The fiddle-leaf fig is a tropical plant native to the jungles of West Africa. This popular and striking houseplant gets its name due to its large, curvy leaves that resemble the shape of a fiddle.
Here we’ll cover how to care for a fiddle-leaf fig and some additional plant care tips.
Are fiddle-leaf figs easy to care for?
The answer depends on your knowledge of houseplants and how much time you can devote to plant care. Fiddle-leaf figs tend to be fussy about their needs, so if you’re a beginner, the fiddle-leaf fig can be a challenge.
Here are a few things to keep in mind before you decide to buy:
- The foliage is mildly toxic and can cause stomach irritation if ingested by pets. You may need to place the plant on a shelf out of reach of furry family members.
- This unique houseplant is a quick grower! With proper care, the fiddle-leaf fig will grow approximately two feet per year to reach a monster height of 10 feet or more.
- The fiddle-leaf fig is picky about watering. A plant that receives too much water, or not enough, will result in holey leaves.
How do I care for fiddle-leaf fig trees?
Here are the particulars on keeping your fiddle-leaf fig happy and healthy.
Fiddle-leaf figs thrive in moist air and prefer a humidity level of 65%. Unfortunately, most indoor air has an average humidity level of 10%.
If your plant’s leaves are beginning to turn brown, mist the leaves or set up a humidifier nearby. You can also increase humidity by setting the pot on a tray filled with gravel and water.
Fiddle-leaf figs prefer plenty of bright, filtered light. They thrive sitting near an east-facing window with a good amount of light shining in during the day.
If your fiddle-leaf fig leans toward the sun, rotate it every few weeks to keep it growing upright. Additionally, the plant’s wide leaves can easily gather dust, so wipe them down weekly with a damp paper towel so they can absorb the most light.
Fiddle-leaf figs prefer a liquid fertilizer with an NPK ratio (Nitrogen – Phosphorus – Potassium) of 3:1:2, or as close as possible. Follow the instructions on the bottle to mix the fertilizer with some water and then water the plant as well.
Feed the plant monthly during the growth season (spring and summer).
Another option is to fertilize weekly with a diluted solution. In winter, no fertilizer is needed, but some plant owners will fertilize their fiddle-leaf fig with a weaker solution.
Wait until the top one-inch of potting soil feels dry before you water. Room temperature water works best as a cold-water bath can send this tropical grower into shock.
Fiddle-leaf figs like a thorough watering but not continuous wet feet. Water the plant until the excess leaks from the bottom of the container.
Set the plant outside to drain if necessary, and then bring it back inside when the saucer is dry. Watering your fiddle-leaf fig may take some trial and error to get right.
Here are a few watering warning signs to look out for:
- An underwatered fig plant’s leaves will turn brown at the edges and eventually fall from the plant.
- A plant that has been overwatered will show brown spots on the leaves and at the leaf edges. Also, the soil will emit a stinky odor.
Quickly remedy any watering issues, as it will result in unattractive, holey leaves.
Fiddle-leaf figs prefer warm, humid temperatures, not unlike the weather in their native jungle habitat. Keep your fiddle-leaf fig in a room with a consistent temperature of 65-75°F. Avoid displaying your plant in a room below 50°F, as it will start to develop brown spots.
Fiddle-leaf figs do not like drafty rooms, so set them away from HVAC vents and open windows and doorways. Overexposure to moving air can eventually dry out the leaves, causing them to drop.
Fiddle-leaf figs are prone to plant pests such as aphids, mealybugs, mites, and scale. Routinely check the foliage for infestations.
Look for any unusual holes or growths, and check the underside of the leaves for tiny pests or web-like structures.
If you spy any bugs, kill them with a mild insecticide spray or remove them with a soapy, wet cloth.
Due to their towering height, most plants are set on the floor so they can happily grow to be as tall as they wish.
Smaller and younger fiddle-leaf figs can be set on a bookshelf or table until they become too tall for that space.
Fiddle-leaf figs don’t like being disturbed, so if you must move the plant, do it carefully. Otherwise, the plant may drop leaves.
If your plant grows too tall for space, just clip off the top. The plant will sprout from the trunk at the cut.
Trimming a few leaves every few months will encourage new growth.
Begin by clipping any damaged leaves or any crossing branches, as the plant prefers an open canopy for optimal growth. The plant can also be pruned to form a specific shape if desired.
Make your cuts an inch or so away from the trunk. You will soon see two new stems growing from the cut area.
Prune your plant when you notice overgrowth to keep your plant healthy and lush.
When the roots start to peek through the drainage hole, it’s time to repot. You can repot the plant in a larger container or remove it from the pot and trim the roots.
Trimming the root ball is a good choice if you wish to keep the plant to its current size. To avoid damaging the root system, do not remove more than 20% of the roots.
Keeping a sharp eye on your fiddle-leaf fig will ensure that it stays happy and healthy.