Ficus lyrata (FY-kus ly-RAY-tuh), aka Fiddle Leaf Fig, is a plant that typically does very well with bright, indirect sunlight in a consistently warm, humid environment with regular, reliable care.
Any chaos (sudden temperature changes, repotting, moving from place to place, over or underwatering, etc.) can prompt the loss of Fiddle leaf fig leaf, a common issue for houseplant enthusiasts.
It’s also important to understand that normal, natural leaf loss sometimes occurs. If your indoor plant occasionally loses a lower leaf, this is not a cause for concern.
Lower leaves are more mature. They also fall off when they have reached the end of their life cycle.
In this article, we explore the topic of leaf loss in Fiddle Leaf Fig trees and provide proper care tips and advice to help you prevent and deal with this common problem. Read on to learn more about this Fiddle leaf fig care.
- What To Do If Your Ficus Lyrata Drops Lots Of Leaves
What To Do If Your Ficus Lyrata Drops Lots Of Leaves
If your Fiddle leaf fig leaves suddenly drop, it’s a telltale sign of distress.
When this happens, you’ll want to examine your plants’ environment and review your care practices to be sure the plant receives the right amount of light, warmth, humidity, water, fertilizer, and air circulation to maintain healthy leaf growth.
To review your plants’ environment and your own care practices, ask yourself:
- Has my rubber plant been carried through a very hot or cold environment (e.g., from store to car to house) recently?
- Did I bring my plant home from the nursery, or have I moved it around recently?
- Have there been any sudden temperature changes indoors or outdoors lately?
- Is my rubber plant exposed to hot or cold drafts?
- Do I have a consistent water schedule?
- Do I need to change my watering schedule to make it appropriate to the season?
- Is anything blocking the drainage holes in the plants’ pots?
- Are some of my plants’ leaves not getting enough light?
- Are my plants’ leaves scorched from too much light?
- Does my Fiddle leaf fig plants have root rot or bacterial infection?
If you’ve answered “yes” to all or some of these questions, you can probably address the problem by adjusting your plants’ location or care.
If your plant has had a shock due to sudden changes, it should recover with consistent care.
Blasts of hot or cold air or excessive direct sunlight can cause brown spots, leaves to scorch, brown, and fall.
Extreme changes in temperature, even for a few minutes, can cause leaves to wither and fall.
Keep Temperatures Warm & Consistent
These tropical plants love bright, indirect light and consistent temperatures ranging from 65° to 75° degrees Fahrenheit. Sudden changes or extreme temperatures (hot or cold) will cause leaf drop.
A moisture meter is also handy, so you can always check the moisture levels and whether your plant is overwatered or underwatered.
Ensure you have consistent watering habits!
Too little water during the heat of the summer or too much water during the cool winter months can cause leaf drop.
If you’ve been watering too little, simply give your plant and root ball a good soaking. You should see improvement within 24 hours.
If you’ve been overwatering, your problem may be root rot. This can be difficult or impossible to deal with.
You can begin by unpotting the plant and gently rinsing the roots. Examine them carefully and prune off any that are black or mushy.
Another sign your plant is overwatered is when your plant has brown leaves with dry margins. What you can do is remove the brown leaves with clean pruning shears.
Allow the plant to air for 24 hours before repotting with an entirely fresh potting medium in a container with excellent drainage. Adjust your watering schedule to avoid overwatering.
Use Soak and Dry Watering
Your Fiddle Leaf Fig will be happy with well-draining soil, and your ficus prefer a consistent watering schedule that provides ample drenching when the top few inches of soil feel nearly dry.
Remember that lack of water can cause fiddle leaf fig leaves to drop. Likewise, poor drainage, soggy soil, or waterlogged soil will cause this too.
During the plants’ growing season (spring and summer), pour the water through the soil, allowing it to run out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.
When you set your plant back in its saucer, check on it after about 15 minutes have passed. Pour off any excess water that may be standing in the saucer.
During the cool winter months, withhold water a bit. Water a little less frequently and not quite so generously.
Watch your plant for signs it needs more water (e.g., wilted and dropped leaves) and adjust accordingly.
Monitor Humidity Levels
Generally speaking, you’ll want to keep humidity levels around your Ficus at about 40% percent. This is because a big shift in humidity levels can temporarily cause the Ficus to go into shock and drop leaves.
You can prevent this from occurring by keeping your plant on a pebble tray with a bit of water just below the top of the pebbles (not touching the bottom of the pot) or by using a humidifier.
Maintain Gentle Air Circulation
To prevent problems with a fungal infection, your plant needs fresh, slightly moving air. Don’t overcrowd your houseplants or let the air in your plant room become stuffy and stagnant.
At the same time, don’t allow your Fiddle leaf Fig to be exposed to harsh winds or sudden drafts.
Position your plants well away from air conditioners, heaters, heating vents, air vents, and doors and windows that regularly open or close.
Provide Proper Nourishment
Give your plant a light feeding with an organic, balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer once every couple of weeks.
Mix the product at half strength because excessive feeding is far more likely to cause leaf drop than under-feeding.
Practice Good Grooming
You can prevent falling leaves by maintaining a regular schedule of pruning. Early in the springtime, provide a thorough pruning to help your plant start the growing season with a comely shape.
Throughout the growing season, trim and pinch back unruly limbs and leaves. Keep leggy, damaged, diseased, or dead branches promptly pruned.
Make sure your plants’ leaves get enough sunlight by turning the plant occasionally and gently wiping down the leaves with a clean, soft damp cloth every week.
Removing dust also removes habitat for spider mites and any tiny pests seeking to set up housekeeping on your plant.
Let The Sun In, But Not Too Much!
Fiddle Leaf Figs love lots of light but do not like harsh, direct sunlight. It’s also important to assess the type of light your Ficus receives.
Your plant should be near a bright, sunny window, but not in it. The ideal place for them should either be north or south-facing windows.
Moreover, protect your Ficus from direct, strong sunlight, as it can burn and damage leaves.
Keep your tree in a location with plenty of bright, indirect sunlight for at least six hours a day. Supplement with artificial light as needed. Turn your plant a bit weekly to ensure all green leaves have equal access to sunlight.
Give Your Plant An Outdoor Vacation.
If you live in an area with warm, humid summers, your Fiddle Leaf Fig will enjoy being outdoors in a sheltered area with bright, indirect sunlight. Note, however, that even this positive change may initially cause leaf drop.
Ficus are especially sensitive to sudden changes of all sorts. A gradual transition from indoors to outdoors in the spring and back again in the fall should help prevent excessive leaf drop.
Repot Rarely and Carefully
Healthy fiddle Leaf Fig plants go into shock when they are moved or when temperatures change, are exposed to harsh winds and sun, or are repotted. Luckily, they don’t usually need to be repotted but once every two or three years.
When your plant begins to send roots out through the holes in the bottom of the pot or into the air above the soil, you know it’s time to repot.
Remove your plant from its old pot very gently, and avoid disturbing the roots. If you see mushy, dead roots, remove them carefully using a very sharp, sterilized cutting implement.
Provide your plant with a very well-draining, good-quality commercial potting mix with a bit of vermiculite mixed in to improve drainage.
Just go up one pot size because these plants actually do better if they are a bit pot-bound. Be sure the new pot has ample drainage holes.