The fiddle leaf fig is at home in tropical rainforests, but that doesn't mean it can't thrive as a houseplant when given proper care. These plants have particular requirements in heat, moisture, and airflow necessary to keep them healthy. They also appreciate consistency. When you first bring home a fiddle leaf fig, it may take a while to perk up, and once you find a location that works well, you shouldn't move it around. As a houseplant, these popular, visually pleasing plants typically top out at around 6 feet.
The fiddle leaf fig is sensitive to swings in moisture and humidity, so give it the best shot at success by planting it in moisture-controlled potting soil. Placing a few rocks to the bottom of the container before adding soil ensures the roots do not sit in water. Make sure to place the fiddle leaf fig at the same level below the dirt as it was in its previous container. Both leaving the root ball exposed and burying the trunk can create health problems.
The fiddle leaf fig doesn't mind being a little root-bound, so there is no rush to repot it when you bring it home. Give it time to settle into its new location, and try to repot early in the spring when it enters its growth cycle. Select a planter that is about two inches wider than the pot it is currently in.
The fiddle leaf fig needs plenty of indirect sunlight to thrive. Place it in a spot that receives sun most of the day, while protecting it from direct exposure. When choosing a location, keep in mind that the fiddle leaf fig is sensitive to drafts, so it should be out of reach of windows and exterior doors that are not well-sealed, and even air vents.
Overwatering can quickly kill the fiddle leaf fig. When you water, saturate the soil and allow it to dry out before watering again. Use your finger to check the dampness of the soil, but generally, plan to water no more often than once a week, and maybe not even that frequently.
To help your fiddle leaf fig feel more at home in areas where the air is dry, use a spray bottle to mist the leaves lightly once a week. This boosts humidity, which, as a native of tropical rainforests, the fiddle leaf fig appreciates.
The two most common pests that attack the fiddle leaf fig are spider mites and mealybugs.
If you see silky strands that look like delicate spider webbing on your plant, check closely for spider mites — tiny dots in clusters on the leaves. It is relatively easy to get rid of spider mites, although it is much better to catch the infestation before it spreads throughout the plant. Use a syringe or spray bottle to blast the affected areas. The mites should wash away. Depending on the size of your plant and the season, you may want to take it outside and use the water hose or place it in the bathtub and use the shower.
Mealybugs are recognizable by the cotton-like substance the females produce before laying eggs and the wet, sticky substance called honeydew that is a byproduct of them feeding on your plant. You can treat mealybugs the same way you would spider mites or wipe down the plant with cotton swabs dipped in rubbing alcohol.
Fiddle leaf figs may develop root rot, which is the result of a combination of poor drainage and overwatering. The first sign that your plant has root rot will be brown spots developing on the leaves. Left untreated, the plant will lose its leaves and eventually die. Treat root rot by removing the plant from its pot, gently clipping away any damaged roots, and repotting in fresh soil. Make sure the fiddle leaf fig is getting enough light, and be very cautious watering while it recovers.
These plants can also develop bacterial infections, which cause the leaves to turn yellow. Untreated, the yellow will change to brown before the leaves eventually fall off. Like root rot, the disease can be fatal to your plant. It is difficult to get rid of a bacterial infection. Remove any leaves that show the slightest sign of damage and repot in fresh soil. If the damage is not too severe, your plant may bounce back.
Fiddle leaf figs, like other plants, use their leaves to absorb the sunlight and carbon dioxide they need. However, unlike other plants, the leaves of this plant are large and flat, making them the ideal surface for household dust to settle on. Every few months, plan to spend some time cleaning your fiddle leaf fig.
Depending on the size of your plant, you can move it outside and spray it off, spray it off in the shower, or use a spray bottle of water and a cloth to clean the leaves.
If you manage to find the perfect spot for your fiddle leaf fig and master the care it needs, you may be shocked at how quickly it grows. If it begins to outgrow your space, you can use gardening shears to trim it back from the top.
Select a branch with at least two sets of leaves and cut it at the point where it connects with the base of the plant. Place the cutting in a sunny spot in a container of water, changing the water as needed to keep it looking fresh. Roots should start to develop within a month, and you can plant the young fiddle leaf fig in soil once those roots are at least two inches long.
The fiddle leaf fig makes an impressive houseplant as long as you can master the care needed to keep it healthy. If you have a draft-free spot that receives at least six hours of bright sunlight each day and are careful to check the soil for moisture before watering, the plant will reward you with towering growth and an impressive canopy of leaves. This plant boasts air purifying benefits, too. While all houseplants can improve air quality, the fiddle leaf fig is particularly well-known for this ability.
Bambino is a dwarf choice that allows those living in smaller spaces or who don't want to wrestle a larger plant to enjoy the fiddle leaf fig.
Variegated has variegated leaves, with a yellow border surrounding the green center. This is also a slow-growing variety, making it a good choice for compact living quarters.
Fiddle leaf figs do best in homes that keep the temperature on the high side, at least 65 F, but warmer is better. If you don't keep your home this warm, select the Suncoast variety, which is more tolerant of cold temperatures.