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Why Does a Fiddle Leaf Fig Turn Yellow/Red/Brown/Black?

Fiddle Leaf Figs make a beautiful addition to any flats or apartments, and they are easy to grow. However, these plants are prone to health conditions that can disfigure the look of their leaves and threaten their health. Common conditions include discolorations and color-changing of their leaves.

So, why does a fiddle leaf turn yellow, red, brown, or black?

  • Yellow leaves mean that it is not receiving enough nutrients, potentially due to root rot.
  • Red pigmentation can derive from edema or irregular watering patterns.
  • Brown leaves signify that your plant is suffering from root rot, a fungal infection, or sunburn.
  • Black spots derive from root rot or sunburn.

Read on to find out what each issue relates to and how to solve it. 

Photo by Mokkie, licensed under CC-BY-SA-3.0

Why is my Fiddle Leaf Fig Turning Yellow?


Undoubtedly, Fiddle Leaf Figs are among the most loved houseplants due to their green, paddle-shaped leaves. Yet, it is not unusual to see them turning yellow at some point during the life of your plant.  

Like in the case of other house plants, if your Fiddle Leaf Fig is not receiving enough nutrients from the soil or potting mix to sustain its development, it can suffer from stunt growth and yellow leaves. This discoloration, also known as chlorosis, derives from nutritional deficiencies.

In turn, these deficiencies can arise from inappropriate soil or other conditions such as root rot. In both cases, the roots of your plant are not able to source essential elements such as water, nitrogen, and potassium from the soil to sustain healthy growth. 


  • Fertilizer – if the condition derives from an inappropriate potting mix, you could opt to fertilize your plant regularly. Indeed, Fiddle Leaf Figs need a well-aerated, dry soil to thrive. In case there is not enough oxygen flowing around the roots of your plant, you can implement a gentle fertilizer as a supplement. These substances often include all the essential nutrients an indoor plant needs to support their photosynthesis process.
  • Environment conditions – a combination of too little light and too much water can lead to yellow leaves. In this case, it will be sufficient to move your plant to a better lit area of your house. However, ensure that the plant does not suffer from exposure to direct sunlight for prolonged periods.
  • Root rot – root rot can be a consequence of inadequate watering and poor drainage. In this case, you might have to remove the plant from the soil, wash its roots, prune the rotting ones, and repot your plant into fresh ground.


In the case of yellow leaves, this condition can derive from multiple causes. Understanding what the other symptoms are can give you a better understanding of the cause of the problem. In turn, this can help you implement the right solution.

If the potting mix or soil is wet or highly moist, the discoloration of the leaves is most likely related to overwatering or, in worse cases, root rot. Additionally, in the case of this second condition, you will notice the leaves’ color rapidly turning into brown and then black. Instead, if the soil is dry, you can start implementing a fertilizer or supplement that can fight the nutritional deficiency your plant is currently suffering from.

Why is my Fiddle Leaf Fig Turning Red?


Little red spots that tend to affect the younger leaves are a sign that your plant is suffering from edema. This condition is a physiological disorder that can affect a large number of plants and relates to improper watering. Indeed, signs of edema are visible on the leaves of plants that are absorbing water from the soil much faster than they can expel.

Usually, this process is completed through transpiration – the water movement through the plants’ pores. Transpiration ensures that the moisture evaporates from the leaves and is replaced by fresher water and, therefore, new nutrients.

If your Fiddle Leaf Fig cannot eliminate the hold water before the fresh one reaches the leaves, it can suffer from moisture stress – or edema. Edema can cause the cells on the leaves to burst, creating the red blisters that are now visible on your plant.


Fiddle Leaf Figs are highly prone to edema, which is not only prevalent in this plant variety but also somewhat expected. Especially as the summer is approaching, it is reasonable to increase the plant’s watering, causing the condition to emerge. However, you can easily eradicate mild edema by implementing a stricter and more mindful, watering regimen.


Little red spots affecting the younger leaves at the top of your plant are a common symptom of edema. These are burst cells that have turned into blisters or dark bruises. You can deal with plant edema without risking root rot, yet promptly implementing a new watering regimen is essential to safeguard your Fiddle Leaf Fig’s health.

Why is my Fiddle Leaf Fig Turning Brown or Black?


Fiddle Leaf Fig’s leaves turning black or brown is one of the most common issues owners will have to deal with and can derive from many conditions. Understanding the causes behind it is paramount to treat your plant correctly.

  • Sunburn – The least serious condition that can cause your plant to turn brown is sunburn or sunscald. It can happen if the leaves are exposed to direct sunlight for too long, and the plant is not able to replenish the water fast enough to catch up with transpiration. Usually, plants suffer from sunburn during the transition period between winter and summer, due to the changing weather conditions.
  • Root rot – as the root rot spreads and the root system of your plant does not have access to the necessary nutrients, the leaves will start to turn brown and eventually become dark brown or black. Root rot can be a life-threatening condition for your plant, which you will need to address promptly.
  • Fungal Infection – often deriving from root rot, fungal infections can kill the plant’s cells or cause stress, causing the leaves to change color. 


For sunscald leaves, you should consider moving the plant onto a more suitable spot and adjust the watering regimen. Covering the plant and misting the leaves can also help to rejuvenate it.

For root rot and fungal infection, you might have to cut out the part of the root system that is already affected, as well as changing the soil. To treat more advanced fungal infections, consider spraying the plant with an antifungal substance.


  • Scalded leaves will appear light brown throughout the surface that has been exposed to sunlight.
  • Signs of root rot include a moldy root system, as well as brown leaves and excessive soil moisture. In this case, you might notice the leaves turning black rapidly if not treated promptly.
  • A fungal infection will appear as brown spots contaminating the leaves and ultimately causing a change in color. Other common symptoms include curling and falling leaves.

Final Thoughts

Fiddle Leaf Figs are suitable for first-time gardeners and cultivators, but they are susceptible to several health conditions. Luckily, it is possible to identify the disease threatening the health of your plant by analyzing its leaves. 

While yellow leaves relate to a lack of nutrients, brown and black leaves derive from severe conditions such as root rot and fungal infection. Red spots contaminating the youngest leaves are an indication of edema, caused by an excessive amount of water.

ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on May 16, 2020.

For many of these conditions, the solution includes moving the plant to a more suitable position and implementing a proper watering regimen.