Many times when we acquire a new fiddle leaf fig, we might not just be getting one plant! Our fiddle leaf fig may actually be made up of several stems (or trunks, for larger plants) in the same pot.
This can be a really good thing, especially if you like your fiddles to have a bushier appearance, because plants with multiple stems can look a lot fuller. The other side of that coin is that this can sometimes cause health problems for parts of the plant.
And sometimes these separate stems can fight for space and become rootbound very quickly, in which case ALL stems or trunks may suffer!
This may require you to split your fiddle leaf fig into separate, smaller plants.
So how do you know when to separate a fiddle leaf fig?
Let’s talk about the signs to watch for that let you know it’s time to split.
Sign #1: One of the plants is significantly smaller than the others.
The main problem with having several stems in the same pot is that the different plants will fight for space and resources. This may mean that some stems may become more successful and use more resources, leaving less for one or two of the other stems.
If you notice that one stem is getting left behind, it might be time for a change.
Sign #2: One plant is drying out or losing leaves.
This is another possible effect of one stem getting left in the dust when it comes to resources like space, water, and nutrients. If you’re watering and fertilizing evenly and one stem is still having a rough time, it may be happier in its own pot where it won’t have to compete.
Sign #3: One or more of the plants keeps losing its new leaves…or not growing any at all.
Same song, third verse! If one stem isn’t growing any new leaves or keeps sprouting baby leaves only for them to fall off a few days later, that stem isn’t getting enough water or nutrients to support that new growth.
Sign #4: All stems stop growing.
It’s normal for fiddle leaf figs to sometimes experience periods of dormancy, like in the winter. But if your care routine is dialed in and your fiddle still isn’t growing in the spring or summer, your fiddle might be root-bound and struggling for space to keep growing roots!
Separation is a good idea at this point, but if you’re not ready for that, you can repot into a container that’s 2-3 inches larger than the root ball, which should solve the problem for at least another year. But watch for the signs we’ve already listed to make sure one stem isn’t still getting choked by the others.
Sign #5: The soil becomes compacted.
If your fiddle’s soil becomes rock-hard and starts pulling away from the edges of the pot, it’s a good time to separate your fiddles because you’ll have to repot soon anyway. (Just make sure to prune the roots first. Here’s how to do this!)
When you unpot the plant, make sure to massage the root ball a little to loosen up the old, hardened soil. Remove as much of the old soil from the roots as possible.
Repot your fiddle (or fiddles) into an appropriately sized pot with drainage and fresh soil that drains well.
Sign #6: The entire plant is root-wrapped.
If you can see the roots of your fiddle growing around in a circle along the inside of the pot, it’s time to repot. And this is an excellent time to separate your fiddle, as long as you plan ahead.
Sign #7: You just want to separate the plant.
Of course, it’s completely fine to separate your fiddle if you prefer a different look! No issues there. Just make sure to follow these steps to ensure that your smaller fiddles will recover quickly and thrive after the split.
Note: The best time to separate (or prune, or repot) a fiddle leaf fig is in the spring or early summer, when your fiddle is most likely experiencing a growth spurt, because that’s when it will recover most easily.
If and when you do decide to separate, here’s how to do it, step by step.
That’s it! Separating a fiddle can be a vital step to maintaining your plant’s health and a fun way to expand your plant collection. Because who doesn’t want more fiddles? (No one, that’s who!)
Check out these articles and resources to take the best possible care of your fiddle leaf fig plant:
The Most Beautiful Pots for a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree
How to Propagate a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree With Video
The Perfect Fertilizer for Fiddle Leaf Fig Plants
Ebook: The Fiddle Leaf Fig Expert