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Fiddle Leaf Fig Sunburn | Brown Spots & Other Ailments On Your Ficus

Is my Fiddle Leaf Fig Sunburnt

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Given too much direct sunlight, a fiddle leaf fig can get sunburnt and suffer afterward. You can easily remedy this by snipping off the burned parts (look for light brown/tan spots close to the edges or tips) and move the plant out of direct sunlight.

Oh no, that dreaded day has come: Your beautiful Fiddle Leaf Fig has lost some of its stunning green! And in its place, you find some horrible brown and tan spots, making some of the leaves and tips look washed out and dry.

Unfortunately, this is one of the most prominent signs of a sunburnt on plant and is not something they can recover from. The plant itself can easily survive, as long as the damage is not too extensive, but the affected leaves may need to be removed.

It is easy to prevent your plants from getting sunburnt by simply controlling their light intake. Have a look at how much light a fiddle leaf fig needs and adjust your plant’s environment or placement accordingly.

Read on for some useful advice on these brown spots, what the different causes can be and how to treat them.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Brown Spots: Signs of Sunburn 101

As the name suggests, Ficus Lyrata has some stunning violin (fiddle) shaped leaves in a beautiful verdant green. Thus, it is quite easy to spot if anything is amiss with your plant, as the leaves tell many tales.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves Turning Brown

Leaves turning brown can be from a variety of causes and are not always linked solely to sunlight and getting burned. These factors can all have an impact on your plant and there may even be a few causes “working together” that are resulting in browning leaves. These may include:

  • Scorching: First and foremost, the leaves can easily be burned by the sun, especially if the plant was not properly introduced to new lighting conditions.

  • Underwatering: Another major cause of browning leaves might be underwatering. While the plant does not need to be drowning, it still needs plenty of water to thrive.

  • Overwatering: Strange as it sounds, giving your ficus too much water can lead to the same or similar issues as underwatering.

  • Pot dryness: This refers to the pot or soil itself, where the roots are. If the plant is in an arid environment or the soil level has receded, it can lead to the roots not being able to absorb enough water.

  • Root rot: Lastly, a major player in the brown leaf department can be a result of root rot. It can be treated with a root rot treatment to sort out the problem.

Tip: Monitor the spots and observe if they grow any larger or if they stay the same. If they don’t get any worse, you know you have fixed the issues, if they spread, there might be something else going on.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Brown Spot

Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves Falling Off

Another major cause for concern when it comes to our plant children is when their leaves fall off. While it may be distressing to witness, this can often be the plant’s way to get rid of issues.

Caring for houseplants is not always easy, but often the plants are capable of handling things on their own.

Case in point, if a plant throws off some leaves, it might be getting rid of dead weight (literally). It does this by shaking off deadened or brown leaves.

The reason is that these leaves have a very low chance of recovery; thus, getting rid of them is the better choice for the plant’s overall health and wellbeing.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Yellow Leaves

Yellowing leaves in plants is quite a common sight. Often this might be mild sunburn, as the darkness of the color usually indicates the intensity of the burn damage.

Yellow being mild, orange as moderate, and red being severe, is how it is shown. These spots can then turn brown, of course, to fully indicate that spot is now dead.

But yellow leaves on their own can have a few varying causes not related to sunburn. Lack of sunlight can be one cause, as well as some poor nutrition.

Another cause can be insects, but this is usually quite easy to spot, as you will notice brown spots on fiddle leaf figs (especially on the stems) where the insects are attacking the plant.

So yellow leaves on their own might not be a major cause for concern, but when you see this in your plant, you should take notice and try to determine the cause.

Note: As a plant matures, some of its lower down leaves can also turn yellow and fall off. It is a slow process, but it does happen even if nothing is wrong. So, take this into account when you examine your ficus.

Brown Spots On Fiddle Leaf Fig – The Sun Did It!

Contrary to what you may know, Fiddle leaf figs grow in mostly direct sunlight in the wild.

They can grow 12–15 m (39–49 ft) tall, absolutely dwarfing the houseplants that we keep around! This evergreen plant loves light and is able to grow either in direct or indirect light. 

The only thing is our household plants have adapted somewhat to indoor living. So even if they get plenty of light all day long, if there are sudden, harsh changes to their lighting conditions, they may suffer.

Is my Fiddle Leaf Fig Sunburnt?

If your fiddle leaf fig has brown edges, you have to determine if the sun really is the cause. You should take a few things into account to fully ‘root out’ (hehe) any other causes.

  • Firstly, does your fig plant get any direct sunlight (either from standing outside in the sun or through a window)?
  • Is the plant getting more sunlight than usual in recent times? This can be from a change in season to have moved it to a new environment.
  • Is your plant used to direct sunlight, but is still showing signs of burn? It can be caused by sudden harsh weather, like heat waves, burning the plant because it is not used to those conditions.
  • And lastly, it may sound silly, but are the brown and yellowing spots on the leaves that get direct sunlight? Leaves can only get sunburned if they are in direct sunlight. Those that are in the shade won’t get burned, even if the plant is outside.
Fiddle Leaf Fig

How to Treat Brown Spots on Fig Leaves

So, when you are certain that your poor ficus has been harassed by the sun, it is time to consider a few things that you can do. Either treat the existing damage or prevent it from happening in the first place.

Snipping off the damaged parts of the leaves is the best place to start, as they won’t likely recover.

You can also remove the entire leaf but try to do this only when more than 50% of the leaf is damaged. Otherwise, it can still be functioning “normally” and be producing energy for the plant.

We want to avoid doing any additional harm to the plant and the fig leaves, as this can only lead to further issues.

A pair of sharp pruning scissors or shears will do the trick when it comes to trimming your leaves.

Tip: If you are only cutting parts of the leaf away, try to only cut on the brown bits. By leaving a sliver (edge) or brown, you avoid cutting the healthy part of the leaf, which can cause unnecessary trauma or stress for your fig.

Other Solutions to Avoid Sunburn

So, to avoid any potential sunburn or browning leaves, you can simply adjust the environment where your fig plant is located.

If it is outdoors, move it into a shady spot (taking into account the sun and shaded areas move throughout the day).

If it is indoors, sitting on a windowsill or table, perhaps try to avoid leaving it in direct light too long.

It is common to move plants about, having them in one spot in the early parts of the day and moving it somewhere else as the day moves on.

Fiddle Leaf Figs and Sunburn: The Last Word

Bringing everything into perspective; if your fiddle leaf has brown spots, it can be from an array of causes, mainly sunburn.

Your plant is able to take direct sunlight, but only if it has been given time to adapt.

Even then, it can still be burned through harsh weather, so take care of them and periodically observe any issues.

Also, when moving them around, take into consideration your pets, especially cats. Fiddle leaf figs are not safe for cats, since ingesting it can be toxic.

So keep your pets safe, your plants under observation, and your fiddle leaf fig will be a happy little ficus.


Marty S.

Saturday 20th of November 2021

Underneath my fiddle leaf fig leaf looks exactly like sunburn but not on top of leaf. Is this possible? If not what can be the cause?