Ask a Question forum: Recovering fiddle leaf

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North Louisiana
akh0623
Jan 4, 2018 10:04 AM CST
I purchased a fiddle leaf in the fall and, from what I've read, it was overwatered. Leaves turned crispy and brown and fell off so that seemed like it needed more water to me; whoops! It's been 3-4 weeks since I've watered as the dirt near the bottom of the pot felt damp still and the leaf stems felt very damp when they've fallen off. Just lost the last leaf today. One stalk was totally dry, brittle, and hollow. The other stalk was only that way half way down. I cut the hollow part off. Is there anyway to save it? Also, my cat used it as her litter box a couple times this week 😒
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Jan 4, 2018 10:58 AM CST
Welcome!

Under watering and over watering look the same - the leaves wither and die because the roots are dying. You should water when the soil is dry an inch down. But, as your cat is using your plant as a litter box, chances are you won't save it anyway. Cat urine is really hard on plant roots.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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North Louisiana
akh0623
Jan 4, 2018 11:19 AM CST
Thank you! Okay, so the stalk being pretty wet, but the soil dry, should I still water? And she only used it twice in there - should I repot or is hat too much stress on an already stressed plant?
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Jan 4, 2018 2:56 PM CST
A photo of the entire plant, including its pot, would be helpful for us to determine if your plant is salvageable. Pot size has a lot to do with a watering routine.

The soil at the bottom of the pot should always feel damp so that is not a good way to determine when to water. Normally, Fiddle Fig should be watered as soon as the surface of the soil feels dry, but that assumes the plant is in its nursery pot, in a sunny location and is healthy; and none of that may be true.

As Daisy wrote, the symptoms you described are generic and not associated with a single cause. And she is absolutely right about cat urine. If your plant can be salvaged, you will have to better train your cat Angry and flush a lot of plain, clear water through the rootball to remove the urine.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
North Louisiana
akh0623
Jan 4, 2018 3:35 PM CST
Thank you! Yes, it's normally an outdoor cat, but we've had below freezing temps so she was inside a couple nights 🙄 I'll flush it today. As I said, I've cut the one stalk that still has life down so there really isn't much to show except pot size. It's a bit bigger than the pot it came in with soil suggested by the nursery. When I got it, it was healthy and in a sunny spot and I watered when the first two inches or so felt dry. It's elevated in the plate so it never sat in water that drained out.
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[Last edited by akh0623 - Jan 4, 2018 3:38 PM (+)]
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Jan 4, 2018 3:54 PM CST
This does not look promising. I suspect that the roots have suffocated primarily because you were ill-advised to move it into a pot that is too large. The 2 inches of soil that dried was probably the soil that was added to the top of the rootball, which should not be done. That means the soil around the roots never dried out enough to get adequate oxygen. I see this happen a lot.

I don't want to raise expectations, but if you want to dry to keep it, then remove all loose soil added to the top of the original rootball. Then, allow the top 1-2 inches of the remaining soil, to dry before adding just enough water so that it reaches that level of dryness again in a week. Experiment to find the right amount - it won't be much.

If the remaining stem continues to deteriorate, then you should discard the plant. Look for signs of new leaf sprouts to determine if it is recovering.

Good luck!
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Lin
Florida Zone 9b, 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
Jan 4, 2018 3:59 PM CST
The pot looks extremely large for the size of that Ficus stem and unfortunately, it appears that the plant may have to be discarded.

I commend you for bringing your kitty indoors during the cold, freezing weather and suggest that you either purchase a litter pan or find a large pan of a decent size and fill it with sand or kitty litter for your cat; I'm sure she will find that more preferable than your plant containers.
~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot! ~


North Louisiana
akh0623
Jan 4, 2018 4:11 PM CST
Plantladylin she knows where the litter box is and uses it just not those two times?

WillC, I hate that I was ill-advised, too. There's probably 3/4 a 40lb bag of potting mix I added in there. It was a pretty large root ball, though, as it had two stalks, but I'm sure y'all are right that it's too big of a pot. I'll try those suggestions - thank you!
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Jan 4, 2018 4:56 PM CST
I think most of us have been victims of poor plant care advice along the way. I always try to look at it as a learning experience and not make the same mistake again. Crossing Fingers!
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
North Louisiana
akh0623
Jan 4, 2018 7:23 PM CST
That's how I'm choosing to see it as well! I've already messaged a couple friends who've bought one recently haha. Thanks again for your help!

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