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Why Is My Fiddle Leaf Fig Dropping Leaves?

Fiddle Leaf Fig boasts large, flat green leaves in lyre shape, which measure up to 18 inches long. However, sometimes, these leaves start dropping at a premature age. 

Generally, Fiddle Leaf Figs can drop their leaves due to stress caused by inappropriate watering schedules. In addition, extreme temperatures, excessive fertilization, pest infestation, and root decay can further stress your plant and increase leaf drop. 

Any healthy Fiddles may need at least 4-6 weeks to develop new leaves in spring and summer. So, it is urgent to stop and prevent unnatural Fig leaf fall. 

Is it Normal for Fiddle Leaf Fig to Drop Leaves?

The good thing about Fiddle Leaf Fig dropping leaves is that it is considered normal if it occasionally loses two to four leaves. After all, nothing stays forever and leaves fall out after maturity.

Every plant sheds older leaves as new leaves start growing. Just ensure that the Fiddle Leaf dropping leaves are from the bottom part of the plant.

However, if the leaf drop is excessive, with more than three leaves dropping now and then, something is wrong. It is not typical for your Fiddle Leaf Fig to lose new and young leaves.
fiddle fig leaf in pots
It is normal for your Fiddle Leaf Figs to lose a few bottom leaves due to new leaves’ growth on top.

As the new leaves start appearing, the old and mature leaves tend to fall out.

If the leaf drop ratio is higher than the growth ratio of new leaves, it is high time to evaluate your plant’s health and fix the problems by diagnosing them.

Why are my Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves Falling Off?

Fiddle Leaf Fig leaves falling off can be caused by various anomalies you put the plant through due to improper care and carelessness.

It is possible to bring the plant back from the state of dismay if you diagnose the problem in time.

Concisely, here are some reasons that are the cause of the Fiddle Leaf Fig leaves falling off.

1. Improper Watering Schedule

Many plant lovers go wrong with their watering schedule when tending to their precious Fiddle Leaf Figs. Even I lost my Fiddle Leaf Fig to overwatering a few months ago.

Overwatering and underwatering can prove to be hazardous for your plant’s health.

Excessive watering can be seen through the leaves as they appear floppy and limp. This is because the soil retains excessive moisture, deteriorating the root system and causing decay.

Likewise, an underwatered Fiddle Leaf Fig can also lose its leaves due to dehydration. If your plant lacks the precise amount of water to promote the growth of leaves, the leaves will dry and fall out.

If you see that the soil is always wet, your plant is overwatered. And, if the soil is pulling away from the pot, your Fiddle Leaf Fig is underwatered.

An unhealthy plant with weak roots starts losing leaves.

  • If you find that you have overwatered your Fiddle Leaf Fig, stop watering the plant for a week or until you see that the topsoil is parched.
  • If the soil is excessively wet, you can place some water-absorbing materials like mulch on the topsoil.
  • A well-draining potting mix with plenty of perlite and sand is best to avoid water retention.
  • Underwatered Fiddle Leaf Fig takes some time to regain its lost vitality. Hence, give your Fiddle Leaf Fig enough water until you see the water running down the drainage holes.
  • For a dehydrated plant, it is necessary to ensure all the roots have been thoroughly watered.
  • It is a good idea to have a climate-specific watering schedule for your Fiddle Leaf Figs. Weekly watering and hydrating the plant when 1-2 inch top soil dries. 

<1 cup water weekly to 2 feet Fiddle, 2 cups to more than 2 feet tall, 3 cups to 3-6 feet tall and 4 cups to above 6 feet tall>

2. Humidity Issues

If the surrounding is arid, especially in winter, your Fiddle Leaf Fig will lose a few leaves to avoid excess transpiration.

Plants lose plenty of water through transpiration, which increases at low humidity levels.

If your surrounding is dry, you can blame the humidity levels for excessive leaf drops.

  • Keep the humidity levels between 30% to 60%.
  • If you reside in a dry climate, make sure to invest in a good humidifier. Or, occasionally, mist your plant. 
  • Create a pebble tray and insert it under the Fiddle pot. 
  • Grow Fiddle plants with companion plants including Gardenia, Star jasmine, and Blue Porterweed. 
  • Place the Fiddle plants in humid places such as the kitchen and bathroom. 

3. Freezing Temperature

Regarding the native environment, Fiddle Leaf Figs are initially from warm and humid regions like Western Africa. However, fiddle Leaf Figs hate cold and dry temperatures.

Under such stressful circumstances, the plant saves energy, restricting nutrients and water to the leaves. Hence, causing a rapid and overnight leaf fall.

If you have placed your Fiddle Leaf Figs outside in chilly weather, the culprit for Fiddle Leaf dropping leaves is non-other than the extreme temperature.

  • Make sure that the temperatures do not go below 60 degrees Fahrenheit and above 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Keep your Fiddle Leaf Fig indoors and away from cold spots in winter.
  • The leaves of Fiddle Leaf Figs are susceptible to drafts. Therefore, keep them away from the air conditioner and heater.
  • Head over here to check out how to care for your Fiddle Leaf Fig in winter.
  • Likewise, in summer, place them in a shady spot or indoors.

4. Pest Infestation

Pest infestation is another popular reason for the leaves of Fiddle Leaf Figs to fall out.

Most bugs will attack the leaf tissues. Henceforth, depending upon the severity of the pest infestation and damage sustained, your fiddle leaf will start losing its leaves. 

The most common pests on Fiddle Leaf Figs are spider mites and mealybugs. These bugs feed on the leaf and stem tissues, causing severe deformity to the affected part.

Hence, as the leaf dies prematurely, they fall off the plant.

If the fallen leaves have a dotted appearance (especially in the form of tiny brown spots), your Fiddle Leaf Fig is probably under a pest infestation. Inspect the undersides of the leaves for confirmation.

If you identify an early infestation, getting rid of the bugs will not be much of a challenge.

However, I doubt it is an early infestation if you have lost many fiddle leaves to those pesky pests. In any case, here are the steps you should take.

  • Isolate and check the infected plant thoroughly, removing all the infected leaves.
  • Clean the plant with diluted rubbing alcohol that should remove at least 70% of pests in your Fiddle Leaf Fig.
  • Spray some neem oil and organic insecticide. 
  • Check the plant every 2-3 days and spray some insecticide at least once a week for a month. Do not let the insecticide fall onto the topsoil. 
  • Keep monitoring the plant for about three months for re-infestation.

5. Problems in the Root System

An unhealthy root is equal to a sick plant. And the first signal of an unhealthy plant is the excessive dropping of leaves.

If you are underwatering, overwatering, over-fertilizing, enabling root-binding, or excessively re-potting your plant, your fiddle leaf probably has a flawed root system.

Other than these common reasons, the roots might get deformed and suffer stress due to fungal or bacterial infections.

Repotted fiddle fig leaf
Root stress not only causes the leaves to drop but also gives your plant a droopy, stunted, and sickly appearance.

Excessive root pruning also deteriorates your plant’s health, promoting leaf loss and your Fiddle Leaf dropping leaves.

  • If you find that your Fiddle Leaf Fig is excessively rootbound, transfer it to a bigger pot immediately.
  • You can slightly prune the unhealthy and damaged roots. However, do not prune more than 50% of the roots at once.
  • Fungal and bacterial infections can be life-threatening to your Fiddle Leaf Fig if not addressed promptly.
  • Change the soil and add some fungicides to the soil to eliminate infections on the root. 
Also, ensure not to overwater as overwatering leads to fungal and bacterial infections.

If you think you might have overfertilized, leading to a damaged root system, transfer them to a new sterile potting mix immediately.

Clay and terracotta pots work best as they prevent root infections and allow the formation of air pockets. Be sure to make sure the pot has a few drainage holes at the bottom.

An overfertilized plant requires plenty of time and patience to get back to health. 

6. Excessive Use of Fertilizers or Pesticides

Fiddle Leaf Figs are sensitive, so they tend to react and respond to growing conditions quickly.

If you fertilize them with slightly more plant food than they are used to, they immediately demonstrate stress by shedding leaves.

In the hopes of getting rid of the bothersome bugs, let us not give our beloved Fiddle Leaf Figs a lousy chemical burn!

You can easily detect excessive fertilization or pesticides on your Fiddle Leaf Figs by checking the leaves. They usually have a brown rim on the leaves and tips of the plant.

So, strictly avoid overfertilization.

  • Feed the Fiddle plant once every month in spring and summer. 
  • Offer liquid fertilizer every 2 to 4 weeks in the growing season. 
  • Avoid pouring the fertilizer on the leaf and root. 
  • Always water and dilute the fertilizer before feeding the Fiddle Leaf Fig. 

7. Excessive Stress on the Plant

There are plenty of reasons that could cause stress to your Fiddle Leaf Figs. As mentioned earlier, these species of plants are very reactive and easily triggered. And they do not appreciate changes!

For instance, if you have moved your Fiddle Leaf Fig from the window to your balcony, they are likely to shed a few leaves for some time.

Moving them from a dark spot to a bright spot or vice versa, slight changes in humidity or temperature is enough to stress your Fiddle Leaf Figs.

  • If you have changed the location of your Fiddle Leaf Figs, be prepared to lose a few of those precious leaves!
  • If you want to transfer your Fiddle Leaf Figs from your living room to outside on the balcony, do not immediately transition them at a single go. Go slow! The transition should be gradual.
  • Place your plant outside for about 2 hours every day for a week. Make it 4 hours for the second and third week. Then, increase the sun exposure gradually.
  • Do not relocate a happy plant unless necessary.

And if you would like to bring an outdoor Fiddle Leaf Fig indoors, follow the same technique for a slow transition.

On average, you can re-pot them once every two years. Being one of the most sensitive plants, Fiddle Leaf Figs require time to adapt themselves to a new growing environment.

From Editorial Team

Don’t neglect the sunlight needed and fungal infection!

Fiddle Leaf Fig shade leaves due to too much direct sunlight, so offer only around 6 hours of direct light. You can choose a South or West facing window. 

The fungal infection spreads through the soil and water, so keep a sterile potting mix and proper water for the plant. 

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