Many people get Fiddle Leaf Figs for their beautiful, rich green leaves. However, if not taken care of correctly, these plant leaves may begin to show signs of damage. When they absorb too much sun, a Fiddle Leaf sunburn is possible.
To treat a Fiddle Leaf Fig sunburn, you need to cut off the damaged leaves and move the plant to a location with indirect sunlight. While Fiddle Leaf Fig leaves can’t heal from sunburn, as long as their damaged leaves aren’t costing them too much energy, they can continue to grow and eventually will shed the dead leaves naturally.
To learn how to handle a Fiddle Leaf Fig sunburn and how to revive a Fiddle Leaf Fig, keep reading.
What Does Sunburn on Plants Look Like?
While it may seem like a good idea to place your plant out in the sun, the truth is that many plants can’t handle full sun and can easily get sunburned.
Unlike people, who tend to turn darker or a bright red when they experience a sunburn, plants tend to turn white or brown. They often look so white that it almost seems as if they’ve been bleached. Or they develop brown spots that make it look as if your plant was burned by fire.
What they don’t get is red dots. If you have red dots on a Fiddle Leaf Fig, then that might be a sign of something more serious. Red dots don’t usually signify sunburn.
Like humans though, plants may develop blisters on the areas that are severely sunburned. This is true of a sunburnt Fiddle Leaf Fig as well. They enjoy a lot of bright light, but not direct sunlight for more than a couple of hours.
How Do I Know if My Fiddle Leaf Fig Has Too Much Sun?
If your Fiddle Leaf Fig has too much sun, it will start to show signs. The most common are brown spots/patches, burned-looking edges, white spots, and dropping leaves. Sometimes the signs may be a little more subtle, looking perhaps like a dusting of brown on the leaves.
With Fiddle Leaf Figs, it may be confusing to figure out how much sun they need. This is because you can see them out in the wild or in gardens getting full sunlight. However, a few hours in direct sunlight in your home may be enough to give them sunburn.
Fiddle Leaf Fig trees can adapt to getting more sun if exposure is increased slowly and incrementally. So just because your neighbor has a Fig that can handle a lot of sun, it doesn’t mean yours won’t sunburn at the same exposure.
Why Is My Fiddle Leaf Fig Turning Brown?
While plants are unable to talk, they can communicate with warning signs when they aren’t feeling well. Fiddle Leaf Figs communicate that they are receiving too much sun by turning brown and splotchy. If you see brown dots on your Fiddle Leaf Fig, you may need to take that as a warning that your plant is getting too much sun.
They may also look burned, with the edges and tips of the leaves turning a deep, dry brown. This is a sign of too much sun and dehydration. Dehydration is also correlated with too much sun, as it can cause the plant to dry out much faster. This will lead to a Fiddle Leaf Fig with burnt leaves.
Can a Fiddle Leaf Recover From Sunburn?
Yes, usually it is easy enough for a Fiddle Leaf Fig to recover from sunburn. The first step is to move your plant to an area with far less sun. As long as not all of the leaves are dying, and there are still some healthy enough to produce the energy that your plant needs to survive, then your plant will likely be fine. It should be pruned so that it doesn’t waste too much energy on almost-dead leaves.
However, if your plant has mostly leaves that are burned and brown or white, you may find that it is too far gone to be able to recover, as you aren’t able to cut all the damage out without preventing the plant from soaking in enough energy. While it is still worth a shot trying to help it recover, you may not want to hold out too much hope.
How to Revive a Fiddle Leaf Fig That Has Sunburn
As soon as you realize your plant has gotten too much sun, it is best to move it to somewhere with less direct sunlight. It is important to note that you don’t want to move it to a dark, shady place, as that will only make the situation worse.
Instead, find an area that is open and sunny, but doesn’t have the direct sun shining in.
Then, you will want to cut the damaged leaves off of your sunburned Fiddle Leaf Fig. Be aware that the sap of Fiddle Leaf Figs can be poisonous, so if you are going to prune it, you want to wear gloves and be careful of the sap touching you.
Cut off any leaves that have brown sunspots. Start with the leaves that are the most sunburned and work your way down from there. This is the key to saving a Fiddle Leaf Fig.
It is generally recommended that you don’t want to remove more than 30% of the foliage from a plant or else it may not be able to get enough nutrients.
If more than 30% of your Fiddle Leaf Fig’s leaves are sunburned, try to leave the less damaged ones on for now until new growth can bloom, and then you can trim more later as needed.
When pruning, always use sharp and sterilized tools. It reduces the damage done to the plant and reduces the chances of your fig developing an infection.
Afterward, you may want to keep your plant in a more humid environment or mist the leaves lightly to stimulate plant growth.
Can You Save Sunburned Leaves?
Fiddle Leaf Fig sunburn is no joke, and unfortunately, the leaves are unable to be saved once sunburned. If the spots are very minor, they shouldn’t harm the plant too much, and won’t be anything other than an eyesore.
For leaves that are very sunburned, however, you will need to trim these right away.
Should I Remove Sunburned Leaves?
Yes, it is best to remove sunburned leaves from your Fiddle Leaf Fig as soon as you can. Keep in mind that you never want to remove more than 30% of your plant’s foliage, so always start with removing the most sunburned leaves.
This is because, although those leaves may survive, they will be permanently damaged. These leaves will not be able to produce much of what the plant needs in terms of nutrients as they don’t have enough undamaged tissue to be useful in that process.
By keeping these leaves on your Fiddle Leaf Fig, you risk your plant no longer growing, as it is costing them a disproportionate amount of energy just to stay alive.
Smaller damaged leaves that just have a spot or two of sunburn on them are probably fine as far as the plant’s energy production is concerned, but may not look attractive.
A sunburn on a Fiddle Leaf Fig may not look like you expect. Instead of turning red, its leaves tend to turn white or brown and blister. Thankfully, if caught early enough, they just need to be given a small pruning – and moved to a location with less direct sunlight – and they will start to look as good as new in no time.
If your Fiddle Leaf Fig does end up with too many damaged leaves, it is best to start with the worst ones – up to 30% of the foliage – that will cost your plant the most energy. While the remaining damaged leaves may not look pretty, the plant will continue to grow and thrive and will either shed the leftover damaged leaves naturally, or you can prune them at a later date.