How to Revive a Dying Fiddle-Leaf Fig


Why is my fiddle leaf fig dying

One of the houseplants that most people have a problem with is the fiddle leaf fig. I can contour that it is a very frustrating plant! The leaves seem to drop, and the plant seems to die at the slightest signs of stress. But do not fear! I have personally revived many a dying fiddle leaf fig through my own trial and error, as well as learning all the tips and tricks from the ficus growing experts to save them…

In this article, I distill every lesson I learned when caring for and reviving dying fiddle leaf figs…

The most common reasons I see for a dying fiddle leaf fig are usually because of overwatering or a fluctuation in temperature. Fiddle leaf figs prefer a temperature range of 65ºF to 75ºF and need the potting soil to dry slightly between each watering. If the temperature changes suddenly, the fiddle leaf fig drops its leaves.

I discovered that the symptoms of Overwatering are for the leaves to droop and turn brown in spots or patches and fall off.

As I stated, Fiddle leaf figs are sensitive plants and react to a range of factors such as temperature change, draughts, low humidity, too much direct sunlight, not enough light, too much fertilizer, overwatering, underwatering, and poor drainage. That’s quite a list of problems!

But most of all, I found that Fiddle leaf figs (Ficus Lyrata) are particularly sensitive to sudden changes in conditions and do not like being moved or repotted too often. This was a game-changing revelation for my fiddle leaf fig care.

I revive dying fiddle leaf figs, by emulating the conditions of the plant’s natural environment with a temperature range of between 65ºF to 75ºF, mist the leaves to increase humidity, locate the fiddle leaf fig in bright, indirect light and only water fiddle leaf figs when the top 2 inches of the soil feel dry.

As there are lots of symptoms and causes of dying fiddle leaf figs I condensed them all in an easy to read reference table to help you identify the cause of your dying fiddle leaf fig:

Symptoms:Causes of Dying Fiddle Leaf Fig:
Dropping Leaves:Fluctuations in temperature outside its preferred range of 65ºF to 75ºF (18ºC to 24ºC). Overwatering, underwatering, low humidity, transplant shock, too much fertilizer, not enough light.
Drooping Leaves:High temperatures, not enough light, overwatering, underwatering, and low humidity can all cause or contribute to drooping fiddle leaf fig leaves. Transplant shock from being moved is another common cause of drooping leaves.
Leaf Edges Turning Brown:Low humidity is the most common reason for brown leaf margins. Fiddle leaf figs prefer at least 40% humidity, whereas indoors is usually around 10% humidity. Not watering often enough and watering too lightly contribute to brown leaf edges that curl up.
Leaf Turning Brown in Patches or Spots:Most often, the cause is overwatering or poor drainage. Fiddle leaf figs require the top 2 inches of soil to dry slightly between each watering. Consistently damp soil promotes the conditions for root rot and fungal disease, which results in brown leaves.
Fiddle Leaf Fig Dying After Repotting:Fiddle leaf figs are especially sensitive to being moved or being repotted. The sudden change in conditions can cause enough stress to result in a dying fiddle leaf fig. Planting fiddle leaf figs in pots that are too large causes the pots to dry at a slower rate, which can cause root rot.

As fiddle leaf figs are so sensitive to environmental change, I find it can be difficult to establish the exact cause of why your plant is dying.

Keep reading to learn how to pinpoint the likely cause (or causes) for a dying fiddle leaf fig and for my steps to save it…

Why is My Fiddle-Leaf Fig Dropping Leaves?

  • Symptoms. The fiddle-leaf fig starts dropping leaves, often after being moved. Sometimes, just the lower leaves tend to drop.
  • Causes. Transplant shock, fluctuation in temperature due to draughts or indoor heating. Low humidity and underwatering are often factors. Saturated potting soil from overwatering or poor drainage also contributes to the fiddle-leaf fig dropping leaves. Too much fertilizer and not enough light also results in leaf drop, particularly with the lower leaves, sometimes causing the plant to lean.

So, with such a range of causes of leaf drop, I had to consult experts that I work with (in my job at a garden nursery) to tell you the most common cause…

If your fiddle-leaf fig is dropping leaves, it is because the plant has been moved, causing a sudden change in growing conditions. Fiddle-leaf figs are extraordinarily sensitive plants, and any fluctuation in temperature, light, humidity, or airflow can cause the fiddle-leaf fig to drop their leaves as a sign of stress.

What happens is that Fiddle-leaf figs become habituated to a specific set of consistent conditions when they are established in their micro-environment.

If your plant is dropping leaves, this is their way of showing that there is something not quite right.

For me, specifically, the reason for my fiddle-leaf fig dropping leaves is often due to a fluctuation in temperature that is outside of its usual temperature range.

This is often caused by:

  • Placing the fig too close to indoor heating.
  • Draughts from open windows or air conditioning.
  • A sudden drop in temperature overnight.
  • Sudden heat wave.
  • Being moved from a warmer room to a cooler room or vice-versa.

I think it’s helpful if we understand how fiddle leaf figs grow in the natural world so that we can mimic these conditions indoors, in our homes…

Fiddle leaf figs are native to tropical forests in West Africa and prefer warm and humid conditions and tolerate a temperature range of 65ºF to 75ºF (18ºC to 24ºC).

So, if your indoor temperature has had a significant fluctuation out of its preferred temperature range, this can cause the fig to drop its leaves as a sign of stress. This happened to me when my plant was too near my front door. My fiddle leaf fig would get a blast of cold air every time I opened the door.

Another classic reason that I see cropping up is overwatering. Fiddle-leaf figs also require the top 2 inches of soil to dry out between each bout of watering. If the fig’s soil is consistently damp, then it drops its leaves due to root rot.

It is important that damp soil can also be caused by pots with drainage holes in the base and the use of saucers, trays underneath the pot, or decorative outer pots, which can all cause excess water to pool around the base of the pot so that the soil is saturated and does not drain sufficiently.

However, to make things more confusing than they already are…If the fiddle-leaf fig is not watered often enough or watered too lightly or the water runs off the top of the soil (which can happen with peat base potting mixes as they become hydrophobic if they dry out completely), then the fig also drops its leaves to try and conserve moisture.

As figs are native to tropical Africa, they are adapted to living in humidity of around 60% and can suffer indoors as typically, houses are usually around 10% humidity.

This significant difference in humidity causes the fiddle-leaf fig to lose more moisture through its leaves than it can draw up through its roots, and the plant reacts by dropping its leaves as a survival strategy to prevent further loss of moisture.

I had this problem when I lived in my apartment as my heating in the winter would sap moisture from the leaves, and the air conditioner in summer dried out the air!!!

To complicate things even further (I told you this would be fun!) Fiddle-leaf figs are also sensitive to too much fertilizer.

Whilst some fertilizer is often recommended during the growing season, the fig can drop its leaves if it is applied too often or in too high a concentration.

Fiddle-leaf figs are also particular about the levels of light in a room. Typically, they thrive with some morning sun followed by afternoon shade or bright, indirect light throughout the day.

If the fig is not in the brightest room of your house, then the fig can drop some of its lower leaves primarily as a survival strategy as the plant does not have enough energy to support all the leaves.

How I Revive a Fiddle-Leaf Fig That is Dropping Leaves…

I revived my fiddle-leaf fig by replicating some of the growing conditions of its native environment by increasing the humidity with regular misting, scaling back the watering so the top 2 inches of the potting soil dry between each bout of watering, and ensuring the fig has a temperature range of 65ºF to 75ºF.

  • I only water fiddle-leaf figs when the top 2 inches of the soil feels somewhat dry. Fiddle-leaf figs are adapted to growing in well-draining soil and do not tolerate saturated potting soil. My method is to feel the soil to a finger’s depth to detect when the top 2 inches feel somewhat dry, and when they are dry, I then water thoroughly.
  • Decrease watering in Winter during dormancy. Fiddle leaf figs require less water in Winter when they are not actively growing, so I recommend always checking the soil before watering. Fiddle leaf figs often require watering more often in Summer during active growth, but the only way I know for sure is always to check the top 2 inches of the soil to ensure you have adjusted your watering schedule correctly for the time of year.
  • Empty any saucers and trays of water regularly to prevent watering pooling around the pot’s base. Good drainage is imperative for fiddle-leaf figs to prevent root rot. I recommend regularly checking saucers, trays, and decorative outer pots after watering and removing any excess water that prevents the potting soil from draining properly.
  • Locate fiddle-leaf figs in a room with a consistent temperature of 65ºF to 75ºF (18ºC to 24ºC). This is the optimal temperature range for fiddle-leaf figs. Consistency is key when it comes to temperature, so be mindful of sources of indoor heat, draughts from open windows, and any other factors that cause a sudden fluctuation in temperature, which is the most common reason for leaves dropping. After getting frustrated when the leaves kept dropping, I personally put my fiddle leaf fig in my bathroom as it has higher levels of humidity, bright light, and stable temperatures. My leaves stopped dropping off and eventually regrew.
  • I recommend misting fiddle-leaf figs every day in dry climates to prevent leaves from dropping. What I had to do was mist any remaining leaves and even the branches to ensure a humid micro-climate that emulates the conditions of its tropical rainforest. This is essential if the leaves are to regrow.
  • Always water fiddle-leaf figs thoroughly to prevent leaves from dropping. While it is important for the potting soil to dry out between watering, you must water your fig thoroughly so that excess water trickles from the pot’s base. This ensures that the water has infiltrated the soil and reached the roots where it is required. Watering too lightly only moistens the top inch or so of the soil, causing drought stress and causing the leaves to drop. If the water runs off the top of the potting soil and down the side of the pot, I submerge the pot in a basin of water for 10 minutes to ensure the soil is evenly moist. I find this helps the water infiltrate the next time you water the fig to prevent drought stress.
  • I only use fertilizer at half strength during Spring and Summer to prevent leaf drop. Any ordinary houseplant fertilizer is suitable for fiddle-leaf figs, but it is important to use it at half-strength as fiddle-leaf figs are sensitive to fertilizer burn. Far more damage is caused by excess fertilizer than not enough. Do not use any fertilizer if the fig has no leaves, as the plant is stressed. Only apply half-strength fertilizer if there are signs of regrowth in the Spring and Summer.
  • Place the fiddle-leaf fig in an area of bright, indirect light or in some morning sun followed by afternoon shade. In climates with harsh sun, such as Southern California or Arizona, bright indirect light is always best as the sun’s rays are too harsh for fiddle leaf figs and can contribute to the leaves dropping. In cooler Northern latitudes like mine, my fiddle-leaf figs grow best with a few hours of morning sun followed by afternoon shade. This balance of light ensures the fig has enough energy to regrow its leaves.

Pro tip: If you cannot mist your fiddle leaf fig every day, my solution is to buy a humidifier, which can be an effective measure in particularly dry environments as you can set the level of humidity and locate it right next to the fig. Group similar tropical houseplants near each other to create a humid micro-climate.

Sometimes, it’s necessary to move the fiddle-leaf fig if, for example, it is in a location that does not have enough bright light.

However, it is best practice to move the fig as little as possible as the contrast of conditions when moving to a different location is often the trigger of the leaves dropping.

Suppose the leaf drop is associated with dry conditions or due to a fluctuation in temperature. In that case, your fiddle leaf fig usually shows signs of recovery in a few weeks with developed growth.

However, suppose the leaf drop is due to root rot caused by consistently saturated soil. In that case, it can be difficult for the fiddle-leaf fig to recover, and this is often the cause of a dying plant. However, it is possible if you scale back the watering before significant root rot or any fungal diseases develop.

Will My Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves Grow Back?

Yes. Fiddle leaf figs can regrow leaves in the spring and summer during the active growing season when conditions are more favorable for growing, but they do not typically grow back during the fall or winter when the plant is usually dormant.

I must emphasize it is important to create the right environment for your fiddle leaf fig for it to regrow its leaves.

Another way to stimulate growth is to notch the fiddle leaf fig’s stem, which encourages the fiddle leaf fig to form new branches, stimulating the growth of new leaves.

Watch this helpful YouTube video for how to notch the stem of the fiddle leaf fig so that it regrows new branches and more leaves:

Why is My Fiddle-Leaf Fig Drooping?

  • Symptoms. Leaves drooping or branches looking leggy and drooping. Sometimes, the fiddle leaf fig has a leaning appearance.
  • Causes. Not enough light, underwatering, watering too lightly, and low humidity. Watering too often can also cause leaves to droop and fall off. High temperatures can also contribute to drooping or wilting leaves.

This happened to me. I discovered the reason the leaves were drooping was because my plant was in too much shade.

Fiddle-leaf figs require bright, indirect light or morning sun followed by afternoon shade. If the fiddle-leaf fig does not receive enough light, the plant does not have enough energy to support the leaves or branches, resulting in a drooping appearance.

I think it is important that we remember that Fiddle-leaf figs are native to countries in West Africa, where they grow under the canopy of a humid tropical forest.

In this environment, they grow in bright light or filtered light throughout the day, with the canopy overhead protecting the fig’s leaves from the harshest sun.

Therefore it is important to locate fiddle-leaf figs in the brightest room of your house to ensure it has enough light and energy to grow healthy and avoid drooping.

Any rooms that do not receive much natural light are not the optimal place for your fiddle-leaf fig.

What happens is the lower leaves may also start to drop off if there is not enough light, as the fiddle leaf fig does not have enough energy to sustain them.

In more Northerly latitudes (such as New York where I live or the UK) I had to experiment to find the correct balance of light and found out that my fiddle-leaf figs grow best in the morning sun followed by afternoon shade.

This provides the optimal balance for fiddle-leaf figs as they attain enough energy from the morning light and are protected from the afternoon’s more intense and drying light.

In brighter climates such as Southern California or Texas, bright indirect light is optimal for the fiddle-leaf fig (to prevent drooping), as the sunshine can be too intense in the Summer and can scorch the leaves.

Drooping leaves can also indicate that the fiddle-leaf fig is suffering from drought stress due to:

  • Not being watered often enough.
  • Watered too lightly.
  • The potting soil has dried out and become hydrophobic (repels water off the surface), which causes water to run off the soil’s surface and down the side of the pot without infiltrating properly and reaching the roots.
  • Low humidity can also cause the fig to lose too much moisture from the leaves, resulting in a drooping appearance.

How I Fix Fiddle-Leaf Figs With Drooping Leaves…

To fix a drooping fiddle leaf fig, what I recommend you do is emulate the conditions of its natural habitat by locating the fig in bright, indirect light, water the potting soil thoroughly when the top 2 inches are dry, ensure the temperature stays consistently between 65ºF to 75ºF and mist the leaves once a day to slow down the rate of water loss to help revive the leaves.

  • Place your fiddle-leaf fig in the brightest room of your house. Fiddle-leaf figs cannot acclimatize to a shady area, so it is important to ensure the fig has sufficient light. As stated, your Fiddle-leaf figs generally don’t like being moved (due to the sudden contrast in conditions), but in this case, it is important as the fig deteriorates in low-light conditions. In cool climates, fiddle-leaf figs thrive in the morning sun, followed by afternoon shade. In hot climates, bright indirect light (figs can scorch in strong, direct sunshine) is best to revive your drooping fig.
  • Water your fiddle-leaf fig thoroughly when the top 2 inches of soil feel somewhat dry. If the soil is consistently damp, then you are watering your fiddle-leaf fig too often, which is why the drooping leaves, as damp soil, promote the conditions for root rot. However, if the soil dries out too much, the fig leaves droop and eventually drop off. My method that I find works well is to use my finger to detect when the top 2 inches of the soil start to dry. If the soil is still damp, I wait a few days until it feels dry, then I water with a good soak. This method of watering replicates the typical soil moisture cycle of the fiddle leaf fig’s native environment.
  • Always water your fiddle leaf fig thoroughly so that excess water trickles from the base of the pot. Watering thoroughly ensures that the potting soil is evenly moist and that the water has infiltrated the soil so the roots can access the moisture they require to prevent the fig leaves from drooping. What happens when you water too lightly is that you only moistens the top inch or so of the soil and causes the leaves to droop as the roots cannot access the moisture. Remember to Empty any saucers or trays underneath the pot to allow for effective drainage.
  • Ensure the water infiltrates the soil. Sometimes, potting soils can bake hard when they dry and repel water off the surface. If this is the case, what I do is soak my fiddle-leaf fig in a basin of water for 10 minutes, ensuring the root ball is submerged. This allows the water sufficient time to absorb and reach the roots which should prevent water from trickling off the surface the next time you water your plant.
  • Mist the leaves every day if they are drooping. Misting the leaves creates a humid micro-climate that emulates the fiddle-leaf fig’s humid natural environment and slows down the rate of water loss from the leaves, which can contribute to their drooping or wilting appearance. You can buy a plant humidifier which is the option I recommend if you cannot mist your plant regularly. I have had great results using a humidifier.
  • Ensure the temperature is between 65ºF to 75ºF (18ºC to 24ºC) to prevent drooping. Fiddle-fig leaves are sensitive to temperature fluctuations and can droop if the temperature exceeds 75ºF. Higher temperatures can increase the rate at which the potting dries and the rate at which moisture is lost from the leaves. Try to cool the room down whilst limiting draughts (if possible), as fiddle-leaf figs are also sensitive to airflow. I have to keep my fig on the other side of the room from my indoor heating.

Once the fiddle leaf fig has had a good watering and the humidity has increased with regular misting, the drooping leaves, you should start to see a recovery in the next few days.

I must emphasize It is always important to avoid going from one extreme (underwatering) to another (overwatering), as fiddle leaf figs do not tolerate consistently damp or boggy soil, which causes root rot, so the correct balance of watering is key.

From what I have been taught by specialist growers, misting the leaves is perhaps the most important step in fixing drooping fiddle leaf fig leaves as figs prefer a humidity of at least 40%, whereas our houses typically have 10% humidity.

Increasing the humidity slows down the rate of water loss from the leaves and helps the drooping leaves recover.

Why are The Leaves Turning Brown on the Edges?

  • Symptoms. The margins of the leaf are turning brown and crispy, sometimes with a curling appearance.
  • Causes. Low humidity from air currents in the house or indoor heating. Not watering often enough and watering too lightly contributes to the leaf edges turning brown.

Your fiddle leaf fig leaves are turning brown at the edges because of low humidity from air currents and indoor heating. Fiddle leaf figs are tropical plants adapted to at least 40% humidity, whereas indoor air is typically around 10% humidity. I can assure you that this difference in humidity is why the leaves turn brown at the edges.

We must remember that fiddle-leaf figs are native to tropical rainforests in Africa and are adapted to living in humidity of around 60%. Fiddle leaf figs tolerate humidity of 40% but develop brown leaf margins if the humidity is any lower.

The humidity indoors in most climates is around 10%, but I have to turn my indoor heating in Winter and of course, there are air currents from forced air and air conditioning, all of which lower the humidity of my house even further, creating an environment that is contrary to the fiddle leaf fig’s preferred conditions.

I have observed that not watering fiddle leaf figs often enough or watering too lightly (so that only the top inch or so of the potting soil is moistened) also contributes significantly to the leaf edges turning brown.

Sometimes, I see the phenomena of the soil becoming hydrophobic (repels water) when it dries out completely, and water runs off the surface of the soil and does not reach the fig’s roots where it is required.

How I Saved My Fiddle Leaf Figs With brown Leaf Edges

To save fiddle leaf figs with brown leaf edges, what I try to do is emulate their natural conditions by increasing the humidity with regular misting, ensuring the temperature stays between 65 to 75ºF, and watering the fiddle leaf fig’s root ball thoroughly.

  • I recommend misting your fiddle leaf fig’s leaves every day, if the margins are brown and curling. The reason I do this is because misting the leaves creates a humid micro-climate that mimics the fig’s tropical rainforest environment. This slows down the rate of water loss from the leaves and alleviates the stress that causes the leaf edges to turn brown.
  • Use a plant humidifier for low maintenance. If you cannot mist the leaves every day, then what I suggest you do is use a plant humidifier to increase the humidity to the optimal level for your fiddle leaf fig. This can help if you live in a particularly arid climate. However, it is not necessary if you can mist the leaves regularly.
  • Group tropical plants together to create a more favorable, humid micro-climate for the fiddle leaf fig. Grouping your tropical houseplants together (I love to group my fiddle leaf fig with my other humidity loevers calathea and Boston ferns etc.) helps to increase the relative humidity to mitigate dry conditions and reduce the risk of exacerbating the brown leaf margins.
  • Water your fiddle leaf thoroughly (but wait for the top 2 inches of the soil to dry between each watering). This is the cycle of watering used in commercial garden nurseries as it mimics the typical watering cycle and level of soil moisture in their native environment to keep the plant healthy. I would also always water generously so that excess water tickles from the pot’s base to ensure the water has reached the roots.
  • If the surface of the soil repels water, then I soak the root ball in a basin of water. Ensure the root ball is submerged for around 10 minutes so that water has time to absorb into the soil and reach the roots. This improves the soil texture so that it does not repel water off the surface the next time you water your fiddle leaf fig. The soil only tends to repel water when it has dried out completely due to erratic watering.

Once you have corrected the environmental conditions that have caused the leaf edges to turn brown, the leaves should start to look better in 3 weeks or so. However, if the margins have turned brown and crispy, the brown leaf margins are unlikely to restore their green appearance.

To tidy up the appearance of the leaf what I do is trim off the brown margin carefully with a sharp pair or pruners, following the leaves shape.

Whilst fiddle leaf figs are fussy about their care, they are resilient to careful pruning, and you can trim back the brown leaf edges with a pair of scissors to restore their appearance without damaging the plant. I often have to prune fiddle leaf figs in my job at a garden nursery to ensure that the plants look good for sale.

Why is My Fiddle Leaf Fig Turning Brown?

  • Symptoms. Leaves have brown spots or brown patches.
  • Causes. Fungal infection caused by damp soil from overwatering or sunburn.

In my experience, fiddle leaf figs turn brown because of root rot due to overwatering or sunburn from intense sun. Fiddle-leaf figs need the top 2 inches of soil to dry out between watering. If the soil is damp from overwatering, the fig’s leaves turn brown due to root rot.

Too much direct sunlight scorches the leaves brown too.

As we have discussed, fiddle leaf figs grow naturally under the canopy of tropical rainforests in Africa and, therefore, are adapted to living in bright, indirect light or some filtered light throughout the day rather than direct sunlight.

This means the fiddle leaf fig leaves are quite sensitive to direct sunlight and can scorch brown due to too much light.

Fungal infections such as root rot also cause fiddle leaf figs to turn brown.

Fiddle leaf figs require well-draining soil. If the potting soil is saturated, this promotes the conditions for fungal diseases that turn the leaves brown.

One of the symptoms of root rot is that the leaves turn brown in spots or patches (as well as leaves dropping off eventually).

Root rot is caused by:

  • Watering too often.
  • Not emptying any saucers or trays that are underneath the pot causes water to pool around the base of the pot.
  • The fiddle leaf fig could also be in a decorative outer pot, which does not have drainage holes in the base and causes excess water to pool around the roots.

How to Save it if the Leaves are Turning Brown…

  • Provide shade for your fiddle leaf fig in the afternoon. Locating your fiddle leaf fig in morning sun followed by afternoon shade is the best balance of sunlight for fiddle leaf figs to thrive in most climates. If you are in a particularly hot climate with intense sunshine, then bright indirect light provides the optimal conditions for the plant to thrive and prevent sunburn. Move your fiddle leaf fig accordingly to a location with the right balance of light and leave it for a few weeks before assessing the damage.
  • Prune any individually scorched, brown leaves back with a pair of pruners. I would selectively prune any damaged growth for aesthetic reasons as the damaged leaves do not recover, however, they do not necessarily harm the plant. In the Spring and Summer, I see new growth emerging, restoring the appearance of the fig. If not, try the notching technique to encourage new branches to form to stimulate leaves to grow.
  • Ensure that the top 2 inches of the potting soil dries out between each bout of watering. This style of watering replicates the typical moisture conditions of the fiddle leaf fig’s well-draining soil in its native environment and mitigates the risk of root rot.
  • Plant fiddle leaf figs in pots with drainage holes in the base and empty saucers and trays after watering. Ensuring effective drainage is imperative for fiddle leaf figs as they are adapted to living in well-draining soils.
  • Remove any brown leaves with a pair of pruners if you suspect that overwatering is the problem. I use a sharp pair of pruners to trim back any affected growth to prevent infection from spreading and remember to wipe the blades with a cloth soaked in disinfectant between each cut to prevent potentially spreading fungal pathogens from infected growth to otherwise healthy growth.

Watering the fiddle leaf fig when the top 2 inches of the soil dry out and allowing for good drainage effectively mimics the conditions of its native environment to help revive your ailing fiddle leaf fig.

However, from my experience, if the roots have been in saturated soil for a long time and the root rot is extensive, then it can be difficult to save the plant because if the roots are damaged and dying back, they can no longer transport enough moisture and nutrients around the plant to sustain the fiddle leaf fig.

With some plants, it is possible to take the plant out of the pot and actually trim back any diseased roots; however, I have tried this and concluded that fiddle leaf figs are so susceptible to transplant shock that this is unlikely to save your plant.

A better option is to propagate any remaining healthy leaves from a cutting. Fiddle leaf figs are relatively easy to propagate, and it may be the only way to save your plant if it has extensive root rot.

Watch this helpful YouTube video for a visual guide on how to propagate fiddle leaf figs:

Why is My Fiddle Leaf Fig Dying After Repotting?

  • Symptoms. Fiddle leaf fig leaves drooping or losing all its leaves after repotting.
  • Causes. Fiddle leaf figs do not like to be moved to a different location and often react when repotted due to transplant shock.

If your fiddle leaf figs is dying after repotting then from what I have observed it is because of the stress of transplant shock and a sudden change in conditions. Fiddle leaf figs are sensitive to any sudden adjustment to their environment and react with drooping leaves or leaves dropping off.

Any change in temperature, air flow, sunlight, watering, difference to how the soil drains and retains moisture and a change in humidity can all be the cause of a dying fiddle leaf fig after repotting, even if the changes seem relatively minor, such is the sensitive nature of indoor fiddle leaf figs.

A classic mistake I see is repotting to a much larger pot than the fiddle leaf fig’s previous pot can also be the cause of your dying plant.

This is because arger pots have a greater capacity for soil and therefore hold more moisture and the pot dries out at a slower rate than your fiddle leaf fig is accustomed to.

It is not uncommon for the leaves to droop in appearance or drop off completely as a reaction to the change in conditions.

Being repotted is quite a big trauma for your fiddle leaf fig. Remember that fiddle leaf figs can tolerate and even thrive with pot-bound roots. Therefore, repotting or movement of the plant should be avoided if possible.

I only repot mine every 4 or 5 years for this reason, and it is now thriving.

However, there can be an overwhelming case for repotting if the roots of the fiddle leaf fig actually grow out of the soil or start to clog the drainage holes in the base, which can affect drainage.

My Tips for Saving a Fiddle Leaf Fig after Repotting…

What you have to do is replicate the optimal conditions of its native environment as accurately as possible, ensuring that the temperature range is between 65ºF to 75ºF, mist any remaining leaves and stems with water to increase the humidity, place them in bright indirect light, and allow the top 2 inches of the soil to dry between each bout of watering.

Emulating the conditions to which the fiddle leaf fig is adapted is the only way to give the plant the best chance of recovery.

Do not worry if this happens to you because it even happens with the expert growers that I talk to.

If any leaves have fallen off, what I find happens is that they start to regrow in the Spring and Summer.

Pro tip: According to the experts, the best time of year to repot your fiddle leaf fig is in the Spring as this is when the plant is at its most resilient, whereas repotting during its Winter dormancy can often cause more stress to the plant.

Avoid repotting your fiddle leaf fig to a significantly larger pot. I only re-pot one size up from my previous pot.

If the pot is only slightly larger, then the soil should dry at a similar rate to your previous pot, which reduces the risk of root rot so that it can gradually adjust to the new pot without a significant shock from the change in conditions.

(Read my article, How to Revive a Dying Ficus Houseplant).

Key Takeaways:

  • A dying fiddle leaf fig is usually caused by overwatering or poor drainage. Fiddle leaf figs require the top 2 inches of soil to dry out between bouts of watering. If the soil is consistently damp, then the fiddle leaf fig develops root rot, resulting in the leaves dropping and a dying appearance.
  • Fiddle leaf figs often drop their leaves because of a sudden temperature change. The preferred temperature range for fiddle leaf figs is between 65ºF to 75ºF. If the temperature increases or decreases suddenly, the fiddle leaf fig drops its leaves due to stress.
  • Fiddle leaf fig leaf edges turn brown because of low humidity and underwatering. Fiddle leaf figs require at least 40% humidity, whereas indoor humidity is usually around 10%. The low indoor humidity causes the leaves to lose too much moisture, causing them to turn brown at the margins and curl up.
  • Fiddle leaf fig leaves develop brown spots because of root rot due to overwatering and poor drainage. Fiddle leaf figs need the top 2 inches of soil to dry out before watering again. If the roots are in consistently damp soil from watering too often, they develop root rot, which causes the leaves to turn brown and drop off.
  • The reason for fiddle leaf figs dying after repotting is often because the new pot is too big. If the fig is repotted to a significantly bigger pot, it takes longer to dry out after watering, which causes the fiddle leaf fig to develop root rot, resulting in leaves turning brown and dropping off.
  • To revive a dying fiddle leaf fig, recreate the conditions of the fiddle leaf fig’s native environment with a temperature range of between 65ºF to 75ºF, increase the humidity to around 40%, water only when the top 2 inches of soil feel dry, and place in bright, indirect sunlight.

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