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Fiddle Leaf Fig Care Guide

Fiddle leaf fig plant in a white pot against a blank wall.

Touching down from dense African rainforests, the fiddle leaf fig captures the imagination of the West with its stunning, almost cartoonishly lush leaves. This ficus varietal has monopolized the design world and become an indisputable crowd favorite in curated homes worldwide. This out-of-place tropical plant has a high maintenance reputation, but can absolutely thrive with the right care. Follow this step-by-step guide on how to care for a fiddle leaf fig to achieve the houseplant of your dreams. 

Fiddle Leaf Fig Care Indoors 

Picking a Spot 

Find a sun-soaked place away from air vents and drafts where your ficus can enjoy an abundance of ambient light. We recommend, on occasion, moving the entire plant where direct sunlight shines. You can leave it there for up to six hours as this varietal prefers bright sun and humid places. It’s quite temperamental toward environmental changes, so don’t panic if some leaves drop within the first few weeks. Once acclimated, a nurtured fiddle leaf fig can grow more than six feet tall!

Choose your spot very carefully as fiddle leaf care is much harder if you move the plant later on. They are stubborn to their location, and if you redecorate, expect a slow adjustment period. Leaves may fall, but stick to our care instructions for a gradual acclimation. 

Watering 

Water your fiddle leaf fig once a week or every 10 days. Poke your finger in about two inches to feel for moisture. Keep in mind, many people kill their precious figs through overwatering and improper drainage. We’ve plucked this varietal straight from a humid rainforest where it’s accustomed to monsoon-level waterings followed by dry spells. To mimic their natural habitat, water until the soil is soaked and let it dry before watering again. We recommend a  plant stand over a drip tray to allow the necessary drainage and the infamous root rot. 

Leaf Up-Keep 

Watch out for water spots or dust accumulation on the leaves. A gentle wipe down with a damp washcloth should do the trick about once a month. Avoid the common fiddle leaf fig care misconception of rubbing coconut oil into the leaves for “rehydration.” This may suffocate the precious violin-shaped leaves. When properly maintained, these leaves can grow an impressive 12 inches wide and 30 inches long. The fiddle leaf fig’s full, attention-grabbing shape is one of the many reasons it’s garnered so much popularity. 

Maintaining a Happy, Healthy Plant  

Keep your eyes peeled for dark green or brown spots appearing along the leaf edges. This cheetah print pattern is a symptom of overwatering or low light. Discolored leaves will eventually wilt completely and fall off, or you can expedite that death sentence and pluck the especially sickly ones preemptively. There’s still hope for the others! Proper fiddle leaf fig care requires more sunlight than you may think. Leaves will begin to shed if they’re not absorbing enough direct or indirect light since light is where they derive their energy. Move your plant closer to a window or to your home’s sunniest room and monitor how the leaves bounce back, or new ones sprout. 

Overwatering 

This is the most common misstep in fiddle leaf fig care. It’s a tricky balance to strike and one that novice plant owners often make. As mentioned, this tropical plant prefers periods of saturation and then drought. Adhere to their natural weather system as much as you can, making sure you’re watering to the point of dripping roots, and then letting it completely drain and dry up before the next watering. The leaves are a great indicator of health. If they’re bright green, lush, and pointing toward the light, then your watering cycle is on schedule. If they exhibit spots or curling at the edges, adjust your routine. 

Potting & Repotting

These notoriously finicky plants often succumb to root rot, but this is perfectly avoidable. Understanding the ins and outs of drainage is the most important variable with fiddle leaf care. Select a pot with a drainage hole and a saucer, then incorporate ingredients like cactus mix or Smart Gravel to keep that root ball bone dry. 

We recommend repotting every 18-24 months, ideally in the summer when the plant is at its peak. Aim for a pot 2”- 4” larger in diameter to encourage growth. However, choosing a pot significantly larger than the former may drown the roots. If you’re happy with the size of your fiddle leaf fig, focus on updating its soil and trimming excess foliage within the same pot. 

Fiddle leaf figs are an innately aesthetic option, thus demanding an equally tasteful container. Big kudos if your designer pot has a drainage hole because you can pot the fiddle leaf directly into that without a hitch. However, when gardening with a woven basket, be advised! Make sure it’s secured in a properly draining pot first, and then choose a decorative option slightly bigger to hide the standard pot. 

Fertilizer 

Indoor fiddle leaf figs appreciate an infrequent dose of fertilizer during the spring and summer months. Follow the fertilizer’s suggestion for dilution and application, and remember that less is more when it comes to fiddle leaf fig care. We recommend looking for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK) options with a ratio of 1-1-1 or 2-2-2. This plant can’t save up nutrients for seasons of famine, so offer a consistent supply as you tend this far-from-home tropic. While you’re at it, you can use a fiddle leaf fig fertilizer on all your other hungry houseplants, aside from succulents and cacti. Pair your thriving fiddle leaf with an equally tropical and eye-catching philodendron. Find out more about caring for philodendron

Fun Fiddle Facts

  • A fiddle leaf fig is a member of the banyan fig family, or sometimes called a strangler fig. This slightly macabre term is quite apt, as these plants send down roots where the host tree is slowly suffocated. Thankfully, your FLF was reared in a nursery and didn’t kill any other plants—probably. 
  • When left to their own devices in a tropical outdoor environment, a fiddle leaf fig can grow over 60 feet tall. These giants have been spotted stateside in southern states, especially Florida. 
  • Akin to the Greek monster Hydra, new branches will sprout from a sliced trunk, and may produce an even fuller, bigger shape.
  • Fruit produced by a fiddle leaf fig is not edible for humans, but instead used by fig wasps to pollinate.
  • No need to worry about potential fig wasps! Only fiddle leaf figs grown outside will produce fruit, flowers, and attract buzzing guests. If you’re looking for a flowering potted plant, peruse our peace lily care guide for blooming inspiration.
  • This plant’s namesake comes from its violin-shaped leaves, resembling the body of a fiddle.
  • A fiddle leaf fig is a loyal companion, sticking it out for sometimes 50 years  when properly nurtured.

Design Savvy Greens 

The fiddle leaf fig was hailed by The New York Times reporter, Steven Kurutz, as the “It” plant of interior design back in 2016. This skyrocketed the fig’s stardome in houses, apartments, casitas, offices,  pool houses—essentially everywhere. It was the younger, hipper option that challenged the outdated and overused ficus tree. Designers also called it, “prehistoric, [with a] Dr. Seuss feel.” Who wouldn’t want such a fun, flourishing edition to their decor? Explore the lush collection of plants for delivery to invite the outdoors inside. 

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