-highlights. I must be very wise.

ryan_b
Feb 21, 2017 4:24 PM CST
@drdawg Thanks for the advice, Ken! Really appreciate it.

Quick question, how often would you recommend fertilizing the plant? The one I picked up is an All Purpose 20-20-20.
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 21, 2017 5:37 PM CST
Ryan, what I do is not what many will or can do. With over 1000 tropical plants, I am always fertilizing. Therefore my fiddle leafs get fertilized at least monthly, but with a half strength application. Since I water about once a week during the fall and winter, that means that I am fertilizing once every fourth watering. The 20-20-20 is fine.

Until you see that your plant has acclimated and the brown-leaves and leaf-drop are no longer a concern, I would not fertilize. When you begin to see new leaf growth without any further brown spots/tips/edges, go to the half-strength fertilization. If you can do it monthly, you'll have a fast-growing tree.
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: Julie N.
Dallas, Texas
Newplantmom
May 27, 2018 7:10 PM CST
Hi everyone! I am hoping you can help me. This past mother's day I became a plant mom of 4, with a cutie pie baby fiddle fig included. So he's been with us 2 weeks and some of his leaves have developed black spots. I am thinking my fig is stressed out from the new environment just like the person that started this thread but since it's leaves have black spots not brown spots I wasn't sure. Please help me keep it alive and healthy! We live in Texas, the weather had gotten a lot hotter (upper 90s. This week will be in the 100s). and we run the ac constantly. I have been watering 1 cup once a week, i have not misted the leaves. Thank you! I don't want it to die @drdawg Confused
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[Last edited by Newplantmom - May 27, 2018 7:14 PM (+)]
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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
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drdawg
May 27, 2018 7:24 PM CST
I have some experience with fiddles, having a 25+ year old "mother" plant and growing many hundreds of others over several decades.

This may be nothing more than the stress encountered with the move, @Newplantmom.

That being said, a fiddle leaf ficus needs all the bright light you can supply her. Not direct sun, mind you, but indirect light. Early morning or very late afternoon sun is fine though. Secondly, fiddles need a good, thorough drenching when the top of the soil just begins to dry. Not a cup, though, enough water that the water will drain through the soil and out the drainage holes. My fiddles do best when I keep their potting soil slight moist at all times. They are water-hogs.
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
Jun 1, 2018 5:14 PM CST
I see only one older leaf with a brown/black edge and that is not enough to warrant concern. The outside temps and inside AC should not be a problem.

Follow Ken's advice re: watering. If your plant is double-potted make sure water is not collecting between the two pots.

Indoor direct sun is okay.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
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
Jun 1, 2018 7:22 PM CST
You might want to watch the afternoon sun, indoors or out. The glass can actually magnify the sun's rays, but even without magnification, afternoon sun can be brutal. My front door in Mississippi faced west. I had a remote temperature monitor outside that door, on the brick facing. During the late spring through late summer, it was not unusual to have temperatures reach 120+ F from 3:00 PM till 6:00 PM. Believe me, fiddles wouldn't like those temperatures.
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
Jun 2, 2018 8:35 AM CST
I assume the Fiddle Fig in question is indoors where temps are not so brutal.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
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
Jun 2, 2018 9:40 AM CST
I am sure that is so, Will. Heaven help anyone whose inside temperature is 125 F! But that does not lessen the fact that plants' leaves will be sunburned, badly and quickly, if they are sitting inside a large window/glass door where the (un-shaded) western sun strikes the plant in the afternoon. Glass does not inhibit those infrared rays to any meaningful extent. Would you place sun-sensitive plants in a glass greenhouse in the spring and summer without shading? Does a glass greenhouse get hot in the summer, with or without shading? That's the affects of infrared, right?
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: Julie N.
Dallas, Texas
Newplantmom
Jun 3, 2018 6:49 AM CST
@drdawg @willc thank you! In the late afternoon this window does put some direct rays on the fiddle for a few hours. I could move him over to the other corner where he wouldn't get any direct sunlight at all. I have only been watering 1 cup. I had no idea I could water it more or even drench it πŸ™ˆ. How often do you drench yours? I checked between the pots no water has collected. So i am guessing I could give it a good drench? I just checked it and two leaves fell off another one is turning black. It's not looking good, friends 😭 it's sad!

So is it safe to try more water and a different corner that doesn't get any direct sun rays?
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Name: Alice
Saint Helena Island, SC (Zone 9a)
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ardesia
Jun 3, 2018 7:11 AM CST
How about briefly taking it out of the outer container to a sink or bathtub and really drenching it until water freely runs out of the drain holes, let it drain , then return it to your decorative container. How often you do this would depend on how root bound that soil is. What do you think Ken and Will?
Minds are like parachutes; they work better when they are open.
Name: Julie N.
Dallas, Texas
Newplantmom
Jun 3, 2018 7:27 AM CST
@ardesia I'll do whatever y'all say to do! #savemybabyfiddle😭
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
Jun 3, 2018 9:20 AM CST
@Newplantmom, you are going to probably find this hard to believe, since somehow you have been led to believe that plants need a miniscule amount of water to do well. During the spring and summer months I water my fiddles every other day, and I am drenching them with a hose. If the temperature gets mid-90's, they can handle watering every single day. During winter months (and this was when they were all brought inside because I lived in NE Mississippi), I watered them weekly , usually every 4-5 days. Again, I am watering with a hose, not adding a cup here or a cup there.

Keep in mind that these are tropical trees. In nature they reach heights of 40-60'! Just because we have sort of tamed them to grow indoors, that doesn't change their genetics. They are water-hogs if you grow them in anything close to good conditions. At least that has been my experience in growing 100's of them over a 25+ year span. I have literally preached to folks to shade their plants from direct sun between the hours of 11:00 AM till 4:00 PM, regardless of the plant. That is of course for plants that don't need direct sun, and most houseplants fall into that category. Early morning and very late afternoon sun is great though. If there is any way for you to put your fiddle outside during the spring and summer months, the plant will perform much better for you. Mine grow under the shade of large oak trees from April until October, getting dappled sun all day but direct sun only during those early morning or very late afternoon hours. They thrive growing this way.

Do me a favor and go to your "Profile". Update that information, showing your location. Knowing where you are growing your plants is very helpful when asking for or giving information.

Here is just a sampling of what I grow. The first photo is a 25+ yr. old fiddle.

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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: 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
Jun 3, 2018 9:28 AM CST
I like what Alice told you. However, if you are going to use a tub or large sink, fill that tub/sink with tepid water so that the water level is about up to the soil-line when the potted plant is in the tub/sink. Let the pot sit there for 30-60 min. so that the potting soil and roots are thoroughly wetted. Then remove, allow to drain, and put the plant back where you want it. Then stay on a regular watering schedule, watering when the top of the soil just begins to dry.

The easiest way to water your fiddle will be to take her outside and hose that potting soil well until you see copious amounts of water flowing out the drain holes. It wouldn't hurt to remove the root-ball from the pot and see if your plant is root-bound. If it is, you'll do best to up-pot. If you can't up-pot, you'll need to water far more frequently, since the water will not truly hydrate that soil/roots very well.

I wouldn't want my fiddles to get direct sun between the hours of 11:00 AM and 4:00 PM, whether outside or behind glass. That's just my opinion based on experiences over many years.
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: Julie N.
Dallas, Texas
Newplantmom
Jun 3, 2018 10:31 AM CST
Thanks @drdawg! I will drench it today in the tub like you said and keep up a regular generous watering scheduling. I don't know what root bound means so I'll have to google that. I literally have never had a plant in my life and decided to start with this πŸ˜‚. I'll look around the outdoor areas of my house and see if i have a shady spot it would be safe but is 100+ Heat index temperatures safe or too hot? I know you said they are tropical but i don't know if the tropics get so hot. Ultimately it want it to live inside of I can. Thank you for all your help and advice I'll keep you posted! Smiling

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