Fiddle Leaf Fig Care – How to Grow Ficus lyrata


Fiddle leaf figs (Ficus lyrata) are an increasingly popular plant that you’re sure to have seen on Instagram, Pinterest or adorning pages in glossy magazines.

Although they have a reputation of being difficult to grow, I have them to be quite straightforward. The key to fiddle leaf fig care is ‘balance’ – they like plenty of sunlight but filtered rather than direct light. They also like plenty of water but not to be sitting in soggy soil.

This plant is native to the tropical rainforests of Western Africa. Its common name comes from the large slightly lobed leaves, which resemble violins or fiddles. Other common names include fiddle leaf tree and banjo fig.

Let’s dive into the details of fiddle leaf fig care.

fiddle fig leaf care - showing healthy plant in pot

Light Requirements

Light is very important to your fiddle leaf fig. This plant does enjoy having a lot of sun on its leaves, but you need to make sure that it doesn’t get scorched by the sun. Try placing your plant close to a window with plenty of light, and then, if necessary, put up a sheer curtain to soften the glare.

You should put your fiddle leaf fig where it can get about 6-8 hours of sunlight per day if possible.

Most fiddle leaf figs grow beneath the canopy of other trees, so they can find too much direct sun difficult to tolerate. In order to keep your fiddle leaf fig healthy, you need to find a balance where it is getting enough light to grow, but it is not getting too much to handle.

Temperature Requirements

You should keep your fiddle leaf fig reasonably warm. A suitable range is 60-75oF (15-24oC). This should be easily achievable in most homes.

This plant requires good, steady temperatures, and it should not be placed near a radiator or an air conditioner.

One thing that your plant will dislike is cold. If you put your fiddle leaf fig in a room where the temperature is consistently below 50oF, it will struggle and start to develop brown patches on the leaves.

You don’t want your fiddle leaf fig to be exposed to drafts. It has evolved to grow in rainforests, and therefore has minimal resistance to strong breezes. Don’t open windows near your fig or put it beside an air con unit.

Watering Requirements

Watering is a critical part of fiddle leaf fig care, and one of the easiest things to get wrong.

Your fiddle leaf fig does require plenty of water, but it’s important to let the top of the soil to dry out between waterings. If you don’t let your fig’s soil get dry occasionally, it will be vulnerable to root rot and fungal infections.

Check whether your plant needs watering before you give it a drink. Push your finger into the top inch of the soil. If it is dry, your plant is ready for a drink, but if it is still wet, wait a while before watering it.

Special Care

As a tropical plant, it does appreciate a humid environment of 30-65% . If the humidity drops below 30%, you need to increase the humidity. Use a plant mister to lightly spray the leaves or the soil early on in the day.

You should then allow the fig to dry out before the evening, so that the leaves aren’t wet overnight. Too much moisture will cause fungal infections. You can pat your fig dry and reduce the misting if it does not seem to be drying properly.

Propagating

If you want to propagate your tree, you need to find a healthy branch with two or three leaves. Cut the branch about three inches below its first leaf. Get a glass of filtered water and place your branch in it.

Put the glass in a sunny spot, and refresh the water every few days to prevent any algal growth from harming your plant. It should take about four weeks for the plant to develop roots, and once these have become established, you can transplant the cutting into some soil.

Pests and Problems

Unfortunately, fiddle leaf figs are not very resistant to pests, and it is common for them to get infested with mealybugs, aphids, scale insects, and spider mites. You should regularly check the leaves for signs of infestation, so you can take action if your plant is under attack.

Mealybugs usually appear as little white balls on the undersides of leaves. Scale insects are small, brown ovals that are very flat. They look like blemishes on the leaves. Spider mites will leave tiny, thin threads of web on the leaves, and aphids are little winged bugs that crawl around on the plant.

All of these insects will eat your fiddle leaf fig’s sap, leaving little spots of sticky residue around the plant. This will weaken it, stealing its resources and making it sick.

You can get rid of most of the common pests with soap and water. You can apply this non-chemical treatment by wiping down or spraying the leaves. You may need to do this several times over a period of days.

Toxicity

Fiddle leaf figs are mildly toxic, but you do not want a pet or child to ingest any part of the plant. It can cause mouth and stomach irritation, so it is best not to have the fig within reach of any children or animals. The sap can also cause skin irritation or dermatitis.

If you’ve a smaller plant, keep it on a shelf or a cupboard, away from little hands and curious mouths. Larger plants can be kept in rooms inaccessible to pets.

Common Questions About Fiddle Leaf Fig Care

Q: Why is my fig losing leaves?

A: Fiddle leaf figs are quite sensitive to temperature changes or environmental changes. The plant will also suffer from over-watering. It is quite common for this plant to lose a few leaves when it is stressed by any environmental instability.

Q: Should I fertilize my fig?

A: Yes, it’s a good idea to give your fig some food from time to time. You should aim to fertilize it once every month during the growing season, which will be from spring to fall. You can use a slow-release fertilizer if you prefer.

Q: How do I know if my fig is thirsty?

A: If your fig’s leaves are wilting and floppy, it needs water. Give it a good drink, once you have checked the soil is reasonably dry.

Conclusion

Hopefully, you now know the essentials about fiddle leaf fig care. Looking after your fiddle leaf fig is generally fairly easy. You need to pay attention to its environment, particularly in terms of keeping drafts away and ensuring that it has enough to drink. Use a grow lamp if you cannot give your plant enough natural sunlight to keep it growing.

About the author 

Paul - Better Houseplants

Loves orchids and foliage houseplants. Always trying to be a better plant parent. Let's get growing!

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