Can a Fiddle Leaf Fig Survive Without Leaves?

Fiddle Leaf Fig with very few leaves

There’s nothing worse than having a fiddle leaf fig die on you. When all of its leaves fall off, you may think that your tree’s time has come. However, don’t give up on it! 

A fiddle leaf fig can survive without leaves. However, this depends on whether its roots and stalk are still healthy. You may be able to revive it by pruning off dead, moldy branches and giving the tree the warmth, sunlight, and water it needs. However, don’t overwater it.

In this article, you will learn how to revive a dying fiddle fig tree. You will also learn how to check if it has a chance of survival or a lost cause. If you have a fiddle leaf fig tree that you think is dying, continue reading. 

Check for Signs of Life

First, you need to check how dead your fiddle leaf fig tree is and whether it has any chance of living again. 

The first thing you should do is take a look at its branches. Are they all hard and brittle? Even worse, are they moldy? If all of the branches are hard and brittle, the tree has a lower chance of surviving. However, this is not true all the time, as hard branches can sometimes be hiding soft, supple branches. 

If some branches are soft and supple, they can still grow out if you give the tree the care it needs. 

The next thing to look at is how alive the roots are. If the root ball is small, this may mean that the roots are all dead and shriveled. On the other hand, if they are more spread out and seem healthy, your tree may be able to be saved. 

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You should also check the stalk of the tree. Is it still alive, or is it all shriveled? If it is shriveled up, has no soft and supple branches, and the roots look brown, there may be no chance left for the survival of your fiddle leaf fig tree. This doesn’t mean that it’s impossible, but you may be better off planting an entirely new tree.  

Once you have determined that your fiddle leaf fig tree has some chance of survival, start giving it the care it needs. 

Give It Water, but Not Too Much

Your fiddle leaf fig tree may not be getting enough water. Dehydration can cause any plant to dry up and die. However, it may not be too late to start watering your tree and bring it back to life. 

However, another thing that can cause a fiddle leaf fig tree to die is too much water. When you overwater a fiddle leaf fig tree, it can lead to root rot. It is especially important not to overwater it if it has mostly dead branches. This is because a fiddle leaf fig tree with dead branches will not need a lot of water. 

As such, it is important to strike a balance. Give the fiddle leaf fig tree enough water so that the soil does not dry out. Monitor the soil and make sure that it is moist but not overflowing. 

You should always make sure to let the pot drain out. If the pot is sitting inside another pot, remove the main pot to drain out and remove the excess water from the bottom pot before putting the main pot back in. 

Give It Enough Sunlight

Move the fiddle leaf fig tree to a place that has sufficient sunlight. Apart from the lack of water or overwatering, one of the top reasons why fiddle leaf fig trees die is they don’t get enough sunlight. 

Taking care of a fiddle leaf fig tree that is inside your home can be difficult. The reason for this is the lack of light. One option is to move the fiddle leaf fig tree outside so it can get more sunlight exposure. If you live in an apartment and don’t have an area to put it, you can place it near a window that faces the sun, so it can start to thrive again. 

Prune the Tree

It is important to remove dead branches and twigs so that new ones can grow. At the same time, you want to be careful about what you remove, because some husks may be covering new growth, and leaves may still be able to grow on bare branches. 

One thing to look out for is mold. If a branch is starting to get moldy, it needs to be removed. 

Fiddle Leaf Fig Close Up

Pinch and Notch the Tree

According to Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant Resource, pinching and notching are two techniques that you can use to encourage new growth. 

Notching a tree involves making a small notch on the part where you want a new branch to grow. Pinching the tree involves finding new growth at the top of the tree and cutting it with a sharp pair of pruning shears. This also encourages the tree to branch out in that spot. 

Keep It in Its Pot

There is no need to repot it unless the fiddle leaf fig tree’s roots are pushing up against the pot’s side. Moving the tree can cause it to go into shock and drop its leaves. It experiences stress when it is moved. Trees, like people, take time to get accustomed to new environments. It may not have the same access to light and water as before, causing it to lose its leaves. 

If you recently moved your fiddle leaf fig tree, make sure to keep it where it is and nourish it until it goes back to normal. 

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However, if your fiddle leaf fig tree is in a pot that is too small for it, its roots will not be able to grow. In that case, you will need to remove the tree from its original pot and put it in a new pot that is bigger. Also, if it is in a pot that does not allow water to drain, you may end up overwatering the tree. In that case, you might need to move the tree to a pot that has a drainage hole. 

Have Patience

Fiddle leaf fig trees take time to grow their leaves out. It will not happen overnight. It is important to have patience and be consistent with watering it until the leaves slowly grow. 

Being patient and consistent with the care you provide for your fiddle leaf fig tree is important at all times, but more so during winter. Fiddle leaf fig trees grow better during the spring, so if it is winter, be aware that you may have to wait until spring for you to see significant growth.

For a detailed explanation on how to properly care for your fiddle leaf fig plant, watch this video from The Plant Doctor: 

Final Thoughts

Fiddle leaf fig tree leaves can fall off for various reasons. Whether the tree was just moved to a new pot and experiencing shock, or if it is not getting enough water and sunlight, and is starting to die, you may still be able to save its life. After inspecting the branches, stalk, and roots. Determine whether it can be salvaged, then start giving your fiddle leaf fig tree the care it needs. 

Water it. But make sure that the soil doesn’t get too wet, drain out the water, give it enough sunlight, and give it time to slowly come back to life.

7 thoughts on “Can a Fiddle Leaf Fig Survive Without Leaves?”

  1. Never owned a Fiddle Leaf Fig, but it was love at first sight! It was a rescue, and we both were struggling. Thanks for all of your great advice!

  2. Hi. I put my fiddle leaf fig outside and now the majority of it’s leaves are sunburnt. The tree is about 1.5m tall and almost every leaf has been effected. What should I do?

    1. From my article: 7 Causes Of Red Spots On Your Fiddle Leaf Fig (And Their Fixes), “To fix the problems caused by a sunburn, the first thing to do is to prune off the affected leaves. Unfortunately, those are already beyond saving. Following this is the most crucial step: relocate the plant! Find an adequately bright place that has no direct source of light and put your plant there. Pretty soon, it will start to thrive once again.”

  3. Hi – unfortunately we left our Fiddle over summer and wasn’t able to water it, all the leaves died and fell off. The tree is about 1.5m, there are new leaves growing out the top but I still have a tall trunk – if I cut the trunk down will it grow from this – its looks a bit odd with 4 leaves and new sprouts just from the top of the 1.5m trunk! Nothing new is growing from the main trunk – its just from the very top.

    1. Hi Sarah,

      I think your only course of action is to take a cutting from the top and try to propagate. Cut at an angle below your 4 leaves, leaving a bit of the stem that you can dip in some rooting hormone and place in moist soil so that it’s stable.
      After a few days, your cutting will look bad and probably be drooping. I recommend covering with plastic and mist every day. Also, place in bright, indirect sunlight, and in about 5 weeks you will start to get roots.

      Hope this helps!

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