The ficus lyrata, more commonly known as the fiddle leaf fig, is one of today’s “it” plants. You’ve most likely seen this gorgeous plant gracing the pages of magazines and the floors of luxurious homes. Its iconic, fiddle-like leaves and dainty veins earned this plant its unique name. The plant is known for its graceful silhouette. However, it also has a strong reputation in the wild for slightly different reasons:
Fiddle leaf figs come from the tropical jungles of West Africa and can reach at least 40 feet in height. They are natural epiphytes in the wild. This means that they start their lives by embedding their seeds on top of another tree, then growing downwards. As they grow, they may strangle the host plant as it competes for light. Luckily, the domesticated versions are gentle in homes and will happily share their space with you.
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The fiddle leaf fig belongs to the moraceae family just like the ficus elastica, also known as the rubber plant. Fiddle leaf fig trees grow well in hardiness zones 9-11. You can check out the USDA’s plant hardiness zone map to learn more about the different hardiness zones.
Fiddle Leaf Fig Overview
Fiddle leaf figs can grow a couple feet every year if given the proper care. These popular houseplants can climb up to 6 feet or more in your home. Their green and shiny leaves, coupled with their unique shape make this plant your go-to choice for entertaining areas.
Most fiddle leaf fig trees serve as floor plants thanks to their towering size. Younger fiddle leaf figs can temporarily live on shelves while they’re small. The F. lyrata compacta and suncoast cultivars are smaller and bushier varieties of the traditional fiddle leaf fig, but the main F. lyrata variety is the one you’re most likely to find.
Fiddle Leaf Fig Care Tips
Fiddle leaf figs are known for having picky care guidelines. Despite that, caring for your own tree isn’t as hard as some may think! Take a look at our fiddle leaf fig care tips so you can become the trendiest plant parent on the block.
Light: Fiddle leaf figs prefer lots of bright, filtered light. Keep your fiddle leaf fig near a sunny, east-facing window so it can take in lots of sunshine throughout the day.
For optimal fiddle leaf fig care, rotate your plant every few months when you notice it reaching for the light. Wipe down your fiddle leaf fig tree’s leaves once a week to keep them free of dust and to help the plant efficiently absorb more sunlight. This is especially important for this plant since its large leaves are prone to dust.
Water: Wait for the top inch of your fiddle leaf fig tree’s soil to dry before you pick up your watering can. Lukewarm or room temperature water works best since cold water can put plants into shock. Fiddle leaf figs like thorough waterings, but do not like to sit in water. To prevent this, let the water completely drain out from the bottom and ensure the pot’s tray or saucer is dry. Fiddle leaf fig watering can be a little hard to get the hang of at first, but you can prevent watering issues if you familiarize yourself with its watering warning signs.
An underwatered fiddle leaf fig’s leaves will turn brown along the edges and drop. An overwatered fiddle leaf fig will have both dark brown spots and edges on its leaves along with an unpleasant smell lingering near its soil. You can correct these watering mishaps by either watering less or repotting in fresh soil if it’s overwatered. Or, water it more if it’s underwatered. You should promptly correct any watering mistakes since unchecked problems can result in holey leaves!
Fiddle leaf figs also require nutrient-rich soil to sustain their large leaves. Replenish the nutrients in its soil with some homemade plant food every once in a while to keep leaves lush and vibrant.
Temperatures: These plants prefer warm, humid climates similar to the weather in their native rain forests. House your fiddle leaf figs in rooms that are around 65-75°F. Do not keep them in a room below 50°F or else they will start to develop brown spots. To increase humidity, you can keep other plants near them or keep the plant on top of a tray of gravel.
Fiddle leaf figs are also sensitive to drafts. Keep surrounding windows shut tight and place them safely away from air conditioning units and other sources of drafts. Too much exposure can dry out their leaves and cause the leaves to drop. You should also refrain from moving them unless absolutely necessary, since any sudden changes can also cause their leaves to drop.
Toxicity: Fiddle leaf fig trees can cause stomach irritation to your pets if ingested. Keep your trees out of reach by placing them on a shelf or in a place your pets can’t climb to reach the plant. Take a look at our guide to poisonous plants to learn more.
Pests: Fiddle leaf figs are prone to mealy bugs, aphids, mites and scales. Check their leaves for any odd growths or holes and check the underside for any small pests. If you spot any of these unwelcome critters, wipe them off with a hot-and-soapy cloth or with a mild insecticide.
Problems: Fiddle leaf fig care can get tricky since some problems quickly progress if left unchecked.
The appearance of brown spots or edges is one of the most common issues your fiddle leaf fig can face. Like we mentioned earlier, this discoloring can indicate a few things. Brown edges can mean your tree is overwatered, while brown spots can mean it is underwatered. Adjust your watering schedule if you notice its soil is overly-dry or overly-moist.
Brown spots can also indicate that your plant is getting too much sun or it is too cold. In this case, you want to check the temperature of your home and adjust it to a normal room temperature if needed. If the temperature is fine, add some curtains to your fiddle leaf fig’s light source to protect your plant from direct rays. Take a look at our plant revival guide to see all of the things you can do to tackle these different issues.
Keep a close eye on your fiddle leaf fig to make sure it’s happy and healthy. Treat any issues immediately to prevent unnecessary problems in the future.
Repotting: Your fiddle leaf fig tree is ready for repotting once its roots start peaking out of the bottom of its pot. You can either repot it in a slightly larger pot, or trim the root ball. Take a look at our plant repotting guide to get more in-depth tips if you choose to repot your tree.
Trimming the root ball, on the other hand, is a good alternative if you want to keep your fiddle leaf fig at its current size. Make sure you do not trim more than 20 percent of its roots so you do not damage its root system.
Propagation: First, find a healthy branch with a couple healthy leaves. Cut right above where your desired leaf connects with the tree (known as the node). Next, put your branch in filtered water and stick it in a sunny spot. Replace this water whenever it seems dirty or cloudy. After a month, your cutting should develop roots. Pot your cutting when the roots are a few inches long.
Pruning: Cutting back a few leaves every once in awhile encourages your fiddle leaf fig’s growth. Start by pruning back any damaged leaves so your plant can focus on providing nutrients for its healthy leaves. You should also cut out any crossing branches since fiddle leaf fig trees require breathing room for healthy growth. If you’d like, you can also prune the tree to take on a specific shape or height.
To properly prune your tree, make your cuts at least an inch away from the trunk so you do not inflict any damage to the main trunk. Two branches will sprout from your cuttings if your fiddle leaf fig is healthy. Make it a habit to prune your tree when you notice any overgrowth to keep it fresh and strong!
Fiddle leaf fig care is not the easiest thing in the world, but you’ll definitely earn plant parent status with this finicky plant! A flourishing fiddle leaf will not only make you feel accomplished, but will elevate your home decor to impress any guest. These beautiful houseplants are worth the extra tending to!