The fiddle leaf fig, also known as Ficus lyrata, is a popular and common houseplant which are known for its large and glossy leaves, creating a striking appearance in homes and nature. With the proper care, these plants can thrive and become stunning talking points in any room. In this detailed guide, I’ll explain in detail and explore the key aspects of care of fiddle leaf figs, including topics such as lighting, watering, temperature, humidity, fertilization, pruning, propagation, common issues and troubleshooting. Following these guidelines and giving your fiddle leaf fig the right attention and care will help to create an ideal environment for it, encouraging it to thrive.
Giving your plants proper lighting is essential for their health and growth. Plants won’t be able to photosynthesise without light. Some prefer direct or indirect sunlight, and some prefer to be in the light for a few more hours than others. Fiddle leaf figs thrive in bright and indirect light. Ideally, they should be placed near a north or east-facing window, where they can receive filtered and bright sunlight. It’s best to avoid exposing them to direct sunlight, otherwise, this could scorch their leaves and damage them.
If you find that you don’t have enough space to keep your fiddle leaf figs in enough natural light, you could consider using artificial grow lights which are specifically designed for growing houseplants. These should be positioned above the plant, providing around ten to twelve hours of light per day. This helps to mimic the natural lighting conditions, promoting optimal growth.
Watering any plant is a critical aspect of their care – without it, they’ll die very quickly. With fiddle leaf figs, the goal is to keep the soil consistently moist but not overly saturated. To determine when you should water your plant, you should check the top inch of the soil with your finger and water it when it feels dry to the touch. Room temperature water is best to pour over the soil until it drains out of the pot’s drainage holes. Ice-cold water could cause a drastic temperature change in the plant, damaging it.
Avoid letting your fiddle leaf fig sit in standing water, as this can lead to root rot and promote the growth of other nasty bacteria. Factors such as humidity, pot size and temperature can also influence a plant’s watering needs. The soil moisture should be regularly monitored, adjusting your watering routine accordingly to make sure you are neither underwatering nor overwatering the plant.
Temperature and Humidity
Fiddle leaf figs will thrive in temperatures between 60-75F (15-24C). It’s vital to make sure that you don’t place them near any areas that go through extreme temperature fluctuations, such as near air conditioning units. Maintaining stable conditions is crucial for a houseplant’s well-being, and constant changes could stress them out and weaken them. Fiddle leaf figs appreciate a bit of humidity too, so you could consider increasing humidity around them by placing a tray of water near the plant or using a humidifier. Grouping your houseplants together can also help to build a more humid microclimate.
Be careful not to over-mist the leaves of the fiddle leaf though, as excessive moisture for long periods of time can promote fungal diseases growing. You should aim to provide a consistent temperature and humid environment for your fiddle leaf fig.
Not all houseplant owners do it, but fertilizing your plants is essential to make sure they’re healthy and growing well. Fertilizing your fiddle leaf fig provides essential nutrients for growth and vitality, in the form of macronutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium while also supplying micronutrients. A balanced, water-soluble fertilizer formulated specifically for houseplants is best to use. Fiddle leaf figs should be fed in the active growing season, which is spring and summer. Ideally, it’s best to fertilize once a month but you should also follow the instructions on the packaging.
If you think the concentration of the fertilizer may be too high, I would suggest diluting the fertilizer to around half the recommended strength to prevent over-fertilization. Excessive nutrients can harm the plants, burning the roots and reducing water uptake. Applying the diluted fertilizer evenly to the soil around the plant, you should also avoid direct contact with the leaves. When it gets to the dormant season (fall and winter), start to reduce the frequency of fertilizing or stop it altogether as the plant’s growth starts to slow down. It’s best to always follow the instructions on the packaging of the fertilizer and adjust the frequency and strength based on what your fiddle leaf fig is showing you.
Pruning and Shaping
Regular pruning is essential for maintaining the shape of your fiddle leaf fig and promoting new, healthy growth. Any damaged, yellowed or brown leaves should be removed to keep an aesthetically pleasing fiddle leaf fig. If the foliage starts to become leggy with sparse foliage at the bottom, you should consider pruning the top (apex) to encourage branching and bushier growth.
When pruning, make sure to use clean and sharp pruning shears or scissors sanitized before and after each use to prevent the spread of disease. Make clear cuts just above a leaf node or a bud to encourage new growth. When shaping your fiddle leaf fig, you shouldn’t excessively prune it as this can stress the plant. Regular and careful pruning will help to improve the appearance of your fiddle leaf fig and stimulate new growth.
Here’s my favorite part! Propagation allows you to expand your fiddle leaf fig collection, meaning you can get tons of free plants and give them away to family and friends or simply build your collection. The most common method of propagating fiddle leaf figs is by using stem cuttings. I’ll detail how you can propagate a fiddle leaf fig below:
- Select a healthy, green stem with multiple leaves from the parent plant. It should be firm and look healthy.
- Make a clean cut with your pruners just below a node, using clean and sharp shears/scissors.
- Remove the lower leaves of the cutting, leaving only a few at the top of the cutting. This will help to focus energy on producing a root system and prevent any lower leaves from rotting in the soil.
- Dip the cut end of the stem into the rooting hormone. This step is optional, but it can sometimes encourage root development depending on the species. I always like to do this just to increase my chances, but it’s not essential.
- Using a well-draining potting mix, or a mixture of something such as perlite and peat moss, plant the cutting.
Now, you should aim to keep the potting medium constantly moist but not waterlogged. The cutting should then be placed in a warm and humid environment with bright, indirect light. I like to use plastic, clear food bags to put over the top of the pots to keep humidity in. This will help to reduce transpiration (water loss from the leaves) and make sure the cutting will grow roots.
Hopefully, after a few weeks, roots should start to develop. If you give the cutting a little tug, there should be some resistance which suggests that the plant may have roots. If this is the case, consider leaving it for a few more days/weeks to build up a better root system, and then you can transplant it into a separate pot and follow regular fiddle leaf fig care practices – well done, you’ve just got a new plant!
Propagation is a vital skill to have when caring for houseplants. There are many different situations it can be useful for, such as giving plants away to friends and family, selling them or even saving a cutting from a dying parent plant which might be quite rare to source.
Common Issues of Fiddle Leaf Figs
There are a few different issues that fiddle leaf figs can run into, affecting their overall health and appearance. Understanding what causes these problems and what they look like will help you to troubleshoot them, allowing you to address them properly and quickly.
- Brown spots. Brown spots on the leaves can indicate a few different things, such as improper drainage, underwatering or overwatering. You should adjust your watering routine accordingly, ensuring that when you water your plants, water is draining out of the drainage holes. A buildup of standing water can rot the roots, therefore affecting the foliage.
- Yellowing leaves. Yellowing leaves can result from nutrient deficiencies (chlorosis), excessive direct sunlight, overwatering and underwatering. You should assess watering and lighting conditions, adjusting them as necessary and seeing what helps the plant. If neither of these works, consider fertilizing the fiddle leaf fig to address the nutrient deficiency.
- Leaf dropping. Leaf dropping can occur due to stress from environmental changes, such as drafts and temperature fluctuations due to placement near an air conditioning unit. You should aim to provide stable conditions for your fiddle leaf fig, avoiding sudden changes.
- Pests. Common pests that can affect fiddle leaf figs include spider mites, scale insects and mealybugs. I like to regularly inspect my plants for signs of infestation such as visible insects, sticky residue and webbing frequently. Any affected areas should be treated with an appropriate organic or chemical pest control method. I like to use neem oil, which is organic and effective. Wiping the leaves with a damp cloth can also help to prevent infestations from occurring.
- Root rot. Overwatering and poor drainage can and will lead to root rot, causing the plant’s health to suddenly decline. To prevent root rot, you should ensure you have good watering practices, using well-draining soil and avoiding any standing water from occurring.
- Lack of growth. If you notice that your fiddle leaf fig doesn’t seem to be putting out any new, strong growth, there could be a problem. Insufficient light, root-bound conditions or nutrient deficiencies can all hinder growth. Providing adequate light, fertilizing regularly and considering repotting are good solutions to this problem.
Fiddle leaf figs are captivating and beautiful plants which are able to bring a sense of beauty and elegance to any indoor space. By making sure that you provide the right care such as lighting, watering, temperature, humidity regulation, fertilization, pruning, propagation and addressing any common issues that might pop up, you can create a great environment for your fiddle leaf fig plant to flourish.
One of the best tips I have is to simply observe your plant regularly, spending a lot of time with it. Know what it looks like most of the time so that you can identify any new problem signs. Adjust care practices as needed, and seek solutions for any problems that arise as soon as possible. With patience, dedication and the knowledge provided in this guide, you should hopefully be able to enjoy a lovely and vibrant thriving fiddle leaf fig for many years.
Overall, here are the key points to take away from this article for successful fiddle leaf fig care.
- Provide bright, indirect light or use artificial grow lights where needed.
- Water your fiddle leaf fig when the top inch of soil is dry, doing your best to avoid overwatering and waterlogged conditions.
- Maintain a consistent temperature range of 60-75F (15-24C) and avoid any extreme temperature fluctuations.
- Increase humidity levels through methods such as trays of water, humidifiers and frequent misting.
- Fertilize regularly throughout the growing season with a balanced houseplant fertilizer.
- Prune and shape your fiddle leaf fig to maintain its appearance and promote healthy new growth.
- Explore propagation as a way to expand your collection of plants and share plants with others. It’s a very useful and vital skill to have in horticulture.
- Make yourself aware of common issues such as leaf drop, pests, root rot, lack of growth, brown spots and yellowing leaves. Ensure you know how to address them and what you can do to prevent them from happening in the first place.
Hopefully, with these guidelines, you should be able to grow a beautiful and thriving fiddle leaf fig and enjoy its beauty for years, reaping the benefits it brings to your living space. You should keep in mind that each fiddle leaf fig is unique, and it may take some time to find the right balance of care for your specific plant. Observe the plant regularly, learn from its responses and adjust your care routine accordingly. With the proper attention and care, your fiddle leaf fig will no doubt reward you with stunning foliage and a touch of natural elegance to your home.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
w do I prevent my fiddle leaf fig from getting too tall and leggy?
To prevent your fiddle leaf fig from growing excessively tall and leggy, it’s important to provide adequate light and regularly prune and shape the plant. Bright and indirect light is best for fiddle leaf figs, meaning they should be placed in north or east-facing windows. If the plant starts to learn or stretch towards a light source, you should rotate it periodically to make sure the growth is even. Additionally, you can also prune the apex of the plant to encourage branching and bushier growth, helping to maintain a more compact and attractive shape.
Can I use tap water to water my fiddle leaf fig?
Fiddle leaf figs can be sensitive to chemicals like chlorine and fluoride commonly found in tap water, so it’s important to consider what water you are using for your houseplants. These chemicals can build up in the soil over time, affecting the plant’s overall health. To minimize the impact of this, you can let tap water sit overnight to allow some of the chemicals to evaporate. Alternatively, you can use rainwater to water your fiddle leaf fig, which is a great and healthy alternative for your plant.
How do I revive a drooping or wilted fiddle leaf fig?
Underwatering and overwatering are common causes for a fiddle leaf fig to wilt or droop. If the soil is dry and the plant appears to be wilted, it’s a sign that it needs watering. Make sure to water it thoroughly, ensuring that the water reaches all parts of the root ball. If the soil is waterlogged and the leaves are drooping, there’s a good chance that the plant is suffering from poor drainage and overwatering. You should allow the soil to dry out before watering again, making sure that the pot has enough and proper drainage holes. Adjusting the watering routine and providing the right amount of water will help to revive a drooping fiddle leaf fig.
Can I use a self-watering system for my fiddle leaf fig?
While you may be able to use self-watering systems for some houseplants, they’re not ideal for use on fiddle leaf figs. Fiddle leaf figs can be sensitive to overwatering, meaning that a self-watering system that constantly supplies water to the soil can be a problem due to root rot and other issues. Fiddle leaf figs like to have a drying-out period between waterings, so it’s best to manually water your fiddle leaf fig and keep a close eye on the soil’s moisture to make sure it’s getting the right amount of water. You should regularly check the soil and adjust the watering schedule based on the plant’s needs.