Fiddle Leaf Has Brown Spots – House Plant Journal

Fiddle Leaf Has Brown Spots

Plant: Fiddle leaf fig (Ficus lyrata)

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


The plant was growing really fast and then suddenly the bottom leaves began to turn dark brown and fell off. I cleaned the root and checked for rot but it didn’t seem like that. I have repotted it anyway.

The overall plant:

Light Situation:

The fiddle leaf fig was situated on the far side of the bed – only indirect light.

How do you determine WHEN to water: I follow the schedule I was told/researched for this plant – every 2-4 days.

Describe HOW you water: I pour a small amount of water onto the soil. Since it’s summer now, the weather is really dry. The leaves begin to droop if one doesn’t water for more than 3 days.

What fertilizer do you use? A slow-release fertilizer.

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


Darryl’s Analysis

Unfortunately, your plant was never really growing from that position.  The strength of indirect light that a fiddle leaf should receive needs to be at least 400 FC most of the day.  From that position, far from a modestly sized window, I would estimate the indirect light to be no more than 100 FC – which is barely enough for a low-light plant like a pothos.

Your fiddle needs to be RIGHT IN FRONT of your largest window – even getting 2-3 hours of direct sun is fine as long as you’re keeping up with watering.

This is the reason why the saying “bright indirect light” is unhelpful – people tend to fixate on “indirect” and think the most critical point is to avoid ANY direct sun.  What ends up happening is that plants are placed much too far from the window, resulting in weak indirect light, which should be measured – or, if you just want my broadest guideline, you should put the plant RIGHT IN FRONT of the largest possible window.  The second step is to consider whether or not the sun shines directly on the plant from that position – if the duration of direct sun exceeds the tolerance for that plant, then consider blocking it with a white sheer curtain.

That’s the reason why my chart specifies BOTH the strength of indirect light (which must be measured) and a tolerance for the duration of direct sun.  The light situation for an indoor space needs to be more precisely defined than simply “bright indirect light”.

There’s nothing you can do to reverse the brown spots so if you find it unsightly, I’d recommend cutting off that leaf.  If you improve the light situation, your plant should grow new leaves.

If you want to learn a healthy, balanced approach to houseplant care, check out my online course or my book.

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