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How to save a dying fiddle leaf fig

We’ve all be caught out haven’t we?? Lured by those amazing Instagram photos of the perfect fiddle leaf fig, searched high and low for our own, only to get it home and 3 months later see that it’s dying a slow death!

I killed one. I wasn’t proud of that. I really loved that fig too because it was huge! I did learn it was my fault. I was babysitting it too much, over-watering and wasn’t letting it get enough sunlight. BUT read this post here if you want to see how I chopped it back and it came to life again.

Today I thought I’d share a few tips I’ve learnt along the way with my other surviving figs (I have 3 more which are doing quite well)…

Filtered light

Near a window and morning sun for a couple of hours will be sufficient. When I say morning sun, I mean you have to see some sun-rays on your leaves for a period of time. I have mine about 2 metres from the window and the sun does stream in. If it’s near afternoon sun just pull it away from the window so the fig isn’t getting too much direct heat. I often see photos on Instagram of figs which I know are struggling because they are situated in a dark area. Plants need to photosynthesize. So they need light!


I water mine every 10-14 days. I felt every week was a little too much. Now I wait to see the leaves looking slightly sad and I feel for dry soil. I water them outside with the garden hose. I prop it up so the water can thoroughly drain through. Once I see water coming out of the bottom I stop watering. I don’t put it back in the basket until the water is no longer dripping through (I also have a plate in the bottom of the basket just in case). When I water it I also spray the leaves over gently – they become glossy looking again because dust can settle on them quite easily. Brown leaves usually means over-watering. Use Seasol in the warmer months (only needed 2 or 3 times a year). Over-fertilization can cause plants to grow leggy and can even kill them. I’ve used it twice now and within days I have noticed new leaves.

Recently I started using this little gadget below (moisture meter). I wrote all about it here too.


No cold air outside. So if you take the plant outside to water, make sure you don’t leave it there for too long. I learnt this lesson when I started seeing red spots on new leaves. I did some research and it seems that cold air (like outside air or refrigerated air-conditioning) makes the leaves stressed and their tiny vessels get stressed – like broken capillaries! Because the plant is fickle, it also hates hot air (not near heaters or full sun). Fickle aren’t they? So also be mindful of your inside heating/cooling vents.


If the stalk is shriveled and really bendy, it’s too far gone to save (and this is where I chopped mine off!). But if it’s still hard and strong, it will recover. Don’t trim or remove the husks because it may be protecting new growth. Give it time.

Be patient

The plant will lay dormant in the cooler months. So if it’s been struggling sometimes it can take a full year to recover. I had one where about 8 of the bottom leaves fell off. I was shattered. I just left it though and sure enough some new leaves started sprouting out the bottom a few months later.

Don’t pull off leaves

I know they may look ugly and brown, but leave them. They’ll fall off themselves when ready. You can trim the brown edges without harming the plant if you so wish.


Only transplant to a new pot when you see new growth. Even if you think it should be in a bigger pot, don’t upset the plant when it’s struggling. Only do this when you think the plant is healthy enough to handle it.

The best thing you can do to help your fiddle leaf survive is to let it recover, slowly, on its own. Make sure it has indirect sunlight, water every 1-2 weeks and don’t let it get cold. After all, it’s a tropical plant. If all else fails, buy a fake one (but they aren’t as nice!).

Good luck. ♥ KC.


  • Anonymous

    Happens to me often…doesn’t matter what type of plant. I kill them all

  • Emma

    Love this! Mine grows well in our bathroom where there’s a skylight and I water it in the shower. But we recently went away for a couple of weeks and left my 19yo son in charge of the dog (and my plants). He put them outside in the sun and the leaves turned to toast! But they do seem to bounce back and I already have some new leaves. I love the way you can see the leaves grow so quickly over a few days. x

  • Anonymous

    I water mine twice a week and it’s going fantastic

  • Jac

    I repotted a few months ago. Then moved house- so also in a new position. But already I have roots that are exposed at the top of the soil- do you think I need a bigger pot again? I will admit that the pot looks small compared to the size of my fig. The first time I re-potted the poor thing had an ants nest living in it but it survived!!

  • Meglyn

    Hi! This will be my second fiddle leaf fig that I’ve killed 🙁 I was just about to give up when I came across your post! Mine’s stalk isn’t shriveled or bendy yet, just really dry and flaking off brown bits. I was 99% sure I over watered my last one (which I’ve done to many plants in the past) so maybe I under watered this one? It’s SO dry. Do you know why Season works so well and if there are any other fertilizers that would be as effective?? I’m in the US and can’t find it anywhere 🙁

  • Patricia

    Hi Katrina,
    My fiddle also have the red spot for being outside for too long.
    Will it recover, I already brought it inside the house now.

    This my second fiddle, so sad. Hope I can bring it back to nice green leaves again, do you have any tips.
    Thank you

  • Cindy Dacumos

    I have my fiddle for the first time and i killed it. I water it once a week. But now my fiddle just died i hope i can save it. O hope youll help me.

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