Is Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Drying Out?
Our friend the fiddle leaf fig is particular when it comes to water. I don’t believe the fiddles are necessarily difficult plants to care for, but they certainly know what they want! When your fiddle leaf fig is drying out, you need answers.
Many of us live in fear of over-watering our fiddles, and for good reason. Over-watering can lead to issues like root rot, bacterial infection, insect invasions, fungal growth, edema, etc.
But some of us swing too far to the other end of the spectrum and accidentally under-water our fiddles, which can be just as dangerous.
Leaves damaged by under-watering will not recover and may leave our beautiful trees looking bare and lanky. On top of that, fiddles can’t grow new leaves in overly dry conditions, so those damaged leaves won’t be replaced until the problem is corrected!
Sometimes we under-water our trees without realizing it, and sometimes our tree will suddenly dry out for seemingly no reason, even when we haven’t changed anything in their care routine.
Here are 4 sneaky reasons why your fig may suddenly be drying out, and what to do about them.
4 Sneaky Reasons Why Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Is Drying Out
1. Increased temperature
A lot of people run into this issue in the spring and summer.
They may be giving their fiddles the same amount of water each week but then wonder why their fiddle leaf fig is drying out!
Temperature and humidity factor into a fiddle’s water needs (among other things), so make sure to carefully increase the amount of water you give your plant as the temperature increases in the spring and summer.
As the weather changes, I suggest checking the moisture level of your fiddle’s soil daily with a moisture meter, wooden stick, or your finger. If you notice your soil drying out faster than it did during the winter, try watering a day or two early rather than giving it more water when you do water.
2. Heating and air conditioning
Many of us use air conditioning, space heaters, or a furnace to stabilize temperatures in our houses. Unfortunately, indoor climate control forces a lot of dry air through the vents in our homes, which can wreak havoc on humidity-loving fiddle leaf figs.
If your fig’s leaves start drying out but the soil isn’t bone-dry, make sure your plant isn’t near an A/C vent. If it is, close the vent or find a better location for your fiddle.
3. Compacted soil
If you haven’t repotted your fiddle for some time, the soil in your plant’s pot may become compacted into a hard lump that doesn’t absorb water very well. You can tell your soil is compacted when the water just sits on top without immediately sinking through or when the soil starts pulling away from the edges of the pot (shrinkage).
This can also happen if you leave your fiddle in its nursery pot for too long.
Compacted soil can be especially dangerous for your fiddle for several reasons. It can prevent your roots from breathing and growing. It can also cause root rot because once the water does penetrate, the soil can take forever to dry out, leaving the root ball to sit in water for too long.
If you notice that your fiddle’s soil is hard and not absorbing water well, it might be time to repot. Gently break up the root ball to remove as much of the old soil as possible and repot in fresh, fast-draining soil.
If repotting isn’t an option for whatever reason, you can try aerating your fiddle’s soil to get you through until repotting is more feasible.
4. Nursery pots
We already talked about how leaving a fiddle in its nursery pot for too long can lead to compacted soil, but some nursery pots come with another hazard that can dry your fiddle out.
Some growers use pots with way too many drainage holes that are designed to keep the roots dry so they can be watered each day in the nursery (Home Depot is notorious for this).
This is much more convenient for greenhouse workers who make their watering rounds each day, but it poses a threat to fiddles once we take them home and stop watering every day. You may buy a tree and start with your intended watering schedule based on typical recommendations but still wind up with a droopy, dried-out plant.
If you can’t keep your fiddle watered while in its grower’s pot, it’s worth repotting, even if you haven’t had the plant for very long. In most cases, a little root shock poses far less threat than too much drainage.
Monitor Your Fiddle’s Soil
The best way to prevent under-watering (and over-watering) is to closely monitor your fiddle leaf fig’s soil.
Use your finger, a wooden stick, or a moisture meter like this one to check your plant’s soil a few times per week, and more if you’ve just brought it home and are still getting to know it or if the seasons are transitioning.
This will help you keep tabs on your plant’s watering needs so you can adjust your watering routine regularly.
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