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Fussy Fiddles

You either own a Fiddle Leaf, want a Fiddle leaf or have a friend who  has a Fiddle Leaf. They’re everywhere in the indoor plant scene and despite their reputation as a fussy or difficult plant there is a good reason they’re so damn popular - when they’re looking good, they look  damn good.

We’re now well into the growing season in Australia and chances are your Fiddle Leaf Fig is really coming into its own. New foliage should have appeared and you’ll be excitedly watching it unfurl. But then again, you might have noticed the odd brown spot or two, or maybe a leaf has dropped off unexpectedly, or maybe it’s just not doing...anything. 

On paper, the Fiddle Leaf isn’t a demanding plant. It wants bright, filtered light. Keep away from any more than an hour of direct sunlight, especially the afternoon sun, as it will burn the foliage. 

Water weekly, and make sure your potting media is well draining. Watering weekly works well as long as you know the potting mix is not still moist from the previous week. One good trick is to stick in a skewer and make sure the mix is dry all the way down. Or you could use a moisture meter- just remember though these are designed to help you not for you to rely on. Even with a moisture meter, we suggest you still check the soil yourself every month or so. 

Finally,  feedregularly over spring and summer while the plant is actively growing. Keep your Fiddle away from drafts from windows and doors - they are used to consistent, warm temperatures.

Not hard right? Problem is, while it looks manageable here, our homes aren’t designed around providing ideal conditions for our houseplants. Instead we’re left with the task of finding the space most suitable for them to thrive. Sometimes, it’s impossible to tick all the boxes and you’ll have to learn to manage any problems that pop up. Below are a few that you should be aware of. 

Symptom: Brown spots 

Possible Cause 1: Root Rot. 

If your leaves are developing small black spots that grow into larger brown spots until the leaf drops, you may be dealing with root rot from overwatering. 


Check the potting mix. Make sure it is a quality mix that’s draining well. If you have a tray under the pot, don’t let the plant sit in a tray full of water. Always check the mix is completely dry before watering again.

 If the plant is in a low light position, consider moving it to a brighter spot. Also, make sure the pot isn’t too large for the root ball. Ficus prefer to be slightly pot bound and should never be pot up more than one size larger than the previous pot. This means the plant can easily access and draw up all available water.

If the potting mix is very moist, you’ll need to repot. Remove the plant and check the root ball. Cut away any mushy brown roots using a good pair of secateurs. Repot using a quality potting mix.

Possible Cause 2: Bacterial Infection

If your leaves are getting irregular brown spots (but not black), accompanied by yellowing of the leaves, you’re probably dealing with a bacterial infection. The leaf will yellow as the spots spread

Remedy: This is a PAIN to manage. The treatment is similar to root rot - make sure the plant is getting enough light, make sure the potting mix is draining well. Remove any infected leaves using a sharp pair of secateurs. AND DON’T FORGET TO CLEAN THE SECATEURS BEFORE USING ON ANOTHER PLANT! Repot with a clean, sterile potting mix.

Possible Cause 3: Too dry

This one is easy to diagnose. Brown areas starting on the leaf edge and causing the leaf to curl will indicate dryness. 

Remedy: Make sure your plant is not near any heaters and consider placing a humidifier nearby. Check your potting mix to make sure its not drying out too quick between waterings. Give it a good drink. 

Symptom: Leaf Drop

Leaf drop is often caused by over or underwatering, or because of rapid temperature changes

Remedy: Make sure the potting mix isn’t too dry or too wet, and ensure the conditions around the plant are consistent - no drafts, heaters or too close to any doors.

Symptom: Pests

Fortunately, this one is covered! Check out our previous post on plant pests here.

Hope this helps. Feel free to comment and let us know any other issues you might be experiencing or tips you’ve got to share. And just remember - it would be near impossible to have a blemish free fiddle leaf. Its a living thing and its susceptible to bumps and scratches like the rest of us. As long as you're diagnosing any serious issues as soon as they appear, and giving your fiddle the best conditions possible, just let it do its thing and enjoy what all the fuss is about.

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