If you’ve flipped through a home magazine or scrolled through your socials lately, you’ll know that fiddle leaf figs are the darlings of the houseplant world. However, what those glossy images don’t tell you is that these breath-taking plants are as fussy as they are beautiful.
Of course, it can be very upsetting to find an otherwise healthy-seeming fiddle leaf fig drooping, especially if you’re unsure what could be causing this to happen. Luckily, it’s usually quite easy to figure out what’s wrong and to fix it from there.
In this article, we’ll look at the reasons behind fiddle leaf fig leaves drooping and what we can do to perk them back up. Read on to find out more.
Why are my fiddle leaf fig leaves drooping?
When fiddle leaf figs droop, it’s usually indicative of a deficit of some sort, such as lack of water, sunlight, or humidity. Fiddle leaf figs may also turn limp if they’re overwatered, overfertilized, suffering from chemical burn, or distressed by a change in environment.
While this may sound like a veritable laundry list of potential problems, the Ficus lyrata is a good communicator when it comes to its needs, and fortunately, it’s usually quite simple to figure out what’s gone wrong. For each of these ailments, there are generally accompanying signs and symptoms that make them easy to identify.
Let’s look at these possible afflictions in greater detail to help you diagnose the cause of your fiddle leaf fig’s droopy leaves.
When fiddle leaf figs start to droop, the first thing to check for is dehydration. Scientifically speaking, a water deficit prevents the flow of nutrients to the plant’s vascular tissue (xylem), resulting in a lack of turgidity. Your fiddle leaf is losing water to its cells and is unable to replace it.
The simplest way to check for dehydration is to insert the tip of your finger into your Ficus’s soil. If it is dry beyond the top inch or two, your plant needs water. On average, fiddle leaf figs should be watered once every 7 to 10 days.
2. Lack of sunlight
Given the size of their gorgeous, dark green leaves, it’s easy to see why fiddle leaf figs require a lot of sunlight. Without it, the stomata embedded in their leaves cannot photosynthesize and process the moisture they’re receiving, so the leaves end up wilting. In particular, if you notice your fiddle leaf fig leaves drooping and yellow, this is often a sign of it getting insufficient sunlight.
Being native to Central and West African rainforests, fiddle leaf figs are accustomed to warm, sunny climates. If your plant is not situated in a spot that receives sunlight daily, it may be time to move it. The way to check for lack of sunlight is to monitor how many hours of direct light your fiddle leaf receives each day.
3. Low humidity levels
Fiddle leaf figs thrive in environments with 35% to 60% humidity. Generally, this is the natural humidity of a home. However, if that is not the case, your plant may be crying out for a little more moisture in the air.
To identify if your plant is suffering from low humidity, look for a bubbling texture on the edges of its leaves that accompanies drooping or wilting. Look for factors in its environment that may be causing low humidity, such as air conditioning or open, breezy windows.
Strangely enough, the symptoms of overwatering and underwatering your fiddle leaf fig present in pretty much the same way when it comes to this specific plant. In both cases, your fiddle leaf fig leaves may be drooping and brown, and the plant takes on a lackluster appearance overall.
When you overwater a fiddle leaf fig, its roots cannot access the oxygen it needs from the soil. This is because water pushes air out of the ground and pools around your fiddle leaf’s root system. Without oxygen, leaves cannot receive moisture, and they turn floppy.
Feel if your soil is waterlogged, dense, or overly moist. When it comes to overwatering, it’s crucial that you act quickly to fix the issue at hand, as too much water can lead to root rot.
While less common, overfertilization can also cause your fiddle leaf’s leaves to droop. This usually happens when there is a build-up of salt or nitrogen in the soil, preventing water from reaching your Ficus’s plant tissue and cells. Without water, leaves lose their firmness.
To check for signs of overfertilization, look for a visible residue in the soil. Other symptoms include your fiddle leaf fig leaves yellowing accompanied by brown spots on your fiddle leaf fig or, in severe cases, root burn resulting in your fiddle leaf fig losing leaves.
6. Chemical burn
When we notice unwanted creepy crawlies on our plants, it’s natural to want to get rid of them. Often, our first port of call is a detergent, fungicide, or insecticide. While these may do the trick for deterring unwanted guests, any form of chemical can be very detrimental to a fiddle leaf fig’s health.
Chemical burns arise most often when treated leaves have prolonged exposure to sunlight, which causes an adverse reaction. To prevent this, ensure your Ficus’s leaves are thoroughly cleaned before setting them down in direct light or use organic pesticide alternatives.
Fiddle leaf figs are not big fans of change, and any shift in their environments can make them distressed. If you’ve recently moved your plant or changed its living space, droopy leaves can be a way of telling you that it is displeased and will need some time to adjust.
Changes like a new living area, a shift in your watering regime, or even the temperature or humidity of a room can cause a fiddle leaf fig anxiety. If there is nothing else overtly wrong with your Ficus, give some thought to whether environmental factors may be at play.
8. Transplant shock
Note that you may notice your fiddle leaf fig leaves drooping after repotting during the weeks following transplantation while their roots adjust to their new container. This is called transplant shock and is particularly prevalent in sensitive species like the fiddle leaf fig.
While it doesn’t look ideal, it’s actually perfectly normal to notice your fig tree leaves drooping after transplant. Often, just giving it some time and space to adjust will perk it right back up.
9. Other possible reasons why your fiddle leaf fig may be drooping
Occasionally, fiddle leaves will droop if their leaves are clogged up by dirt or dust. To prevent this, give them a gentle wipe-down every now and again to ensure optimum airflow. Avoid harsh chemicals and detergents and use lukewarm water instead.
Also, bear in mind that new leaves tend to droop when they first unfurl, purely because they have not yet reached their full strength. This will resolve itself in a matter of days.
How do you perk up a fiddle leaf fig?
Once you’ve identified what is causing your fiddle leaf fig’s leaves to droop, you can take steps to solve the problem. Make sure your plant is in a healthy environment by giving it plenty of water and sun, ensure you’ve cleaned and fertilized it, and add humidity to the environment if needed.
To revive a drooping fiddle leaf fig is relatively simple, and you should see good results in a short space of time. All it takes is cognizance of the problem your plant is experiencing so that you can put measures in place to perk it back up.
Let’s look at the steps you can take to fix droopy leaves once you’ve identified your plant’s ailment, as outlined in the previous section of this post.
1. Maintain a regular watering schedule
Whether your fiddle leaf fig is drooping due to underwatering or overwatering, the solution is the same, and that is to get your fiddle leaf onto a regular watering schedule. For indoor fiddle leaf figs receiving 5 to 6 hours of sun per day, watering every 7 to 10 days should suffice.
However, your particular schedule may take some trial and error, although our article on how often you should water a fiddle leaf fig may help.
The best way to determine what works for your plant is to monitor the soil closely over several weeks. A thorough drenching (provided the container has good drainage) followed by allowing the top inch of soil to dry out is a good groove for a Ficus. In addition, if you notice your fiddle leaf fig leaves drooping after watering, that can be a solid sign to further cut back on the frequency of watering.
In no time, your fiddle leaf will perk up and thrive.
2. Find the perfect sunny spot
Sometimes, a fiddle leaf fig is floppy purely because it’s craving some good old sunshine. When looking for the perfect spot to position your plant, try to find a space (preferably close to a window) that is south or east-facing and receives 5 to 6 hours of direct light per day.
To revive a drooping Ficus, turn your fiddle leaf fig’s planter every few days so that all its leaves receive sunlight. Mind you, too much sunlight can also be harmful to your Ficus, so don’t default to placing it outside in the hot sun. This can shock its system or cause sunburn on your fiddle leaf fig. Gentle is always best with these beauties.
3. Clean and fertilize your fiddle leaf
A build-up of dirt on the leaves of a Ficus lyrata can be solved by gently wiping them down with a wet cloth. It seems hard to believe that something as minor as dust can cause leaves to droop, but without proper airflow, this is often the case.
While you’re conducting this kind of gentle maintenance, it’s also a good idea to fertilize your fiddle leaf fig plant for optimum growth. Nutrient deficiencies tend to make plants look a bit dreary. Use a nitrogen-rich (organic) fertilizer once per month during the growing season for best results.
4. Optimize your fiddle leaf fig’s environment
As you know by now, fiddle leaf figs are incredibly sensitive to environmental changes, and they can be reactive (droopy leaves) if they’re unhappy. To get them back on track, you need to do all you can to optimize your plants’ environment.
After ensuring your Ficus has water, light, and food, check the humidity level in the room where it is housed. If the room is cooler and dryer, consider adding a humidifier to synthesize moist air. To help make a thriving fiddle leaf fig, try misting your leaves with a spray bottle every week or so.
Finally, do not move it around too often, and when you do, do so gradually. A sudden change might shock your plant and cause it distress.
How long does it take for a fiddle leaf fig to perk up?
The length of time it takes for a fiddle leaf fig to perk up depends on what caused its leaves to droop in the first place. For minor ailments, like underwatering, or if your plant’s leaves are young, they will perk up in a matter of days. Environmental or health issues may take longer to resolve.
Fiddle leaf figs can get a little sulky if their needs are not immediately gratified. But, like children, sometimes they sort themselves right out when they get what they want. This is often the case with droopy fiddle leaf figs experiencing minor issues like a bit of thirst or a dusty leaf.
However, on occasion, a fiddle leaf fig that’s drooping indicates something more serious afoot. Specifically, it can signify the beginning of root rot, chemical burn, or root shock in a fiddle leaf fig, all of which can take some time to recover from – weeks or even months. The important thing is that you act immediately once you detect an issue to prevent further damage to your plant.
The best way to determine how long your fiddle leaf will need to perk up is to make sure you know what is wrong with it. Once you do, you can begin to fix the problem and hopefully end up with a thriving plant in no time.
Should I cut off drooping leaves on my fiddle leaf fig?
If your fiddle leaf fig’s leaves are drooping for a reason that is resolvable, there is no need to prune them away. In fact, pruning may shock or distress your plant while it’s trying to recover. However, lower, older leaves droop naturally and so you can cut back up to 10% of your plant’s leaves for aesthetic purposes, if preferred.
The big, shiny dark green leaves of the fiddle leaf fig are the reason we love these plants. Therefore, it’s best to avoid chopping away leaves unless it’s absolutely necessary (brown spots or diseases) or unless you’re shaping your fig for ornamental purposes. Old leaves do fall off by themselves, but you’re welcome to help them along.
Root rot and bacterial infections in fiddle leaf figs tend to spread quickly, which is why it’s recommended to rather remove these leaves than allow them to disease your entire plant. That being said, this is the exception, not the rule, and pruning should always be prudent.
Indeed, pruning fiddle leaf figs that are trying to recover from an ailment can do more harm than good. In trying to make up for their loss, these plants may use their energy to regrow leaves instead of trying to perk themselves back up.
Final thoughts on dealing with a fiddle leaf fig that’s drooping
The Ficus truly is a beautiful plant, but there’s also no question that they can be a bit fussy. This is why, to make a thriving fiddle leaf fig stop drooping, it’s likely just a question of tweaking your plant’s environment so that it gets exactly what it wants.
As you can probably see above, the process to fix droopy leaves on your Ficus is often simply giving it the water, light and nutrients it craves. Sure, it may sulk for a little while, but give it some time and some love and you should easily be able to revive a drooping fiddle leaf fig.
However, if you’ve tried all those things and you still see that your fiddle leaf fig is floppy, it can be a good idea to check for something more serious. If left untreated, things like bacterial infections and root rot in your fiddle leaf fig can be fatal to your plant and if your fiddle leaf fig leaves are drooping and nothing else seems to perk it up, that may be a sign of one of these being a problem.
In that case, make sure you take action as quickly as possible as you want to resolve this before the issue is too far gone, your fiddle leaf fig has no leaves left and your plant can’t be saved. This is a pretty extreme example though and it’s most likely that the earlier adjustments you made will fix the issue in no time at all.