Underwatered Fiddle Leaf Fig – Symptoms and How to Save

How do you know you are watering little to your fiddle leaf fig plant? A sure sign of an underwatered fiddle leaf fig is wilting, curling, or brown leaves.

At first, you may notice that the leaves begin to wilt. If the leaf curls and burnt tips are severe, you will see brown spots starting at the edges and ends of the leaves. Also, if new leaves do develop, they will often be irregular and likely to dry up and fall off.

You may feel worried when you discover underwatered fiddle leaf fig. Don’t worry, though. The good news is that underwater fiddle leaf figs usually bounce back. The only thing you need to do is fix your watering habits, which I will discuss in this article.

Signs of underwatered fiddle leaf fig

It won’t take long to notice that the fiddle leaf fig is underwatered. However, when it comes to fiddle leaf fig problems, they often show similar symptoms.

In such a case, you might need to go through a process of elimination to find the exact cause. In most cases, you can figure this out by reviewing your fiddle leaf fig maintenance schedule.

Drooping or wilting of fig leaves

Drooping or wilting of fig leaves

Initially, underwatered fiddle leaf fig plants show their displeasure with wilting leaves. In fiddle leaf fig leaves, drooping or wilting indicate that there is not enough moisture in the leaves to maintain water pressure. 

Wilting can also occur if your fiddle leaf fig is not receiving the right temperature. Especially if it is being exposed to extreme temperatures and losing more moisture through transpiration than it can absorb. Additionally, you can sometimes get droopy and wilting leaves from overwatering or poor drainage.

Also, watch for other signs, such as excessively dry soil, as well, to determine if underwatering is causing wilting and drooping leaves.

The growth of fiddle leaf fig plants slows or stops

The growth of fiddle leaf fig plants slows or stops

If your fiddle leaf fig isn’t growing, especially if the new leaves are small or poorly developed, it’s probably underwatered.

Also, your fiddle leaf fig may not produce any new leaves at all. Because when your plant does not have adequate water, its roots cannot absorb it or transport it.

In addition, you may notice that the growth of your fiddle leaf fig plant slows or stops. Slow growth is natural during the fall and winter. However, it is time to pay attention when your fiddle leads fig slows down its growth in spring or summer.

Underwatered fiddle leaf figs develop brown margins

Underwatered fiddle leaf figs develop brown margins

It is common for fiddle leaf fig leaves to develop brown margins when they are underwater.

Underwatered leaves develop dark brown edges. If you don’t fix it, the brown areas get bigger, and the leaves get crispy and dry.

Fig leaves have brown and curly edges

Fig leaves have brown and curly edges

When under-watered, fiddle leaf fig leaves become brown and curly.

Your fiddle leaf fig plant’s brown edges gradually curl inward as a result of underwatering. It is crisp and brittle in the brown sections. The leaves of the entire plant may suffer if you do not correct your watering routine.

Fiddle leaf fig leaves falling off

Fiddle leaf fig leaves falling off

Brown, curled leaves eventually die and fall from your fiddle leaf fig plant, causing leaf drop. 

All parts of the plant get brown leaves from underwatering. However, dropping leaves can happen with or without browning and curling.

The soil gets too dry

When the soil becomes too dry, it becomes compacted and pulls away from the sides of the container.

There can be a deception here because when you water the plant, water runs freely through the bottom. Your plant may have all the water it needs, but in truth, it only has water running from the soil to the pot rim.

When the soil is compacted, it cannot absorb water as it should. Compacted soil is often a result of underwatering. Additionally, the type of potting mix you use can make it worse.

So, for your fiddle leaf fig tree, choose lightweight soil that drains well. A good potting soil mix for your fiddle leaf fig is one part potting soil, one part perlite, and one part peat moss.

How to fix under-watered fiddle leaf fig

How to fix under-watered fiddle leaf fig

As soon as you notice any of the above-mentioned symptoms, it’s important to act quickly.

Your fig can be saved if you evaluate your watering habits and set up a watering schedule based on the soil dampness.

First, give your plant a good drink. Soak your plant deeply in water so that all the soil gets saturated, and all excess water drains from the hole at the bottom of the pot. After the water has drained, empty the saucer beneath the pot. Also, standing water should not be left behind. 

Occasionally, compacted or dried soil won’t absorb water very well.  As a result, water just flows around the root ball and out of the pot. When this occurs with your plant, consider replanting it in fresh potting soil. 

Or gently break up the compacted soil with a trowel or a chopstick. Because water must be absorbed by the soil so that the plant remains hydrated.

As soon as you have properly watered your plant, place it in an area with a lot of bright, indirect light to aid in its recovery. 

During the next few days, keep an eye out for signs of improvement, and test the soil for moisture frequently. Before watering again, wait until the top inch of the soil is dry. 

The biggest thing to avoid is repeatedly watering and drying your plant. An environment like this promotes disease and stresses the root system. 

It is crucial not to let the soil completely dry out once you have thoroughly watered a thirsty plant. Rather, maintain the environment of “consistent damp”.

Fiddle Leaf Figs recover quickly from being underwater. However, a  figs plant won’t be able to repair burnt or browned portions of its leaves, but new growth should still be strong and healthy.

How to correct dry, compacted soil?

When the soil on top of your fiddle leaf fig plant feels crusty or pulls away from the pot, it is dry and compacted. In this condition, water cannot penetrate the soil to reach the roots of the plant. Water will simply flow down the crevice in the soil between the pot side and the soil.

Step 1: Put your fiddle leaf fig plant in a sink and fill a basin or bucket with tepid water. Use a rain barrel or other large basin if the sink is not practical.

Step 2: Fill the pot with water up to the rim of the plant. There will be bubbles emerging from the water. When water penetrates the soil and begins to saturate it, air pockets in the soil release bubbles.

Step 3: Soak the plant until bubbles stop floating to the surface. It may take 20 minutes or more, depending on the size of the pot and how dry the soil is.

Step 4: Once the bubbling has stopped, remove the pot from the water.

Step 5: Drain the water thoroughly and empty the saucer or catch basin.

Step 6: Before watering again, let the soil dry 2 to 3 inches below the surface of your fiddle leaf fig plant.

Step 7: Maintain a good watering routine. Ideally, the top 2-3 inches of soil should dry out, but the soil at the roots should maintain a slight moisture level.

Few questions on underwatered fiddle leaf fig

What does an Underwatered fiddle leaf fig look like?

The symptoms of underwatering include brown spots starting on the edges of its leaves, curling leaves from the edges inward, and leaf drop (which affects all leaves on the plant). The soil around the edges of the pot will also recede and shrink if the fiddle leaf fig is underwatered.

How do I fix an underwater fiddle leaf fig?

Let the soil dry 2 to 3 inches below the surface before watering your fiddle leaf fig plant again. Follow a good watering routine.

How long can a fiddle leaf go without water?

Fiddle leaf fig plants can go for at least a week without water. It’s said that fiddle leaf figs can go between seven and ten days without being watered.


If you want to avoid underwatering fiddle leaf figs, choose well-drained soil that dries slightly between waterings. Also, you should never let the soil completely dry out. Moreover, check the soil frequently and water your fiddle leaf fig when the top 2 to 3 inches feel dry. 

This plant normally requires watering once a week. However, many factors can change that, so the only reliable way to determine when to water is to test the soil’s moisture.

Keep an eye out for the distress signs mentioned above, and adjust your watering to achieve that consistent moisture, your Fiddle Leaf will reward you with lots of growth.

Please share this article with other fiddle leaf fig enthusiasts if you found it useful.

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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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