Fiddle Leaf Fig Houseplant Care

Fiddle Leaf Fig Care – What you need to know

We thought that it would be a good idea to write a plant care article about the Fiddle Leaf fig tree or Ficus lyrata (Ficus pandurata is the correct botanical name). There have been many requests from our readers to cover this houseplant on our blog. As love the looks of the FLF and as we are aware that the care for this plant is not the easiest, we finally gave in. We wrote the extensive article below, highlighting all aspects of caring for a Fiddle Leaf Fig. From general plant care to common pest prevention to most frequently asked questions. But what about the Fiddle Leaf fig care?

 

The Fiddle Leaf fig is not easy to care for. The most important thing is to get the amount of needed light right. It  enjoys bright filtered light. There are lots of pictures on the internet where plant keepers had it in dim light conditions. This will lead to a ficus lyrata that looks sad and desperate. But there is more to the Fiddle Leaf Fig care than having the right amount of natural sunlight or artificial light, but we will come to that.

 

The Fiddle Leaf Fig Looks

 

The Fiddle Leaf fig tree is a very popular Instagram-worthy houseplant and is appreciated because of the big green foliage that has a dramatic effect on the eye. It inhabits lowland tropical regions in nature and is native to West Africa in countries from Cameroon to Sierra Leone. 

 

It is an upright irregular growing evergreen. It leaves 10 to 15-inch long and 10-inch wide and dull green and thick looking. 

 

FIddle Leaf Fig Leaf
Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaf

 

The Faux Fiddle Leaf Fig

 

What is Faux Fiddle Leaf Fig? Well, it is certainly not the real deal. As it is not the easiest plant to care for and needs a lot of light, buying an artificial Fiddle Leaf Fig can be a great idea. The FLF has beautiful green foliage and the leaves get bigger than the average hand. With a Faux Fiddle Leaf Fig, you will not have to worry about overwatering and underwatering and will certainly not end up with brown leaf spots.

 

Where can I buy a Faux Fiddle Leaf Fig?

 

You can buy Faux Fiddle Leaf Figs on Amazon. While it is certainly not the real deal, it can be exactly what you are looking for. Good looking and easy in its care. Fake plants are usually more expensive than the real ones. This is also the case with the Fiddle Leaf Fig. You can buy a real plant at around $50 dollars. A Faux Fiddle Leaf Fig will cost at least double the price. Amazon offers some fake Fiddle Leaf Figs between $70 – $200 dollars depending on their size and looks. 

 

What you need to know about the Fiddle Leaf Fig 

 

As an indoor plant, the FLF has been featured in many home decor magazines and became the ‘It’ plant on Instagram and Facebook according to the New York Times. Its thick dark green leaves with the distinctive fiddle look gave it its common name.

 

In the wild, they are epiphytes and can grow up to 40-50 feet tall according to the Department of Agriculture at the University of Florida. Begin an epiphyte means that they can grow on top of other plants by spreading seeds that germinate in that way.

 

It belongs to the moraceae family such as the rubber tree, or Ficus elastica if you want to use its fancy botanical name. It grows in hardiness zones between 10 to 12 USDA according to the Missouri Botanical Garden Website. Ok, I think we have now covered the essentials.

 

Let’s now get into the house plant care. We prepared a handy care sheet for you so you can get to know more about the care of the Fiddle Leaf fig tree. Ater this section you will know how to water, propagate, repot and fertilize your FLF as well as how much light it needs. 

 

Fiddle Leaf Fig Houseplant Care

 

Soil

The plant needs well-draining aerated soil. Poor soil may lead to the roots not getting sufficient oxygen. This can lead to bacterial infection and root rot. Loamy soil with plenty of organic matter and sand is best. It prefers acidic soil high in alkaline and occasional wet areas that can keep the moisture. The most important part, however, is that it will also need sufficient areas where air pockets can form. The perfect pH level for a Fiddle Leaf Fig is between 5.5 to 6.5 pH according to a garden.org expert thread.

 

Light

Ficus lyrata prefers bright but filtered light. It can take a couple of hours of direct sunlight every day. An east-facing window is best as your plants will get the needed sunlight without you having to worry that the leaves might burn from the sun. Make sure that the plant is not in dim light conditions as this will have a negative effect on your plant’s health.

 

Watering

Water your Fiddle Leaf fig between one to three times a week. It really depends on your growing conditions that are determined mostly by where you live. In hot and dry conditions you will have to water much more often than in colder more humid conditions.

 

When watering the Fiddle Leaf Fig, make sure that the top of the soil is just slightly damp before you water again. It is good practice to use your fingers and stick them into the soil to check if it’s still humid or completely dry. If no dirt sticks to your finger, you can be sure that the soil is dry and you can start watering your plant again. Probably it would even be better to water just a bit before when the soil is still just slightly damp. 

 

To avoid root shock make sure to always use lukewarm or room temperature water. If the water is too hot it can burn the roots and if it’s too cold it can shock the roots. 

 

Please do not believe the nonsense that is copy/pasted on the internet about letting the soil completely dry out before watering as this might kill your plant. There is something called a blanket effect. If your soil is too dry it will prevent moisture to get to the roots, even if you are watering your plant regularly once it dried out completely. That’s why it is not best practice to wait until the topsoil completely dried out. 

 

On the other hand, make sure that you’re not overwatering your plant because this can lead to root rot. One sign that something is not right is when your Fiddle Leaf fig starts to lose a lot of leaves or the colour of the leaves start to change colours to yellow or brown spots are starting to form. These can be clear signs of overwatering.

 

Temperature

The Fiddle Leaf Fig is native to Western Africa. It prefers constant warm temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. 65 to 75°F (18°C – 24°C) is best for your FLF tree. However, make sure the temperatures do not drop below 50°F (10°C) as this might hurt the growth of your plant and its overall well being. The Fiddle Leaf Fig grows in hardiness zones between 10 – 12 according to the USDA and the Missouri Botanical Garden.

 

Humidity

The Fiddle Leaf fig is a jungle plant and needs a lot of humidity. One way to increase humidity is to use a pebble tray or a spray bottle with water that you can use to spray your plant every couple of days. 

 

Another opportunity would be to keep multiple plants very close together so you can simulate a natural environment where humidity is provided from other plants staying together tightly. 

 

Fertilizer

The best NKP ratio for a Fiddle Leaf fig is 3-2-1. This means 30% nitrogen 20% phosphorus and 10% potassium. So look for a fertilizer that has this 3-2-1 ratio. This ratio will make sure that your Fiddle Leaf fig is growing healthy and is gaining in height fast. We recommend using liquid fertilizer because they are fast and easy to use. Do not fertilize in winter and autumn. Only fertilizer in summer and spring. The best is to fertilizer every other week in the seasons where fertilizing is advised.

 

Propagation

Propagating a Fiddle Leaf fig tree is not as easy as the propagation of other houseplants. Plants with wooden stems are often a little bit trickier to multiply. However, it is not impossible as they can either be propagated by taking stem cuttings or air layering. If the stems are really thin, it is better to use stem cuttings instead of air layering based on our experience.

 

You cannot grow a Fiddle Leaf fig from leaves. They will start to produce roots when put into water and your hope may increase, but a new plant will not result from such an attempt.

 

Growth

The Fiddle Leaf fig tree is a fast grower and can grow several feet in a year. As a houseplant Fiddle Leaf Figs can grow 6 feet or more. In its natural habitat that can grow up to 40-50 feet high according to the Department of Agriculture at the University of Florida. Given the size of the plants, they are best placed on the floor. When they are still young, you can keep them on a shelf. 

 

The plants have big shiny green leaves. As stated before, the shape of the leaves are quite unique and look like a fiddle hence its name. According to the House Plant Experts this houseplant needs 10 – 15 years to reach maturity.

 

There are certain different types of Fiddle Leaf fig such as a compact type called compacta, but the most commonly found type is the ficus lyrata.

 

PRO TIP: Make sure to rotate your Fiddle Leaf fig every couple of months so they will grow evenly. Do not rearrange or move the plants otherwise as this might stress them out.

 

Potting

Change your plant to a bigger pot every year. When moving the plant to a new pot, make sure that you’re also using new potting medium. Ficus lyrata is a tree and wants to grow large. Therefore always ensure that its roots have a lot of space left in their pot.

 

Pruning a Fiddle Leaf Fig

Let’s dive into the 101 of pruning your Fiddle Leaf Fig. What you will need is a set of sharp pruning shears. Spring or summer is the best season to prune your Fiddle Leaf fig. The reason for it is very simple because this is the main growing season of your plant. 

 

It can be beneficial to prune Fiddle Leaf figs that are grown outside at a young age as protective pruning can prevent the plant from breaking apart at the later stage in its life due to strong winds. If you are growing a Fiddle Leaf fig outside, it can also be beneficial to grow them in a courtyard to add protection from strong winds.

 

When caring for a Fiddle Leaf Fig indoors though,  you may want to use pruning as a way to control an unruly plant. Another reason could be that it may want to grow taller than your apartment allows and you want to cut it back.

 

How to prune a Fiddle Leaf Fig

Pruning a Fiddle Leaf fig is actually very easy. The most important thing to remember is to do a nice clean cut. Also make sure your pruning sheers are clean and free of any pesticides and contaminations. We always suggest disinfecting your blades. This can be done by using rubbing alcohol and also by holding your blades under a hot flame. You want them to be completely pathogen-free.

 

It’s actually your best choice to use shears but you can also use a sharp knife or scissors depending on the size of your Fiddle Leaf fig and the thickness of its stem that you are about to prune. 

 

When cutting your Fiddle Leaf Fig, make sure that no sap is dropping on your floor. It is best to use some kind of cloth or towel that is protecting the area you are cutting as the sap is quite nasty. 

 

Well, you may actually ask yourself where you need to cut if you want to prune your FLF tree. Actually this is quite easy as well because you can just cut the top of your Fiddle Leaf fig. A good thing about cutting and pruning your Fiddle Leaf Fig is that you can propagate the cut off piece.

 

FIddle Leaf Fig Leaf at home
Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaf makes for a showy houseplant

 

Fiddle Leaf Fig Propagation

There are two main ways how you can propagate a Fiddle Leaf fig. Either do stem cuttings as described above or use air layering as a more advanced method for propagation. 

 

Propagate a fiddle Leaf fig by stem cuttings

Find a step-by-step instruction on how to propagate fiddle Leaf fig by using stem cuttings only:

  1. Use a clean knife or scissors
  2. Cut below a node and take a 3 to 5-inch cutting
  3. Remove the leaves from the bottom third of the cutting
  4. An optional step is to dip the cutting into rooting hormone or cinnamon
  5. Put the cutting in moist potting soil
  6. Then cover the pot with a clear plastic fire this will increase humidity and will prevent the soil from drying out
  7. Check the soil every couple of days to make sure it’s still moist
  8. After a couple of weeks slightly pull on the stem to make sure if roots have started to grow. An indicator of this having happened will be if there is slight resistance when pulling
  9. Once fruit started to grow you can remove the foil 
  10. Congratulations your propagation was successful and you have a new plant

 

How to air layer a Fiddle Leaf fig

Air layering is a bit more advanced than using stem cuttings. The main advantage of air layering is that you can start your new plant with roots forming on the mother plant before you take the cutting. 

 

Here is the step-by-step guide on how to air layer a Fiddle Leaf fig:

 

What you will need: 

 

  • A clean knife
  • Sphagnum moss
  • Cellophane wrap
  • Wire ties
  • Rooting hormone (gel or powder) / alternatively cinnamon

 

Steps:

  1. Find a mature branch
  2. Look for a brach that is very near to the stem
  3. Make sure that you have several leaves above this area
  4. If there are any leaves in the area you want to cut remove them now
  5. Make a circumferential cut through the bark only
  6. Make a second cut about 1.5-inches  to 2-inches from the first cut
  7. Remove the bark from the cut area
  8. The cut bark will now prevent nutrients from being brought down the stem from the leaves. These nutrients will now help roots to grow from the cut area
  9. What remains is the nude xylem area. This is the area where the bark has been removed
  10. Apply rooting hormone or cinnamon onto that area to prevent fungus from growing and to enhance root formation
  11.  Take a piece of the cellophane wrap as well as some Sphagnum moss and put it on the area where you applied the cut
  12.  Wrap the cellophane multiple times around the branch
  13. Use the wire ties to tie the bottom as well as the top of the wrap onto the branch
  14. Check regularly every 1-2 weeks to ensure that the moss stays damp
  15. If it dries out you need to remove the cellophane wrap and moist the Sphagnum Moss as it needs to stay damp for roots to form
  16. Make sure that sufficient roots form before you cut off the branch and put it into moist potting soil
  17. Keep the rooted cuttings in a warm shaded area and mist the leaves daily
  18. If you used some sort of grow tent or bag make sure that when you remove it after 1-2 weeks to open it up little by little every couple of days.
  19.  Voila, you have an exact clone of your mother plant. 

 

Propagate a Fiddle Leaf fig from leaves

Growing Fiddle Leaf figs from just leaves is not possible. There’s a lot of false information on the internet where people claim that you can successfully grow a fiddle Leaf fig from a single leaf. This is mainly not possible because you will need some part of the stem as well as at least a node to successfully grow a new plant. A good stem cutting is usually between 12 inches and 18 inches long. It should contain between 1 to 3 leaves as well as 1 to 2 nodes where leaves have been removed. 

 

Common problems with the Fiddle Leaf fig

 

Brown spots on the Fiddle Leaf fig

There are different reason why brown spots may occur on your Fiddle Leaf fig. To differentiate what they indicate, it is important to check where they occur.

 

If the brown spots on your Fiddle Leaf fig occur on the bottom leaves, it is often an indicator for root rot. A further sign that the brown spots are an indicator for overwatering and thus root rot is if the brown and black spots are accompanied by leaves that are falling off. In addition, the spots are mostly on the edges of the leaves. Usually, the brown spots start to spread from the bottom leaves to the rest of the plant.

 

Brown spots also occur if your plant suffers from bacterial infection. These brown spots are usually lighter in colour and are spread across the leaves and also easily affect all the leaves on the houseplant. A bacterial infection in a Fiddle Leaf fig can also lead to leaves falling off, but mostly at the top of the plant.

 

Root rot as well as bacterial infections spread quickly and are a serious threat to your plant. It is, therefore, key to spot the signals and interpret them correctly as early as possible.

 

Remedy:

 

Root rot: Remove all the dirt and check the roots. If you find mushy, brown roots cut them all off. Wash the remaining roots under running water, put cinnamon on them to disinfect and exchange the soil mixture and the pot (alternatively disinfect the pot) before putting the plant back.

 

Bacterial infection: Keep the leaves dry when watering and clean up leaf litter falling into the plant pot. If your plant already has a bacterial infection, make sure to remove the affected leaves as you might be able to condemn the infection. In case it is already quite bad and has spread to multiple leaves on the plant it might be already too late and the best thing would be to dispose of the Fiddle Leaf fig.

 

Too much water

 

Overwatering will lead to root rot. Root rot is a condition that is caused by bacteria in the soil that start forming when the soil stays too wet for too long. Root rot will not only rot the roots but the whole plant in the end. If you suspect root rot is the best to take the plant out of its pot and check the roots. If the roots are mushy and soft and if you pull slightly they will go right off,  you have a sure give-away that you have a root rot situation.

 

The biggest problem with overwatering is that the signs above ground will look the same as watering too little. Overwatering will cause brown spots on your leaves but it will not start from the edges but the spots will be all over the leaves. Another sign of overwatering can be yellowing leaves. 

 

Remedy:  

Reduce watering first and foremost. In the case over overwatering and root rot cut away all the mushy and soft roots. Then rinse all the remaining roots in water to make sure that all the bacteria are washed away. Remove all the potting soil that you had in the pot. Use a new potting Media ask the old potting medium might still contain bacteria. Disinfect the pot that your plant was in. 

After washing your Ficus lyrata put it in a new pot or the same pot that has been disinfected and add the new potting medium. Go easy on watering and reduce your usual watering schedule.

 

Too little water 

By watering too little you will basically dry out your plant. A clear sign of too little water is dropping leaves and brown spots on the leaves. In addition, curling leaves can be an indicator as well that you are underwatering your plant.

 

If all these signs occur together: drooping leaves, brown spots and curling leaves, you have a clear sign that you are underwatering. 

 

Remedy:

Water your Fiddle Leaf fig thoroughly. Make sure that the soil of your plant stays slightly damp and water every couple of days when the soil is about to lose its dampness.

 

Where to buy a Fiddle Leaf Fig?

Fiddle Leaf figs will generally cost between $15 to $50 dollars for real-life plants.

 

Buy a Fiddle Leaf Fig at IKEA 

 

You can also buy Fiddle Leaf Figs at Amazon 

 

 A Faux Fiddle Leaf Fig can set you back between $60 – $200 dollars.

 

Let’ now have a look at the most common pest infestations and how to get rid of them:

 

Pests infestations

 

Fiddle Leaf figs are prone to different pests and are quite susceptible. Generally the healthier your FLF is, the less it will be a victim of a pest attack.  

 

Mealy Bugs on Fiddle leaf figs

Mealy Bugs are hitchhiking on other plants and are often brought into apartments that way. They are soft bodied insects that are sucking out the plant sap of a Fiddle Leaf fig. As they are small they can be hard to see.  Without seeing them, plan sap on the leaves and stems as well as a cottony substance can be found. The mealybugs itself are white.

 

Mealy bugs are often hanging out on the underside of leaves.

 

How to get rid of mealybugs 

One method is to just use water and wipe away the mealybugs from your plant. A more potent way is to use cotton swabs drenched in alcohol. This method has a better chance of getting rid of all the Mealybugs. Another method that is quite popular in the house plant community is the use of Neem Oil. 

 

However, the most natural way of all is to use natural predators. In this case it is an insect that most people have positive connotations. It is the ladybug. You can order live ladybugs online at Amazon.

 

Aphids Infestation

Aphids are tiny bugs like most of the pests described in this section. They are often green but can have any colour from brown to blue. They are quite thick and are sometimes with wings and prefer to form on new growth in clusters. Again these pests are on the hunt for the juicy plant sap on your Fiddle Leaf fig which they will mostly get from sticking to the leaves and sucking on them.

 

They will stunt the growth of your beloved houseplant and can also be responsible for deformed and yellowing leaves. So when you spot any of these symptoms definitely lookout for pests and Aphids in particular. 

 

The good thing about Aphids is, that they will rarely kill a houseplant entirely. The bad thing about an Aphid infestation is, that they can spread like crazy, also to other plants than your Fiddle Leaf fig. 

 

How do you get rid of Aphids?

First of all, quarantine the infested Fiddle Leaf Fig. Then get some liquid soap and dilute it to half strength with water (50/50 mix) Use some kind of cloth and clean the infected plant thoroughly. Make sure to spend a lot of time cleaning the underside of leaves as well as where leaves and stems intersect. Other remedies are rubbing alcohol and of course Neem Oil. 

 

Gnarly Mites 

Spider Mites! Spider Mites are Spiders that spin webs on the plant. A favourite of Spider Mites is the leaves of the Fiddle Leaf Fig. They also leaf a cottony residue, the webbing. Spider Mites are also producing quickly and are crawling all around your precious plant. Signs for a spider mite infestation are apart from the bugs that look like spiders the tiny cottony webs left on the plants. In addition, leaves may have spots and even holes, as the mites like to chew on the leaves of a Fiddle Leaf fig. 

 

Countermeasures to get rid of Spider Mites

Put your plants in the shower and shower them multiple times to wash off as many spider mites as possible. Repeat that process often. In addition increase, the humidity as the mites love dry condition and the last thing we want to do is to have them feel at home. 

 

In addition, use different sprays and oils such as Neem Oil. When using sprays use different ingredients such as alcohol and also soapy sprays so the mites are not getting used to any type of component. 

 

As we are living in a dog eat dog world, why don’t you introduce a badass mite called the predatory mites? There are different types called M. longipes, N. californicus, and P. persimilis. All of these will have one mission, one mission only. To kill the nasty spider mites. You can buy a cocktail of different predatory mites on Amazon.  

 

Scale sticking to my plant

Scale is tricky. Tricky because they do not look like insects at all and more like some kind of residue or dried up plant sap. Scales on Fiddle Leaf figs are usually forming on the stem of your plant. They are hard to spot but if you are seeing elevated bumpy spots, you may have spotted scales. They produce hard armour that they need to protect under and lay their eggs. They will also spread to other plants but will usually not move and leaf the spot they are on a plant. Scale can lead to stunted growth and yellowing leaves and have the potential to kill your Fiddle Leaf fig. 

 

How to get rid of Scale 

Again if you are spotting scale on your plant make sure to quarantine your plant. Once you have quarantined your plant you can use your fingers or a knife to separate the scaled from your beloved plant. If there are just a handful, this method is appropriate. In case you are dealing with larger colonies, you can revert to Neem Oil and rubbing alcohol or use our friends the ladybugs.

 

Is the Fiddle leaf fig toxic?

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) rates the Fiddle leaf fig mildly toxic to cats and dogs. If only small amounts are ingested, it might cause mild gastrointestinal irritation. Common signs are vomiting and diarrhoea and the special sap can cause skin irritations. It also is mildly toxic to humans.

 

Commonly asked questions about the Fiddle Leaf Fig

 

How often do I need to water a Fiddle Leaf fig? 

 

You need to water between one to three times a week depending on your growing conditions. The general recommendation is to water your plant once a week. Make sure that the soil stays slightly damp and only water if almost dry. Do not let your plant dry out completely before rewatering. 

 

How much light does a Fiddle Leaf fig need?

 

They need very bright indirect and direct light. A couple of hours of direct sunlight is fine. The best place for your plant is an east-facing window as it will get direct sunlight in the morning and bright indirect sunlight in the afternoon. A common mistake is to put your FLF in a location with insufficient light.

 

Do I need to fertilise a Fiddle Leaf fig?

 

You should fertilize your Fiddle Leaf fig about every second week in spring and summer. Do not fertilize in winter and autumn.

 

What soil is best for a Fiddle Leaf fig?

 

Fast draining well-aerated soil is best for your Fiddle Leaf fig. Use a loamy potting mix that is rich in organic matter. Loamy soil is a soil that is mostly composed of sand and a bit of clay. 

 

 How tall does a Fiddle Leaf fig grow?

 

They grow rows to 6-ft at home. In nature fiddle Leaf fig can grow up to 40-50  feet tall. 

 

 What are the best care tips for a Fiddle Leaf fig?

 

They eed a lot of sunlight. As they are jungle plants plant make sure that you provide increased humidity and water frequently. Keep temperatures between 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Why does my fiddle-leaf fig have brown spots?

 

Brown spots can occur from either under or overwatering. The most common cause is overwatering. Overwatering causes bacteria in the soil to form and this will lead the roots to rot. A contributing factor It said that is not well-draining. Water cannot drain from the soil and will prevent roots from getting sufficient oxygen. The brown spots on leaves can thus be an indicator of rotting roots. 

 

Why is my plant  dropping leaves?

 

They are usually dropping leaves when you are overwatering your plant. 

 

 How much does a Fiddle Leaf Fig cost?

 

It will cost you roughly $10 to $50. Where you live will be the biggest factor regarding how much you will need to pay for a Fiddle Leaf fig. On Amazon you can get a Fiddle Leaf fig for about $40. 

 

Is it easy to keep a Fiddle Leaf Fig alive?

 

They certainly not the easiest houseplants to keep alive. The good news is, is that it is certainly possible. Make sure that you provide sufficient sunlight or artificial light to your plant and do not overwater or underwater your Fiddle Leaf fig. The soil needs to stay slightly damp but never soggy. 

 

Do I need to mist my Fiddle Leaf Fig?

 

Misting your plant is not a must to keep them happy. However,  since Fiddle Leaf figs are Jungle plants they will appreciate the added humidity through misting and it might lead to a boost in their growth. 

 

Is the Fiddle Leaf fig toxic?

 

It is considered to be toxic to dogs and cats. Its sap is toxic and can lead to eye and skin irritation. The leaves are toxic as they contain specific crystals made from calcium oxalate. Although they won’t kill adults they are also toxic to humans. Common signs can be decreased appetite, drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea and skin irritation.

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