Fig trees are a member of the ficus family. There are both fruiting and ornamental varieties of figs, with types that grow well outdoors or in indoor pots. Figs grow best in warm, sunny areas that are exposed to little frost. A healthy tree has fully open, green leaves. Wilt is a sign of environmental or pest stress to the tree.
Drought stress is the most common cause of leaf wilting. Fig roots lie close to the soil's surface, so are prone to drying out during warm or dry weather. Leaves tend to wilt in the afternoon. Drought wilting is usually slight in the beginning and is quickly reversed by immediate irrigation. Spreading a thick layer of mulch over the soil also helps prevent the roots from drying out and leads to healthy, non-wilted foliage.
Leaf rust diseases do not always cause the foliage to wilt, but often wilting is one symptom of rust. The fungus that causes rust first discolours the leaves then the foliage wilts and drops from the fig prematurely. Other fungal problems include leaf spot. Like rust, discolouration is the first sign, followed by wilting and premature drop. Wet weather is more likely to cause fungal problems in figs. A fungicide helps combat the problem.
The most deadly cause of wilting is mosaic virus. The virus first causes leaf discolouration and wilt, then the tree begins dying back entirely. There is no cure for mosaic in figs. Infected trees must be destroyed before they spread the virus to nearby healthy figs.
Several insects target the fig tree. Borers produce larvae that feeds on new growth, often causing the leaves on these stems to wilt as the branch dies back from the damage. Scale insects feed on the bark of the fig tree, which can weaken the entire tree and lead to foliage wilt. Insect problems must be treated with the proper pesticide before the pests have a chance to permanently damage or kill the fig.