Fig tree leaves turning brown and shriveling

(Question)

Fig tree leaves turning rusty brown, shrivelling and decaying. First noticed when I took it outside in May so brought it in and put it back out recently. It does well inside by a window but I want it to be pollinated and grow fruit!

(Answer)

This sounds like a fungal disease that attacks young leaves.  The good news is that it does not usually kill a fig tree.

According to the Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida: ”At first the fungus appears as small, yellow to yellow-green spots on the leaves that enlarge and produce a brownish tinge as they spread over most of the leaf. On the undersides of leaves are small blisters or pustules. Over time, the leaf will yellow then turn a rusty brown at the leaf margin, curl up, and then the plant will defoliate. Rainy weather will cause the disease to be worse.

“Since there are no chemical solutions, sanitation measures are used. Collect the fallen infected leaves and remove them from the area. They will harbor the disease and if left on the ground they will infect new leaves. Pruning the tree will increase air movement inside the foliage. When watering the tree, be sure to avoid getting the leaves wet, this favors infection.”

“To help keep the tree healthy, mulch the tree with a 4 to 6 inch layer of leaves, pine needles or compost. Spread the mulch beneath the tree starting from 4 to 6 inches out from the trunk. Spread the mulch just about 1 to 2 feet past the drip line of the branches.

For more in-depth information on fig rust, see:

https://lyra.ifas.ufl.edu/LyraServlet?command=getNewsletter&oid=6070518&path=0.10&countyID=liberty.ifas.ufl.edu