We’ve seen this question circling around in our Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant Resource Facebook group for a while, so we thought we should address it in a post!
Should you bottom water a fiddle leaf fig?
If you haven’t heard of bottom watering before, here’s a quick rundown: Bottom watering is a watering technique in which you set the plant’s pot in a sink or container of water so the soil can absorb water from the bottom. Your pot must have drainage holes for this to work, of course.
A lot of plant owners love this technique, but is it right for a fiddle leaf fig?
The Pros and Cons of Bottom Watering
- Bottom watering is great for plants that are root-wrapped or with compacted soil because it allows the roots to absorb more water than they would by traditional top watering.
- With this watering method, you won’t accidentally get water on the leaves. This can sometimes cause problems for fiddles.
- Allows the lower roots to receive more water.
- Helps strengthen roots by encouraging them to grow downward instead of around the sides of the pot.
- Nearly eliminates the risk of overwatering because the soil will only absorb so much water. If you just dump water in from the top, you risk overwatering and root rot!
- Bottom watering can cause a buildup of salts and minerals in the soil because they won’t have a chance to flush out. To counter this, make sure to water from the top every once in a while.
- Upper roots can dry out if you bottom water exclusively.
- It’s harder to add liquid fertilizer when you bottom water exclusively because you can’t control the amount your plant absorbs.
Do Fiddle Leaf Figs Prefer Bottom Watering?
The truth is, there’s no definitive answer to this question because it’s a matter of personal preference. Some fiddle leaf fig owners love bottom watering because they tend to overwater when they water from the top, and others struggle with it because of salt buildup or difficulty of fertilizing.
If you tend to overwater your fiddle, you might do well with bottom watering. However, you’ll want to water from the top once a month or so to flush out excess salts from fertilizer, and to ADD liquid fertilizer like Fiddle Leaf Fig Food.
If your fiddle is in a growing period, struggling with nutrient deficiency, or if you have a good handle on top watering and haven’t run into problems with root rot, I suggest you stick with traditional top watering. Fiddles like consistency, so if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. And if your fiddle needs nutrients, go with the technique that allows you to fertilize.
If you’re still figuring out how to water your fiddle properly, try these articles!
How to Bottom Water a Fiddle Leaf Fig
So how do you bottom water a fiddle if you decide this is a good idea for your plant?
It’s very simple!
Step 1: Make sure your fiddle is ready to be watered. Use a moisture meter or finger test to see if your fiddle is ready for a drink. The soil should be dry 2-3 inches down and your meter should read 3-4.
Step 2: Prepare your container. Fill a sink or large container halfway full of water. Make sure it’s large enough for your plant to sit inside.
Step 3: Place the plant in the container. You can even add a little Fiddle Leaf Fig Food to the water to give your fiddle some nutrients, though you won’t be able to control how much it absorbs. Check on the plant in 10 minutes to see if it has absorbed enough water. Your meter should read moist and the soil should be damp to the touch. If the soil hasn’t absorbed enough water, leave it for another 10 minutes.
Step 4: Drain the pot. Once your fiddle has been thoroughly watered, remove it from the container and place the pot in the tub or sink to drain. If you put it back in its drainage tray, remember to empty the tray later.
Your watering method is completely up to you and the needs of your fiddle. If you struggle with overwatering, give it a try!
Have you tried bottom watering your fiddle leaf fig? How did it go? Let us know in the comments!
To learn more:
- Sign up for our free Fiddle Leaf Fig Care 101 Webinar or our free Fiddle Leaf Fig Course, and make sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter.
- Download our free Propagation Guide.
- 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!
- Join our Facebook Community and chat with other fiddle leaf fig lovers.
Grab the Essentials for Your Fiddle Leaf Fig:
- Premium Fiddle Leaf Fig Potting Soil
- Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant Food
- Root Rot Treatment to treat one of the most common issues affecting fiddle leaf figs.
- Houseplant Leaf Armor to protect against insects, bacteria, and fungus (As an added bonus, it also cleans and adds shine to your plant’s leaves!)
- Moisture meter to always know when your plant is thirsty.
- Houseplant Propagation Promoter to propagate more quickly and with more success.