What is a fiddle leaf fig?
The fiddle leaf fig, scientifically known as Ficus lyrata, is a flowering plant that is native to the Western African rainforests. Its name stems from its leathery leaves; lyrate leaves resemble the shape of a lyre (an ancient Greek string instrument). These plants that have picked up in popularity over the recent years with The New York Times labelling it the “it” plant of the year.
They are part of a plant family known for producing fig fruits, however it is very rare to find a fiddle leaf fig plant that fruits outside of its natural habitat. There are a few reasons for this but the main one is that it is very unlikely any grower will be able to replicate rainforest conditions long enough to allow the plant to fruit. This shouldn’t detract from your desire to grow one, these elegant big-leaf plants will be the statement piece of any room they are put in.
Where should I put my fiddle leaf fig?
The answer to this question lies within some self-reflection. Do you want a whole fiddle leaf fig tree, or do you want a smaller plant? Do you want it to be the focal point of your room or just a part of the mini jungle you’ve designed? Before you reach an answer, you should keep these things in mind.
- Height of room
- Amount of time you are willing to care for it
- Light sources (Natural or artificial)
- Knowledge of the plant
Hopefully by the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of the plant and the level of care it needs to thrive.
Fiddle Leaf Fig Basics
Here is some basic information on the fiddle leaf fig.
A 10-foot-tall fiddle leaf fig here in our office in Bethlehem, PA
One of the bigger issues when growing a fiddle leaf fig arises when seeing how tall these things grow. In its natural habitat of the West African rainforests, they can grow up to 50 feet tall. Considering you most likely don’t have 50-foot-tall ceilings in all of your rooms, you should consider yourself lucky that they tend to not reach those heights outside of their natural habitats. Even a potted plant can reach 10-feet-tall. Places like Home Depot sell small fiddle leaf fig plants for under $40! These smaller plants is a great place to start.
As is the case with most things in life: if you want good results, you’re going to have to work for them. The fiddle leaf fig plant is no different. Known to be one of the more finicky plants to cultivate, it will take a decent amount of time and effort to turn your plant into the centerpiece you so desire. Fiddle leaf fig plants do not like:
- Cold Drafts
- Too wet soil
- Too dry soil
- Too much light
- Too little light
- Dry air
As you can see, they are very picky so it will take a good amount of watching and reacting to your plant to find the happy medium it craves. As is the case with most plants, they will tell you something is wrong by their appearance. Leaning one way usually indicates that the most light is that way. Yellow leaves can indicate many things going wrong with the plant, but If you take the time and effort to listen to your plant and give it the best possible living conditions, you will reap the rewards.
Possibly the most important part of growing plants is the light. Light is how plants grow, they use carbon dioxide water and light to perform photosynthesis, which allows them to produce more plant mass. Not enough light will stunt a plant’s growth. Too much light will give your plant leaf burn. Fiddle leaf figs require moderately bright light for about 6 to 8 hours a day. If you don’t have a window large enough or live in a region of the world that doesn’t get consistent sunlight, we recommend a small plant light to help provide ample light to your plant. Indoor plant lighting can be tricky to navigate because our eyes adjust to low-light conditions making us think it is brighter than it actually is indoors…many serious plant owners will often purchase light meters to take the guesswork out of how much light they are really getting!
A fiddle leaf fig growing under a Vita growlight
Other Useful Information
Coming from tropical rainforests, fiddle leaf figs love humid conditions. Their ideal humidity level is 65. A normal room’s humidity level is only 10 so it is suggested that you either get a humidifier for it or mist it every so often.
A good all-purpose fertilizer and soil that leads to good drainage can be helpful to ensure your plant isn’t overwatered and grows healthily.
How often should I water?
We suggest that once you notice the top inch or so of the soil to be dry, you start watering it. Room temperature water will be the best as it won’t change the overall temperature of the plant. They like a good amount of water, but you don’t want to drown them. Just make sure that your pot has a good drainage system and you’ll be fine. Watering fiddle leaf figs can be difficult to get the hang of it but through experience you’ll become a pro.
How can I propagate a fiddle leaf fig?
To propagate a new plant, cut a healthy branch with healthy leaves. You should make your cut right at the node (where the leaf connects to the tree). Put the branch in water and stick it in a place it will get a good amount of light. When the water gets murky, change it out but after a while you will start to see roots forming. Once the roots are a few inches long you can pot the plant in soil. If you want a full tree, make sure you have a good amount of stem.