One of the most common questions we hear about fiddle leaf figs is “How much do I water it?”
We’ve written about this before, but we wanted to expand on the topic because one of the fastest ways to kill a fiddle leaf fig is to water it incorrectly.
Dryness can also damage your fiddle, causing leaves to dry to a crisp and fall off!
It’s important to know how often and how much to water your fiddle leaf fig, but there is no one-size-fits-all advice for watering because there are so many factors that determine a plant’s watering needs.
Two Common Watering Methods
There are two schools of thought for watering a fiddle leaf fig:
Some people say to give the plant a measured amount of water each week, usually about a cup per foot of height.
Others prefer to add water to the soil until the water starts to drain out the bottom of the pot.
These can both be correct, depending on the following factors:
Factors to Consider When Watering Your Fiddle Leaf Fig
Fiddle leaf figs love light. We recommend putting your plant in bright, indirect sunlight to help it grow and thrive, but proper lighting also helps the plant use water more efficiently.
If your plant doesn’t get enough light, you may notice that it takes the soil a long time to dry out. Without light, the soil will retain more moisture and you’ll risk problems associated with overwatering.
This isn’t to say you can get away with less light if you give the plant less water, but if your plant has less-than-optimal lighting, you may want to water on the lighter side until you’re able to provide more light.
As tropical plants, fiddles also love humidity. A lack of humidity can cause drying and cracking in the leaves, and new leaves may grow out with holes or even crumple up entirely.
You can improve a plant’s situation by providing humidity with a pebble tray or humidifier, but if you’re in a dry climate, your plant may need more water than a fiddle living in a naturally humid environment.
Fiddle leaf fig owners in dry climates might find more success with the water-until-it-drains method, depending on these other factors.
Temperature also plays a huge role in your fiddle’s water needs.
In general, your fiddle will want more watering in the warmer months and less water in the cooler months. We suggest gradually tapering the amount of water your give your fiddle in the fall and gradually increasing again in the spring.
If you live in an area without distinct seasons, you may not need to do this as much, but watch your fiddle closely for signs of dryness or over watering as the seasons change.
Fiddles generally grow more in the spring and summer, so they’ll need more water at this time of year than in the fall and winter. Again, gradually increase your water in the spring and decrease in the fall.
This factor is more to prevent over watering than anything else.
Many new fiddle leaf fig owners make the mistake of putting their fiddle in a pot that’s much larger than the root ball. A baby fiddle in a giant pot is a recipe for disaster!
Large pots with lots of soil can hold onto much more water than your fiddle actually needs, which can contribute to root rot. When you pot your fiddle, make sure to use a pot that’s only slightly larger than the root ball (about 2-3” larger in circumference) to ensure the roots get the right amount of water.
We say it all the time: good drainage is KEY to maintaining a healthy fig!
Fiddles don’t like to sit in water, so make sure to choose a pot with good drainage (a few holes in the bottom or one large hole) so the water can drain out. Use a fast-draining soil as well. (We like a 50/50 mix of indoor potting mix and cactus soil.) This will hold water long enough for the roots to absorb what they need while letting the excess drain away.
It’s also worth mentioning that the material your pot is made of can make a difference! Terracotta pots tend to absorb moisture and pull it away from the root ball, so you may notice that the soil dries out quicker in a terracotta pot than in a plastic, glass, or ceramic pot. It’s something to consider, especially if you have more than one fiddle in different kinds of pots!
Sometimes when a fiddle is fighting off a disease like root rot or a bacterial infection, it’s best to go easy on the watering. A recovering fiddle will probably need less water than a fiddle that’s healthy and growing!
If your fiddle has been ill, err on the side of under watering.
So…how much do I water it again?
This is a lot to think about all at once! No two fiddles will have the exact same needs, even if they’re the same size and live in the same home.
The best way to figure out how much water your fiddle needs is to keep a close eye on the moisture level of the soil (especially when you first get your fiddle) and watch the leaves closely for signs of stress.
To get started:
It’s better to slightly underwater than overwater, so start by giving your fiddle a cup of water per foot of height and watching the leaves and soil closely for the following signs, and adjust your watering accordingly.
Ideally, the top several inches of soil should dry out within 7-10 days after watering.
Too dry: If the soil dries out sooner, you may want to give it more water when you do water. If it’s hot, dry, in bright light, or if your plant’s in a growers or terracotta pot, it will dry out quicker. If the leaves droop or get dry brown spots, your fiddle wants a drink!
Too wet: If the soil takes longer to dry out, you’ll want to decrease the amount of water you give it. Make sure your pot and soil drain well and that your plant receives great light! If you notice dark brown spots on the lower leaves or mold in the soil, it wants less water.
This is definitely a balancing act, but the better you get at reading your plant and monitoring these factors, the healthier your plant will be! It will be second nature to you in no time!
Come chat about your fiddle leaf fig watering schedule with other fiddle leaf fig owners in our Facebook Community.