With large, glossy leaves, fiddle leaf figs (Ficus lyrata) make gorgeous houseplants. They also have a reputation for being higher maintenance than many other houseplants. It's true that they're a bit more finicky than some indoor plants, but they're really not all that difficult to grow. As long as you take the time to learn the basics of how to care for a fiddle leaf fig indoors and commit to meeting its needs, you'll be able to grow this lovely plant successfully.
How to Care for a Fiddle Leaf Fig Indoors at a Glance
Caring for a fiddle leaf fig isn't really all that different from caring for other houseplants. As long as you meet their needs, you can absolutely succeed at growing and maintaining this attractive plant.
|Bright indirect light||Daily|
|Rotate plant||Every few weeks|
|Temperature 60°F - 80°F||Daily|
|Water|| When top 2 inches of soil are dry |
(about every 7 to 10 days)
|Fertilize|| Per package instructions |
(about once a month in summer, less in winter)
|Remove damaged leaves||Daily|
|Prune leaves and branches||Annually in late spring|
When roots grow out of container
Where to Put a Fiddle Leaf Fig
Caring for a fiddle leaf fig starts with choosing a location that meets its light and temperature needs.
Place your fiddle leaf fig it in a spot where it will get plenty of bright, indirect light, such as a sunny window that faces south or west. If the window gets full sun in the afternoon, be sure that there's a sheer covering over the window that will protect the plant against potentially scorching rays. It's a good idea to rotate your fiddle leaf fig every few weeks to expose all parts of the plant to light.
Fiddle leaf figs need to be in temperatures that range between 60° and 80° F, and they don't like sudden changes in temperature. Keep your fiddle leaf fig away from HVAC vents or drafty areas where the temperature can fluctuate a lot or change suddenly.
Container and Soil
Put your fiddle leaf fig in a container that's three or four inches wider than the container it came in. Plant it in a well-draining potting mix that is high in organic matter, such as a potting mix that's formulated for fiddle leaf figs.
Alternately, you could also make your own DIY growing medium by combining one part of perlite or vermiculite with one part of peat and two parts of potting mix. If you make your own, it's best to use a potting mix that's intended to be used with indoor plants.
Watering a Fiddle Leaf Fig
Fiddle leaf figs like consistent moisture and humidity, but they also need to dry out a bit between waterings.
When to Water
Fiddle leaf figs do not respond well to too much water or too little. It's best to wait until the first two inches of soil dries out before watering. Check for dryness by doing a poke test, which involves sticking your finger into the soil to see if it's still moist below the surface. Typically, it will need water about every seven to 10 days. Expect your plant to need less water during the winter, as it will grow less (sometimes not at all) then than during other times of year.
How to Water
When it's time to water your fiddle leaf fig, gently and slowly pour water into the container until it starts t run out of the bottom. Lift the container off the saucer so you can pour out any excess water that runs out of the drain holes. This is very important, as your plant could get root rot if the container stays in standing water.
Fiddle leaf figs like humid conditions. To boost the humidity, it's a good idea to fill the saucer that the container sits on with pebbles. Keep the pebbles damp, but not so wet that the container itself is standing in water. It's ideal to put water about halfway up the pebbles. You may also want to run a humidifier near the plant and/or gently mist it with water every few days.
Recognize Watering Issues
If your fiddle leaf fig's leaves turn yellow or brown (or develop spots in these colors), or if the plant starts to lose a lot of leaves, that means it's getting too much or too little water. You'll need to check the soil for dryness or wetness to determine whether over- or under-watering is causing the issue.
Maintaining a Fiddle Leaf Fig
In addition to properly watering your fiddle leaf fig, you'll also need to fertilize and prune the plant regularly, as well as pot it up into a larger container when it outgrows the one it's in.
You can use any kind of all-purpose fertilizer made for houseplants on your fiddle leaf fig, such as houseplant spikes or a liquid houseplant fertilizer (diluted as instructed on the package). Follow the instructions on fertilizer packaging to be sure you're applying it properly and at the correct frequency. You can stop fertilizing your plant during the winter when in isn't doing much growing, then start back up in the spring.
Like most trees, fiddle leaf figs need to be pruned periodically. You should snip off damaged leaves and/or stems whenever you notice them throughout the year. Each year in late spring, it's a good idea to prune your plant. This will help it maintain a good shape and keep it from getting too large or unwieldy.
Use sharp, clean pruning spears to cut off top leaves that are getting too close to the ceiling, as well as lower leaves and branches that are getting too wide, crossing or touching each other, or blocking airflow to other parts of the plant. Once this necessary maintenance has been done, you can do additional trimming to train your tree to grow into a tree or bush-like shape.
Repot as Needed
Fiddle leaf figs typically need to be repotted every one or two years. If the plant's roots start to grow out of the drainage holes in the bottom of its container, that means it's time to move it up to a planter that's a few inches larger in diameter than the one it's in. A full-grown fiddle leaf fig will usually need a container that's between 15 and 20 gallons.
Common Fiddle Leaf Fig Mistakes to Avoid
Knowing how to care for a fiddle leaf fig is important, but it's also a good idea to be aware of some common problems that come up with this type of plant.
- Too much water - For fiddle leaf figs, there really is such a thing as too much water. Don't water them every time you water your other indoor plants. Wait until they truly need it - which is when they are quite dry.
- Too little water - Fiddle leaf figs do need water, just not too much. So, don't err on the side of under-watering. Stick your finger in the soil every few weeks to test dryness and add water when the top two inches are dry.
- Too much fertilizer - Fiddle leaf figs only need to be fertilized during their growing season. Fertilize your plant at the beginning of spring and every four to six weeks during the summer, but not at all in winter and fall.
- Using heavy soil - Fiddle leafs need to be in well-draining soil; even potting soil is too heavy straight from the bag. If you don't want to buy special fiddle leaf soil, add perlite and vermiculite to ordinary potting soil.
- Exposing it to drafts - If your plant is near a drafty window or HVAC vent, this can keep it from doing well. Drafty air can make it too hot or too cold, as well as remove humidity from the air that the plant needs.
- Staying in one place - As the position of the sun changes during the year, so does the amount of light coming in the window. Move your plant as the seasons change to keep it in the light it needs or add grow lights.
- Not noticing pests - If your plant's leaves turn brown, don't ignore the change. That's a sure sign of bugs. Turn the leaves over and look for pests like aphids, mealybugs, or spider mites and treat your plant accordingly.
Enjoy Growing a Fiddle Leaf Fig
Now that you know how to grow a fiddle leaf fig, go ahead and bring one home. It'll beautify your decor and impress everyone who visits your home, especially those who are convinced that this is a temperamental, hard-to-grow houseplant. You don't have to tell them it's not that hard - that'll be our little secret. All anyone needs to know is that you've mastered the art of growing a fiddle leaf fig.