If you’re a houseplant lover, you must have encountered incidences of fiddle leaf curling. Fiddle-leaf fig plants are especially prone to curling leaves due to several reasons.
And nobody loves the sight of curled-up leaves that look frail and lifeless. If your fiddle plant is showing signs of curling leaves, don’t worry. We’ll help you salvage it.
Before you look for the best remedy, you should understand and identify the causes first.
In this article, we’ll identify 15 causes of fiddle leaf fig leaf curling. We’ll also discuss the best solutions for it.
1. Overwatering and Poor Drainage
Overwatering is one of the most common causes of curling leaves in fiddle leaf figs.
When you pour too much water on your fiddle leaf fig or water it too often, its roots become too wet. With time, they may fail to get enough oxygen.
This also happens if your fiddle leaf fig tree planter has poor drainage, which makes the soil stay wet for extended periods.
Overwatering and poor drainage can cause the root to rot. Curling leaves is one of the manifesting symptoms of root rot in fiddle leaf figs.
Aside from curling leaves, overwatering can cause the leaves of your fig plant to deform. They can also experience stunted growth.
This is why it’s advisable to regulate the amount of water your pour on your plant and the timings.
2. Underwatering (Dehydrated Leaves)
Like too much water, too little can cause your fiddle leaf fig plant to experience leaf curling. Underwatering the plant will make the leaves curl as they try to conserve moisture.
Curled leaves conserve moisture by reducing the surface area for evaporation. When the soil remains dry for a long time, the leaves will dehydrate and start drying up.
If you don’t identify the problem early, the leaves may dry up and drop. This may kill the entire fiddle plant.
As a houseplant owner, you should always find a good watering balance. In so doing, you’ll give your plant the right amount of water, without overdoing or undergoing it.
When Should You Water Fiddle Leaf Fig Plants?
Deciding the best times to water your fiddle fig plant can be tricky. While there are no fixed watering times, the frequency will depend on several factors.
Some of those factors include:
- The surrounding temperature
- Humidity levels
- Light exposure levels
- The type of soil used on the plant.
Here are some general guidelines to help you know when to rewater your fiddle figs.
- Test the moisture levels before rewatering. You can test using a soil moisture meter or inserting your fingers two inches into the soil).
- If the soil feels dry, it’s time to rewater.
- If it’s still wet, let it dry before rewatering.
- Check the posture of the leaves. If they are floppy instead of rigid and upright, it’s time to give the plant some water.
- Check and touch the leaf ages: If they feel dry and start discoloring, they probably need some water.
3. Insufficient Nutrients
Like any other houseplant, fiddle leaf figs need plenty of nutrients to grow and thrive. Some of the essential minerals that your plant needs to get from the soil include:
If your plant stays too long in the same soil without repotting, the nutrients may get depleted. The plant will then start getting insufficient nutrients. The nutrients in indoor soil don’t get recharged as in outdoor soil.
Nutrient deficiency can make your fiddle leaf figs lose their fresh green color. Soon, they’ll start yellowing and curling.
Aside from repotting, it’s advisable to boost the nutrients in your plant soil. You can do this by adding fertilizer. This will help the plant maintain good health and prevent leaves from curling.
4. Dry Soil
Another possible reason your fiddle fig leaves may start curling is that the soil is too dry.
If the soil doesn’t have enough water, the roots will have little to take up the stems and leaves. As a result, the entire plant may get dehydrated.
When they experience dehydration, fiddle leaves start curling and may wilt and fall. Moisture plays a vital role in maintaining the health and posture of houseplants.
That’s why as a fiddle leaf fig owner, you should always keep an eye on the soil. Stick your fingers into the soil to check whether it’s wet enough. You can also use a moisture meter to check the moisture in your soil.
Never wait until your plant starts showing symptoms of dehydration to add more water to the soil.
5. Leaf Infections
Fiddle leaf figs are prone to various infections. Common infections that affect these houseplants include pests, powdery mildew, and root rot. Most of these disease-causing micro-organisms live in the soil.
Houseplants can get infected or contract infections from other infected plants. Additionally, they can get infections from human hands or the tools used to maintain them.
When their leaves get infected, fiddle figs get frail, and the leaves start curling inside. Always inspect the plant’s foliage and leaves for any signs of infection before it dies. It’s also good to always handle your plants with clean hands and tools.
6. Too Much Sunlight
Fiddle leaf fig trees are tropical plants whose origin is in West Africa. There, they often grow in tropical rainforests. They rarely receive direct sunlight. Rather, they thrive under bright indirect light.
When you expose your fiddle leaf figs to too much direct sunlight, the leaves will curl inside as they try to escape the heat.
Direct sunlight may also scorch the foliage and make them curl at the tips or die at its early growth stages.
Therefore, be careful where you position your houseplant. While it will appreciate a few hours of direct sunlight, too much of it will make the plant develop curly leaves. Your lovely plant will then start looking unpleasant.
7. Low Humidity
Fiddle figs make great houseplants because they grow better in highly humid environments.
The average humidity levels for a healthy fiddle fig plant are 60%-80%. If you notice the leaves looking pale and starting to curl, chances are that the humidity is lower than 60%.
It’s important to always check the humidity in the room and adjust it. You can check the humidity using a humidifier or sprinkle a few drops of water on the leaves every morning.
8. Temperature Variations
Another common cause of fiddle curling leaves is temperature variations. Fiddle leaf figs thrive well in temperatures between 70-80ºF during the day and 60-68ºF at night.
Like us humans, houseplants don’t like drastic temperature changes. Sudden swings between cold and hot temperatures can stress the plant’s system. As a result, their leaves start wilting or curling.
Always keep the plant away from outlets like air vents, open windows, and doors. This will prevent temperature variations and keep the plant healthy.
9. Pest and Disease Infestation
Pests and diseases can also be the culprit when you start seeing curly leaves on your fiddle figs. Like other houseplants, fiddle leaf figs are prone to pests and diseases.
Examples of pets that infect fiddle leaf fig plants include
- Spider mites
- Scale insects
Common diseases that affect them include powdery mildew and root rot. Pests affect fiddle figs by feeding off sap from their foliage. When they do this, they prevent the foliage from developing into fully-grown, healthy leaves.
Aside from curling, pest-infested leaves can also develop spots or a distorted shape. Their foliage may also start discoloring. Due to such pests and diseases, it’s always advisable to spray your houseplants.
You can spray them with insecticides or insecticidal soap every few weeks to keep the from infestation and leaf curling. Consult your local agrovet for the best insecticide/pesticide for your fiddle figs.
10. Houseplant Root Rot
Root rot is among the most common diseases that affect houseplants like fiddle leaf figs.
Root rot occurs when the soil gets flooded with too much water that fails to drain well. The soil stays damp for a long time, and the plant’s roots get attacked by root rot fungus.
When root rot occurs, the leaves also get affected. They respond with symptoms like curling leaves, yellowing of foliage, and stunted growth.
11. Poor Soil Mix
Fiddle leaf figs thrive well in a soil mix rich in nutrients and well-draining. The soil should be light and airy, with plenty of organic material to support the drainage of water.
If you plant your fiddle figs using too dense or too heavy soil, there will be poor drainage. This can make the plant develop root rot. As mentioned, curling leaves is one of the profound signs of root rot.
Additionally, the soil you use for your fiddle leaf fig should be slightly acidic. It should also contain all the essential nutrients the plant needs.
For the plant to thrive well, use quality potting soil specially designed for houseplants. The soil is usually supplemented with perlite for better drainage. Plants potted using this kind of soil grow well and rarely get infected.
12. Leaf Spot Disease
Leaf spot disease is a fungal infection that occurs when there’s too much moisture around the plant’s roots or crown. This can happen if you overwater the plants.
Leaf spot disease causes fiddle leaf figs to develop brown or dark spots. The leaves will also start discoloring (yellowing) and curling up.
If you fail to identify and treat the disease early, it spreads and makes the leaves start looking brown and brittle. However, leaf spot disease is easy to treat. Your plant will recover within a few weeks after spraying with a fungicide.
13. Excess Fertilizer
Using too much fertilizer can cause fiddle leaf fig’s leaves to curl up. This is because too much fertilizer causes an excessive mineral build-up in the soil mix, which can damage the plant’s root system.
Like in root rot, fiddle leaf plants will respond to the stress of damaged roots by developing frail and curly leaves.
Excess fertilizer can also make the plant vulnerable to pests and diseases. It’s important to regulate fertilizer application so you don’t go to extremes. If possible, use a slow-release fertilizer to avoid flooding the soil with minerals.
14. Use of Poor-Quality Water (Tap Water)
Using tap water to water your fiddle figs may be another reason they develop curling leaves.
Tap water is not the best for houseplants. This is because it has chemicals such as chlorine, which are not healthy for plant growth. These chemicals can accumulate and damage the delicate root system of such plants.
This chemical build-up will disrupt the normal functioning of the roots. This will prevent them from uptaking nutrients to the stems and leaves. The fig leaves will respond by curling and discoloring.
Instead of tap water, always use distilled or rainwater to keep your plant healthy and happy.
15. Heat Stress
Finally, fiddle leaf curling can occur due to heat stress. When the temperatures around your plant are too high, or the room is too hot, the leaves will respond by curling.
Similarly, when you put the plant close to a source of heat such as a candle, lamp, or cooker, the leaves will start curling, wilting, end even dropping.
This is why as a houseplant owner, you should always keep your plant in a room with no heat sources.
How to Fix Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves Curling: 9 Best Solutions
Nothing can be more frustrating than seeing your lovely fiddle plant fade away and its leaves run out of life. However, there’s no need to despair. You can still save the situation.
Here are nine best ways to fix fiddle leaf fig leaves curling and bring the plant back to life. The solution you settle for will depend on the reason for curling, as discussed above.
Water the plant sufficiently
One of the most effective ways to fix fiddle leaf fig curling leaves is to give the plant enough water. This is the best solution if you realize that the curling was due to underwatering and dehydration.
If you fix your finger into the soil and it feels dry, water the plant more frequently than you currently do. However, be careful not to overwater since that will also affect the plant negatively.
Watering once every week will do. Consider buying a soil moisture meter to help you know when the soil needs more water.
The next best solution for fiddle curling leaves is to raise the humidity of the room. This is also a remedy for saving a dry plant.
If the surrounding air is too dry, the leaves respond by curling. Fiddle figs often thrive better in humid areas. As mentioned, they need an average humidity of 60-80%.
To raise humidity levels, use a spray bottle to mist the leaves every few days. You can also buy a humidifier to help you keep the room moist and healthy for the plant.
Repot the plant
You can repot the plant using fresh soil to help it recover from curling leaves. This can be helpful in cases where the soil nutrients are depleted, and the plant is no longer getting enough nutrients.
When you repot using fresh soil that has plenty of organic matter, the leaves will soon start getting enough nutrients and come back to life. Consider using soil that’s specifically designed for houseplants.
You may also need to repot if the plant’s roots have overgrown the pot. This will give the root enough space to flourish and keep the plant from suffocating.
If you identified that your fiddle fig leaves are curling due to an infection or pest infestation, the best remedy is to spray the entire plant.
Spray all the leaves, stems, and foliage with an insecticide to kill the pests before they devour and kill the plant.
Remember to wear safety garments (e.g., gloves and nose mask) and follow safety instructions when using insecticides.
Also, take the plant outdoors where there is free air circulation so the spray won’t affect you or anyone else in the room.
Improve the soil quality
Improving soil quality will also help relieve fiddle fig leaf curling. Consider giving your plant soil that has better drainage and nutrient retention to help it stay healthy.
Loamy soil is the best for houseplants as it has good drainage and a good amount of organic matter.
When the soil has good drainage, it won’t stay damp for long, and the plant won’t be at risk of developing root rot.
You can also improve the soil quality by adding compost manure or fertilizer every few months. Be careful not to add too much fertilizer, as this will also suffocate the plant.
Stabilize the temperature
Another effective way to save curling leaves is to stabilize the temperatures in the room.
Room temperatures can fluctuate from hot days to very cold nights. When it happens, the leaves respond by curling inside. You can stabilize the temperatures by ensuring proper airflow into and out of the room.
Also, keep the plant away from cold drafts and direct heat sources like fireplaces.
Be sure to keep an average temperature of 70ºF throughout the day and night for your plant to stay healthy always.
Keep away from direct sunlight
Your fiddle leaf figs require bright indirect light for optimal health. Exposing them to too much direct sunlight can be harmful.
Direct sunlight can burn the delicate leaves of your fiddle leaf plant. When this happens, the leaves respond by curling inwards. To prevent curling leaves, move your plant away from windows with direct sunlight.
If it has to stay near a window, put blinders or sheers on the window, so the plant receives indirect sunlight.
Also, remember to rotate the plant pot occasionally so all sides of the fig plant can get enough sunlight.
Use distilled water
When watering your fiddle leaf figs, use rainwater or distilled water instead of tap water. This is because tap water has chemicals like chlorine, which can accumulate and damage your plant.
Chlorine will not only damage the plant roots but also make the plant’s leaves dry up and start curling.
With distilled or rainwater, you’ll be sure your plant is not feeding on harmful chemicals. Additionally, there will be no build-up of minerals on the roots of the plant.
Find the correct fertilizer ratios
Finally, finding the right balance of fertilizer will help you curb curling leaves. Always ensure you give your fiddle leaf fig the correct fertilizer ratio.
Applying too little fertilizer will underfeed the plant. When it’s underfed, the leaves start yellowing and looking frail.
On the other hand, too much of it will damage the leaves and make them start wilting and curling.
It’s advisable to apply fertilizer once every two weeks. However, be sure to regulate the quantity according to the size of your plant and its growth stages.
What does an overwatered fiddle leaf look like?
An overwatered fiddle will have leaves that look yellow, brownish, or wilted. The plant may also have limp stems and branches, and its leaves may start curling inwards. Additionally, its leaves will often be soft and mushy due to too much water. The plant generally looks unhealthy.
How do I fix my curled leaves?
To fix curled leaves, you need to identify the cause first. If the soil is damp, it may be due to overwatering. If the soil is too dry, the leaves may curl due to underwatering. Either way, adjust your watering schedule accordingly so the soil isn’t too damp or dry.
Also, check for signs of pest and disease infestations and spray insecticides/pesticides on the plant.
How often should you water fiddle leaf figs?
The watering frequency should depend on several environmental factors. Some of them include humidity levels, the surrounding temperature, the level of light exposure, and the type of soil used. However, it’s advisable to wait until the top two inches of soil in the pot is completely dry before rewatering. Usually, once every 7-10 days should do the trick.
What does an unhealthy fiddle leaf look like?
An unhealthy fiddle leaf may start developing brown or yellow leaves, weak stems, and branches, and the foliage may start to wilt. The leaves may also have dark brown spots and start falling off. Additionally, the underside of the leaves may have small bumps. Always take the time to inspect your plant for any signs of distress to salvage it before it dies completely.
Bring Your Fiddle Fig Back to Life!
Now, you know that you don’t need to feel frustrated or let your fiddle leaf fig plant die when it starts developing curly leaves.
Keep in mind that the leaves of such houseplants are often vulnerable. They are prone to incidences like infections and dehydration.
However, you can take good care of your plant by using the tips mentioned in this article to prevent them from getting affected.
If your fiddle leaf figs are already developing curling leaves, you can refer to the different factors discussed to know the root cause.
Always stay vigilant of the changes in your plant, especially on the leaves, so you can salvage them before it’s too late.
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