Fig leaves browning

Asked November 18, 2017, 12:43 PM EST

Hello, we have a fig tree which we have had in the ground for the better part of a year. It has seemed to be happy and healthy, but within the last month, I noticed the leaves started to spot, then brown and a cluster of them seem to be wilting. The first two pictures are from almost a month ago. The last one is from this past week. Please let me know if this is something to worry about and if there is a remedy.

Multnomah County Oregon fig trees

1 Response

Thank you for your question about your fig tree. I think you have two things going on here, based on your great photos! First, the 'drooping' is probably a lack of water for your plant, which can require deep but infrequent watering during droughts. Using a water probe to test how wet your soil is will help you assess whether this plant (and others--inside and out--need water.) Watering longer less frequently (2 - 3 times a week, depending on precipitation) is better than a small amount every day.

The browning between the veins of the leaves, though, would appear to be a different issue. After reviewing several Extension articles with photos with similarities and this nutrient disorder article, I think your soil (and therefore your plant) lacks potassium, one of the "big three" nutrients that plants need. (The other two are nitrogen and phosphorus. On a fertilizer label, the numbers indicate the percentage--by weight--of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, in that order. That's what "10-10-10" means, for example.)

Figs, when planted outside in our climate, are deciduous. They lose their leaves in the winter. So your plant is going to be without leaves soon anyway. I suggest you use the winter to add lots of well-composted organic material to the soil, and it will begin to supply your plant with these necessary 'foods' as it is incorporated over the winter. And you can 'dress' your plant in the spring with more well-composted material, which will continue to feed it throughout the growing season. Here's a link to a great Extension article about how this all works in the garden.

I hope this information is helpful. Good luck!