Knowing when to repot your fiddle leaf fig is something that can challenge many first-time ficus owners.
If repotting is not done correctly, you can damage the plant and cause your ficus to die.
When To Repot Fiddle Leaf Fig?
As a general rule, repot your fiddle leaf fig every two years. This time frame may vary according to how much growth your ficus has experienced, whether the ficus needs repotting to recover from trauma, or if your ficus has become rootbound within that time.
When During The Year Is Best To Repot Your Fiddle Leaf Fig
Spring is the best time to repot your ficus. This is because the mild weather allows for the plant to thrive and overcome any potential root shock.
Repotting can damage some of the ficus roots, which can cause the plant to become distressed, which can result in leaf fall and potentially death.
How To Repot Your Fiddle Leaf Fig When It’s Time
When I first discovered I could repot my ficus every two years, I was really excited.
I had noticed little roots growing through the drainage holes of the plastic planter I had purchased the ficus in about 18 months earlier.
This confirmed that I had to repot my ficus soon or face root death and leaf fall, which are two sure indicators my ficus would die.
Setting up a clean environment, I carefully prepared a new pot that was about two to three inches larger than the old one and filled it with sterile and large flake potting soil that would drain easily.
I personally love to use a cactus mix potting soil. This lets excess water drain out the bottom drainage holes of the pot while keeping my ficus roots rot-free.
Having carefully extracted the fiddle leaf fig from the old planter, I gently shook off the excess soil and gave the roots an airing.
Luckily, my ficus could still fit through the doorway, so I could repot it outside in a nice sunny spot.
Gently placing the root ball in the new pot, I filled up the pot with more potting soil, and with my fingers, I softly tapped the soil in place before giving a conservative amount of water to the ficus.
If you are unsure, you shouldn’t give your ficus more water than about three cups per week.
This allows the soil to become damp without being waterlogged. The roots can still breathe, and you will have a happy ficus.
The Right Time for Repotting a Fiddle Leaf Fig
Signs of Repotting
Generally, the fiddle leaf fig likes to be snug in its pot rather than being loose.
It should only be repotted when it is root bound; you will notice its roots circling the pot’s outer edge, or there will be masses of roots on the surface of the pot. Y
ou may also see roots coming out of your plant’s pot’s bottom; this is also an indication of repotting.
Some fiddle leaf figs may develop slower than others, and so, they may not outgrow their pots even after years.
However, this does not mean that such plants should not be repotted at all, as doing so can impede their overall growth.
It is a good idea to repot your fiddle leaf fig after every two to three years as this is the approximate time this plant needs to fully mature.
Repotting such a plant also redistributes the nutrients in the soil, enabling the plant to access them more easily.
The only thing to remember here is that such a fiddle leaf fig should be repotted in the same pot instead of going a size up.
Checking for Repotting
Figuring out when to exactly repot your fiddle leaf fig can pose a challenge; however, fortunately, there are a few ways that can help you determine it.
One easy and common option is to check the plant itself without using any tools.
Gently lift your fiddle leaf fig out of its pot in a wiggling motion by getting a hold of the plant’s base or trunk.
When the plant slips out of the pot, shake it lightly to rid of the excess soil, and notice how many roots you can see circling the pot or if any roots are bent abnormally.
If the roots are running horizontally around the fiddle leaf fig’s pot, it is most likely root bound and needs repotting.
This process aims to check if the plant is ready for repotting and shaking off as much old soil as possible so that it can be replaced with new and fresh soil.
Repotting a Fiddle Leaf Fig – Step by Step Instructions
Whether you are repotting due to outgrowth of the roots or for fresh soil, the important part is replacing as much of the old soil as possible with new soil that is full of nutrients and essential minerals.
Simply putting your fiddle leaf fig in a bigger pot with some fresh soil is not the solution as this will lead to further problems, including nutrient deficiency and ineffective watering.
A fiddle leaf fig’s roots are trained to grow around its pot, and thus, they must be properly fluffed out before the plant can resume growing normally again.
Similarly, a mixture of old and new soils will have irregular mineral distribution and the water will also drain through the easiest path instead of spreading out evenly.
Mixing the Soil
In a larger container (unless you are repotting for fresh soil only), mix your new soil thoroughly, ensuring that its components are distributed throughout all ends.
If you’re using a cactus and succulent mix, you can always skip this step.
Lifting the Plant
Hold the fiddle leaf fig from the base with great care, and tip it slightly onto its side and lift it in a wiggling motion.
This step mostly occurs readily. If it does not, squeeze or move the pot around for help.
Removing Old Soil
Now shake your plant gently so that most of the old soil breaks away. While you’re doing this, be careful not to disrupt its roots.
However, small roots’ breakage is inevitable, but try your best to cause minimal damage to the large and supporting roots.
Once the soil falls off, hose down the roots so that the old soil washes away.
It is time for your beloved fiddle leaf fig to settle into its new home.
Fill the new pot with your prepared soil mix and spread it around.
Now put your plant in and make sure to fill the plant’s sides with fresh soil. Fluff the root-ball carefully for efficient absorption and transport.
Finishing it Off
Last but not least, add some lukewarm chlorine-free water into the freshly-potted plant for good hydration.
Skip fertilizing the plant for the first month as it can potentially damage the roots.
Reasons To Repot Your Fiddle Leaf Fig
Reason One: The Growth Of Your Fiddle Leaf Fig
When your fiddle leaf fig has grown substantially, it becomes necessary to repot it to enable the whole plant to survive.
Large and overgrown fiddle leaf figs become root bound, where they grow such a large root ball that the plant no longer absorbs water from the soil.
Reason Two: Recovering From Trauma
The fiddle leaf fig is a very sensitive plant. Sometimes when it has been exposed to trauma such as being overwatered or underwatered, it may become necessary to repot it.
Be sure to work in a clean environment and use sterile potting soil to repot your ficus.
Avoid harsh fertilizers that can burn the roots that will be more sensitive to chemicals at this point as they have been disturbed by the repotting process.
Reason Three: A Rootbound Fiddle Leaf Ficus
As I mentioned before, a fiddle leaf fig can become rootbound.
This is when the roots have been allowed to grow so densely in the pot that they have formed an almost impenetrable ball, which struggles to effectively supply the plant with nutrients and water.
At this point, you’ll need to repot your ficus into a new pot.
This is so you can create more space around the roots and allow the ficus to continue growing healthily.
Benefits of Repotting a Fiddle Leaf Fig
- It helps you locate and manage cases of root rot and infection
- Encourages new and healthy growth
- Eliminates old and damaged roots
- Replaces soil with fresh nutrients
- Increases the plant’s lifespan and improves overall health
Frequently Asked Questions About When To Repot A Fiddle Leaf Fig
How can you tell if a fiddle leaf fig is rootbound?
One of the main reasons for repotting your fiddle leaf fig is when it has become rootbound. This means your ficus has overgrown their pot completely. Signs like roots growing through the drainage holes, brown spotty leaves, a plant leaning to one side, and a stunted growth rate can all point to your ficus being root-bound. Immediate repotting is the only solution here.
How do you repot a fiddle leaf fig tree?
There are a number of ways to repot your fiddle leaf fig, but I like to prepare the new pot, then remove the ficus with its roots intact. Settle the ficus in the new pot on about four inches of good-quality cactus potting soil. Water your ficus once a month and wait a month before you start adding fertilizer to avoid chemical burns on the roots.
Do fiddle leaf figs like small pots?
While these plants are quite content to grow themselves into a rootbound state, it is an unhealthy state when the plant suffers. When the root system begins to creep through the drainage holes, I find that it’s time to repot as soon as possible.
What is the best soil for fiddle leaf figs?
Well-aerated and fast-draining soils that retain moisture are ideal for fiddle leaf figs. A mixture of cactus and succulents works best. Likewise, potting mixes with pine bark mulch and horticultural charcoal also perform well.
Is repotting essential for fiddle leaf figs?
As the fiddle leaf fig matures, the plant’s roots grow larger and need greater space. At this point, repotting becomes necessary and a failure to do so can inhibit the plant’s growth. Moreover, repotting gives your plant a fresh look and provides you with the opportunity to choose fancy and decorative pots that make the plant look good.
While you may be intimidated by the process of repotting a ficus, you will find that the repotting process is not nearly as fearful as you may suspect.
Instead of worrying that you will fail at repotting your beloved fiddle leaf fig, follow the steps above, and you will soon have a healthy and thriving ficus.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.