Fiddle leaf fig has brown spots – House Plant Journal

Fiddle leaf fig has brown spots

Plant: Fiddle leaf fig (Ficus lyrata)

How long have you had the plant? 1 to 6 months


The tips of the leaves started turning black maybe a few weeks ago. It grew a new tiny leaf and the next day it was dead. Now there are black spots on other leaves.

Light Situation: It gets about 2 hours of direct sun and 2-4 hours of light from a grow light

How do you determine WHEN to water: I wait for the soil to become dry – about halfway dry.

Describe HOW you water: I pour a small amount of water.

What fertilizer do you use? I have always used Miracle Grow plant food.

When was the last time you repotted? Less than 6 months ago.

Darryl’s Analysis

If the photo is an accurate representation of exactly where your plant lives and where the grow light is in relation to the plant, this is VERY POOR LIGHT. Assuming you did not intent to starve the plant, I place the blame on poor instructions – namely that “bright indirect light” failed to convey to you where you should or shouldn’t put this plant – and the reality that depending on the size of your window, a fiddle leaf fig may not grow well with your available natural light.

If I were to measure the light at the fiddle leaf fig, I doubt it would exceed 100 FC (20 µmol) from this position. In fact, only the three plants right on the window sill have any hope of growing well.  The other ficuses off to the side of the window won’t necessarily die but they’ll sustain themselves with just 2 or 3 leaves at the very top of the plant – meaning most of the lower leaves will quickly fall off (over the next few months).  You might be able to get them to hold on to more leaves if you put the grow light directly above the plant no farther than 1 foot away from the top leaves – and keep it shining on the plants for 12-14 hours a day.

Pouring a small amount of water will leave dry pockets where roots can die off – it’s better to evenly and fully moisten all parts of the soil and let the excess water drain away.  But first move the plant to a larger window or put the grow light directly above it.  There is no correct way to water a light-starved plant.

The tray of pebbles has no impact so you can stop using it if you want.

Unfortunately, there is no way the brown spots will revert to green.  Given the size of this window, the natural light in your light situation can realistically only support a few small plants right on the sill.  There’s a small chance the fiddle leaf could grow new leaves if you put it directly under the grow light (about 1 foot away) for 12-14 hours a day.

To avoid future disappointment, get a solid foundation in houseplant care through my book or my online course.

Tired of your houseplants dying on you?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *