Ficus Lyrata - THE FIDDLE LEAF FIG

 

By far the most popular plant on social media, the Fiddle Leaf Fig is the perfect designer's choice. A not too fussy, gorgeous addition to any home, the Fiddle Leaf Fig works in every decor.

 

Ficus Lyrata is native to western Africa, from Cameroon west to Sierra Leone, where it grows in the lowland tropical rainforest. It can be small enough to use as a table plant or large enough to be used as an indoor tree.

 

To be successful growing your Fiddle Leaf Fig, there are a few things you need to keep in mind for a great relationship.

Light - In its native environment, the Fiddle Leaf Fig is an understory tree, sheltered from the heat of the sun by taller trees. Ficus Lyrata needs bright, indirect light. Too much light and the leaves will burn and fade. Too little light and the leaves will be small and larger leaves will fall off. Turn frequently to keep a Ficus Lyrata from growing toward the light and becoming lop-sided.

Temperature - Fiddle Leaf Fig trees come from the tropics and do well in temperatures between 60°-80°F. Keep away from air conditioners, cold drafts, and heating vents. Fiddles hate the cold! Intense cold or heat causes leaf drop.

Water  - A Fiddle Leaf Fig requires less water than other ficus trees. Allow the top inch of soil to dry before watering. If its in a larger container, wait until its a bit drier as large pots hold water longer. Water until water starts to drain into the saucer. Remember to remove any excess - do not allow your Fiddle Leaf FIg to stand in water! Keep the soil drier when your plant is in lower light or the room temperature is cooler. If you have healthy leaves dropping off, you are overwatering and if the leaves are brown and crunchy, increase watering. The worst thing you can do regarding watering is "give it too much". Also, allow the water to warm to room temperature before watering. Fiddles really don't care for uber cold water!

Humidity - The Fiddle Leaf Fig is happy with normal household humidity, though it prefers a bit higher humidity. Use a pebble tray during the winter months to increase the immediate humidity around your plant.

Soil - Use a well-aerated potting soil that holds water but still drains quickly. Add a bit of sand to the soil to improve the soil texture and allows water to move through the pot.


Fertilizer - Feed your Fiddle Leaf Fig monthly in the spring and summer with a balanced plant food diluted to 1/2 the recommended strength. I like to use the yellow box of Miracle Grow with a bit higher nitrogen. Keep in mind, too much fertilizer when the plant is not actively growing causes leaf tip burn. Stop fertilizing in October as this plant slows down and enters its dormant stage. Restart fertilizing in March as it wakes up and begins a new growing season.

Re-pot - Fiddle Leaf Fig like to be potbound. Their roots grow very slowly so make sure they completely fill the pot before moving them up a pot size. Avoid moving your plant into a pot too large, just move it up one size larger. Also be sure any pot you use has drip holes in the bottom. Large pots retain too much water and will drown this plant. The best time to repot is at the end of the winter season just as it begins to grow.

Maintenance - Remove dying leaves to maintain good looks and discourage bugs. Regular pruning during the winter months will keep your ficus looking its best and give you a bushier plant. If a Fiddle Leaf Fig gets too tall, gently remove it from its pot and trim the roots. Trimming the roots limits how tall the plant grows. Root-trimming a ficus plant can be done every few years during winter and fall. You can also remove the growing tip at the top of the stem to stop upward growth and maintain a height that works for your home.


Keep the large leaves of your Fiddle Leaf Fig wiped monthly with a damp cloth to remove any accumulated dust and pests. When the leaves are too dusty, they aren’t able to soak up all the sun and nutrients. Remember, plants breathe through their leaves. Using a oil-free leaf shine will make the leaves shine.

 

Brown spots on the leaves can be caused by a number things including overwatering or not enough water. When a brown spot occurs it doesn’t usually go away and can get darker and develop a hole in the leaf. If the brown spot is towards the end of the leaf, take scissors and trim around it.

Pests - White flies, scale, thrip and mealybugs can be a problem. Check frequently for pests by examining the backs of the leaves and new growth. If a ficus becomes infected, spray with 91% Isopropyl Alcohol mixed with water (2 parts Alcohol, 1 part water) or an insecticidal soap at 1/2 the recommended strength.

 

Ficus are susceptible to Botritis if the leaves are kept too wet. Use a general fungicide. Remove the diseased leaves, replace the soil, and scrub the container with a mild bleach solution. Keep infected plants away from your other plants. They are also likely to get powdery mildew, root rot, and Leaf Spot Disease. Keep the plant from sitting in water to prevent root rot and do not overwater. To tackle any of these fungal diseases, you can make a homemade remedy by putting a few tablespoons of baking soda and one or two teaspoons of mineral oil in a spray bottle of water. Shake well and spray all parts of the plant. Providing good air circulation around your Fiddle Leaf Fig will also help to prevent problems.

Propagation - Propagation is done by air-layering and stem cutting. Use rooting hormone for the best success and stick in regular potting soil.

Potential Problems

Loss of leaves: Most common cause is over-watering. Other conditions can also cause leaves to drop including, low temperatures, not enough light or cold drafts. Moving your plant from a bright location to dim can also cause leaf drop. It's normal for some of the bottom leaves to turn yellow and drop, but do check if conditions are OK.

Special Notes - These plants are considered poisonous and should be kept away from pets and children.