Plants

Guide to Fiddle Leaf Fig: How to Grow & Care for “Ficus Lyrata”

Read our guide to Fiddle Leaf Fig plants for everything you will ever need to know! Tips for planting & caring for “Ficus Lyrata”
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The Fiddle Leaf Fig is a popular ornamental tree, proclaimed the “it” plant back in 2012. Ever since, this beautiful plant has been popular with indoor plant lovers, as well as design bloggers and Instagrammers.

Named after the fiddle instrument (violin) for its large, fiddle-shaped leaves, the Ficus Lyrata is an affirmation of good taste and refined aesthetic. This famous tree has even gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.

Today, you can find it taking prime position in bedrooms, home office spaces, and lounges all over the world. Homeowners and designers alike love the Fiddle Leaf Figs because they complement many interior styles, from minimalistic to industrial and boho-chic.

The Fiddle Leaf Fig is native to Africa where it grows in tropical warm and humid conditions. Nevertheless, it has been successfully introduced and cultivated in many parts around the world, including the West Indies, the Philippines, Nicaragua, and other countries where it adorns parks and gardens, as well and indoor spaces.

About the Fiddle Leaf Fig

  • Lyrata is part of the Moraceae family which consists of approximately 40 genera and 1000 species of trees, shrubs, herbs, and lianas. Most of them have milky sap and grow in tropical or subtropical regions.
  • Ficus is a large genus that is often cultivated for their fig fruits or decorative purposes.
  • In 1916, F. Lyrata was reported to be present in most European Botanic Gardens, including Brussels, Berlin, and Kyiv.
  • Lyrata can be a problem species in areas where it may compete with native flora due to its fast-growing rate and tendency to attach to nearby plants. However, it requires a special pollinator wasp to have viable seeds, and it can be kept under control by herbicides.
  • The fiddle leaf fig can kill other plants, but only in the wild where it starts growing on the surface of other trees. Its roots eventually go down into the ground where they surround and strangle the host tree.
  • Indoor fiddle leaf figs come from a nursery, so you don’t have to worry that your beloved house plant killed another so that it could thrive.
  • It needs time to adapt. The Ficus Lyrata is a fabulous house plant, brightening up any dull corner in your house. However, it may need some time to adapt to a new environment, as it doesn’t like to move around a lot.
  • The fiddle leaf likes consistent temperature and humidity levels.
  • Your fiddle leaf can live for 25-50 years with proper care. Since they are pretentious and can be tricky to keep, most house plants don’t live that long.
  • Due to its large leaves, the fiddle leaf is highly efficient at purifying the air and is a popular choice for indoor and office use.
Fiddle Leaf Fig
Fiddle Leaf Fig

Fiddle Leaf Fig Features: An Overview

  • The fiddle leaf fig will grow moderately fast, reaching heights of up to 40 feet and extending up to 35 feet. Indoors, it can reach heights of around 10 feet.
  • The size of the fiddle leaf fig can be controlled by using a small pot and by careful pruning.
  • It is pretty resilient, being able to withstand a wide range of soil styles, including acidic, clay, alkaline, loam, and sand, as long as it’s well-drained.
  • Native to the tropical and subtropical area, this plant thrives in high humidity levels. An indoor tree might start to look fatigued without proper humidity levels.
  • The fiddle leaf fig grows in warm and wet regions, but it can be successfully grown indoors in temperate areas, where it normally remains shorter and does not flower or fruit.
  • During warm periods with temperatures over 10 °C (50 °F), the plant can be placed outside.
  • Although it is normally found in warm, wet surroundings, Ficus Lyrata has a high tolerance for drought and can grow in different lighting conditions such as partial sun, full sun, or partial shade.
  • With the right conditions and care, the fiddle leaf fig will grow happily in your home.
  • As an indoor plant, it will not bear any fruit or flowers. When grown outdoors, it will bear fruit, but unlike its cousin Ficus Carica, the common fig, they are not edible.
  • If you have animals or children, you might want to keep the plant out of their reach. Their sap is mildly toxic to children and pets if consumed.
Leaves of the Fiddle Leaf Fig
Leaves of the Fiddle Leaf Fig

Growing Fiddle Leaf Fig

Your Fiddle Leaf Fig appreciates a warm, humid environment with plenty of light. It is best to place the pot away from drafts or air vents. The ideal location would be close by or in front of windows facing south or west. An eastern facing window could also work, as long as you place it directly in front of it to make sure it gets enough light.

To keep your fiddle leaf fig looking nice, make sure it receives 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. A plant with northern exposure will most likely not thrive. The safest bet is to place the plant directly in front of your window.

Fiddle leaf fig trees are sensitive to environmental changes, so don’t panic if they lose a few leaves once you move them into your home. Every three months, rinse the dust from their large leaves with room temperature water to make sure they can absorb more sunlight.

The most important thing to know about your fiddle leaf fig is that it likes to be well-drained, so a well-draining soil mix is essential. Choose a soil with chunky particles so that water can flow freely, such as a cactus and succulent soil mix.

ficus lyrata
ficus lyrata growing

Add in an extra quarter of bark chips or another chunky substrate to make sure your plant is happy. Alternatively, you can make your soil mix with some high-quality potting mix (four parts), horticultural charcoal (one part), and pine bark mulch (one part).

Keep in mind that the soil we provide our plants with is not an endless source of nutrients. Throughout the growing season, normally in spring-summer, your fiddle leaf fig will need more resources to grow new leaves. During this period, use a diluted liquid fertilizer when you water the plant.

Pruning is also an important part of growing and caring for your fiddle leaf fig tree. Cutting back a few leaves will encourage healthy growth. Start by pruning the damaged leaves and cutting any crossing branches. Make sure your cuts are minimum one inch away from the trunk, to prevent any damage.  To keep your tree strong and healthy, make it a habit to prune any overgrowth!

Fiddle Leaf Fig Ficus Lyrata Live Plant, From Amazon

Watering Fiddle Leaf Fig

The best thing you can do for your fiddle leaf fig is to water it regularly and never let the soil dry out completely. Soil shrinking is a big issue for your plant because the water will run between the soil and the pot. As a result, next time you water, the moisture won’t reach the roots. This can lead to a vicious cycle and eventually to the death of your beloved houseplant.

If you underwater your plant, you will initially notice brown spots at the edge of the leaf. The spots will appear all over the plant soon after. If you overwater it, you’ll start to notice brown spots near the center of the leaves and around the edges. Yellow spots, tiny dark spots, or shady areas can also indicate too much watering.

With a regular once-a-week schedule and proper drainage, your fiddle leaf will thrive. If you are not sure if your tree has proper drainage, check if the soil is still wet after a week, or use a moisture meter. To keep this simple, water the same amount each week. For plants that measure less than 2 feet from the soil, water with two cups of water, and for taller plants with 3 cups of water.

Fiddleleaf Fig Tree, From Amazon

Propagating Fiddle Leaf Fig

If you are a Fiddle Leaf Fig aficionado, you might want to consider propagating your beloved plant. Propagating is a great choice if your pant needs pruning or if you have a healthy plant you would like to replicate. Propagating has three stages: cutting a section of the main plant, nurturing it until grows roots, and finally replanting it.

The easiest way to propagate a fiddle leaf fig is by water propagation. For this method, you will need a pair of clean cutters and a jar of water. Cut a plant section that is at least 6 inches long on a diagonal, leaving 1-2 inches of bare stem. Next, wipe off any excess sap from the main plant. Place the cutting in the jar with room temperature water. Make sure the leaves are not touching the water.

Place the jar in a well-lit place so it gets enough light. Top off the water if it evaporates and exposes the stem. After 1-2 weeks your cutting should start showing roots. It might take 2 to 6 weeks for the roots to grow a couple of inches long with smaller roots growing out of them. When the roots are long enough, plant the fiddle leaf fig in a small pot. For the first few weeks, keep the soil more moisturized than normal.

In Conclusion

Fiddle Leaf Fig is a very popular house plant that can elevate the design of your house. They have large, beautiful fiddle-shaped leaves and can grow up to 10 feet indoors. With proper care, fiddle leaf figs can grow into beautiful trees that you can propagate. Although they do not produce flowers or fruit, these plants will become the centerpiece in any room.

Fiddle leaf figs are not the easiest plants to care for, but if you can offer them proper conditions, they will grow tall and healthy. A flourishing tree will make you feel accomplished and also impress any guests. These amazing houseplants are well worth the effort!

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Miruna Secuianu

Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact miruna@gardenbeast.com

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