A common question we see from fiddle leaf fig owners is “How much light does my fiddle need?” On that same note, sometimes it’s hard to tell whether your fiddle is getting too much light or not enough. Let’s talk about that in our fiddle leaf fig troubleshooting guide!
Generally, fiddles LOVE light. As tropical plants, they thrive in pretty bright sunlight, though most indoor fiddle leaf figs do best in bright, indirect sunlight rather than directly in the sun’s rays.
Though you can acclimate them to full sun (and it’s actually a good idea to do so!), your fiddle can suffer if it gets too much light when it’s not used to it.
It’s also common for fiddles to suffer due to insufficient sunlight, and fiddle owners often mistake this issue for an overwatering problem or even root shock.
Learn how to tell whether your fiddle is getting too much or too little sunlight with our Fiddle Leaf Fig troubleshooting guide.
Fiddle Leaf Fig Troubleshooting: Signs Your Fiddle Is Getting Too Much Light
If your fiddle’s leaves appear to have a light-brown dusting to them (as opposed to brown spots or patches), your fiddle is likely sunburned, especially if it’s been in indirect sunlight. This often happens when fiddles are placed in south- or west-facing windows or when their owners put them outside and forget about them! This is the most obvious sign of too much sun or plant lights that are too close or too bright.
If your fiddle’s leaves are light green as opposed to yellow (we’ll talk about this later) or dark green, your fiddle might be a little sun-stressed. If your plant is in a super-bright window, consider moving it back a few feet to see if it improves.
Next Step: Acclimation
If you determine that your fiddle leaf fig is getting more light than it can handle, use this post to acclimate your fiddle to direct sunlight instead of back off on the light forever. Bright light is actually great for fiddles, but not if they’re used to shadier conditions!
Fiddle Leaf Fig Troubleshooting: Signs Your Fiddle Isn’t Getting Enough Light
This condition is actually much more common than too much light. Here’s how to tell if you should find a brighter spot for your fiddle.
If you notice yellowing leaves on your fiddle, chances are that your fiddle would like more light! (It could also be nutrient deficiency, so consider that if you haven’t fertilized in a while.)
Perpetually Damp Soil
If your fiddle’s soil takes forever to dry out after you’ve watered, you might not actually be overwatering your plant. It just might be the lighting conditions! Light helps plants use water more efficiently, so your chances of overwatering increase when light is insufficient.
Note: Make sure to also check your drainage conditions. If the soil is too dense or compacted or if the pot doesn’t have enough drainage, it’s time for a new pot and soil!
Insufficient sunlight can exacerbate or even cause overwatering issues, and severe overwatering can lead to root rot and sometimes bacterial infections. Both conditions lead to dark or medium-brown spots on the leaves. If you only see a few spots, you may be able to treat the problem with brighter light, a lighter hand with the watering can, improved drainage, and our Root Supplement, but more severe cases require repotting into fresh soil and a clean pot.
Plants get their energy from sunlight, and it takes a lot of energy to grow! If your fiddle hasn’t gained any height or sprouted a new leaf in a while, especially during the spring and summer when fiddles tend to experience growth spurts, it might be time to switch to a brighter spot!
Note: This can also be a sign of nutrient deficiency, so if you haven’t fertilized in a while, now’s a good time to start!
If tiny flying insects are plaguing your fiddle, it might need more light! Fungus gnats like damp, dark conditions and lay their eggs in the top few inches of soil. If your fiddle has an infestation, scoop out the top few inches of soil and replace with fresh soil, sprinkle a little cinnamon on top, and find a brighter window for your fiddle.
If you notice mushrooms growing in your fiddle’s soil (or even fuzzy mold), this means your soil is staying damp for too long and that your fiddle isn’t getting enough light. Mold and mushrooms grow in dark, damp conditions, so you’ll need to create the opposite to discourage growth. Repot into fresh soil (or just scoop out the mold or mushrooms and replace the top layer of soil) and increase your fiddle’s light.
The Best Lighting for Fiddle Leaf Figs
So what are the best lighting conditions for a fiddle leaf fig?
If your fiddle is acclimated to full sun, then the brighter, the better! But if you just got your fiddle or if it’s not yet ready for the full blast of the sun, an east-facing window is best; your fiddle will receive the bright but gentle morning sun and a good supply of bright light all day. A north-facing window can also work if you live in a bright location, but if you don’t get as much sun where you live, you might find your fiddle developing issues in a northern window.
Next Step: More Light!
Luckily, you don’t have to have perfect lighting in your home for a healthy fiddle! You can always brighten up a dark space with full-spectrum grow lights. In fact, I love to put these bulbs in beautiful light fixtures to keep my plants happy!
Providing lots of bright light is one of the most important things you can do to keep your fiddle leaf fig healthy. Learn more about what it takes to grow a healthy fiddle with our book, webinar, and Fiddle Leaf Fig Resource Center Facebook Group!