Tropicals forum: Please help save my Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree!

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May 16, 2017 2:17 PM CST
Hello! I am very lost and in need of help! I have no experience on fiddle leaf fig trees other than the overwhelming amount of information on the website. I was given my fiddle leaf fig tree as a gift for Christmas. My husband bought it on Craigslist and kept it in a dark garage for about 2 weeks to hide it from me. Uh oh. It's been 5 months and I just can't figure out how to make my tree happy. In the past 5 months about half it's leaves, mostly towards the bottom, have turned yellow with brown edges and have fallen off. 2 new healthy leaves have grown at the top and 1 not so healthy looking leaf. It is near a NW (mostly W) facing window and gets plenty of indirect light. From reading online, I assumed the yellow leaves were due to overwatering. In the beginning I was giving it 1 cup of water a week, and have tried to adjust depending one soil moisture. I just cannot figure out a good watering schedule. Most recently I've gone 2 weeks without watering it and it seems to be still moist near the bottom about 2/3 down. I use a moisture meter and just last night checked with a wooden chopstick. This past weekend I asked advice from a local plant shop and they told me maybe the plant is too tight in it's pot and to take it out and let it dry out a little. So that is where I am now. Any help, advice, insight will be greatly appreciated. I would love to figure out what's going on and help Mr. Fig live a long happy life. Thank you!

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Name: Carter Mayer
Houston, TX (Zone 9b)
Tropicals Adeniums Plant Identifier
May 16, 2017 3:52 PM CST
It does look like it's possibly rootbound judging by the way roots are scrambling around above the soil, so that could be an issue. These guys like a lot of bright light if grown indoors. I think by now it's over being hid in the garage for a few weeks in December, but along with rootbound, that probably compounded its issues. Plants grown in less than optimal light will not be able to hold as many leaves, so when you buy a plant that has been grown in perfect (or at least good) conditions to make it look nice for selling, and then when you get it home in lower light, lower humidity, dry A/C air, it will then begin to lose some leaves until it balances itself with what it can sustain as per its new growing conditions.

It does sound like you are doing well with the water by checking the soil before watering, so that is a very big step in the right direction. I'd repot into a slightly larger pot, give it some new soil and fertilize lightly. If you have a brighter window, I'd move it there as well. I've grown these in full sun to part sun down here in Houston (which can be brutal in the summer), and they love it.
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
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May 28, 2017 2:39 PM CST
I agree with Carter. It needs more light, a bigger pot with fresh potting soil and some fertilizer.

These figs grow into 20ft. trees in people's gardens here in FL so they can take lots of full sun. They also don't mind lots of water if the temperature is high, since it often rains heavily here during the summer. So as long as your pot is draining well, don't be afraid to water it thoroughly once a week or so. It's dangerous to say "I give it 1 cup . . " since if the tree grows, it will need more and more water to support more foliage.

That's another question, how warm is it where you are keeping that plant? It might "think" it's winter and stay basically dormant if you have your a/c turned too low. Here, we regularly get mid-90's in the daytime during summer, and it doesn't drop below 80 at night.

That being said, where you live, can you grow it outside for the summer? You'll have to ease it gradually out into the full sun, but I'll bet it will break into happy growth if you can get it growing outside for the summer. Just remember to bring it indoors once the night temperatures get down into the 40's.

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Alice
Ponte Vedra, FL (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member Master Gardener: Florida Organic Gardener Enjoys or suffers hot summers Aquaponics Hibiscus
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May 28, 2017 5:22 PM CST
Crystlgem, your comment about the lower portion of the soil in the pot staying moist made me think about a perched water table. I can never explain that clearly, you'll have to Google it, but it is possible the water is not draining well and the soil is staying too dry on the surface and too wet in the bottom of the pot. I agree re-potting is in order. For many years we have been told to use material like broken clay pot shards in the bottom of flower pots to help with drainage but we now know that is incorrect and actually hinders drainage.
Minds are like parachutes; they work better when they are open.

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