The fiddle leaf fig is a stunning plant with huge, luscious green leaves. It will make a perfect houseplant and can effortlessly brighten up a room. They’re easy to look after and maintain, and as long as you follow all the steps in this guide, you’ll have a gorgeous tree in no time!
Native to the West African lowland rainforests, the fiddle leaf fig is a tropical tree. It is part of the Moraceae family, and its scientific name is Ficus lyrata.
The fiddle leaf fig is tough and can withstand conditions that are unlike where it’s natively grown.
You can keep it outside if you live in a sunny area. If you prefer to keep it indoors, it will live for a long time if it is appropriately cared for. They’re significantly larger than standard houseplants, making them much more appealing for a lovely home appearance.
They’re simple to maintain once you get the feel of it, they grow fast, and the shape of the pot allows you to choose the size they will grow in. It will take less than 15 minutes a week to maintain it in the right conditions.
Now let’s get into it!
How Big Do They Get?
If you keep your fiddle leaf fig indoors, it can reach a height of 6 to 10 feet (183 to 305 cm) . When left outdoors, they can grow up to 50 feet (15 m) tall.
How Fast Do They Grow?
The Ficus grows relatively fast compared to other houseplants, growing about 12 to 18 inches (30 – 46 cm) per year if fed frequently and kept in the proper conditions.
How Long Do They Live?
Ficus are some of the most long-living plants and houseplants out there. As a Ficus lyrata, the fiddle leaf fig can grow up to 25-50 years if cared for in the right conditions.
Are They Toxic to Cats and Dogs?
The fiddle leaf fig is toxic to both cats and dogs if ingested. It can cause oral irritation, vomiting, and excessive drooling.
To ensure your plant lasts as long as possible, follow these steps to care for it properly.
How Often to Water
It would be best to water your fiddle leaf fig once a week or every 10 days. Because they’re native to rainforest conditions, they’re used to receiving tons of water and then going through dry periods after.
When watering, it’s best to sit the pot on a stand over a drip tray and water until it’s dripping. Let it trickle for about an hour or two. Make sure the container you give it has holes on the bottom so that it can properly drain. Let it completely dry before watering again, usually in about a week or two.
Similar to the desert rose, ensuring proper drainage is vital for the Ficus’ survival. The number one killer of the Ficus lyrata is overwatering, which will lead to root rot. Ensuring the pot you’ve picked out has proper drainage holes is very important.
When watering over a drip tray, make sure not to set it in the drip tray and put it on a stand above it instead so that it’s not sitting in the water. Planting the Ficus in well-draining soil is also beneficial in making sure it receives proper drainage.
How to Prune
Pruning your fiddle leaf fig every once in a while will benefit its ability to breathe. Cut damaged leaves, overgrowth, and branches that cross over each other.
When you’re pruning, cut about an inch (2.5 cm) from the trunk to avoid damaging it. When you’re removing a dead brown leaf, gently tug at it first in case it comes off on its own.
Before pruning, make sure you’re using sterilized pruners to not transfer disease to it.
How to Repot
It is recommended that you repot your fiddle leaf fig once a year, every spring (its growing season).
Here are directions on how to repot:
- Find a container about 2 inches (5 cm) larger in diameter from its previous pot.
- Gently, loosen the plant from the container, and while supporting its base, lift it out and place it in the new pot.
- Add extra potting mix to fill in the extra space around it.
Once the plant matures, in about 10-15 years, it will most likely have grown too large to repot it. Instead, replace the first 2 to 4 inches (5 – 10 cm) of soil with a new mix every spring.
If you keep your fiddle leaf fig outside, be aware that repotting it during temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) can put it under too much stress. Repot it during warmer weather to avoid this.
How to Clean Leaves
Every week or two, dust the leaves with a damp cloth. Doing this will help make its leaves look shinier and brighter and absorb more sunlight during photosynthesis.
Along with giving your fiddle leaf fig the proper care, ensuring it’s in the right environment will help it thrive and survive for a long time.
Like the ponytail plant, the Ficus needs a proper amount of bright, indirect sunlight. Place it in a room where it can get bright and indirect sunlight throughout the day.
Rotate it every 2 to 3 days to ensure that it’s getting light on every side. This will allow it to grow evenly rather than leaning toward the light.
A fiddle-leaf fig can be grown in any quality indoor potting mix. Make sure the soil is well-draining.
Use a fertilizer with high nitrogen content and follow the feeding instructions on the package. You may be able to find a fertilizer specifically for the fiddle leaf fig. Fertilize the Ficus throughout the spring (its growing season). You won’t have to feed it throughout the winter.
Find a pot 3 to 4 inches (8 – 10 cm) larger than the pot it came in. Don’t use a pot more than 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter, or the Ficus will be more susceptible to root rot.
Similar to the prayer plant, the Ficus prefers to stay in temperatures between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (16 – 29 degrees Celsius). Extreme temperature changes are not suitable for the fiddle leaf fig. If you’re keeping your plant indoors, keep it away from drafty areas, heating vents, and air-conditioning vents.
If your Ficus is outside, make sure it is not kept in temperatures exceeding 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius) or below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius). You may have to bring it inside if the temperatures outside aren’t ideal for the plant.
Much like the peace lily, the Ficus thrives in high humidity. It will be most comfortable in a humidity level between 30 and 65 percent. If your plant needs additional humidity, use a spray bottle to mist it daily.
Outside vs. Inside
You can keep the fiddle leaf fig indoors or outdoors as long as the temperatures are suitable for proper growing conditions. If you usually keep it indoors and decide to move it outside, it will have to adjust.
Place it in a shaded area where it gets bright and indirect sunlight. The afternoon sun is too harsh, so bring it inside before the evening. Also, be sure that it is in a safe location where it won’t get blown over by rain or heavy winds.
The fiddle leaf fig doesn’t produce any fig, flower, or fruit as an indoor plant. It might produce fruit when in tropical climates, but they aren’t edible. The Ficus lyrata is unlike the more well-known fig plant, Ficus carica, which does produce edible figs.
How to Grow
By now, you should know precisely how to care for the fiddle leaf fig. Now let’s get into how to grow it!
It is relatively simple to cut a stem for propagation. Fiddle leaf fig cuttings are typically 12 to 18 inches (30 – 46 cm) long. You should leave at least 2 to 3 leaves on the cutting and at least 1 to 2 nodes where the leaves have been removed to ensure proper growth.
The cutting will require far more energy to grow if there are too many left leaves on it, so keeping it to 2 to 3 is essential.
Follow these three simple steps to cut your stem properly:
- Before propagating any plant, make sure your pruners are sterile to prevent diseases from spreading. Wipe your pruners with isopropyl alcohol to sterilize them.
- With sharp pruners, cut the stem with the appropriate measurements.
- If the stem has several leaves, cut them off at the node until about 2 to 3 leaves are left on the stem.
- The plant may produce a white milky sap after pruning. Be sure not to digest it or get it on your eyes because it could be irritating. If you’re concerned about getting it on your face while propagating, wear gloves.
Like the lucky bamboo, the fiddle leaf fig can also be propagated in both water and soil.
Here are the directions to propagate your Ficus in water:
- Fill a clean glass vase a little more than halfway with room temperature filtered water (don’t use tap water). Make sure the vase is a good size and shape to allow it to stay upright.
- Keep in a warm and bright area of your house but out of direct sunlight.
- The water will start to appear cloudy after a couple of days, so only change it then.
- After a few weeks (about four weeks), you will notice small white bumps appearing on the stem’s base. This is the area where the roots will grow from.
- After a couple more weeks (about 6 to 8 weeks), you will notice roots starting to grow. You do not have to change the water during this time.
- Plant them in a well-draining potting mix after the roots grow to about 1 to 2 inches (3 – 5 cm) long.
To propagate your Ficus in soil, you will need a mix that supports plant propagation cuttings. The soil needs to be well-draining, retain moisture, and be porous. Don’t use garden mix or compost because it can be too heavy for a new cutting and contain diseases.
You can either purchase a propagation mix or make your own. If you prefer to mix your own, combine 2 to 3 scoops of perlite with 2 to 3 scoops of peat moss, depending on the amount you require.
To plant your Ficus stem cutting in soil, follow these directions:
- Find a pot that will fit and support your cutting. Fill the container with the mix, making sure it has drainage holes at the bottom. Reusing items such as a plastic yogurt container and cutting holes through the bottom will also work if you don’t have a regular pot in hand.
- For woody plants like the fiddle leaf fig, it’s recommended to use rooting hormone to help the cutting grow roots and speed up the process. It may be a little more difficult for woody plants to root, so that’s why rooting hormone is recommended. Follow the directions on the package to use it.
- Thoroughly water the soil before putting the cutting in it.
- Stick a pencil or pen into the mix where you’re going to place your root cutting to make space for it. Doing this will prevent tissue damage and the rooting hormone from being removed when you put it in the soil.
- Place the cuttings about ⅔ deep in the soil, and tuck in the soil around it to make sure it’s stabilized.
- Rooting should start in about 4 to 6 weeks. You’ll begin to notice new growth on the buds at the node.
Cover it with a clear plastic bag to ensure your fiddle leaf fig survives and grows well. Mist the leaves daily so that they stay moist. However, make sure the plastic isn’t touching the leaves, as you don’t want them staying in moisture (this can cause rotting).
How to Revive
If you notice your Ficus beginning to look unhealthy, there may be something wrong with its care. Don’t worry, though, as you can surely fix all these issues.
Root rot develops when the soil retains too much moisture as a result of overwatering. Because the roots of fiddle leaf figs need oxygen to survive, they should be kept moist but not wet.
Common symptoms of root rot include brown spots on the foliage and shedding leaves. If you notice this start to happen, it may be a sign of root rot.
The faster you notice these signs and check on your plant, the more likely it will survive. Start by inspecting the roots. Take the plant out of the pot and examine the root ball. If it seems like the root is wet, sitting in moisture, or brown and mushy, then it is suffering from root rot.
To help it heal, follow these directions:
- Rinse the root ball thoroughly and examine the roots. With a sharp pair of disinfected pruning scissors, remove any roots that are brown or mushy.
- Now you’ll need to repot your Ficus in a new container. Find a pot that has suitable drainage holes and a well-draining mix. Adding gravel to the bottom of the container can help with drainage and keep the root ball dry if the soil and pot aren’t doing well enough on their own.
- When choosing a container, be sure that it isn’t too large, as this can cause the soil to retain too much water.
- Allow your plant to get the proper amount of sunlight.
- After repotting your Ficus, water just once and make sure the water is properly draining from the bottom of the container. Don’t water again until your roots have completely dried, which may take more than a week.
Give your Ficus enough time for it to stabilize again. You can also remove the damaged leaves with pruners, but be careful not to remove too many leaves at once. With time, it should fully recover.
Yellowing leaves are one of the most common issues plant owners face with the fiddle leaf fig. It can either be a sign of inadequate sunlight or a lack of proper nutrients.
To fix this issue, use a process of elimination to determine what is causing the yellowing leaves. First, see if it’s getting enough light. The Ficus thrives when it is near a bright window or an area where it can get indirect sunlight. Depending on where you’re keeping your plant now, you may need to adjust this.
Also, check if the potting mix feels wet to see if you’re over-watering. The last thing you want to do is over-water while neglecting to provide it with adequate sunlight.
If it has been getting the proper amount of sunlight, try to see if it needs more fertilizer. The Ficus will need fertilizer at least every other week to ensure it’s getting the proper nutrients during its growing season.
If you’ve checked off both things, and neither seems to be the cause of yellowing leaves, this could mean the soil acidity is too high. When the soil breaks down, it releases excess acidity, leading to an increase in soil acidity.
The fiddle leaf fig thrives in neutral pH soil; otherwise, it will have trouble absorbing nutrients from the mix. You can examine the pH of your soil with a soil meter.
The leading cause for the Ficus’ leaves curling is underwatering. To fix this, monitor the soil of your plant. It would be best if you watered it when the potting mix is dry. If you wait longer than that, you could be underwatering it.
If you live in a dry climate with little humidity, you can buy a humidifier or mist it with water every few days.
Curling leaves can also indicate that you’ve given it too much fertilizer.
Follow these steps to resolve the problem:
- Don’t fertilize your plant during the winter.
- Use a liquid fertilizer and follow the directions on the package (you should dilute the fertilizer with water before using it).
- At the most, you should use fertilizer every other time you water.
Another cause of curling leaves can be temperature stress. Make sure you’re leaving it in its preferred temperatures – 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (16 – 29 degrees Celsius).
If brown spots on leaves start to appear, as mentioned above, this can be a sign of root rot. Read above for what to do in the case this happens.
Congratulations, you are now officially an expert on the Ficus lyrata! By now, you should know everything there is to know about the fiddle leaf fig, like how to care for it properly and how to give it the best conditions to thrive in.
Thank you for reading, and I wish you luck in your gardening endeavors. Happy planting!