How to Care for Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees


The fiddle leaf fig tree has been one of the most popular houseplants for many years now. It also goes by the Latin name of Ficus lyrata. The more common name, fiddle leaf fig tree, stems from its violin or fiddle-shaped leathery leaves.

As a tropical tree, the fiddle leaf fig plant is native to Africa. The tree thrives in moist, humid conditions. That being said, fiddle leaf fig does very well as an upright and attention-grabbing houseplant with its striking leaves. You can expect it to reach up to 10 feet when grown indoors. It can also be successfully grown outdoors when optimum conditions are met. (1)

Taking care of your fiddle leaf fig ficus may seem daunting, but it is not difficult if you follow our fiddle leaf fig care guide below. With a bit of foreknowledge, your fiddle leaf fig will take pride of place in your home for many years to come.(2)

Amount of Sun

Fiddle leaf figs like bright filtered light, but they will tolerate partial shade. It will also help if you rotate your fiddle leaf fig in your home occasionally, as it will tend to grow toward the light.

Fiddle leaf fig plants do best when they get eight to twelve hours of sunlight. Just make sure it is not scorching sunlight, which is why a bright filtered light is preferred. The ideal location for your plant would be near an east-facing window. The tree would get the early, but less intense, morning sun, while still obtaining adequate light during the afternoon hours.

Some websites suggest keeping fiddle leaf figs away from south-facing windows to minimize the risk of them being scorched. We find that far more fiddle leaf fig owners deal with issues with their plants not receiving enough light, rather than the problem of having their plant scorched. Generally speaking, when a fiddle leaf fig is indoors, it is already receiving filtered light, so the risk of scorching is relatively low.

Watering Frequency

Fiddle leaf fig trees that are grown in containers need a moderate amount of water during warm temperatures. They require much less water when the temperature falls.

Water your fiddle leaf fig when the soil of the plant starts to feel dry. This may be as infrequently as once per week, but also may be as frequently as once every couple of days. When you water your fiddle leaf fig, make sure to water until you can see a small amount of water coming out from the drainage holes in the bottom of your container. By doing so, you will allow the water to soak deep into the fiddle leaf figs’ root zone and let it take up the necessary water it needs.

Fiddle leaf fig tree in a white pot sitting in between the landing of a staircase in front of a window

Fertilizer Ratio

Fertilize your fiddle leaf fig tree during the spring and summer growing seasons. The ideal fertilizer is comprised of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium in an NPK ratio of 3:1:2. That means it contains three parts nitrogen, one part phosphorous, and two parts potassium.

Follow the care instructions that come with your fertilizer, and your fiddle leaf fig will reward you with healthy, lush growth. Check out our favorite fiddle leaf fig fertilizers.

How to Prevent Root Rot

Rotting of the roots is caused when too much water or moisture accumulates in the plant’s container. It is easy enough to diagnose: the leaves will start to develop brown spots, or they will fall off the fiddle fig leaf tree.

Once your plant has developed root rot, it is harder to take care of it in a way to get rid of it. Prevention is crucial. The best thing you can do to prevent root is to make sure that whatever pot you plant your fiddle leaf fig plant in has drainage holes at the bottom so that your plants’ roots are not constantly sitting in waterlogged soil

You can also prevent rot by using a good, fast-draining soil mix when first planting up your ficus lyrata. A growing medium that consists of half houseplant soil and half cactus plant soil is highly recommended for fiddle leaf fig plant. It is fast draining, and it is light enough to enable the plant roots to breathe and extract nutrients.

Generally speaking, it is difficult to overwater your fiddle leaf fig plant, though. Because of the humid environment that it is usually found in, the plant is quite resilient to being exposed to a lot of water.

Many online websites seem to suggest that overwatering is a common problem for fiddle leaf fig plants, but as long as you have a pot with drainage holes, this should not be the case. In fact, the most common mistake new fiddle leaf fig plant owners commit is to under-water their plant.

There are also other reasons that your fiddle leaf fig may not be thriving or developing brown spots.

Green shiny leaves in focus with that background blurred

Re-potting Fiddle Leaf Figs

Fiddle leaf figs grow at a moderate rate. As your plant continues to grow, re-pot it annually in a container that is about two inches larger than the current pot. (2) Re-pot as if planting a new tree:

  • Prepare the work area by laying down newspaper or an old sheet.
  • Ensure the new pot has drainage holes.
  • Cover the drainage hole/s with clean, unused coffee filters or a few stones to prevent blockage.
  • Fill one-third of the container with fresh potting mix and make a hollow in the middle of the soil.
  • Remove the fiddle leaf fig plant from the old container.
  • Place the root ball of the tree in the soil of the new container.
  • Tease out some of the outer roots if possible, carefully spreading them wider.
  • Add the remaining soil around the fiddle leaf figs’ root ball until the soil is about two or three inches from the top.
  • Give the fiddle leaf fig plant a good watering to settle the soil and remove any air pockets.
  • If desired, place decorative stone or glass pebbles on the soil’s surface around the plant: it helps conserve moisture and prevents the soil from creating a mess during watering. It is easy to push a finger or water meter through the pebbles for checking if the plant needs watering when there is any doubt.

Once the fiddle leaf fig plant has reached its mature height and size, refresh the soil each spring by removing a few inches of the old soil from around the container’s top, and put fresh potting mix in its place. Doing so will ensure the lasting health of the ficus lyrata in your home.

A ficus lyrata tree in a white pot with shiny green leaves sitting in a contemporary-style house

Cleaning the Leaves of the Fiddle Leaf Fig

As with all large-leaf house plants, fiddle leaf figs leaves will get dusty occasionally. There are several proprietary cleaning products on the market that clean leaves. There are also home-made recipes that utilize ingredients such as mayonnaise to clean leaves. Yes, they may make the leaves appear shiny, but they also attract heavier dust particles that block the leaves’ stomata/pores over time. This can negatively impact the health of your fiddle leaf fig plant. Never use furniture polish on the leaves of fiddle leaf fig trees!

The best way to care for and clean the leaves of the fiddle leaf fig plant is to just clean it with lukewarm water. Use a clean, soft cloth and gently wipe both the leaves’ upper side and underside with the wet cloth. Water will remove dust and let your leaves shine without damaging your plant.

Someone spraying a fiddle leaf fig leaf with a small handheld spray bottle to clean the leaves

Using these simple techniques, you will be equipped to grow a healthy fiddle leaf fig tree! I hope you enjoyed this fiddle leaf fig houseplant care guide. You can learn more general information about ficus lyrata trees here.

Happy Planting!

About the author: Carley Miller is a horticultural expert at TheGreenPinky. She previously owned a landscaping business for 25 years and worked at a local garden center for 10 years. Read More

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