Fiddle leaf fig tree is known for its gorgeous large leaves. These tropical plants can sit in about any home. As a houseplant owner, you only need to provide it with bright indirect sunlight.
Like humans, plants also suffer sunburns. Therefore, fiddle leaf figs will suffer sunburns when exposed to bright direct sunlight. The situation may worsen during summer.
In this guide, you’ll learn how to spot the early signs of sunburn and save your plant.
Not only that, but we’ll also share some ways to prevent your fiddle leaf fig from sunburns.
Fiddle Leaf Fig Sunburn
Sunburned fiddle leaf figs will develop brown crispy edges and tips. A curled and shrunk fiddle leaf fig is also a sign of sunburn. Bring the fiddle leaf fig plants to a shade to prevent and save your plants from sunburn. Also, practice the best plant care tips.
Signs of a Sunburnt Fiddle Leaf Fig
Here are some common signs of sunburned fiddle leaf fig;
1. Dark brown spots or patches
Your fiddle leaf fig is sunburnt if it has brown patches or spots on the leaf’s surface. These patches develop when the plant absorbs excess direct sunlight and damages the cells.
As a result, your plant won’t produce enough Chlorophyll – the pigment that gives your fiddle leaf fig its green colour.
2. White Spots
If you see white spots on your fiddle leaf fig plant, then your houseplant may be suffering from sunburn. The white spots will turn brown and further damage your plants if you ignore the signs.
Fiddle-leaf figs are tropical plants that do well in their natural habitat. But, the ones we get as houseplants are feeble to direct sunlight.
So, the leaves will be scorched and form white spots when exposed to too much light. To avoid such damages, place the plant in a shady spot to enjoy indirect light.
3. Yellowing leaves
Yellowing of your fiddle leaf fig leaves is the earliest and most obvious sign your plant is sunburnt. The Yellowing will start on a smaller part of the leaf and eventually spread to the entire leaf.
If your leaves start to yellow, you have to figure out the cause because sometimes it may not result from sunburn. And your plant may just be ageing or suffering from Fiddle leaf bacterial infection.
4. Brown or White Foliage
When you see your fiddle leaf figs with brown or white foliage, that could signify sunburn. The cells will damage when the sun’s bright rays strike your plant’s leaves.
Consequently, the plant will be unable to produce the food and nutrients needed for its growth.
In the end, the leaf foliage will turn brown or white and your fiddle leaf fig leaves will wither and die.
5. Bleached Leaves
Some sunburned leaves will appear gray, white, or washed out.
Leaving your plants out or by a west-facing window allows sun’s rays to hit the entire leaves. With the sun exposure, your plants are likely to experience bleaching.
You can place your plants in the morning sun for about two hours before the sun gets too hot. And move them to a shady spot as the day goes on. If you want your indoor plants to be resilient to direct sunlight, gradually introduce them to direct light for a few hours.
6. Drooping or Wilting Leaves
Drooping or wilted leaves are another sign of sunburn.
However, in most cases, your fig plant could be suffering from dehydration.
You can always use a moisture meter to determine if your plants need to quench their thirst. If the reading is below 4, it’s time to water your plants.
Besides dehydration, fiddle leaf figs could suffer drooping leaves due to fertilizer burn. It’s important to note that excessive use of fertilizer may cause the plant to suffer sunburn. Always research the best fertilizer for your fiddle leaf fig tree before buying.
7. Brown Tips
Crispy brown tips are the most common signs of sunburn in fiddle leaf figs. Sunburnt fiddle leaf fig leaves with crispy brown edges will flake off and may never recover. The major cause of brown tips and edges is dehydration.
When a fiddle leaf fig lacks moisture, the leaf edges will start to die. The same effect will spread to the entire leaf. As mentioned earlier, fiddle leaf figs are tropical plants that thrive well in high humidity levels of around 60%.
The lack of humidity narrows down to the lack of moisture. In the end, the leaves will start developing brown tips and edges. It’s best to provide your plants with the right moisture and humidity levels.
8. Leaf Fall
A sunburned fiddle leaf fig leaf may never recover. When the plant suffers severe damage from the sun, the leaves may be unable to grip the plant and will fall off. This happens after a few weeks of experiencing severe sunburn.
9. Soil Dryness
Soil dryness may not sound like a sign of sunburn in fiddle leaf figs. But the truth is, it is.
When you expose your plant to direct sun, it will, by all means, suck all the water out of the soil. The plant is fighting for survival, so whatever it can do to quench its thirst goes along the way.
If you are not keen to check on your watering routine, the soil in the pot will dry up.
As a result, the roots may lose their grip. In the end, the larger parts of the fiddle leaf fig may begin to fall off.
What Causes Sunburn on Fiddle Leaf Fig Plants?
Here are the three main reasons you have sunburned leaves;
The first and most obvious cause of sunburn on fiddle leaf figs is too much exposure to direct sunlight.
It’s safe to place your plants in direct light in the morning for a few hours. Then as the day continues, move your plants to a shade.
During morning hours, the intensity of the rays is low and gentle on the plants. Needless to say, light is essential in the growth of every plant.
All you need to consider is the amount of light your plant is absorbing. Bright indirect light is good.
Using too much or the wrong fertilizer on your fiddle leaf fig causes the leaves to develop brown spots. These brown spots are what we call fertilizer burn.
Take note of seasons when using fertilizers. It’s safer to spray your plants with fertilizers in late spring and early summer. Avoid fertilizers during winter.
You can flush the potting soil if the cause of your fiddle leaf fig sunburn is excess usage of fertilizers.
Low Humidity and Moisture
Another possible cause of sunburn on fiddle leaf figs is a lack of moisture and low humidity levels. Underwatering your plants deprives them of moisture.
Plants need moisture to thrive. Lack of moisture will affect the leaf edges. In most cases, the plants will develop brown tips and edges.
Fiddle-leaf fig plants need high humidity to stay healthy. When the plants lack humidity for a long period, the plant will have moisture problems. As seen, plants need moisture to survive and hence will suffer sunburns.
Yes, using the wrong planter can cause fiddle leaf sunburn.
That said, you must use a planter that adequately protects the leaves from direct sunlight or reflective light from nearby surfaces.
Additionally, make sure your fiddle leaf fig pot has drainage holes so excess water can escape quickly and easily–this helps prevent root rot caused by overwatering.
In short, if you want your fiddle leaf figs to stay properly hydrated while remaining protected from potential burns inflicted by overly strong sunshine, then use an appropriate container for them.
How Can You Fix a Sunburned Fiddle Leaf Fig
You can recover from sunburn by following the steps below:
Move the plant to a shade
The first step you’ll take is to bring your plant to a shade. Your fiddle leaf fig will need to cool off after a long beating by too much direct sun.
When we say you move the plant to a shade, we don’t mean you place your plant in total darkness. Instead, put the plant in the shade with indirect light.
Fiddle leaf figs are very sensitive, and any drastic changes will damage them further. An east-facing window is a perfect spot.
Your plant will receive the morning sunlight and remain safe from the afternoon sun. A south-facing window will be great if your house has a bright light.
Prune or cut off the damaged leaves
The next step is to cut off the sun-bleached leaves. The severely burnt leaves have no business staying on your plant.
Once sunburnt, the leaves can’t recover. If the leaves stay on the plants, they’ll only drain the plant’s energy. The fiddle leaf fig can use this energy in the plant’s new growth.
When cutting off the affected leaves, always use clean scissors or pruning shears. Fiddle leaf figs’ liquid sap is toxic to cats. So if you are a cat mom or dad, ensure your pet’s safety by wearing a glove.
Water your plants
Once you have removed the burnt leaves, it’s time to give your plants a massive drink. Since your plant has suffered from overheating, it’s best to water it from the bottom up.
As you keep watering, your plants will take in water from the stem to the leaves. For example, a fiddle leaf fig that has suffered from severe sunburn will take in plenty of water.
Water your plants daily until you notice the fig recover from sunburn. To check whether the soil moisture level is good, use a moisture meter.
How Can You Prevent Fiddle Fig Sunburn
Prevention is better than cure. That’s a slogan you must remember when you are a plant parent. It’s possible to save yourself from the stresses of sunburnt plants.
Below are some of the tips you can take to prevent sunburn in your fiddle leaf fig:
1. Acclimatize your plant
Fiddle leaf figs prefer bright indirect sunlight to thrive. The plants can tolerate a few hours of direct sunlight to help thicken the fiddle leaf fig trunk. But, any extended period of exposure to too much light will burn the plant.
To prevent sunburn in your fiddle leaf fig, you can take it through a process called hardening off. This process is what is also called acclimation. Acclimation is when you gradually move your plant to direct sunlight to adapt to sunlight.
So, how do you do this?
How do you acclimate your fiddle leaf to full sun?
First, start by moving your plant in the morning sun for about fifteen minutes daily. With time, you can adjust the period of exposure to sunlight. You’ll notice your plant will start enjoying longer periods of direct sunlight.
Bring the plants to a shade if you notice your leaves wilting or drooping.
2. Fertilize your fiddle leaf fig during the early stages of growth
Fertilize your fiddle leaf figs during the fall and spring months. During these months, the plants will need many nutrients to thrive. Lack of nutrients weakens the plants making them susceptible to sunburns.
The situation is worse when the plants are young. This is because the young fiddle leaf figs need a lot of nutrients for proper growth.
3. Adjust your watering frequency- check seasons
During summer, the temperature is usually extreme and plants use up a lot of water to survive.
Water your fiddle leaf fig plants regularly. For example, twice a week will be ideal if you keep your fiddle leaf figs in bright light areas.
4. Alternate Shade
If you live in sunny areas throughout the year, place your fiddle plants in shady spots. Indoor fiddle leaf figs thrive better when placed in east or South-facing windows.
The plants will receive some morning sunlight before the rays becomes intense.
Also, use sheer curtains to prevent excess sunlight from reaching the plant.
Should I Trim Burnt Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves?
Yes. Cut off a 40% sunburned fiddle leaf fig leaf. The burnt leaves will only use up the energy needed for the plant’s new growth.
Fiddle-leaf figs have large leaves meaning the plants need a lot of energy to thrive. So, it’s a good idea to trim damaged leaves.
In the long run, your leaves will grow back as long as you practice self-discipline with your plant care routine.
Can a Fiddle Leaf Fig Get Too Much Sun?
Yes. Fiddle leaf figs are tropical plants boasting beautiful large leaves. These plants do well in humid, warm environments. So, they thrive well in bright indirect sunlight.
The good news is these plants can slowly adjust to direct light. But, you should be careful when doing this; else risk sunburn. Instead, acclimate the plants until they adjust to their new environment with direct sunlight.
Surprisingly, fiddle leaf figs in the wild grow in any weather conditions.
However, the domestic fiddle leaf figs need attention before adjusting to direct sun. So, fiddle leaf figs can survive too much sun if acclimation is done.
Do Fiddle Leaf Figs Like Direct Sunlight?
No. Like other houseplants, fiddle leaf figs do not thrive well in bright direct light. Too much direct sunlight will stress the plant and expose it to sunburn.
It’s best to place the plants in east or south-facing windows. Here, the plants will enjoy the morning sun, which is great for their growth.
Besides, the bright light will move away from the plant as the day continues. At this point, you won’t worry about sunburn.
You could also use sheer drapes to blind any excess direct sun. You will need to acclimate fiddle leaf figs for them to thrive in bright direct sunlight. Failure to do so will expose the plants to sunburn.
How hot is too hot for a fiddle leaf fig?
The best temperature for a fiddle leaf fig is between 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The plants can also tolerate temperatures of up to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything above that will damage your indoor plant.
Fiddle leaf figs come from warm tropical regions of Africa. Thus, the regions have high temperatures. But, fiddle leaf figs do not thrive well in very high temperatures
How much sun do fiddle leaf figs need?
Fiddle leaf figs can survive well in direct light for up to six hours daily. Placing the plants in an east or south-facing window is ideal. The plants will get the right amount of sunlight they need without the risk of sunburn. You can also use sheer drapes to blind excess light from reaching the plant.
Will sunburnt fiddle leaf figs recover?
No. Sunburned fiddle leaf figs may not recover. This will depend on the intensity of the sunburn. Exposure to too much direct sunlight will damage the plant severely. A fiddle leaf fig in such a state will only use up resources that the plant would use to suffice new growth. So, it’s best to trim the damaged leaves off.
How long does a fiddle leaf fig take to heal from sunburn?
It could take a full year before your fiddle leaf fig starts to look good again. This will all depend on the intensity of the sunburn. If the multiple stems of your fiddle leaf fig had a severe sunburn, then you can do nothing about it.
If a few leaves are burnt, your plant can recover after a few weeks of proper care.
Can a fiddle leaf fig get sunburned?
Yes. If you expose your fiddle leaf fig to direct sun, it will risk sunburn. The harsh afternoon sunlight will put the plant under stress. The plant’s leaf tissue will damage hence exposing the plant to sunburn.
Fiddle leaf fig sunburn summary
Sunburn is very common in fiddle leaf figs. However, you don’t need to panic as you still restore your fiddle leaf fig’s elegant and attractive nature.
These nine fiddle leaf sunburn signs and fixes will definitely give you insights into how you can revive your plants.
With proper steps and care, you will never have to worry about your Fiddle leaf figs getting sunburnt again.
If you’d like to learn about another type of common houseplant sunburn, read our blog on Monstera Sunburn Signs to protect all your plants from hazardous UV or infrared radiation.