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Houseplant Highlight: Fiddle-leaf Figs

By Mike
Houseplants

The Fiddle-leaf Fig, or Ficus lyrata for us nursery folk, is a houseplant that has risen in popularity over the last few years. It’s tree-like form, sculptural habit, and large, waxy, violin-shaped leaves have made it a popular houseplant for indoor gardeners and a trendy topic for design blogs and articles. Despite the high praise, Fiddle-leaf Figs can be a bit temperamental for the uninitiated. However, it’s not as hard to care for them as you think. Just follow the guidelines listed below, and you can enjoy the beauty of a Fiddle-leaf Fig without the downsides.

Watering

One of the critical mistakes most owners of Fiddle-leaf Figs make is overwatering. Fiddle-leaf Figs, like many other members of the Ficus family, must be allowed to dry out to some extent between waterings.  If the soil stays consistently moist, you’ll notice browning along the edges of the leaves, an unpleasant, musty smell near the base, and even leaf drop. To avoid this, only water when the top three to four inches of the soil is dry, and allow for water to drain completely through the pot to prevent oversaturation. Also, remember that Fiddle-leaf Figs are native to the jungles of West Africa, so make sure you’re watering with water that is lukewarm to help avoid shock.

Light

Fiddle-leaf Figs prefer bright, filtered light. An east or north facing window with good exposure but no direct sunlight is ideal. A short bit of daily direct sunshine is okay, but avoid mid-afternoon sun at all costs. The harsh rays of afternoon sun will be too intense for your Fig and could cause scorching on the leaves.

Fiddle-leaf fig plants

Temperature

Fiddle-leaf Figs thrive when exposed to warm temperatures, generally 60-75 degrees during the day and no lower than 50-55 degrees at night. Also, keep the temperatures as consistent as you possibly can. Rapid changes in temperature can induce shock, which leads to leaf drop. It’s best to avoid placing your Fiddle-leaf Fig near any heating or cooling vents, or windows which could be affected by draft from outdoors. Another tip is to mist the leaves lightly during the winter months. When your home is heated during the winter, it saps away needed humidity. Providing an occasional misting will give some needed moisture in the air that your Fig is craving.

Repotting

Fiddle-leaf Figs generally can wait to be potted in the spring every two years unless you notice significant root growth peaking from the bottom of its pot. You can maintain this schedule until it gets too large to handle. After that, replacing the top layer of soil each year is the only thing you’ll need to do. To aid with watering issues, make sure you pot your Fiddle-leaf Fig in a loose, well-draining, nutrient-rich soil. This will keep water from sitting in the dirt and oversaturating the roots.

A Note About Pets

Unfortunately, those with pets may want to avoid having a Fiddle-leaf Fig in their home. Fiddle-leaf Figs can cause irritation and digestive discomfort to pets who have ingested any material from the plant.

Fiddle-leaf Figs can be a challenge, but a little patience and proper care will reward you with a stunning specimen that looks beautiful in any household decor.

2 thoughts on “Houseplant Highlight: Fiddle-leaf Figs

  1. This was inertesting. I have an indoor palm tree. The leaves are getting brown spots on them. Am I watering too much?

  2. Thank you for the comment, Brenda. Brown spots on palms generally come from either overwatering or drastic temperature changes from the cold. If the climate for your palm has remained constant, I would add a few days in between your current watering schedule and see how that works. Also, make sure when you are watering that it is draining well through the soil. Palms hate having to sit in stagnant water. Hope this helps! 🙂

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