My fiddle leaf fig drops a leaf once per ~1.5 months. I am puzzled about whether I am overwatering it, underwatering it, or something else is wrong. I am attaching a picture of the leaf I found today.

I purchased it 9 months ago. It is actually 3 independent trees in one pot. It was repotted 4 months ago (it had no particular issues following the repotting). It stays by the window where it receives mostly indirect/low light (I tend to keep blinds partially closed during the day). I water with approx. 1.5 cups of water every 3 days (subject to variability, I am not very systematic about it). In the past 2 months, it has generated 2 layers of new leaves (each of the 3 independent trees produced 2 layers, each layer consisting of 2-3 leaves) which I have been taking as a sign of adequate watering/overall care, but the occasional leaf drop keeps bothering me.

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  • is this an old leaf or a new leaf that has been dropped?
    – kevinskio
    Nov 4, 2023 at 22:24
  • Hi @kevinskio I am 90% sure it is an older one (not this year's growth). Nov 5, 2023 at 0:16
  • Brown edges announce root problems from over- and underwatering. Figs are desert plants, so erring on the dry side can't hurt. Even more water less often. And please open your blinds. Desert plant. Nov 5, 2023 at 14:21

1 Answer 1


Let's go through the possibilities:

  • any sign of pest activity? They would normally live on the underside of the leaf. Ficus lyrata has thick waxy leaves so spider mites are not common but scale (brown bumps) or mealy bug (white cottony tufts) are. Both these pests cluster where the flow of plant juices is strongest on the veins of the leaf and where the leaf joins the stem. Treatment: soak a cloth in soap and water and wipe the top and bottom of every leaf. Rinse with water, repeat in five to seven days

  • overwatering is the most common cause of houseplant issues but the amount and frequency of watering indicates this is not the problem

  • not enough light: another common cause of houseplant issues. Outside: 10,000 lux and inside: probably about 500 lux Plants adapt to lower light levels by dropping older leaves faster and increased distance between nodes on the stem

  • underwatering: don't often see this but with your description I think this is the most likely possibility

The amount of water you are adding is enough to moisten the top few inches of soil but not enough to get to the roots at the bottom.

A good starting point would to:

  • verify that the pot has drainage. If not repot so water can drain from the bottom of the pot into a saucer
  • provide enough water so it flows out the bottom of the pot. You might need as much as a four cups of water to saturate the root ball.
  • wait until the top inch of topsoil is dry before watering again. Might be 7 to 10 days. Your finger is an excellent moisture meter or you can buy one.
  • I see no sign of pest activity. I am going to take your advice and change the way I water them (the pot does have drainage, and indeed, it has never got wet - water never has gone out the bottom of the pot). Thank you!! Nov 5, 2023 at 16:30

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