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House Plants/Fiddle Leaf Fig


QUESTION: I received a beautiful, healthy 6ft tree as a birthday gift 3 weeks ago. I named it "Figgy Stardust" and I'm absolutely in love. I had previously done lots of research on them and placed it in a well lit North corner of my house, by our sliding glass door. It was doing very well and had a couple new leaves for the first 2 weeks, but last week, after I watered it, it began dropping up to 3 or 4 leaves a day! The entire leaf turns brown, shrivels and drops - old and new. It looks like the damage is starting at the bottom and middle of the tree and moving out. I'm in a panic as to what to do. I don't want to water it again in case I had over watered it, I don't want to take it outside to dry it out in fear of stressing it more. I can't imagine that one poor watering would kill a plant of this size and previous health - if its this sensitive, how do these things survive in nature after one heavy rain? I hope it isn't too far gone for me to correct whatever was done. I'm eager to hear your advice.
Thank you in advance, your help is greatly appreciated.

ANSWER: Hi Amanda,

I suspect that inadequate watering is causing the leaf drop, although inadequate light may also be a problem.

Ficus lyratas must be right in front of an unobstructed, completely uncovered north window to do well. If it were a south window, it could be off a bit to the side. But a north corner is nor enough light.

Assuming that your Ficus lyrata was not repotted, then it will need a thorough watering as soon as the surface of the soil feels just barely damp or almost dry. Pour water slowly all over the surface until you see a small amount trickle through the drain holes. When properly potted and given sufficient light, this is a plant that is hard to over water but easy to let get too dry.

The leaf drop that occurred right after you watered was coincidental and not causal. Plants take a week or more before they react to improper watering.

If your Fig was repotted, then get back to me with the details on how that was done because that changes the way it should be watered.

I have written a detailed article on Fiddle Leafed Fig care that I will email for free to you (or anyone else) who emails a request to me at I have also written an indoor plant care book in a PDF format that I can sell you if you contact me at my email address.

Please let me know if any of this is unclear or if you have any additional questions.

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Will Creed, Interior Landscaper
Horticultural Help, NYC

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Drying leaves close up
Drying leaves close up  

Whole tree
Whole tree  
QUESTION: Thank you! As for the potting I cannot say as the tree was bought from a nursery and gifted to me. I did as you instructed with the watering and light and immediately new leaf drop stopped!

However, a couple new leaves have browned and curled and a couple others seem to have faded with brown speckles on the bottom. They're still growing but don't look healthy to me. Is this just a result of stress? Or has the underwatering left it susceptible to other issues? I hope the images i attached come through. Again, thank you so much for your help!

Hi Amanda,

Thanks for the top ratings and for getting back to me with the photos.

The pot size appears to be appropriate, so it will need to be watered thoroughly as soon as the soil surface or top half inch of soil feels dry. You will also need to move it right to the center of the window or sliding glass door, as inconvenient as that may be.

Plants react to stress slowly and they recover slowly. You will continue to experience some leaf loss until a while after you have improved the light and watering. Look for healthy new growth as a sign of proper care. It is always the older, lower leaves that the plant sacrifices first. That should gradually decline for you.

Best regards,

~Will Creed

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Will Creed


I am the only expert in this category with professional hands-on experience and knowledge of all indoor plants. I can answer questions regarding light, water, fertilizer, repotting, pruning and humidity and temperature requirements. I can identify plant pests and provide information on safe, effective treatments. My answers are based on 35 years of professional experience and scientific research and are clear and easy to understand. I do NOT use search engines to find answers to your questions. If you read my previous posts here, you will get a good idea as to how thorough and professional my answers are.


I have over 35 years of professional indoor landscaping experience caring for plants in homes, offices, building lobbies, stores, restaurants, and other adverse environments. I have written extensively on the care of indoor plants, including a 260 page book. My specialties include Ficus trees, low light plants, repotting, pest control, and re-blooming holiday plants. Be sure to check my ratings and nominations to learn why I am the top-rated indoor plant expert. I am the only House Plant expert consistently ranked in the AllExperts Top 20.

BA, Amherst College

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