Fiddle Leaf Fig Care

Fiddle Leaf Fig Care

Short Answer: The Fiddle-Leaf Fig Tree, with its iconic, large, glossy leaves, has become a beloved staple in many homes, but it requires specific care to thrive. This tropical plant favors bright, indirect sunlight, so placing it near a window that receives ample light but is shielded from the harsh midday sun is ideal. Consistent watering is crucial; the soil should dry out slightly between waterings to prevent root rot. Humidity is also a key factor, so in drier environments, misting the leaves or using a humidifier can promote a healthier plant. Additionally, regular dusting of the leaves not only enhances the plant’s appearance but also supports efficient photosynthesis. With these care tips, your Fiddle-Leaf Fig Tree can grow into a stunning, healthy addition to your space.

A fiddle-leaf fig is a beautiful indoor plant, but it is known for being difficult to care for. However, I have been able to keep mine alive for over a year now, even though I am new to plant parenting. I even got a second one that is also doing well. To ensure that I take good care of my plants, I sought the advice of Joyce Mast, a former plant expert for Bloomscape. Here are her top tips for keeping a fiddle-leaf fig tree healthy and thriving.

fiddle leaf fig tree in an apartment

How to Care for a Fiddle-Leaf Fig

Fiddle-leaf figs became the must-have houseplant in the mid-20s because the tree is big, dramatic, and can instantly enhance a dull room. “They’re still fan-favorites, but they tend to require a bit extra care,” says Mast.

The fiddle-leaf fig (Ficus lyrata) is a tropical plant native to rainforests in central and western Africa. In nature, a fiddle-leaf fig can grow up to 50 feet tall, but don’t worry, your houseplant won’t break through your ceiling. As houseplants, they can grow up to 10 feet tall with some methodical TLC (mine is about eight feet tall).

Fiddle-Leaf Fig Lighting Requirements

Fiddle-leaf figs are tropical plants that require warm, bright, and humid conditions to thrive, making them difficult to grow indoors. According to Mast, these plants need consistent, indirect bright light to grow at their best. It’s recommended to turn the plant every few months once it starts leaning towards the light. However, be cautious when rotating your plant because fiddle-leaf figs don’t like to be moved. If it’s necessary to move your plant, be prepared for some leaf drop until it readjusts, which usually takes around two to three weeks.

For example, when I moved my fig from the plant shop to my apartment, the tree started drooping and lost about ten leaves. I thought I’d already managed to kill it, but the leaves soon turned upward, and the fig was exemplary. It didn’t even drop a leaf when I re-potted it about a month after first getting it.

Fiddle-Leaf Fig Watering Needs

First, choose a pot with a drainage hole so the roots don’t rot if you over-water. “With pots that don’t have drainage holes, water will often collect at the bottom and deprive the roots of oxygen, eventually causing them to die,” Mast warns. If your planter has a saucer, don’t fail to empty that after watering. My fig lives in the Zen Large White Planter, and the pot is perfect for the giant plant.

When you water your fig, drench the soil until water drains from the bottom. Because fiddle-leaf figs vary in size, there’s no exact amount of water your plant needs; it all depends on how big (or small) the houseplant is. “Your plant will let you know if it’s not getting enough water when its leaves become limp and floppy, eventually turning a light brown and becoming crispy before falling off,” Mast says. Conversely, “If you see dark brown spots or areas ringed in yellow, this can indicate that your plant is getting too much water and the roots are becoming unhealthy.”

Your plant will let you know if it is not getting enough water

If you’re finding it hard to come up with a watering schedule that suits your fig plant, Mast suggests that you let the plant dictate when it needs water. She explains that various factors like temperature, humidity, and placement in an indoor setting make scheduling watering times difficult. She recommends using the touch test: Insert your finger into the soil until it reaches your middle knuckle. When you take your finger out and see that soil is sticking to it, it means that the plant has enough moisture and you can check again in a couple of days. When you repeat the process, and your finger is dry after placing it in the soil, it’s time to water your plant.

“I tend to keep the soil on the drier side to avoid an over-watering situation,” Mast says. “However, I do mist the leaves regularly.” Speaking of the leaves, Mast says a trick she uses to keep her fiddle-leaf fig looking its best is to periodically dust off the leaves with a pair of microfiber gloves. “Gently wipe both the top and bottom of its leaves to retain the gorgeous glossy look of your plant,” she explains.

fiddle leaf fig plant in concrete planter in nicely lit home

Fiddle-Leaf Fig Humidity Needs

Rainforests, where the fiddle-leaf fig thrives, usually have humidity levels around 77 to 88 percent. Of course, you’re not going to keep your house that humid, but if you notice your plant drooping, it could be because it’s craving more moisture in the air. When boosting the humidity around your fig, Mast recommends either misting the plant regularly, using a pebble tray, or moving a humidifier nearby.

Fiddle-Leaf Fig Fertilizing Tips

To encourage fresh growth and healthy roots, Mast recommends giving your fiddle-leaf fig fertilizer once in the spring and every month in the summer. You don’t need to feed your tree in the winter because growth slows during the colder months. “A little [fertilizer] goes a long way, and always make sure the soil is damp before applying any type of fertilizer,” she says. “Over-fertilization can cause your plant to grow leggy and even kill it.”

Repotting Fiddle-Leaf Figs

If you notice your plant’s roots appearing through the top of the soil, or if you see them poking out of the drainage hole, that means your plant is root-bound and it’s ready for some new digs. “You can also tell when it is time to repot when water rushes through the drainage holes when you water,” Mast explains. “This shows the roots are taking up too much room in the current pot, and there isn’t enough soil-to-root ratio.” Also, please don’t put your tree in a planter that’s too big. “When selecting a new pot, do not increase the size more than two inches from its current pot,” Mast says.

Common Fiddle-Leaf Fig Problems and Pests

Fiddle-leaf figs have a reputation for being divas as they are very sensitive to sudden changes in their care or growing conditions. Factors like water, humidity, temperature, and light can affect them greatly. If you accidentally let the soil dry out completely, you may notice the branches going limp or the leaves becoming crisp. In such a situation, it is best to soak water in your plant. To do this, drench your fig until the water drains out. However, keep in mind that sudden saturation of the soil can cause stress and lead to the dropping of leaves. Therefore, it is important to give your plant some time to adjust to the new conditions.

You also might notice some fungus gnats flitting around your fig, which happened to my tree. Fungus gnats like to lay their eggs in moist soil, so your tree’s pot is a prime spot for the insects. To discourage these pests from living in your houseplant’s soil, avoid overwatering your fig and drain out the saucer (if you have one) to keep the area as dry as possible.

If you spot the bugs hovering around your fig’s pot, remove and throw out the top couple of inches of soil, where they tend to lay their eggs. Top the soil back up with a fresh potting mix. If you still notice fungus gnats, try sticky traps. Place the sticky pieces near the plant, but don’t stick the traps on your fig. Once the traps are covered in gnats, replace them until all of the fungus gnats are eliminated.

Little Fiddle: The Fiddle-Leaf Fig Alternative

Fiddle-leaf figs are substantial plants and might not be the right fit (literally) for your space. Instead, you could choose a little fiddle-leaf fig that grows only three feet tall. The smaller version of the original has similar care needs but will fill your home with tropical lushness.

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Charlotte Gammon

By Charlotte Gammon

Meet Charlotte Gammon, our expert and author. She's our true treasure, as she has got 20+ years of experience in gardening, winery and house design. In early 2000s, she worked for magazine and was in charge of the gaardening section. Later on, Charlotte opened her own designer agency and worked as a designer and decorator. We are happy to have Charlotte with us, as she is our good friend. We value her experience and we're sure you will love the articles she created for our blog.