Every fiddle leaf fig plant owner intuitively knows this is a long-term relationship. No one buys a young ficus lyrata expecting to turn it into a stately tree by week’s end. In fact, the more emotionally attached caregivers get to their new plant, the more information they consume, and the more tempting it is to become confused by all the (often conflicting) advice out there today. One of the most popular short-term cosmetic treatments recommended online is to put coconut oil on fiddle leaf fig leaves.
At first blush, the idea makes sense. Coconut oil and fiddle leaf fig trees have both exploded in popularity in recent years. The newfound cultural interest has sparked many commentaries on each, and it was only a matter of time before someone put the two together. Coconut oil successfully shines furniture, skin, hair, and shoes. It should be able to shine leaves of the ficus lyrata too, right?
The problem, though, is that in the long run, applying coconut oil to fiddle leaf fig trees’ leaves may backfire. While immediately beautifying, coconut oil may eventually have unintended negative effects.
When and How to Shine Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Leaves
The buildup of dust on the large fiddle-shaped leaves of your ficus lyrata can inhibit light absorption. And since a lack of light is one of the most common pitfalls of growing this particular plant, you’ll want to give your fiddle leaf fig every ray of sunshine it can get.
The obvious way to do this is by dusting off those leaves. Here’s how.
- Use your non-dominant hand to support a leaf by holding its underside.
- With a soft, damp cloth, gently wipe the top side of the leaf using small, circular motions.
- Use the firm corner of the rag to gently rub within the leaves’ larger veins.
To Oil or Not to Oil—That Is the Question
When deciding whether to go a step further and put coconut oil on your fiddle leaf fig plant leaves, first decide what result you’re hoping for. If the rabbi is coming for dinner and you need every houseplant temporarily looking its best, then sure, coconut oil may offer your fiddle leaf fig plant’s leaves a gratifying sheen.
Here’s a photo of a fiddle leaf fig plant’s leaf before dusting:
Here’s a shot of the same leaf after cleaning with water:
And finally, this is how our fiddle leaf fig plant’s same leaf appears after applying a coat of coconut oil:
The immediate aesthetic benefits are obvious.
But if you’re developing a harmonious, reciprocal, long-term relationship with your botanical friend, you may want to rethink the coconut oil application. That’s because some fiddle leaf fig owners have reported new, unexplained challenges with their plants after having applied coconut oil or olive oil.
Possible Reasons Not to Apply Coconut Oil to Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Leaves
While no official controlled studies have been conducted, anecdotal evidence and firsthand experience among experts at FiddleLeafFigPlant.com confirm a new shiny coconut oil applicant can increase occurrences of foliate sunburn, even if the sun’s rays only touch the plant briefly. Since water and oil don’t mix, your plant-misting regimen will also be rendered ineffective, and the leaves won’t respond as well to increased humidity. Other fiddle leaf fig caregivers have reported the oil clogs the leaves’ pores, inhibits breathability, and attracts hungry pests.
All these unintended repercussions are long-term issues. So again, if you’d like to dress up your fiddle leaf fig tree for a photo shoot or to impress a special visitor, then coconut oil may be an option for you. But for those who want to invest in a long-term care-giving relationship, control dust on leaves by checking out the three best natural ways to to clean fiddle leaf fig leaves.
For more information on how to keep your fiddle leaf fig tree healthy, happy, and thriving for years, grab a copy of The Fiddle Leaf Fig Expert today.
Meg S. Miller is an influential speaker and multiple award-winning author with nearly a decade of writing experience. In her latest book, Benefit of the Debt (April 28, 2018), Miller offers a unique perspective that gives fresh insight into common sources of brokenness within Christian marriages. Miller, her husband, Joe, and their three children live near Washington, D.C., where they own and operate an organic farm. When not writing, Miller loves doting on her six prized fiddle leaf fig trees. Learn more about Meg at www.benefitofthedebt.com.
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- Moisture meter to always know when your plant is thirsty.
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