How to Prevent & Treat Fiddle Leaf Fig Bacterial Infection

Is your fiddle leaf fig showing yellow leaves, dark brown spots, or irregularly shaped leaves? If yes, then the fiddle leaf fig might be infected by bacteria.

Depending on the severity of the disease, you can apply bactericide or repot fiddle leaf figs. However, taking care of fiddle leaf figs is the key to preventing bacterial infections. Therefore, you should know what fiddle leaf figs need.

In addition, fungal infections like root rot are often considered similar to bacterial infections. However, they differ from each other. I will explain how to tell if your fig has a fungal or bacterial infection in this article. You will also learn how to treat and prevent bacterial infections if your fiddle leaf fig has one.

So let’s begin,

Fiddle leaf fig bacterial infection signs

Oftentimes, fiddle leaf fig tree infections seem similar to those caused by improper care practices such as overwatering, underwatering, and insufficient light.

To understand bacterial infection in your fiddle leaf fig plant, look for these signs.

1. The fiddle leaf has yellow or brown spots

The fiddle leaf has yellow or brown spots

You might notice yellow or brown spots on the leaves of your fiddle leaf fig. In most cases, these spots are small and affect all the leaves of the plant.

However, if you notice brown spots on your fiddle leaf fig leaves, don’t immediately assume it has a bacterial infection. As dark brown spots will also appear on a fiddle leaf fig with root rot. Although fiddle leaf fig root rot is more likely to affect the bottom leaves than the top ones.

2. Fiddle leaf fig leaves are falling off

Fiddle leaf fig leaves are falling off

When your fiddle leaf fig ages, its leaves will fall naturally. There is no problem with the leaves turning yellow and falling a little at a time.

However, if your fiddle leaf fig is dropping large quantities of leaves at once, followed by no new leaves growing, this may mean your plant is infected with bacteria.

3. A yellow-leafed fiddle leaf fig

A yellow-leafed fiddle leaf fig

Too much or too little water can turn a plant’s leaves yellow. You can solve this problem by learning how often you should water your fiddle leaf fig.

The use of water with a high concentration of chemicals or minerals can also cause yellowing leaves. Fiddle leaf figs may also suffer from a lack of sunlight.

In the event that you have never had issues and have watered and placed your fiddle leaf fig in the sunlight as you should, yellowing leaves may be a sign of bacterial infection.

Also, read Fiddle Leaf Fig Yellow Leaf – Causes and How to Fix Them!

4. The irregular shape of foliage

The irregular shape of foliage

It is also common to see leaves that aren’t shaped properly. Since fiddle leaf figs are known for their large, glossy leaves, if they start growing differently than usual, you might have a problem.

If your plant has a bacterial infection, you will often notice other signs before this one, like fiddle leaf fig brown spots appearing on the leaves before they are fully grown. You might also see strangely shaped leaves.

If you have spotted these bacterial signs on your fiddle leaf fig, it’s time to treat them to prevent further damage.

How to treat fiddle leaf fig bacterial infection

Fiddle leaf fig bacterial infections are treated differently according to their type. However, repotting the plant and removing affected leaves are common ways to prevent and stop the spread. As well as proper care, there are other factors to consider.

So, let’s explore each treatment in detail

1. Remove any leaves showing signs of infection

Start by removing any leaves that appear to be infected. By doing this, you will prevent the bacteria from spreading further.

Many of your plant’s leaves may be gone after pruning if you have a serious infection. Don’t worry about it. As soon as the infection is treated, the plant will begin to grow again.

Avoid damaging your plant while pruning by reading Pruning Fiddle Leaf Fig – When, Why, and How (Ultimate Guide).

2. Apply a bactericide spray

To kill an infection as quickly as possible, using a bactericide is a good idea. It allows your plant to focus its energy on starting to recover by minimizing damage.

Whenever you use this, make sure you spray the entire plant. This includes not only damaged leaves but also healthy leaves and stems so that no new growth will be affected.

3. Re-pot the fiddle leaf fig plant

When bacteria remain in the pot, they can live and spread to the soil. So, if your plant has a bacterial infection, it should be removed from the soil.

For further bacteria removal, make sure you thoroughly clean the planter. You can do this with warm water and dish soap.

Also, ensure that the pot has been thoroughly rinsed before planting because dish soap can cause plants to dry out.

Always repot your fiddle leaf fig in fresh, uncontaminated soil. Otherwise, you risk reinfection. 

Also, check Repotting Fiddle Leaf Fig – When, Why, and How to Re-pot

4. Provide figs with the proper amount of indirect sunlight

Fiddle leaf figs need indirect sunlight, so move them outside or near a window. Make sure the foliage is not exposed to too much direct sunlight for too long, as this could cause burns. After one hour of exposure, the plant should be relocated back to its usual growing location.

Since bacteria thrive in moisture, sunlight helps ward them off. Aside from damaging bacterial DNA, ultraviolet (UV) light is also known to kill bacteria.

5. Reduce the amount of watering

Figs are susceptible to root rot and bacterial infections resulting from overwatering, so adjust your watering practices to prevent the infection. However, if you have overwatered fiddle leaf fig, then click here to learn how to save it.

You want to minimize watering while you are fighting the infection. At this point, you should only water it every seven to ten days. After ten days, if it’s still wet, let it dry until it needs water.

6. Do not splash water onto the leaves

When water splashes on the leaves, bacteria can move from one leaf to another. So, unless you have completely treated the bacterial infection, do not wet the leaves.

7. Maintain a dry environment for your plants

Even though it’s important to water your plant while it’s healing from a bacterial infection, the rest of your plant should stay as dry as possible. During this time, avoid watering the leaves.

If you don’t let the water evaporate off your leaves, it will eventually drip onto other leaves. Also, tiny droplets can splash off when getting water on the leaf. This can spread the infection and make it worse.

However, you can always prevent bacterial infection in the fiddle leaf fig. So, in the next section let us see what you need to do to prevent bacteria on fig.

How to prevent bacterial infection in fiddle leaf fig plant

Here are some tips for preventing bacterial infection in fiddle leaf figs.

1. Only water when necessary

A fiddle leaf fig plant overwatered could provide an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. Likewise, you don’t want to submerge your fiddle leaf fig to prevent it from acquiring health problems.

Inspect the soil regularly. In between waterings, the soil should completely dry out. 

Moreover, do not wait until the soil shrinks, which occurs when it begins pulling away from the pot’s sides.

Also, it is important that the soil drains completely. As it is not good for your plant to rest in water. The plant won’t process the water if this happens. Eventually, this will lead to stagnant water that can grow pathogens and weaken your plant.

2. Make sure you have proper drainage

By keeping the soil drainable, you can prevent your plants from becoming overwatered. To begin with, make sure your fiddle leaf fig plant is in a pot with drainage holes. In case it does not have them already, you can drill them in yourself.

Also, check out our blog on How To Choose the Best Pot For Fiddle Leaf Fig (Size and Type)

It would also be a good idea to cover the pot’s bottom with gravel before adding soil. Last but not least, make sure you use the best soil for fiddle leaf figs to keep your plant healthy.

3. Maintain your plants by repotting them regularly

Because you can’t see bacteria, they could be growing in your soil. Ensure this doesn’t happen by repotting your plants every year or two.

4. Allow your plant to receive adequate sunlight

A fiddle leaf fig grows best in direct sunlight. Additionally, sunlight can prevent moist soil from forming. In addition, UV light is known to kill pathogens.

Place your plant in a south-facing window. Instead of receiving light only a few times during the day, the plant will receive light throughout the day.

5. Use copper-rich soils

It is possible to prevent bacteria with a copper compound. In the soil, ions are released, which are known to inhibit certain strains of bacteria.

6. Keep your hands and tools clean

A bacterial infection can occur in your fiddle leaf fig if it is cross-contaminated with another plant. That’s why it’s important to clean your tools before you handle your plants. 

Also, before plucking leaves or inspecting the leaves with your hands, always wash them with antibacterial soap.

7. Keep an eye on plants

Keep an eye on all your plants on a regular basis. If you notice signs of a bacterial infection, act immediately.

8. Don’t let debris accumulate in the pot

Take off any leaves or debris that’s on top of the soil. They could have fallen naturally, or they could’ve fallen because of something. 

However, it’s best to remove the affected leaves as soon as possible if your fiddle leaf fig has a bacterial infection.

It is also common for plant owners to confuse root rot with a bacterial infection. Due to the similar symptoms of bacterial infection and fungal infection, it becomes difficult to differentiate them. Therefore, I will discuss how to identify root rot and bacterial infections in the next section.

How do root rot and bacterial infection differ in fiddle leaf figs?

How do root rot and bacterial infection differ in fiddle leaf figs

Usually, bacterial infection spots are lighter than root rot spots. For example, dark brown or black spots are common with root rot. Whereas lighter brown or tan spots are more often associated with bacterial infections. 

Additionally, root rot commonly affects only the bottom of the plant, while bacterial infections can affect the entire plant.

However, that isn’t always the case, so keep an eye on the color of the spots, which is generally a better indicator. Red spots on your fiddle leaf fig can signify some of the same things you hear about when brown spots appear.

Also, it is likely that root rot arises from bacteria in the soil damaging the roots, particularly if the soil is moist. While a bacterial infection always comes from a bacterium, a fungal infection attacks the roots.

If you dig up a plant with root rot, you will notice that the roots have rotted. If your fiddle leaf fig has a bacterial infection, this does not happen.

The following table compares bacterial infection with root rot in fiddle leaf figs:

Bacterial InfectionRoot Rot
The leaves are covered in yellow spots and lesions.The veins on fiddle fig leaves turn yellow (chlorosis).
Dark spots on fiddle leaf figs leaveEspecially on the tips of leaves, there are dark brown spots and patches.
To heal themselves, plants may remove infected leaves.The bottoms of the leaves are drooping

Few questions on fiddle leaf fig bacterial infection

Q1: How can I tell if a fiddle leaf fig has a bacterial infection?

Ans. An irregularly shaped brown spot and cracked leaves may indicate a bacterial infection. If you don’t want this problem, keep leaves dry when watering and clean up leaf litter. Also, maintaining a clean fiddle leaf fig is essential.

Q2: Is neem oil a bactericide?

Ans. As a bactericide, neem oil is effective. Also, using neem oil can prevent fire blight, which causes plants’ leaves to turn yellow and appear burnt.

Q3: How do fiddle leaf figs get a bacterial infection?

Ans. Fiddle leaf figs get bacterial pathogens via wounds, mainly from adverse weather conditions, humans, tools and machinery, insects, and nematodes, or from natural openings like stomata, lenticels, hydathodes, nectar-producing glands, and leaf scars.


The signs of fiddle leaf fig bacterial infection include dark brown spots, irregular foliage, yellow leaves, and leaf droppings. If you have noticed such signs on your fiddle leaf fig, then you need to treat them as soon as possible to prevent further damage. 

First, take out any infected leaves. Moreover, you can use bactericides. You may have to re-pot your fiddle leaf fig because bacteria can enter the soil. It is also important to provide adequate sunlight and proper watering.

Furthermore, you can prevent bacterial infection of fiddle leaf figs. You can do this by watering the plant only when it needs it. Also, make sure the plant gets enough light and copper-rich soil, and repot it regularly.

Nevertheless, fiddle leaf figs must be cared for properly to avoid bacterial infections. Therefore, ensure that you read  How to Care and Grow for a Fiddle Leaf Fig – A Complete Guide.

What question do you have on bacterial infection? Feel free to ask in the below comment section. Also, don’t forget to share the article with your friends and family.

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  • Prachi Parate

    Prachi Parate is an enthusiast writer. She is a native of a science background, where botanical science was one of her favorite subjects. It was always Prachi's dream to combine her passion with a career. Hence, her fascination with plants led to a career as a writer. Also, she believes that taking good care of yourself is key to happiness. Time spent in nature is one of her favorite self-care practices. It is her goal to transform her learning into content that helps readers.

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