Caring for your fiddle leaf fig can be complex and overwhelming, especially if you are a first-time plant owner. Good fiddle leaf fig care makes your plant stronger and more resistant to disease. But poor care creates a downward spiral of sickness and problems. Luckily, there are 10 critical components to successfully caring for your fiddle leaf fig plant. Follow these 10 commandments of fiddle leaf fig care for a happy and healthy plant.
1. Provide Proper Drainage
Fiddle leaf fig care starts with the root system; that is the basis of your plant’s health. Many people are not aware, but to work properly, roots need both water and oxygen. Proper drainage allows your plant’s root system to breathe and stay healthy. Without adequate drainage, root rot can set in and kill your plant.
Make sure your plant is potted properly and drains completely after each watering. To check, insert a wooden skewer to the bottom of the pot and make sure it’s not wet before you water. If it’s wet a week after you watered last, you need to improve your drainage in a hurry.
2. Don’t Drown Them
In addition to providing proper drainage, it’s important to let your plant’s soil dry out a bit between waterings. Too much water is one of the most common mistakes owners make with their fiddle leaf fig care. Be aware of your plant’s water requirements and make sure you aren’t drowning your plant.
If you’re confused about whether your plant has been getting too much or too little water, there are some surefire ways to tell. Ask yourself the following questions about over-watering:
- Do you water more than once a week? If so, your plant is probably over-watered.
- Is the soil wet to the touch one inch below the surface? Stick your finger in and find out. If so, over-watering is likely. (This is where a moisture meter comes in handy!)
- Do your plant’s leaves have dark spots or edges? This could signify too much water.
- Are their flies or a musty smell in your plant’s soil? Too much water is the culprit.
Here are some ways to tell if you’ve been under-watering your plant:
- Are the newest leaves smaller than the existing leaves? They may be lacking water or nutrients for growth.
- Is your plant dropping leaves? This can be caused by low humidity or thirst.
- Is the top inch of soil very dry? Your plant may be thirsty. (Again, pull out your trusty moisture meter to know for sure!)
- Are the edges of your plant’s leaves brown? They may be dry.
You don’t need to drench your plant to give it enough water.
To keep things simple, water your plant the same amount each week. For plants that measure less than 2 feet from the soil to the tallest leaves, water 1 cup each week. For plants that are greater than 2 feet tall, water with 2 cups of water each week. If your plant is between 3 and 6 feet tall, use 3 cups of water. More than 6 feet tall? Water with 4 cups of water each week or just until your container drains. Never let your plant sit in water, and make sure your container fully drains each time you water.
3. Give Them a Rest in Winter
During the winter, your plant receives less sun, and as a result, it has less energy to complete its metabolic functions. As a result, it uses less water and nutrients. Water less and suspend fertilization during the winter to give your plant a chance to rest.
Fiddles generally love consistency, but we can’t control the seasons and the environmental changes they bring.
This might sound like a lot of adjusting for us and like the furthest thing from consistency, but the idea here is to maintain the consistency of the environment for your fiddle. Do your best to maintain the temperature, humidity, and quality of light your tree receives, whether that means adding a grow light, using a humidifier in the winter, or covering an AC vent.
4. Accept the Loss of Older Leaves
Plants are always growing and shedding older leaves in favor of new growth. Fiddle leaf fig plants will drop their lower leaves as they grow taller.
The bottom leaves are usually the oldest leaves because most new growth on fiddle leaf figs occurs at the top.
It’s normal for bottom leaves to droop and eventually fall off because the tree just doesn’t need them anymore.
If your tree drops a leaf or two from the bottom, don’t panic.
5. Give Them Humidity
The ideal humidity for a fiddle leaf fig is between 30 and 65 percent. If you live in a very dry climate, you may need to supplement your plant with extra humidity by misting it or providing a humidifier (we recommend this one). Be sure not to put your fiddle leaf fig near a heater vent, which will dry out your plant.
Simply run a warm mist humidifier within 5 feet of (but not directly onto) your fiddle leaf fig to replace the airborne moisture your heater saps.
6. Treat Problems Immediately
Fiddle leaf fig plants are relatively slow growers, since their large leaves require a lot of energy to build. This makes treating ailments quickly even more important, since it takes them so long to recover from problems. Be sure to act quickly if you see brown spots, leaf drop, or an insect infestation. (To protect your houseplant from insects, bacteria, and fungus, use our Houseplant Leaf Armor. As an added bonus, the Leaf Armor also cleans and adds shine to your houseplant’s leaves.)
If your fiddle leaf fig is healthy, its root system will begin to outgrow its pot in a few years. If you see roots growing near the bottom or edges of the pot, it may be time to repot to give your plant more space to grow. If you’ve reached your maximum container size, top-dress instead of repotting, by removing the top four inches of soil and replacing with new soil.
8. Feed Them Properly
During the growing season (spring and summer), your plant will be putting a lot of resources toward growing new branches and leaves. To support a healthy plant, it’s critical to provide proper nutrition. Use a diluted liquid fertilizer each time you water (every week) in the spring and summer and every other time you water in the fall. Do not fertilize in winter while your plant is dormant and not growing. Try a liquid house plant fertilizer or Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant Food for best results.
9. Use the Proper Tools
To take proper care of your plant, it’s important to keep the proper tools on hand, including a watering can, moisture meter, sharp pruning shears, and even a rolling plant stand that allows you to move and rotate your fiddle leaf fig.
10. Check on Your Plant Every Week
The best way to take good care of your plant is to get to know it better. Take the time to check on your fiddle leaf fig every week. First, take a look at the soil to see if it’s wet or dry before you water. Look at the leaves for any signs of wilting or brown spots. Rotate your plant to make sure it gets even sunlight. Finally, take an overall assessment of your plant and make a note of any changes like new growth.
To Learn More about Fiddle Leaf Fig Care:
- For more information about fiddle leaf figs, join the Fiddle Leaf Fig Club, register for our free Fiddle Leaf Fig Care Webinar, or enroll in our free Fiddle Leaf Fig Course for advanced fiddle leaf fig care.
- Read The Fiddle Leaf Fig Expert, your complete guide to growing healthy fiddle leaf fig plants. The book is available in full-color paperback or Kindle edition on Amazon now!
- Click to join our community on Facebook: Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant Resource Group.