When talking about houseplants, one that quickly comes to mind is the Ficus lyrata or commonly known as the fiddle leaf fig tree. The famed plant flaunts attractive, fiddle-shaped leaves that make it easily recognizable and loved by many plant hobbyists. With their broad, leathery, heavily-veined, and eye-catching foliage, fiddle leaf fig trees offer a host of benefits and are undoubtedly a great choice of greenery to brighten up any bare space in your home or office. Here we’ll take you through everything you need to know about how to grow and how to care for a fiddle leaf fig tree at home.
- How to Grow a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree – The Essentials:
- About the Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant
- How to Grow a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Indoors
- How to Grow a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Outdoors
- Are Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees Toxic?
- Managing Common Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Pest and Diseases:
- Common Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Problems:
- Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Care FAQs:
- Wrap Up:
How to Grow a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree – The Essentials:
|Botanical Name:||Ficus lyrata.|
|Also Known As:||Fiddle Leaf Fig.|
|Care Difficulty:||Easy to Moderate.|
|Light Requirements:||At least six hours of bright, indirect light throughout the day.|
|Temp & Humidity:||Prefers warmer spots in your home or office preferably above 65F. Avoid locations prone to cold drafts.|
|Watering:||Water thoroughly when the top 2 to 3 inches of soil are dry to the touch (usually every 7 to 10 days in spring and summer).|
|Soil:||Slightly acidic, well-draining, and nutrient-rich. A good pre-mixed indoor tropical soil base will do the trick.|
|Feeding:||Apply a water-soluble houseplant fertilizer once a month in spring through summer only.|
|Growth Expectations:||Expect moderate growth indoors – about 2 feet each year.|
|Toxicity:||Mildly toxic to humans and pets. It’s a good idea to wear gloves if you’re handling the plant for extended periods.|
About the Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant
The Fiddle Leaf Fig is a tropical plant native to the lowland rainforests of western Africa. Although its popularity as a houseplant is through the roof, it can be a bit finicky when grown indoors since it likes warm, humid, and bright conditions.
Don’t worry, though! It’s a tough plant, and it won’t be shy to showcase its bold silhouette and lush display of greenery as long as you give it the right conditions and care.
Unlike most flowering and ornamental plants, Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees don’t share too many interesting myths or symbolisms, but it is closely aligned with the star sign of Taurus. One thing’s for sure, though. This “it” plant surely gives a nice pop of lush greens and a relaxing ambiance to your home or office.
Types of Fiddle Leaf Plants
Fiddle Leaf Fig plants, also called FLF, have two distinct types that you’ll find as houseplants. The first one is the Fiddle Leaf Fig bush that flaunts a bushy appearance and grows around 3 to 4 ft in height. Popular cultivars include Ficus lyrata ‘Compacta,’ ‘Bambino,’ and ‘Suncoast.’ The other plant type is commonly referred to as the Fiddle Leaf Fig tree. It’s much taller and grows around 5 to 7 ft tall indoors.
Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree delivery is readily available year-round from many leading plant shops.
How to Grow a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Indoors
The popularity of Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees as indoor houseplants is undeniable. Browse through the web or a magazine for home interior design inspirations, and you’d most likely find this African-native plant. It’s usually a crucial design element displaying all its lush glory and adding the right pop of color and texture to a bare space.
For the FLF plant to thrive well and achieve its best look, it has to be provided with not just the right conditions but also proper care and maintenance. Here we’ve compiled the key points in caring for Fiddle Leaf Fig plants indoors.
How to Plant an Indoor Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree
You can grow Fiddle Leaf Fig plants in pots or containers for indoor use. Most specialist plant shops or garden nurseries offer a range of size options from small starter Fiddle Leaf Fig Bushes all the way up to 4 feet+ mature trees.
If your FLF plant comes in a plastic pot, it’s best to transfer it to a bigger and more sturdy one like ceramic or terra cotta once you get it home. The new container should be about 2 to 3 inches larger in diameter to allow growth. Aim for a planter or pot with drainage holes to allow water to flow through the soil (stagnant water is a common cause of root rot).
The Best Soil Mix for Fiddle Leaf Fig Plants
As for the best soil mix, you’ll find many great pre-mixed soils specifically tailored to fiddle leaf fig trees both online and in your local plant shop or garden center. As with all soil mixes, you’re ideally looking for a good combination of moisture retention, aeration, and nutrient base.
For more, see our essential guide to the best soil mix for Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees.
Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Light Preferences
Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees will grow best if you give them bright and filtered light. Don’t place them in a spot with direct, intense light since it will only burn the leaves. Instead, set your plants in a sunny, east-facing window with a sheer curtain where there’s enough light source throughout the day.
Here’s a tip: Rotate your Fiddle Leaf Fig plant once or twice a month to ensure even growth on all sides.
Also, dust the leaves regularly to help the plant photosynthesize more efficiently. Dusting is necessary since the large and broad leaves of Fiddle Leaf Fig plants tend to accumulate dust quickly. Doing these simple steps will help your plant achieve its best look and stay in top shape.
For more, see our in-depth guide on the best positions for fiddle leaf figs to thrive in the home.
How to Water Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree:
As with most plants, excess moisture in the soil will do more harm than good to Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees. Watering it deeply once a week is enough, but it still varies depending on the size of the plant and the relative ambient temperature and humidity where the plant resides.
A general rule is to water the plant only when the top 2 inches of the soil is dry. You can skip watering if it is still moist.
High humidity conditions will also make your Fiddle Leaf Fig plants happy. Simply mist the leaves to increase humidity. You’d know if your plants are not getting enough water when their leaves become droopy, yellow, or brown.
For more, see our essential guide to watering Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees at home.
How and When to Feed Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree:
Fiddle Leaf Fig trees will benefit from proper fertilization. Feeding your plant with regular houseplant fertilizer once in spring and monthly throughout the summer is ideal. Avoid overfeeding because it will only cause leggy growth and poor performance. There’s no need to fertilize your plants in winter.
Repotting Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees:
If you’re growing a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree as a floor plant, you may be wondering how and when’s the best time to transfer it to a new pot. Repotting should be done every 18 to 24 months in spring or summer when the plant is at its healthiest state. Moving it to a bigger container will allow growth and make your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree bigger and taller. If this is your goal, then pick a pot that is 2 to 4 inches larger in diameter. However, if you prefer to maintain the current size of your Fiddle Leaf Fig tree, then use its original pot or a new one with a similar size. Provide new soil and prune out some leaves and roots.
Pruning Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees:
Pruning helps Fiddle Leaf Fig trees in many ways. By pruning the plant, you are not just maintaining its picturesque form, but you’re also encouraging new growth. Remove damaged, dead leaves and crossed branches by using clean and sharp pruning shears. When pruning, cut off each leaf at an angle about half an inch from the main trunk to avoid injuring the plant.
Pruning also helps shape your plant. You can prune the lower leaves to achieve a tree-like form. Pruning the top part, on the other hand, will keep your plant at the desired height and encourage it to branch out from the sides.
Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Propagation:
Propagating a Fiddle Leaf Fig plants through stem cuttings is much easier than using seeds. You just need to obtain cuttings from your plant (but avoid new and old growth), wait for the cuttings to develop roots, and you’re good to go. Easy, right?
Cut a healthy stem that has 1 to 3 good leaves at an angle using clean, sharp pruning shears. Place the Fiddle Leaf Fig cutting in a container with clean water or dip it into a rooting hormone and wait for about 6 to 8 weeks for roots to develop. The roots will start to form at around four weeks. Once the stem cutting has a lot of new roots (1 to 2 inches in length), you can then plant it in a small pot that measures 2 to 4 inches in diameter.
Essential Tools for Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees:
- Pruners/ pruning shears are tools that help you cut off leaves or branches.
- A watering can is an essential tool for watering your plants. It varies in sizes and shapes depending on your plants’ watering needs.
- Soil probe helps determine moisture content in the soil and tells you if and when your plant needs watering.
- Aeration stones promote healthy growth of the roots. They create air pockets in the soil and help absorb excess water from the planter’s basin. This tool works best if your planter has no drainage holes.
- Cork mats help protect floors and furniture from moisture and scratches.
How to Grow a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Outdoors
Although Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees are more recognized for indoor planting, they can also be grown outdoors as large trees or potted plants. If planted on the ground, they can reach up to about 50 to 60 ft in height. Caring for FLF plants outdoors is somehow similar to how you’d care for the plant indoors – light, water, temperature, humidity, fertilization, and pruning requirements are mostly the same. Still, ensure that the climate and growing conditions outdoors are suitable for growing this plant.
Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees grow best in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11. The ideal day temperatures should not be higher than 95 °F and night temperatures should not be colder than 50 °F degrees. Otherwise, expect poor plant vigor and dropping leaves.
Light is another vital factor. As with growing this plant indoors, you have to make sure that your plant will get lots of bright light, but keep it out of direct sunlight. Excessive, intense light will burn the leaves.
Are Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees Toxic?
If you have pets or young kids at home, it’s best to keep your Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees out of reach since they can be toxic to pets and humans when ingested. The plant has toxins that may cause stomach irritations if ingested. I’d recommend wearing a pair of gloves when handling the plant.
Managing Common Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Pest and Diseases:
Healthy and established Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees are generally pest- and disease-free. Keeping them in good condition is one of the best ways to prevent the manifestation of insect pests and plant diseases. However, the highly sought foliage houseplant can also be prone to common insect pests such as aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, and scale insects.
Observe your Fiddle Leaf Fig plant regularly and look for any sign or symptom of pest and disease infestation. These usually manifest through leaf spots in different sizes, forms, or colors, feeding damage, leaf coloration, wilting, and more. In severe cases, the foliage may turn yellow or brown and fall off prematurely. Early detection will allow you to act quickly and apply necessary control measures as soon as possible.
Spider mites are tiny, spider-like insects that feed on the leaves of Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees. One way to determine if your plant has spider mites is if there’s any hint of webbing on the leaves. You may also see clusters of small dots on the leaves. While spider mites are common, they are pretty easy to control by spraying the leaves with water.
Mealybugs are another common insect pest of Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees. These tiny insects damage the plant by sucking the sap out of the leaves, causing them to turn yellow and fall off. As they feed on the leaves, they secrete a substance called honeydew, which attracts fungal growth and promotes disease. Mealybugs can be controlled by spraying the affected leaves with water or using neem oil.
Common Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Diseases:
- Crown gall
- Leaf spot
- Botrytis blight
- Root rot
- Southern blight
Common Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Problems:
POTENTIAL CAUSE: There are three main reasons why Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees drop leaves – too much or too little water, lack of light, and extreme temperatures. You’re either overwatering or underwatering your plants. You can tell it’s the former if the oldest leaves towards the bottom are dropping. If leaves are falling off all over your plant, then your plant is most likely asking for more water.
HOW TO FIX IT: You can quickly address this problem by following the right water schedule and frequency or moving it away from an A/C vent or heater. This type of plant enjoys moist soil, but not a soggy condition since it promotes the development of diseases like root rot. To ensure healthy growth, allow the top 2” layer of the soil to dry out before deep watering your plant.
Leaves may also drop if the plant is not getting enough light. This plant needs lots of light to thrive, so try to move it in a spot where it can have more bright, indirect light.
Browning and Brown Spots on the Leaves:
POTENTIAL CAUSE: Brown spots on fiddle leaf fig leaves are an indication of pest or disease infestation or poor growing conditions. It may be caused by overwatering and root rot if the browning starts from the middle of each affected leaf and spreads outwards. Fungal diseases or insect pests can also cause brown spots as they feed on the leaves.
If the brown spots are visible on younger leaves and accompanied by yellowing, then you’re probably looking at bacterial leaf spots. If left untreated, the spots will eventually cause the leaves to turn yellow then brown, and fall off.
HOW TO FIX IT: Remove and dispose of the affected leaves to prevent the further spread of pests or diseases. Make sure that the plant has sufficient light and avoid overwatering.
Leaf Edges that Turn Brown and Curl:
POTENTIAL CAUSE: Leaves with edges browning and curling are usually a sign of insufficient water, low humidity, or both.
HOW TO FIX IT: Water and mist your Fiddle Leaf Fig plant immediately. Also, remove dry and brown-edged leaves.
Wilting or Droopy Leaves:
POTENTIAL CAUSE: If the leaves of your Fiddle Leaf Fig plant is drooping or wilting, they are only telling you that they need water.
HOW TO FIX IT: Watering your plant will help it regain vigor.
POTENTIAL CAUSE: When placed in direct, bright light, the leaves of your Fiddle Leaf Fig tree will exhibit brown, burn-like spots on the surface.
HOW TO FIX IT: Cut off the damaged leaves and move your plant away from direct sun. Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees require lots of bright and filtered light, but not direct.
Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Care FAQs:
How often do you water a fiddle leaf fig tree?
A few factors will determine how frequently you need to water your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree, including general ambient temperature, relative humidity, size of the plant, and prevailing light conditions throughout the day. Typically most Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees require watering approximately every 7 to 10 days (less during the winter months). A good indicator to follow is when the top 2 inches of soil are completely dry, and the tree is ready to be watered. Be careful not to over-water, as persistently saturated soil can lead to root rot.
Do fiddle leaf fig trees need sun?
Yes, a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree needs energy from the sun to help it grow. If you’re growing your Fiddle Leaf Fig as an indoor houseplant, aim for a bright spot in your home with filtered or indirect light where possible. A sunny east-facing window would be perfect.
Why do fiddle leaf fig leaves turn brown?
Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree leaves turning brown is often an indication of pest or disease problems or overwatering.
How long does it take for a fiddle leaf fig to grow?
The Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree is a slow grower and will typically take 10 years+ to reach 6 or 7 ft indoors.
Do fiddle leaf figs like coffee grounds?
Coffee grounds may carry some nutrients that your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree will enjoy in addition to helping aerate the soil.
How do you encourage fiddle leaf figs to grow?
The trick with Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees (much like many houseplants) is to find the right balance of light, temperature, watering schedules, and feeding preferences. Every home environment presents a slightly different set of circumstances, so you may need to test different positions in your home and monitor watering and feeding until you find a sweet spot where your fiddle leaf fig tree is vibrant, healthy, and flourishing.
Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees may require more attention than other houseplants, but give it the right conditions and proper care, and you’d be impressed by its beauty! This finicky plant will not be one of the most popular ones today if not for its dramatic façade that will definitely make your home a cozy and relaxing place.
For more, see our in-depth guide to the meaning and symbolism of fig trees.