The fiddle leaf fig tree has been one of the most popular houseplants for many years now. Its name stems from its violin or fiddle-shaped leathery leaves. It also goes by the Latin name of Ficus lyrata.
As a tropical tree, the banjo fig plant is native to Africa. The tree thrives in moist, humid conditions. That being said, it 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.
Taking care of your ficus lyrata may seem daunting, but it is not difficult if you follow our fiddle leaf fig care guide below. With a bit of foreknowledge, your fig tree will take pride of place in your home for many years to come.
Ficus Lyrata Care Guide
Amount of Sun
Fiddle leaf fig trees needs eight to twelve hours of sunlight per day to flourish. Bright filtered light is preferred, but it will tolerate partial shade. When it comes to sunlight exposure, it also helps to rotate your ficus plant to allow it to grow evenly, as it will tend to grow toward the light.
Just make sure the sunlight 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 plant would get the early, but less intense, morning sun, while still obtaining adequate light during the afternoon hours.
Some people suggest keeping ficus plants away from south-facing windows to minimize the risk of them being scorched. We find that far more fig tree 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.
How frequently you water your ficus tree will be dependent on your specific setup. The best rule to follow is to water your fiddle leaf tree when the soil 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.
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.
How to Water Your Tree
To water your ficus lyrata properly, make sure to water until you see a little 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 root zone and let it take up the necessary water it needs.
Fertilize your fig tree during the spring and summer growing seasons. The ideal fiddle leaf fig 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.
If you use a fertilizer with this NPK ratio for your fiddle leaf fig care, then your tree will reward you with healthy, lush growth.
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 ficus 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 ficus plant. It is fast draining, and it is light enough to enable the plant roots to breathe and extract nutrients.
That being said, generally speaking, it is difficult to overwater your fig tree. Because of the humid environment that it is usually found in, the plant is quite resilient to being exposed to a lot of water.
As long as you have a pot with drainage holes, root rot should not be a problem. In fact, the most common mistake new fiddle leaf fig plant owners commit is to underwater their plant.
There are also other reasons that your plant may not be thriving or developing brown spots.
How Fast Do They Grow?
Fiddle leaf figs grow at a rate of about 1 feet per year. For the first 2-3 years, the tree’s growth rate will be slow. After 3 years, the tree will look like an ornamental tree and will take about 10-15 years to reach its full mature height of 8 feet.
To Re-pot your fiddle leaf fig:
- Prepare the work area by laying down newspaper or an old sheet.
- Ensure the new pot has drainage holes and is about two inches larger than your current pot.
- 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 your 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 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 ficus 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.
Cleaning the Leaves
The best way to care for and clean the leaves of the fig tree 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.
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 ficus tree. Never use furniture polish on the leaves!
Using these simple techniques, you will be equipped to grow a healthy ficus plant! I hope you enjoyed this ficus lyrata houseplant care guide.
–The Green Pinky