TPlant Profile: Fiddle Leaf Fig

You’ll find this plant featured on many Instagram feeds around the world. It is one of the most sought-after houseplants at the moment, but be prepared to loosen your purse strings to get one. Ficus lyrata, or more commonly known as the Fiddle leaf fig, is a beautiful tree to add to your collection & looks great in large living rooms or verandas.

ficus lyrata with lush green leaves in house
Photo by Владимир Гладков on Pexels.com


Native to Western Africa, this plant became popular in 2010, with the launch of Pinterest -with it being shared across the platform hundreds and thousands of times.
While this blog post may not be the fix for your (maybe) already struggling plant, it should serve as a guide in bringing your lyrata home, how to care for it, and what to do to help it thrive.

Bringing your lyrata home

As with any other plant you bring home, it’s important to note the conditions in which it was growing in the nursery.
Always be sure to check the health of the plant before purchasing it. Plants with droopy leaves, pests, brown spots or a lack or leaves, indicates problems you shouldn’t need to deal with.
Bringing a plant directly into your living room or space, may result in shock.
If you can, try and mimic the same light and environmental conditions as it had in the nursery.
If your home is full of light and is well sheltered – win!
Otherwise, it will take several weeks to slowly adjust your lyrata into its new home.

Light

Despite what you might see on Instagram, these plants cannot live in the corner of your living room.
Fiddle leaf figs need to be positioned in a window or on a veranda with direct morning or late afternoon light. However, as mentioned above, always make sure you acclimatize your plant so it doesn’t go into shock from a lack of light, or burn from too much direct light.
The size of your plant and the amount of leaves it has, will also determine the amount of light it requires to thrive.
If you notice your plant is dropping leaves, it’s a sign that it’s not getting sufficient lighting, and you’ll need to move it closer to the light source.
With their large leaf size, they also require frequent dusting. Big leaves easily collect dust, making it hard for them to collect light and photosynthesize. Use a soft brush, or a damp cloth to clean the leaves, being careful not to break or damage them. Do this as often as needed.

potted ficus lyrata plant placed near couch in modern house
Photo by Zhanna Fort on Pexels.com

Water

The lyrata, with its high light requirements also needs to be watered frequently.
In general, watering your Fiddle leaf fig once a week is sufficient. However, its important to check the soil before watering to ensure you don’t overwater – do this by sticking your finger (or a wooden chopstick) 2-3 inches into the soil – if it comes out dry, its time to water. If not, wait a couple more days.
Slowly water your plant in circular motions, taking extra care to evenly wet the soil – you want to be sure it reaches all the roots and not just a few.
Once water runs out of the drainage hole, you can stop.
If your pot has a drip tray, don’t forget to remove the water after a few minutes, as root rot can easily take hold.
Always water with room temperature water, and if possible, filtered.

Soil

Soil or potting medium is everything when it comes to how well your Fiddle Leaf Fig will thrive.
Having a loose, well-aerated, nutrient rich mix is essential to avoiding root rot and promote healthy growth.
Fiddle leaf fig plants do best when planted in a soil with a pH between 5.5 -7.
Choose a mix that matches or closely fits the below measurements:

1 part coco coir or peat moss (but this is not a sustainable option)
1 part perlite
2 parts organic soil
(usually a mix of moss, bark, compost and soil)

Adjust the perlite amount if need be – the more aerated the better.

If you notice that the plants leaves are starting to droop, this will generally indicate that you’ve over-watered or the soil is retaining too much moisture. Remove your plant and amend the soil composition. Also make sure the pot has sufficient drainage holes, if you believe this could be the case.
Brown dots on the leaves also indicate overwatering, and if your plant starts to lose leaves, this is a sign of root rot and needs urgent attention.
To keep your soil well aerated, use a chopstick to gently poke the soil. This will help avoid soil compaction and allow the roots to breathe and ease access to water.

Fertilizing

Usually, the potting mix you use will have ample nutrients to last your plant a while. After 6 or so months, you can start mixing in a slow-release pellet fertilizer into the top inch of the potting mix. This can be done every few months. Less is more when it comes to the lyrata.

Propagation

Photo from Ananda – A piece of rainbow

The most common way of propagation is via stem or leaf cuttings.
To make a cutting that has the best chance of rooting, do the following:

1. Prepare your container – clean it with boiling water, and slightly fill it with clean/un-chlorinated water.
2. Make the cutting – find a stem with 2-3 leaves and make the cut 3 inches below the first leaf.
If you’re just using a leaf, make sure you have a long enough petiole for propagating.
3. Rooting hormone (optional) – Dip the cutting in a rooting hormone of of your choice before placing it in water.
4. Placing in water – Put the cutting into water, trying not to cover the leaves.
5. Good lighting – Make sure your cutting gets good indirect light to encourage root growth.
6. Replace water – If you notice the water getting dirty or murky, change it with some clean water as often as required.
7. Have patience – It usually takes between 1 month and 6 weeks for roots to start sprouting.
8. Potting – Once the roots are several inches long, transfer your cutting into a good potting mix (as mentioned above).
9. Good luck!
Cuttings can also be placed directly into a potting mix, but be very cautious when watering.

Please leave a comment below if you’d like me to expand on any of the above information, or have any questions 🙂