Caring for your Fiddle Leaf Fig
Keep your finicky fiddle leaf fig alive and thriving with our ten easy-to-follow tips. Pruning, watering, repotting, oh my! Let us begin…
The fiddle leaf fig makes a gorgeous, architectural statement in any room of your home. But while this lush plant, with its shiny, violin-shaped leaves, is stunning, it can be hard to keep alive. We’ve got tips to help you keep it alive and thriving in your home.
Good news is that, once acclimated, the fiddle leaf fig can grow really tall making it a stunning statement piece.
1. Location is key
Placing your fiddle leaf fig in the absolute best spot in your home is where to start off right. These tropical plants hate drafts, so choose an area that isn’t directly in line with a drafty corner. They also thrive in a lot (and we mean A LOT) of very bright, indirect light. Situate your Ficus in a bright room but not where the light will touch it directly. Once you’ve chosen the perfect place, don’t move it!
Fiddles are creatures of habit and will flourish once they’ve found a happy, sunny home. Turn the plant slightly so that the leaves receive equal sunlight and don’t start to grow toward a light source.
Tip: The drive home and relocation process may put your plant into shock, but you likely won’t notice it for a month or two. When the leaves start to look brown or sad at the end of month one, check to make sure you haven’t overwatered for Fiddle. Also, ensure your plant is getting adequate sunlight. If neither of those is the culprit, give your Ficus love and time to adjust to its new environment.
2. Cleaning the Leaves
Take a damp washcloth and gently wipe down each leaf that is covered in water spots and dust. No need to use leaf shine as you may have heard — this method can actually suffocate the leaves over time. Continue to dust the leaves like this every month. This will keep spider mites and other pests at bay and your fiddle looking its shiny-leaf best. A good alternative for the busy – is using Leafshine.
3. Check the Humidity
FLFs are native to tropical rainforests and thrive in warm, humid environments, like greenhouses. No problem if you do not live in a greenhouse. Most homes sit at about 40% humidity, which is fine, but if your house is on the dry side, mist your plant about once a week.
4. Don’t Repot Yet
Fiddle leaf figs are decently happy as root bound plants and will do just fine in the pot you bought it in. We’ll talk more about repotting later but, for now, just place it inside a larger decorative container or basket and disguise the plastic store-bought pot with some decorative moss.
One way to kill a fiddle leaf fig is to overwater it or not allow for proper drainage. Water your plant about once a week or every 10 days. As we mentioned earlier, Fiddled figs are native to a rainforest-like environment, which means they’re used to receiving a huge deluge of water with dry spells in between. So when you water at home, it’s best to soak the plant’s soil until dripping, then let it dry out completely between waterings.
You can use 2 methods to water your fiddled fig.
1. Take the plant outside or to the bathtub, water it and let it drip for an hour or two, then bring it back in.
2. Set up your Fiddled fig on a plant stand over a drip tray. Whichever method you choose, make sure the roots aren’t sitting in excess water for an extended amount of time
Tip: Not sure when to water again? Simply insert your finger into the top 2 cm of soil. If it’s still wet, leave it alone.
6. Overwatering my Fiddle Leaf fig
Do the leaves of your Fiddled Leaf Fig look like a Dalmatian with green and brown spots? Chances are, you’ve overwatered. Inadequate drainage or too little time between waterings allows root rot to set in. By allowing the soil to dry out in between waterings, pathogens starve and your plant lives to see another day.
7. Can I Save a Rotting Plant?
Sort of. What’s lost is lost. Distressed leaves will eventually fall off, leaving bare branches behind. But with diligence and love, you can rehabilitate your plant over time (we’re talking half a year or more). Here’s how:
Firstly, by removing any sickly-looking leaves with sharp pruning shears. We recommend you drench your plant with Virikop (A wettable powder fungicide and bactericide with protective properties for the control of certain diseases) as root rot is caused by fungi because of overwatering or irregular watering. You can also assess root damage and remove rotted sections. Rotted roots are brown and soft, healthy roots are white and firm. Remove as much of the old soil as possible, then repot in fresh, well-draining potting soil. Water with root rot formula, following all the watering tips listed above — the most important being that you allow the soil to dry out before the next watering. If it’s time, fertilize as normal WE absolutely love Nitrosol to use as a fertiliser as it can be used on any plant.
Talking about Fertiliser….
8. How and When to Fertilize
If you bought your Fiddled Leaf Fig in the spring or summer, fertilize once a month with a fertilizer that has a 3:1:2 ratio of nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (or NPK for short) or with Nitrosol. Simply mix the fertilizer into your watering can according to package instructions and water like normal throughout the spring and summer. No need to fertilize in the fall and winter when the plant is dormant.
9. Pruning and Shaping my Fiddle Leaf fig
You’ve probably seen two kinds of fiddle leaf figs — the tall, tree-like type with a long, bare trunk, and the short bushy type with leaves that start at the base. These are the same plant, but one has been manipulated through pruning and shaping. If you want to shape your plant, do so in the spring when it has plenty of time and energy to regrow. It takes 18 months to get a fiddle to where you want it, so patience is key.
There are two reasons to prune: to remove dead leaves and encourage new growth. When leaves start to brown significantly (due to stress or root rot), it’s best to remove them so they don’t suck energy from the plant. Wearing gloves, use sharp, clean pruning shears and cut the stem off the leaf at an angle, about 1cm away from the trunk. While pruning is a necessary part of plant maintenance, be careful not to remove more than 5-10 leaves at a time to avoid shock. You can also use this method to remove lower leaves for a tree-like shape.
Tip: To encourage new top growth, cut or pinch and snap off the bud at the top of the plant. Once you see the sap start to run, you know you’ve done it right. You can also cut off the entire top of the plant (also known as radical pinching) when it starts to get too tall.
10. How and When to Repot
When your plant starts to look too big for its pot or the roots are starting to grow out of the drainage holes, it’s time to repot – usually every one to two years. Choose a pot (with a couple of drainage holes) of your choice, that’s about 5cm wider than the original pot. Add about 5 – 8cm of stones to the bottom of the new pot. This allows for drainage and prevents rot while also facilitating necessary humidity. Add well-draining, moisture-control potting soil to the new pot and push it to the edges, leaving a crater in the center for the root ball. Remove root ball from the old pot and cut out any brown, rotten roots.
Loosen the root ball gently with your hand and place it in the soil crater. Top with more soil, leaving 2cm between the soil and lip of the container, and water as usual.
We recommend you use good nutrition potting soil, to ensure your plants will get all the nutrition they will need to be happy in their new pot.