Tropicals forum: Huge Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees Dying :( Please help

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Mar 4, 2018 5:16 PM CST
Greetings! I am new to gardening and plants, so I can use all the help I can get.

2 months ago, I purchased a beautiful, 7 foot fiddle leaf fig tree. There are a total of 4 trees in the pot. The tree was thriving, green, and healthy but now it's brown and dying. A month ago, the leaves on the bottom of the tree began to brown. Now, nearly every leaf has a brown spot to one degree or another. The brown spots are sometimes on the tip and sometimes elsewhere on the leaf. I've been reading up on potential problems (below) and have been addressing them, but it's not helping. I would appreciate any advice you might have! Thanks :)

Initially, it was by the window receiving bright morning sun. But I became afraid that the sun & heat would cause damage to the leaves and have since moved it away from the window.

I cut holes in the bottom of the plastic pot so water can leak out. Initially, I thoroughly watered the plant every week to the point of water spewing out of every hole. Now, I've cut back on the water and only giving it a few cups every 10 days. The roots are very tight so it's tough to tell if the soil is damp or dry.

The roots are very tight in the pot.. so much so, that it's difficult to tell if the soil is damp or dry. However, the tree was thriving in the nursery in the same pot, so I don't think that a small pot directly contributed to its demise. I am considering replanting it, but

No bugs or gnats present

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Name: Will Creed
Professional indoor plant consultan
Mar 4, 2018 6:37 PM CST
The leaf spots are a generic symptom and may be caused by too little light or not enough water or too much water. Before you drilled drain holes, it may have been sitting in excess water that caused some leaf discoloration. Recently, you may have been letting it get too dry.

Because it is heavily rooted, it will need a thorough watering as soon as the surface of the soil feels almost dry. Partial waterings are not good. Always add enough water so that some water drains through the drain holes. It will probably need a thorough watering once or twice per week.

Keep your FLF right in front of a sunny window where it will get some direct sun each day.

You can expect that some of the older (lower) leave and those in the center portion of the plant will discolor and drop off. This is normal as healthy new leaves are added at the top ends of each stem. Just remove those discolored leave as they occur and realize that as long as you are getting healthy new leaves, you are on the right track.

For more detailed information read my blog post on FLF care on this site at
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

Mar 4, 2018 7:41 PM CST
Will -- thanks for the advice.

The internet and plant nursery specialists have been giving me contradicting information on caring for this tree. Either water very often or very sparingly, keep in direct sunlight or indirect sunlight, etc. It's tough to figure fiddle leaf figs out and, unfortunately, they go downhill very very fast.

Would misting the leaves with water provide any benefit?
Name: Alice
Ponte Vedra, FL (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member Master Gardener: Florida Organic Gardener Enjoys or suffers hot summers Aquaponics Hibiscus
Orchids Fruit Growers Tropicals Hummingbirder Garden Photography Container Gardener
Mar 5, 2018 6:07 AM CST
Will is spot on about watering and light but if the roots have completely filled the pot (and that would not be rare with four 7' plants in one pot,) it may need fresh soil and a larger container.

Can you remove the root ball from the pot and show us a picture of the "tight" roots? I would soak the plant well then wiggle it out of the pot for the picture. It is normal to see some roots on the outside of the root ball but if they are wound tightly around it could be root bound. When you water a root bound plant it does not absorb the water, it just runs right around the outside of the root ball and out the drain holes. This is a possibility.

Also, I suspect while it was at he nursery it might have gotten some misting or at least the humidity was higher than at your home. Ficus do not like to be moved and it often takes time for them to adjust to their new location and humidity levels.

Minds are like parachutes; they work better when they are open.
Name: Will Creed
Professional indoor plant consultan
Mar 6, 2018 3:54 PM CST
It is harder to sort out conflicting information handed out by nurseries than it is to figure out FLF's! Indoors they need lots of light and water. It is that simple. Nurseries don't fully understand the difference between growing in a greenhouse or nursery and in the less optimal home environment.

You can move your plant to a larger pot, but that is a lot of work for a plant that size and will encourage it to grow even faster and larger. If that's what you want - go for it. Otherwise, it will do just fine in the existing pot as long as you provide enough water to keep the roots moderately damp at all times.

If the soil gets so dry that it does not absorb water, you can re-wet the soil and roots by letting the pot sit in 4-6 inches of water for several hours. Do that just once and avoid letting it get that dry again

FLF's do not need high humidity or misting. Neither will do any harm, but there is scant benefit from either.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
Contact me directly at [email protected]
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

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