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Fig Tree Leaves Curling (And How To Fix It)

Many gardeners want to grow tasty fig tree fruit in their yard. In my opinion, growing fruit plants is one of the most interesting things to do. But things don’t always go smoothly. But not always everything goes smoothly, so many are looking for answers to various questions that arise in the process of growing figs.

Underwatering in hot weather, scorching sun, fungal disease (Taphrina deformans), or drastic temperature changes are the main causes of fig tree leaves curling. To fix curled leaves, water the fig tree when the soil is 2 inches dry, move it to a place with fewer sunlight hours. Also, spray the plant with a fungicide and make sure it is protected from a sudden cold snap.

Why are my fig leaves curling? Symptoms How to fix it
Poor watering The leaves of the fig tree curl inward. Also, the edge of the leaves may turn brown. To fix this, water the fig tree when the soil is 1-2 inches dry.
Harsh sun The leaves of the fig tree curl inward. Reddening and burning of the leaves are also possible. Shade the fig tree for a while. Increase watering a little for times of extreme heat. Remove any dry leaves.
Health problems Fig tree leaves curl inward or outward and have red tubercles or brown spots. Spray the leaves with a copper-containing fungicide. Repot the fig tree in a less damp place.
Temperature fluctuations The leaves of the fig tree curl inward and change colors to red or burgundy. Move the fig tree pot to a warmer place and shade it for a while. Increase watering slightly and apply liquid fertilizer.
Too much watering The leaves of the fig tree curl down and turn yellow. Powdery mildew may appear on the leaves. Water the fig tree only when the top layer of soil (2 inches) is dry. Plant the tree in well-drained soil.
Fertilizer issues Leaves curl downward or turn yellow and curl from the tips. Avoid fertilizing the fig tree with large amounts of nitrogen. Lightly acidify the soil.
Aphids and spider mites The leaves of the fig tree twist outward and have tubercles. Spray the leaves with horticultural oil.

Poor watering

Fig tree leaves curling

Fig tree leaves curling

In most cases, the cause of curling fig leaves is dry soil. After planting the tree, many gardeners believe that this is the end of the care of the plant and we can wait for the fruit. But in hot and dry weather, the ground dries out quite quickly. If it was windy at the time, the rate of drying will increase even more.

You can even water a fig tree once a week, as many sources recommend. But this amount of water might not be enough in the heat. This is especially true for newly planted fig trees, which are very sensitive to drought in their first year. By curling the leaves inward, the fig tree reduces the area of water evaporation, thereby avoiding dehydration.

To remedy the situation and avoid similar problems in the future, you should not water the fig tree once a week, but when it needs water. Use your fingers or a moisture meter to check the moisture in the soil and if it is more than two inches dry, it’s time to water.

Water the fig tree with plenty of water to soak the soil around it to a sufficient depth. Do not water again until the top 2 inches of soil is dry.

As for potted fig tree growing, you need to check the condition of the substrate in the pot every day and water when it dries out 1 inch deep. In hot summer, the top layer of soil in the pot can dry out in a day, so you have to water every day.

Harsh sun can cause fig leaves to curl

The sun is usually not as strong in the spring as it is in the summer. When the fig leaves begin to grow, the sun is still quite gentle and problems rarely arise.

But when summer comes, the sun begins to shine very strongly, and the length of the daylight hours increases. Sometimes this happens very abruptly and the leaves do not have time to adapt to the new conditions. This triggers a mechanism that reduces the leaf area by curling. The plant needs this to reduce the amount of light it receives.

Other symptoms can be reddening of the leaves. In the worst case, the leaf edge will burn.

Excessive sunlight usually affects trees in the first 1-2 years after planting. This is because the plants are not yet fully established. This also happens to potted fig trees.

To remedy the situation you need to shade the fig tree for a while if possible. You can also increase the amount of watering a bit for a while.

If your fig tree is growing in a container, move it to a place where it will only get direct sun during the first half of the day. After the heat subsides, move it back in.

Health problems

Fig tree leaves curled because of Taphrina deformans.

Tree leaves curled because of Taphrina deformans.

Unfortunately, diseases sometimes affect fruit trees and the fig tree is no exception. One of the diseases that can cause leaf curl is Taphrina deformans. The outward signs of this disease are curling leaves. In addition, the leaves turn red and have tubercles on them.

The disease is caused by the fig tree being grown in a very humid environment. Other stress factors can also catalyze the development of the disease.

To keep Taphrina deformans from affecting your plant, move it to a less humid location. The air around the tree should move freely. If the disease happens, spray the leaves with a fungicide containing copper.

Several other diseases can also cause leaf curl. In this case, brown spots are also present on the leaves. Treatment is to spray regularly with fungicides.

Temperature fluctuations

Fig tree leaves curled because of temperature stress.

Fig tree leaves curled because of temperature stress.

Another factor that simulates leaf curl is sudden temperature changes. Usually, in late spring it can be hot during the day, but at night the temperature can drop considerably. Or vice versa, the spring weather is cool but suddenly it gets warmer.

All these are stressful factors for the fig tree. To protect itself, the plant reduces its leaf area by twisting inward. It may also change its color to red or burgundy.

It is not much you can do in this case. If the fig tree is growing in a pot, you can move it to a warmer place overnight. But if the curling is caused by sudden warming, you can shade the plant for a while.

You can also increase watering a little for a short period of time. A good solution is to use a low concentration of liquid all-purpose fertilizer on a single occasion.

It can sometimes happen that the leaves remain curled for the rest of the season, which is normal.

Too much watering

Fig tree leaves curling because of overwatering

Fig tree leaves curling because of overwatering

Well-drained soils predominate in the fig tree’s native habitat. Accordingly, this plant does not like its roots to stay wet for a long time.

Prolonged waterlogging of the root system leads to a lack of oxygen and root rot. As a result, the leaves curl down starting from the tips. Also, the color of the leaves may change to yellow.

In addition to root rot, fig trees can be affected by powdery mildew if they are overwatered. In this case, the leaves will curl downward and become covered with a white coat.

The first thing you need to do is to stop watering frequently. Water the fig tree when the soil is at least two inches dry. When watering, use enough water to keep the soil well moistened. Do not water again until the ground is a few inches dry again.

If you are growing a potted fig tree, water when the soil is about 1 inch dry. Use pots with drainage holes.

If the plant is growing in a moist place, transplant it to a drier location. Use organic matter (compost) to make the soil well-drained.

Fertilizer issues

Fig tree leaves curled because of improper fertilization.

Fig tree leaves curled because of improper fertilization.

Improper fertilization of the fig tree can lead to negative consequences, namely the curling of the leaves. There are two possible scenarios here.

The first is too much nitrogen. In this case, the leaves grow faster and become soft and sag down. There can be various reasons for too much nitrogen, but the most common reason is to manually apply too much of it.

There is nothing you can do here except stop fertilizing. Then you can leave it like that for the rest of the season and it will be fine again next year.

The second case is when the soil is too alkaline. Under such conditions the fig tree is not able to assimilate trace elements from the soil and, as a result, chlorosis and leaf curling develop.

To correct this, you need to acidify the soil with compost and other commercially available remedies. Then you have to fertilize the fig tree with a slow-release multipurpose fertilizer. In the following years, fertilize once a year in early spring.

Aphids, whiteflies, and spider mites

Fig tree leaves curled because of whiteflies.

Fig tree leaves curled because of whiteflies.

The activity of some pests can cause the leaves of the fig tree to curl. Many different bugs can damage leaves, but the most common are aphids, whiteflies, and spider mites.

Aphids are small insects that suck on the underside of leaves and feed on the sap of the tree. They are quite easy to see, often ants spread these insects.

As a result, the leaves will curl outward and bumps may appear on them.

To get rid of the aphids and whiteflies you need to spray the fig tree once with horticultural oil. This is usually enough, but repeat the spraying if necessary. You can get rid of most of the insects that can damage your tree this way.

Spider mites are very small reddish-brown creatures that also live with plant juices and cause curling of the leaves. To get rid of them you need to wash the leaves and stems with water several times a week. If this does not help then spray the plant with acaricide.

Key Takeaways:

  • Improper watering can cause the fig tree’s leaves to curl. Water when the soil around the trunk is 1 to 2 inches dry.
  • A strong, bright sun can cause the leaves to curl. In this case, shade the fig tree for a while.
  • Several types of diseases and pests can cause the leaves to curl. To get rid of this, spray the fig tree with fungicide or horticultural oil.
  • Improper fertilization can be the cause of curled leaves. Fertilize the fig tree once at the beginning of the season with a long-lasting multi-purpose fertilizer.

Annette Holbrook

Tuesday 11th of July 2023

Help my Fig tree has leaves that are being curled inwards with a white binding, is it butterflies laying inside the leaves??

Igor Viznyy

Friday 14th of July 2023

It's possible that the curled leaves on your fig tree are a result of an infestation by insects, such as caterpillars or larvae. However, without further information or visual inspection, it's difficult to determine the exact cause. Here are a few common possibilities:

Fig Leafroller Caterpillar: Fig leafroller caterpillars are known to curl fig leaves and bind them with silk threads. These caterpillars feed on the leaves, causing damage in the process. They can be green or brown in color, and they often roll themselves up in the leaf for protection.

Fig Rust Mite: Fig rust mites are tiny pests that can cause curling and distortion of fig leaves. They feed on the leaves, causing them to pucker and develop a whitish or silvery appearance.

Aphids or Whiteflies: Both aphids and whiteflies are common sap-sucking insects that can cause leaf curling. They excrete a sticky substance called honeydew, which can lead to the growth of black sooty mold on the leaves.

To identify the specific cause and determine the appropriate treatment, it's best to closely examine the affected leaves and any nearby insects. You can gently uncurl the leaves and check for the presence of caterpillars, larvae, or any other insects. If you're unsure about the identification or need advice on treatment options, you may want to consult with a local gardening expert, agricultural extension service, or a plant nursery for further assistance. They will be able to provide more specific guidance based on your location and the specific symptoms you observe.

Barbara Bowen

Friday 5th of May 2023

I have a fiddle leaf tree its leaves are pulling hard to the ceiling. I’m cleaning lots of dirt off leaves today hoping it can breath better any tips please?

Igor Viznyy

Friday 5th of May 2023

Most likely your fiddle leaf tree needs more sun. Place it closer to the window. It is ideal if you keep it in a south-facing window.