Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Problems - Brown Spot

Fiddle leaf fig trees are very rewarding to grow, they flourish into large plants, filling any indoor space like a jungle and are treasured for their large glossy leaves. But what happens when the leaves start to develop brown spots on them?

Don’t panic! Most issues that cause these brown spots are relatively easy to fix, however, it may take your plant a while to recover so just all you need to do is identify the problem, give your plant some extra TLC and stay patient as your plant regains its health.

Keep reading to find out the main fiddle leaf fig tree problems that cause brown spots on foliage and how to fix them quickly and effectively.


Causes of Brown Spot on Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees

There are 4 main reasons your fiddle leaf fig may be developing brown spots on its leaves and finding out what is causing it is vital to your plants quick and healthy recovery.

  1. Overwatering - Root Rot
  2. Underwatering - Dryness
  3. Physical Trauma
  4. Bacterial Infection
  5. Sunburn


Brown Spots From Root Rot

The most common issue we see on any houseplant is overwatering and this goes for your fiddle leaf fig too.

When compost stays wet for too long it can lead to a fungal infection known as root rot. This will slowly eat away at the roots and if it’s not caught early enough it may prove to be fatal to your plant.

Problems with root rot present themselves in yellowing leaves or very dark brown or black spots that slowly spread and radiate across the foliage. It tends to start on the lower, older leaves first so these will be the main ones affected.

If root rot is developing from deep within the plant then these brown spots will start at the base where the leaf joins the stem, spreading outwards. Brown spot from root rot may also develop from the outer edge of the plant and spread inwards. Any affected leaves will eventually fall off if left untreated.


Root rot can be dealt with easily if caught early enough. You will need to repot your plant into fresh, well draining potting soil and allow any excess water to drain away fully.

Caring for your fiddle leaf fig properly is the only way to avoid it happening in the future, only water when the first inch of soil is dry and never leave standing in water.


Brown Spots From Under Watering & Dryness

Brown spots from under watering will manifest as crispy, light brown spots on the outer edges of the leaf that spread inwards. Depending on the temperature, dry brown spots can spread rapidly across a leaf which can then split, leaving holes and bruises on the foliage.

Another sign your fiddle leaf fig is lacking in water is wilting leaves. Low moisture results in loss of turgor pressure making foliage look droopy.

A consistent watering schedule is vital to keep your fiddle leaf fig in great condition. Keeping the soil lightly moist but not wet will ensure your plant is happy and healthy. See our full Fiddle Leaf Fig Care Guide for more information.

Brown Spots From Physical Trauma

Brown spots with tears and cracks are often from physical trauma to the plant. This can occur if you have recently moved your plant and it got slight bruising. The bruising often develop into brown spots over a period of time.

Brown spots from physical trauma do not need to be treated and your plant will still remain in full health. These types of brown spots may develop on otherwise healthy plants with no other conditions.


Fiddle Leaf Fig Brown Spots From Bacterial Infection

Bacterial infections on fiddle leaf fig trees can sometimes be hard to spot as the brown spots will develop in the same sort of fashion as with root rot. The main difference you will notice is that the brown spots from bacterial infections are lighter brown in colour and the spots will occur randomly across a leaf rather than just at the base or very outer edge.


Bacterial infections are also not as localised as other issues and can cause dropping leaves on any part of the plant. It’s vital that it is caught and treated early as it can spread across the full plant in no time cause irreversible damage.


Brown Spots From Sunburn

Your plant will thrive in bright, indirect sunlight. Harsh sun rays throughout the day will lead to leaf burn which is most likely to show on the very top leaves of your fiddle leaf fig.

Sunburn can manifest on fiddle leaf fig leaves in any of these following ways:

  • Bleaching or loss of colour
  • Red or yellow scorch marks (the colouring depends on how recent the burn is)
  • Dappled light brown patches covering the full leaf

Place your plant back from a bright window for optimal light, using a net curtain on a window is also a fantastic way to filter our harsh sun rays during the day.


What Should You Do About Brown Spots on a Fiddle Leaf Fig?

For a full recovery, quickly find out the cause of the brown spots and treat accordingly. Correcting the issue as quickly as possible will allow your plant a full recovery and you will have a healthy fiddle leaf fig plant once more.

Whether you need to correct your watering schedule, improve compost drainage, or place in a more protected location. All these things should help stop your plant from developing more brown spots in the future. To stay on top of any problems, check your plant weekly and give it a little bit of extra TLC.


Can Damaged Leaves Repair Themselves?

Once a ficus lyrata leaf is damaged, it unfortunately is not able to repair itself. If you don’t like the look of the brown spots, the leaves can be removed. Never remove more than 10% of the total leaves as this can cause shock to the plant.