The Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree, otherwise known as the Ficus lyrata, originated in West Africa where it grew along the coast for millions of years before it became a popular house plant. This tropical beauty is one of over 1000 members of the Moraceae family and gets its name from the huge, violin-shaped, dark green leaves it sports.
Though lovely, this plant doesn’t always thrive when grown indoors due to the very specific conditions required for it to thrive. That’s why it’s important to learn the proper Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree care to give it a better chance at survival. This article will go over just that, and by the end you’ll be able to grow a healthy fiddle leaf of your own.
Where to Place it
The first order of business when bringing home a new Fiddle Leaf Fig is choosing the perfect spot for it. When picking its area, start by looking for any air conditioning or heater vents and place the plant away from them. Exterior doorways should also be avoided since this stunning plant does not like drafts of any kind.
When it comes to lighting these plants can be a bit picky at first. They like bright light but exposing them to too much direct sunlight too quickly can burn or scorch the leaves. Placing them in a window that faces the west or south is best. An eastern or northern window may also work if the plant is positioned directly beside it and assuming there is nothing blocking the light.
You can also move the plant in and out of the sunlight until it has become acclimated to more frequent direct lighting by slowly increasing the time in this light over a week or two. Be sure to turn the plant a few inches each time you water it to ensure the leaves are absorbing the sunlight evenly. This will also help build a strong base and prevent the plant from falling over from growing lopsided.
Once you have your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree in its perfect place, leave it alone. These plants hate to be moved and constant relocation could put them into shock. A little turning as noted above is fine, but avoid much more movement than that.
For soil use a high quality potting soil. Most commercial soil will work fine, but there are also specially formulated fiddle leaf fig soil blends that you can find. These are often a little more expensive, but are an excellent choice for your plant and are often organically made.
As natives of Western Africa, the Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree is no stranger to dry spells. In fact, it prefers less water and can die with too much moisture. It also needs proper drainage to ensure that the roots aren’t rotting in watery soil.
You only need to add water to a Fiddle Leaf Fig once a week. If you’re not sure if it needs it, the best way to tell is to check the top 2 to 3 inches of soil. If the soil feels dry then it is okay to add some water. If the soil is damp, leave it for another day or two and check again.
Though it only needs infrequent watering, it likes a lot of water all at once. This mimics the natural environment it grows in which goes long periods without water then gets a lot all at once. For best growth work to water in a similar fashion.
Give the plant a thorough soaking until you start to see water leaking from your container’s drainage holes. Make sure to water the soil evenly to give water to all the roots under the soil. Make sure you use a drip tray for this plant or you’ll end up with very wet floors.
After an hour or two, the excess moisture should have leaked out of the pot. Empty the drip tray and replace it for the next watering session. This will ensure that the roots aren’t sitting in a pool of water.
Maintenance and Care Tips
With the basics in mind, there are a few other things you can do to help your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree grow big and strong.
The first thing to do is consider the humidity level in your home. About 40% humidity is normal in most homes but if it drops a bit, your plant may need a bit more moisture than usual. Misting the leaves will ensure they don’t dry out, turn brown, and fall off. This is usually more a concern in the winter when the hot, dry air from the furnace can be problematic for your plant.
Wiping down the leaves now is another way to help your plant thrive. Those giant leaves can collect dust and water spots from watering or misting the plant. Using a damp washcloth to gently remove anything that has collected on the leaves prevents them from suffocating, plus it allows them to absorb more sunlight
If your plant has been overwatered and the leaves begin to drop off, don’t give up on it. It may take some extra diligence to bring it back but it isn’t impossible. First, prune any distressed leaves from the plant.
Then lay the Fiddle Leaf Fig on its side and remove the pot. Check the roots for damage, trimming away any soft, brown, rotten areas. You should also get rid of any of the old soil before repotting the plant into some well-drained potting soil. Water it using a special root rot formula, following the normal watering instructions, and adding some fertilizer if needed.
Fertilizer is another thing to consider to maintain the nutrient levels in the soil. You only need to add this once a month for a healthy plant. Choose a fertilizer that uses a ratio of 3 parts nitrogen, 1 part phosphorous, and 2 parts potassium, also called NPK fertilizer.
To add the fertilizer, mix it with water according to the included instructions and then water the plant as usual. This only needs to be done in the spring and summer since the plant goes dormant during the colder months of the year.
If you prefer a short bushy plant, you may want to spend a bit of time pruning it to create the look you want. This isn’t necessary for the plant’s health, it only affects the aesthetic appeal. The only time pruning is part of Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree care is when the leaves have died and need to be removed to encourage new growth and prevent the dying leaves from consuming energy better used by the healthy parts of the plant.
How To Propagate a Fiddle Leaf Fig
Fiddle leaf figs are also very easy to propagate; if you’re looking to add more to your garden it only takes a few steps.
Start by cutting off your existing plant. Look for a branch that is at least 6” long and has 2-3 leaves. Use a sharp pair of shears to ensure you get a clean cut and don’t distress the plant. Right after doing so you can water the plant to help it recover.
Take your cutting and place it into a small glass of fresh, purified water, the water should cover a few inches of the stem. You’ll want to switch out the water every 2-3 days. Leave your cutting in a sunny location.
It may take a few weeks, but eventually the cutting will begin to grow roots. Once these roots are a couple of inches long you can simply transplant your plant into its permanent container. Congratulations, you’ve successfully taken a cutting of your plant. This is a very easy and cost efficient way to grow more Fiddle leaf figs from a single one.
Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Care Guide
With the above in mind you’re ready to grow your own fiddle leaf fig. These plants are a beautiful addition to your home, and fairly low maintenance. They make an excellent houseplant, and great in a large range of locations.
Fiddle Leaf Fig FAQ
How Fast do Fiddle Leaf Figs Grow?
Properly maintained, a fiddle leaf grows about 2′ each year. Indoor, potted varieties can grow as large as 10′ tall, but can be contained to be smaller.
Why Do Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves Falling Off?
This is usually caused by too little or too much water. If you’re watering the correct amount, it can also be caused by temperature changes like being too close to a drafty window.
What Causes Black Spots On Fiddle Leaf Fig?
This is often one of the first signs of root rot, which is caused by overwatering. Check that you’re watering the correct amount, and take steps to help prevent further damage. Root rot is serious and can quickly kill a plant.
How To Repot a Fiddle Leaf Fig?
Repotting is fairly easy and just involves preparing a new pot and moving your Fig tree over to it. Fig trees will generally have a “root ball” that makes them easy to remove from their current container. Make sure to not compact the new container too much so the roots have room to grow.
Where to Buy Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree