Edema in House Plants

Edema (or oedema) is a plant disorder often seen in new foliage in popular house plants such as Fiddle Leaf Figs. What is edema and what are its causes? Tammy Huynh (leaf_an_impression on Instagram) from Gardening Australia says Fiddle Leaf Figs often develop reddish-brown spots due to moisture stress from irregular watering, especially during periods of growth. When the plant finally receives water, its roots absorb it faster than it can transpire leading to increased water pressure within the leaf cells and subsequent bursting.” 

Other signs that your plant is suffering from edema include: 

Guttation: droplets exuding from the edge of foliage or stems as the plant releases excess water. Generally, a sign edema could follow if continued. 

Swollen cells showing as leaf spots forming into corky growths.  

If caught early, edema is reversible. Adjusting your plants watering habits by decreasing the amount of water given can aid in preventing edema. Ensure your plants don’t sit in water, and the soil is well draining to prevent moisture build up.

Edema appearing as dark spots on Philodendron ‘Birkin’ 

Edema clearing a week later due to decreased watering.

Edema appearing as brown spotting on the underside of Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata)