Oh no! So your precious Fiddle-Leaf Fig is dropping its leaves? Firstly, don’t panic! Fiddle-Leaf Figs are notorious divas. Hopefully we can help you diagnose the issue and then take steps towards nursing your beloved plant back to health. We'll also go over some basic care tips to help avoid similar problems down the track.
The first thing to think about is watering. Ongoing overwatering will eventually result in root rot, which will display itself as brown spots appearing on the leaves (usually beginning at the centre of the leaf) and will ultimately result in the lower leaves of your fig dropping off completely. If you think this is your problem, the best way to confirm is to gently pull your fig from its pot and inspect its root ball. If you notice any brown, mushy areas, or if the root ball is sopping wet then root rot is almost certainly your issue.
In this case, rinse off the root ball with clean, fresh water. Remove any damaged, brown, mushy roots with clean, sharp snips. Once you are left with only healthy, white roots, re-pot the fig in a clean pot with lots of draining holes and use a well-draining potting mix. You could also add some gravel to the bottom of the pot to further improve drainage and really prevent the root ball from ever sitting in water again.
Moving forward, ensure that you are only watering once the top 5cm (or more) of soil has completely dried out and remember that the soil should be evenly damp, but never sopping wet. This is why adequate drainage is key! On the opposite end of the watering spectrum - are you watering enough? Brown spots that typically start at the edge of the leaf and appear to be affecting leaves all over the plant is a sure sign that your fig needs a good drink! If you find it difficult to keep track, a Sustee or moisture meter is a great way to understand your soil better.
You should also make sure that your fig is getting the right amount of light. Bright, indirect light is optimal. A spot that gets a couple of hours of direct sunlight in the morning would be great, although too much exposure to direct afternoon sunlight is best avoided, particularly during the summer months. Be sure to rotate regularly for even growth, as this plant will grow towards the light. If you're struggling to find a good spot in your home, you could consider a grow light, which will be particularly helpful during winter.
As a tropical species, your Fiddle will enjoy regular misting to increase the humidity around its leaves, especially when you have the heating on. The leaves also need occasional dusting with a damp cloth to help keep the pores clear and allow the plant to breathe. Use neem oil for a beautiful glossy shine and increased pest protection.
Fiddle-leaf figs are definitely one of the more high-maintenance houseplants out there, but with a little time and attention, they make a beautiful addition to any room. Key things to consider when it comes to these beauties is ensuring plenty of light (don’t stick them in a dingy corner), and resisting the urge to overwater them!! Keep their leaves clean and use a quality liquid plant food every few weeks during the warmer months to get maximum growth from spring and summer.
Good luck - BB x