How to grow and care for a fiddle leaf fig
All you need to know about growing fiddle leaf fig, in our Grow Guide.
The fiddle leaf fig, Ficus lyrata, is a tall, evergreen house plant with large, glossy, fiddle-shaped leaves growing to 45cm. It's perfect for creating a focal point indoors, where it can be grown with other plants to create a jungle display, or used on its own as a statement piece. Its native habitat is tropical central and western Africa, where it can grow to 15m, but pot-grown plants grow to just 2-2.5m, perfect for adding interest and height to the corner of a room.
Bear in mind that fiddle leaf fig plants are toxic to cats and dogs, and the sap is an irritant, so keep out of the way of children.
How to grow fiddle leaf fig
Grow fiddle leaf fig in a spot that gets bright but indirect light, away from draughts. Water regularly but take care not to over-water, ensuring the compost remains just moist. Feed with liquid fertiliser once a month from spring through to the end of summer, and remove yellowing leaves as and when you need to. Avoid moving your fiddle leaf fig, as this could shock the plant and cause leaves to drop.
Where to grow fiddle leaf fig
Place your fiddle leaf fig in a room where the temperature won’t drop below 15ºC, even in winter. It does best in a spot in bright, indirect light, away from draughts. If your fiddle leaf fig is getting too much light, you may notice brown patches on its leaves or yellowing foliage. In shadier locations, the plant may grow slowly.
How to repot a fiddle leaf fig
The best time to repot a fiddle leaf fig is in spring. Fiddle leaf figs should be repotted around every three years, into a slightly larger pot. To check whether your plant is pot bound, look at the bottom of the pot to see if the roots are growing out of the drainage holes. Even if it’s not pot bound, it’s a good idea to change the compost every few years.
You can keep your fiddle leaf fig slightly pot bound to restrict its growth, but if the pot is too small and the compost dries out you may find your plant topples over. When repotting, choose a pot that is big enough to balance your plant. Replant into free-draining, peat-free house plant compost.
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How to care for fiddle leaf fig
Fiddle leaf figs suffer when over- or under-watered, although it’s better to err on the side of under-watering. During spring and summer, check whether your plant needs water by sticking your finger into the compost. Water if the top few cm of compost are dry. Reduce watering in winter.
- Under-watering symptoms – yellowing leaves, stunted or distorted growth, yellow spots on leaves
- Over-watering symptoms – lower leaves turning yellow, soft or rotten stems
Mist fiddle leaf figs regularly as they need humidity and absorb moisture through their leaves. Clean the leaves with a damp cloth to remove dust.
Feed with liquid fertiliser once a month from spring through to the end of summer.
This plant requires only light pruning. Cut off any yellow or dead leaves at the base of the leaf's stem.
How to propagate fiddle leaf fig
The best way to propagate fiddle leaf fig is to take stem cuttings, but bear in mind this process can take up to several months and isn't always successful. For the best chance of success, take cuttings in spring or summer when the plant is growing.
1. Choose a cutting with one leaf. Look for a stem that is just thicker than a pencil
2. Cut just below a node using clean snips or a knife
3. Push the cutting into damp, peat-free house plant compost with the leaf sticking out of the soil
4. Put a plastic bag over the cutting or a lid if you are putting your cutting in a tray. The cutting will root faster with bottom heat
5. When a second leaf has grown, remove the bag and pot on into a small 7cm pot
Pests and diseases
Keep an eye out for common indoor pests such as red spider mite, mealybugs, scale insects and thrips.
Fine webbing on the leaves as well as mites and eggs on the undersides of leaves are likely to be red spider mite. These thive in dry environments so improve humidity by standing the pot on a try of pebbles with water up to just below the top of the pebbles, or increase misting.
White waxy insects on the underside of your plant's leaves could be mealybugs. Remove any affected leaves. If cases are severe you may consider spraying with an organic spray containing fatty acids, but this isn't usually necessary.
Dull leaves with silver mottling on the upper side or dotted with black could be thrips, tiny insects around 2mm long. Increasing humidity can help, which means misting plants or standing them on saucers filled with pebbles and water. Remove and destroy any dead leaves. If the infestation is severe, spray with an organic spray or apply biological controls.
Tiny insects on the stems and leaves are likely scale insects. These sap sucking insects can reduce a plant's vigour. Try removing them with your nail or, if necessary, spraying with an organic spray.
Advice on buying fiddle leaf fig
- If you don't have room for a full size fiddle leaf fig, try the dwarf variety 'Bambino', which grows to around 60-70cm tall
- Always check plants for signs of damage before buying, or on arrival if buying online. Look for healthy leaves, with no brown patches or spots
- Check your plant for pests before buying or when it arrives in the post
Where to buy fiddle leaf fig
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