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  • Writer's pictureRachel Barnack

How to not kill your fiddle leaf fig!

Few indoor plants command attention and admiration quite like the majestic fiddle leaf fig (Ficus lyrata). With its large, glossy leaves and striking silhouette, this tropical beauty has become a staple in modern interior design, and taken first place on my favorites list. However, despite its popularity, many plant enthusiasts struggle to keep their fiddle leaf figs thriving. If you've found yourself in this predicament, fear not! I'm here to delve into the dos and don'ts of fiddle leaf fig care, and share how i've found to keep my two fiddles alive and thriving. After this, you'll have the knowledge and confidence to nurture this green giant to perfection.



Understanding Your Fiddle Leaf Fig


Before diving into care tips, it's essential to make sure you understand the unique characteristics of the fiddle leaf fig. Native to the rainforests of West Africa, this tree thrives in warm, humid environments with filtered sunlight. In its natural habitat, it can grow up to 40 feet tall! But as a houseplant, it typically reaches heights of 6 to 10 feet when given adequate care.


Light Requirements


Proper lighting is crucial for the health and growth of your fiddle leaf fig. These plants prefer bright, indirect sunlight, so placing them near a north or east-facing window

where they can receive gentle morning or indirect afternoon sun is ideal. Avoid exposing them to harsh, direct sunlight, as this can (and will) scorch their delicate leaves.


Watering


One of the most common mistakes people make with fiddle leaf figs is overwatering. These plants prefer moderately moist soil but can be sensitive to soggy conditions, which can lead to root rot. I recommend allowing the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings. I will typically stick my finger into the soil, and feel around through the top few inches to make sure the soil is evenly saturated, and evenly drying out. Once the soil is dry to that first knuckle of your finger, water thoroughly, until it drains from the bottom of the pot. I highly recommend using a pot with a drainage hole so you are able to have the water not needed drain out away from the roots. In winter, your fiddle is most likely going to go dormant (a nice deep sleep), so you'll probably reduce your watering frequency to prevent waterlogged soil.


Soil and Potting



Well-draining soil, along with that pot with drainage holes, is essential for fiddle leaf figs to prevent water from pooling around the roots. A mix formulated for indoor tropical plants or a blend of potting soil, perlite, and orchid bark works well. When repotting, choose a container with drainage holes that provides ample room for root growth. Repotting your fiddle every 1-2 years in spring specifically, allows the plant to continue to thrive.


Temperature and Humidity


Being tropical in their natural environment, fiddle leaf figs thrive in temperatures between 65°F to 75°F (18°C to 24°C) and appreciate moderate to high humidity levels. While they can tolerate lower humidity, i recommend misting with warm water daily, or placing a humidifier nearby to help maintain optimal conditions, especially during the dry winter months in Colorado!


Pruning and Maintenance


Regular pruning, like with many plants, is essential for maintaining the shape and health of your fiddle. Trim any dead or yellowing leaves, as well as any leggy or unruly growth, to encourage new growth and maintain that aesthetic appearance. Additionally, its a good habit to wipe the leaves with a damp cloth periodically to remove dust, help with photosynthesis, and keep them looking glossy and vibrant.


Fertilizing


Fiddle leaf figs benefit from regular fertilization during spring and summer to support healthy growth and foliage. I recommend a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half strength every 4-6 weeks, while following the manufacturer's instructions, of course. I prefer to mix my fertilizer in with my water to allow even distribution through the soil. When in doubt, space out your fertilizing to every 8-10 weeks when needed to avoid over-fertilizing, as this can lead to salt buildup and can damage the roots.


Common Issues and Solutions


Despite your best efforts, your fiddle leaf fig may encounter issues such as leaf drop, browning edges, or pests like mealybugs and spider mites. These problems can often be attributed to environmental factors such as improper watering, inadequate light, or low humidity. By closely monitoring your plant and addressing any issues promptly, you can prevent them from escalating and keep your fiddle leaf fig healthy and happy!




In all, caring for a fiddle leaf fig requires patience, attention to detail, and a willingness to adapt to your finicky friends needs. By providing the right conditions—just enough light, proper watering, well-draining soil, and regular maintenance—you can ensure your fiddle leaf fig thrives and becomes a stunning focal point in your home. With a little love and dedication, you'll be rewarded with lush foliage and a sense of pride in nurturing this iconic houseplant to its full potential.









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