Identify sickly office plant

Hoping to identify the type of plant as well as an apparent disease that causes the leaves to grow somewhat sparsely and misshapen. Photos attached. Thank you!

Hi Karen,

Brown spot on plant leaves
Brown spots on Fiddle Leaf Fig

Your plant is called a Ficus Lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig). Here are a few things that might be causing the problems.

It is getting sparse probably because it isn’t getting enough light. All sides of this plant need very bright indirect light in order to stay full and bushy. You may have to move your Fiddle Leaf to different locations in your office as the seasons change so that it always has enough light. If there is not enough light, you can get small brown spots on the older growth. This would go along with the sparse misshapen leaf problem.

Small  brown spots may be the sign of a plant disease such as Leaf Spot disease caused by a bacteria that has infected the plant. These spots are usually lighter in color, often surrounded by a yellow halo, and generally appear on the newer leaves. The leaves may  turn yellow and eventually fall off. As with all  fungal and bacterial diseases, better air circulation, well-drained soil, dry leaves, bright indirect light, and less water help control bacterial diseases on plants. Never mist a plant if leaf spot disease is suspected. You can use a commercial Fungicide or the homemade remedy of putting a tablespoon or two of baking soda and a teaspoon or two of mineral oil in a spray bottle of water. Shake the solution well and then spray all areas of the plant that are infected. Keep infected plants away from your other houseplants.
If your brown spots have gray edges, it is probably a fungal disease called Anthronose or Leaf Blight: remove the diseased  leaves, try to keep water off of the healthy leaves, and increase the air circulation around the plant. You can read all of my care tips for a Ficus lyrata in the Popular Houseplant section of the website.

https://www.houseplant411.com/houseplant/ficus-lyrata-how-to-grow-care

These plants are considered poisonousPlants are a great addition to homes and offices, but it’s important to know whether your plants are dangerous to children, pets, or even adults. Some plants contain chemicals such as oxalates, solanine, glycosides, or alkaloid lycorine that may cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, swelling and redness of the mouth, throat, and lips, and trouble breathing. Touching parts of certain plants, especially the sap, may cause various skin irritations. The weight and age of the human or pet involved, and the part and amount of plant eaten determine how severe the reaction to the toxins will be. Although plants may be listed as non-toxic, they can still cause individual allergic reactions. If there is any question after a houseplant has been ingested or touched, immediately call the Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222.  More poisonous houseplant information and pictures of common plants that are dangerous to children and pets can be found in my book Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat: A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants and should be kept away from pets and children. The sap of a Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant is very irritating so use gloves when working with this plant. Read more about common houseplants that are poisonousPlants are a great addition to homes and offices, but it’s important to know whether your plants are dangerous to children, pets, or even adults. Some plants contain chemicals such as oxalates, solanine, glycosides, or alkaloid lycorine that may cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, swelling and redness of the mouth, throat, and lips, and trouble breathing. Touching parts of certain plants, especially the sap, may cause various skin irritations. The weight and age of the human or pet involved, and the part and amount of plant eaten determine how severe the reaction to the toxins will be. Although plants may be listed as non-toxic, they can still cause individual allergic reactions. If there is any question after a houseplant has been ingested or touched, immediately call the Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222.  More poisonous houseplant information and pictures of common plants that are dangerous to children and pets can be found in my book Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat: A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants in Don’t Feed Me To Your Cat! A Guide to poisonous houseplantsIn her new book, Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat!, plant care professional Judy Feldstein shares information about twenty-five common houseplants, each with various levels of toxicity, and the possible consequences if your pet or child snacks on them..

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