How to grow and care for Fiddle Leaf Fig Indoors

Houseplant, Fiddle Leaf Fig, Ficus lyrata

Botanical name: Ficus lyrata
Family: Moraceae

Fiddle Leaf Fig is a good choice for a specimen plant. The striking large violin-like leaves are excellent for the large spaces. The leaves are up to 1.5 ft long, leathery in texture, have prominent veins and a wavy margin. The plant is relatively tough and can withstand less than perfect conditions fairly well. When grown in a container it can grow to a height of 6 ft. Fiddle Leaf Fig is native to western Africa from Cameroon West to Sierra Leone, where it grows in lowland tropical forests.

How to Grow Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata)

Light

Fiddle Leaf Fig bright filtered light. Low light will lead to plant death. Turn the pot regularly to ensure the plant gets light on all sides. Protect it from direct sunlight as it can lead to scorching of the leaves. Learn more on how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

Water

Keep soil moist at all times for Fiddle Leaf Fig but significantly reduce watering in the cold months. Avoid overwatering as it may lead to leaf drop and root-rot. Use tepid, chlorine-free water to avoid spots on the leaves. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature

Average warmth with a minumum of 120C is ideal for Fiddle Leaf Fig. Protect it from draughts. Find out more on temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Average room humidity is ideal for Fiddle Leaf Fig. Clean the leaves by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to get rid of dust. If the air is too dry especially where temperature is high raise humidity by setting the pot on a wet pebble tray.

Feeding

Feed Fiddle Leaf Fig thrice annually during the growing period with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer. Withhold feeding in the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time can lead to fertilizer burn. Find out more on how to feed houseplants.

Repotting

Repot Fiddle Leaf Fig at the beginning of the growing season when roots begin to grow through the drainage holes; the plant prefers to be slightly root-bound. Use a pot 1 size larger and one that has drainage holes. The soil should be free-draining and rich in organic matter. Never allow the roots to sit in waterlogged soil as it may lead to root-rot. Use a heavy pot as the plant can become top-heavy. For large plants which may be difficult to handle, annually replenish the top 2-4 in. of soil with fresh soil.

How to Prune Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata)

Pruning Fiddle Leaf Fig involves removal of dead and yellow leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy. Cut off the top of young plants to encourage branching and for a bushy compact plant. The foliage emanating from the pruning, can be used to propagate new plants. Learn more on how to prune houseplants.

How to Propagate Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata)

Fiddle Leaf Fig can be propagated by air layering or by stem tip cuttings during the growing season.

Propagation of Fiddle Leaf Fig by Air Layering
This consists of notching the stem of a healthy Fiddle Leaf Fig, coating the notch with a rooting hormone, surrounding the area with damp moss and then covering it with a polythene film or clear plactic wrap. After the roots have formed, sever the stem just below the covered part, remove the polythene and carefully pot the rooted cutting. New shoots will sprout from the shortened stem of the old plant.

Propagation of Fiddle Leaf Fig from Stem-tip Cuttings
Take 2-3 in. long stem-tip cuttings from Fiddle Leaf Fig, dip the lower cut-end in a rooting hormone and stick it in moist free-draining rooting soil. Place the set up in a warm shaded place. Maintain the soil moist until new growth emerges. Allow the plant to be well established before transplanting.

Common Problems in Growing Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata)

  • Sudden leaf drop
  • Waterlogging Fiddle Leaf Fig will cause the sudden drop of the leaves. Other causes are low temperature and cold draughts, too little light and overfeeding.

  • Loss of the lowest leaf
  • This is a normal occurence in Fiddle Leaf Fig. As the plant matures, it losses the lower leaves leaving a bare stem with a crown of leaves at the top.

  • Yellowing of leaf edges
  • Underfeeding Fiddle Leaf Fig is the reason for this. Feed more regularly with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer but only during the growing period.

  • Brown leaf spots
  • This is natural for Fiddle Leaf Fig. The spots are due to mechanical injury or attack by spider mites; the plant produces a mildly causatic sap that causes these spots when exposed to air.

  • Pests
  • Common pest in Fiddle Leaf Fig are Aphids, Mealy Bugs, Scale Insects and Spider Mites. Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to other plants. Keep the plant properly pruned at all times to reduce the hiding places for these pests.

  • Plant death
  • Fiddle Leaf Fig is prone to Root-rot Disease which is enhanced by waterlogging. Ensure there is free drainage of both the soil and the pot and also reduce watering in the cold season.

Toxicity

Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata) is toxic to both humans and pets if ingested. It produces a sap that may cause skin irritation. Always wear gloves when handling this plant.

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