If you’re new to fiddle leaf fig plants, you’ll only need to know the most important, fundamental, and basic care instructions.
For example, with adequate light exposure and a good root aeration regimen, many ficus lyrata owners can get by with whatever basic cactus mix happens to be on sale when they purchase their plant.
But if you’re ready to optimize your plant’s growing medium, graduating to the ideal, perfect mix for this particular species, read on.
How to Create Your Own Fiddle Leaf Fig Soil
The fiddle leaf fig tree thrives in its native tropical rain forest environment. Since you likely can’t replicate those conditions precisely, we’ll target the factors we can mimic. One thing we can do is serve the plant’s roots by crafting our own growing medium.
In what seems like a contradiction, experts at the North Carolina State University recommend a mix that allows permeability of both moisture and air.
But the recommendation doesn’t conflict at all: instead, you see, it allows roots to drink and breathe simultaneously. Perfect!
Here’s what you’ll need to get started.
I use Ocean Forest from Fox Farms. Like the name suggests, this potting soil blends naturally occurring goodies like earthworm castings, bat guano, crab meal, and fish emulsion with sphagnum peat moss.
My family is fortunate to live on an organic chicken farm, where we have unlimited access to premium aged compost. The selection at your local garden center, though, should suffice. Ask for a shellfish compost like lobster or crab.
Lightweight and breathable, pine bark or mulch is an ornamental tree staple.
Did you know your tree’s roots actually breathe? The respiratory function of a fiddle’s root system can be greatly hindered by a lack of oxygen, which contributes to root rot, one of the ficus lyrata’s most common pitfalls. Prevent this tragedy with a handful of active charcoal at the bottom of your planter pot and another handful tossed into the custom mix you’re crafting. A natural soil conditioner, this anti-fungal carbon absorbs harmful bacteria and heavy metals like aluminum. If you can’t create the ideal mix, at least ensure you include a bit of this inexpensive, natural growth stimulant.
Speaking of stimulating growth, you’ll need a solid fertilizer to apply after mixing and adopting your new soil. A good fertilizer provides ongoing nutrition as you care for your fiddle leaf fig plant.
For this, grab a bottle of our own specially formulated fiddle leaf fig plant food. Your ficus lyrata will thank you in its own special way.
A Recipe for Growth: Crafting Your Custom Mix
Ready to get to work? First, find a mixing container large enough to hold what you’ll need. I have 11 fiddles these days (apologies to my spouse), so I use a lidded trash can. If you’re only potting one plant, a 5-gallon jobber will do.
Combine equal parts premium soil, bark, and compost. Then toss in one cup (I say “handful”) of charcoal per gallon of custom mix. Finally, give the whole mixture a good stir.
Before scooping your mixture into planter pots, line the bottom of each pot with a layer of active charcoal. While there’s no true substitution for well-placed draining holes, the carbon will compensate for episodes of affectionate overwatering.
And that’s it!
You’re ready to repot, transplant, or supplement your current plants’ growing medium with this custom mix.
In time, you’ll come to realize that some environmental factors are so crucial they can make up for other shortcomings.
For example, my own fiddle leaf figs can survive a skipped watering if I occasionally go on vacation. The same trees would not survive that occasional negligence if I didn’t optimize other factors like light exposure, humidity, and nutrition.
All this to say you have many options when it comes to the right potting mix for your fiddle leaf fig. The ideal mix is important, yes, but only after you’ve optimized for the most vital factors.
To learn exactly what those fundamentals are, grab a copy of The Fiddle Leaf Fig Expert, Claire Akin’s new book. And join our free online community. We’ll see you (and your ficus lyrata) there!
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