How to grow and care for fiddle leaf fig
Looking to nurture a spectacular indoor plant? Then you need to discover how to grow and care for fiddle leaf fig
Learn how to grow and care for fiddle leaf fig and you will be rewarded with a majestic house plant with stunning foliage.
Originally from the rainforests of West Africa, this beautiful fig can reach heights of up to 45ft in the wild and an impressive 6ft indoors. As the name suggests, the distinctive leaves are large in size, with undulating edges and a nipped middle, not dissimilar to a fiddle or lyre. Leathery in texture with pronounced veins, this single or multi-stemmed plant is one that makes a real impact in any room.
Not solely an indoor plant treasured for its good looks, the fiddle leaf fig is also prized as one of the best air cleaning indoor plants. Tempted to give one a try? Well, here we provide everything you need to know including handy expert tips to ensure your plant thrives.
How to grow and care for fiddle leaf fig
We think fiddle leaf figs are one of the best indoor trees you can grow. These are the elements of growing a fig tree you need to get right to ensure a healthy plant.
Get temperature and humidity levels right
Growing wild in lowland tropical climes, fiddle leaf figs are pretty happy in average home temperatures of around 65-80℉ (18-26℃). ‘This plant is partial to humid conditions so will like frequent mistings on its leaves to keep them looking luscious and long,’ says Jo Lambell of Beards and Daisies. ‘Fiddle leaf figs do not like to be moved – if necessary to move your plant, be prepared for some leaf drop until it is acclimatized again two to three weeks.’
Ensure light levels are correct
Like many figs, this eyecatching plant likes bright but indirect light to keep its large leaves in top condition. If they don’t receive enough light, they will gradually yellow and eventually drop. Position the plant a couple of feet away from a window but do be careful not to let strong sunlight fall directly on the foliage for any length of time as they will burn and scorch.
Know when and how much to water fiddle leaf figs
The most common cause of plant problems, watering can be a mystery to many plant carers but understanding where they grow in the wild can help know when to water plants considerably.
‘When watering your tree, err on the side of underwatering rather than overwatering,’ says Claire Akin of Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant Resource. ‘These plants are drought-tolerant and don’t like soggy soil, so allow the top inch of soil to dry out before watering again. Tropical areas typically get consistent moisture, but not always a lot of it at once, so keeping your tree’s soil semi-moist will keep it happy. Using a moisture meter can easily take all the guesswork out of when to water your FLF.’
Choose the correct compost
Free draining soil is another important factor otherwise red and brown spots can appear on the leaves. Danielle Sawan of The Indoor Nursery explains, ‘This happens when the plant cell walls cannot contain the excess water any longer and burst, causing the reddish tint. This is known as “edema” or “oedema” in scientific terms. If this happens, then you’re either watering way too much or the water is accumulating in the soil (aka has poor drainage).’
Choose a potting compost that is slightly acidic and contains perlite, charcoal, sand to help with drainage.
Repotting a fiddle leaf fig
If you spot roots poking out of the drainage holes in the plant pot or emerging from the soil’s surface, then it’s time to repot. Not a particularly tricky task, but it is worth getting the timing right. Repotting is best done during the growing season – spring and summer – as this will give the plant a chance to settle into its new surrounding before entering its dormant spell.
Start by tipping the plant upside down and carefully sliding off the nursery pot. Take a close look at the root system. If you spot any mushy brown roots then this is a sign of root rot, and these need to be snipped off. If roots simply look congested, then it’s time for a larger pot.
Choose pot that is 1-2 inches (2.5-5cm) bigger and make sure it has large drainage holes. This is likely to be a plastic nursery pot which can then be slipped into a decorative container minus the holes in the base.
Using a free draining compost, fill a quarter of the pot with soil before placing the plant in upright. Fill around the rootball with more compost, firming slightly as you go.
Continue until the soil is just below the pot’s rim. Water and leave to drain before popping the repotted plant back in its place.
Give your fiddle leaf fig a boost
Want to keep your prized fiddle leaf fig in top condition? Then here are few expert tips well worth knowing.
- Cleaning this plant’s large leaves can be hugely beneficial as it increases both photosynthesis and respiration. Wipe gently with a damp soft cloth being careful not to split or damage the foliage.
- No time for wiping leaves down? Treat your fiddle leaf fig to a shower. Place under the showerhead and give the entire plant a good drenching in tepid water. Be sure to let the plant drain thoroughly before popping back in its decorative pot.
- Feed monthly with a balanced houseplant fertilizer but dilute to half strength before use.
- Shake it! ‘One surprising thing you can do to keep your fiddle leaf fig happy is to give it a shake every so often,’ says Richard Cheshire, Plant Doctor at Patch Plants. ‘The idea is that this mimics the wind and helps strengthen its trunk. Think ‘gentle wiggle’ rather than "hurricane force".’
Jill Morgan has spent the last 20 years writing for Interior and Gardening magazines both in print and online. Titles she has been lucky enough to work on include House Beautiful, The English
Home, Ideal Home, Modern Gardens and Gardeningetc.com. Although much of her career has involved commissioning and writing about reader homes and home improvement projects, her
everlasting passion is for gardens and outdoor living, which is what she writes about for Homes & Gardens.
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