The Fiddle Leaf Fig, also known as the Ficus lyrata, is a widely loved tree with tall stature and enormous, elegant leaves. Fiddle Leaf Figs need to be positioned directly in front of a window despite where you’ve seen them in photos. They can be tricky to take care of while the plant acclimates to your space, and until you learn their watering schedule.
Light: Fiddle Leaf Figs should be placed in front of a window that will receive direct morning or afternoon light. Ideally, what you’re aiming for is a window with a mostly unobstructed eastern, western, or southern exposure — you don’t want trees or close buildings shading the window. If the window is large enough and doesn’t have anything obstructing a clear view of the sky.
During the winter months, when natural light isn’t as abundant, it’s important to keep your plant in front of the window while still making sure it’s not getting any cold air from drafts that blow in. If you do have windows that are drafty, move your Fiddle Leaf anywhere from around 2 – 3 feet back from the window, and see how it responds. This distance is usually best, as it allows for plants to avoid any random bursts of cold air, while still receiving a similar amount of light.
Water: To match their love for natural light, Fiddle Leaf Figs need to be thoroughly watered about once a week. Depending on the size of the plant — and therefore the size of the roots — you’ll want to adjust the amount you water. A good rule of thumb is to wait until the top 2 – 3 inches of the soil is dry, and then give the plant a thorough watering. If it’s in a planter with a drainage hole, this means watering until you notice water dripping out the bottom. However, don’t let the drip tray sit full of water for any extended lengths of time, as this allows root rot to set in easily. When you water, remember to do so slowly in a circular motion around the plant, making sure to cover all areas of the soil. This way, water reaches all of the roots and not just some.
Maintenance: Like with most other plants, Fiddle Leaf Figs do require some general maintenance. One important routine you can do for your Fiddle Leaf happens to correspond to its most obvious feature: its leaves. With great leaves come great responsibility — in the form of habitual dusting. Since their leaves are so large, Fiddle Leaf Figs need to be dusted regularly. When dust accumulates on plant leaves, dust particles make it difficult for the plant to absorb sunlight and perform photosynthesis. Since Fiddle Leaf Figs love light so much, regular dusting goes a long way in helping your plant stay in top shape.
In addition to dusting leaves, it’s also a good idea to rotate your plant weekly or bi-weekly. Rotating your plant gives it even light exposure, meaning one side won’t be growing drastically more than another, leading to a sturdy and symmetrical Fiddle Leaf Fig.
If you’re wanting your Fiddle Leaf Fig (or any tree, for that matter) to begin to grow branches, you can do a couple of things. Try giving your plant more light first — trees naturally grow branches, and if they’re receiving a lot of natural light, they’ll have more energy to potentially spend on creating branches. Another way to encourage branching is to cut off the topmost point of growth on your plant. This will force the plant to stop growing directly upwards, and instead, it’ll begin to branch out from the sides.
For those who don’t do so already, aerating the soil once every couple of months keeps the soil from becoming compacted. Compacted soil eventually creates small pockets of soil where water never reaches, which can negatively impact your plant’s ability to take in water, among other things. Aerating can be accomplished with a lot of different objects, whether it’s an official soil aerator, or something similar in size and shape, like chopsticks. Gently insert the aerator into the soil, slowly pushing it further in to avoid damaging too many roots. Do this in an assortment of spots around the soil, and it’ll help keep your plant healthy and happy by breaking up any spots where the soil has clumped together.
Lastly, our suggestion on fertilizing your Fiddle Leaf Fig and other houseplants is the ‘less is more’ approach. It’s best to not overwhelm your plants with additional nutrients all at once.