How to Care for a Fiddle Leaf Fig
I love adding plant life to my interior design and especially love the fig tree. It is both elegant and easy to keep alive. If I can keep a Fig tree alive, you assuredly can too. I attribute my tree's success to a secret I garnered from a greenhouse expert in Nashville, Tennessee. I'm going to share that invaluable tip with you today, plus include all the research you need to keep your Fiddle Leaf Fig tree thriving.
About the Fiddle Leaf Fig
The Ficus Lyrata, as it is scientifically named, has enjoyed a boom in popularity in recent years. Its large, thick green leaves make it a favorite in the world of indoor plants. If you are looking for a houseplant that is elegant and easy to keep alive, the Fig tree is a great option. They add life and color and even improve the air quality of your home.
Where Can I Find a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree?
You can find these amazing, large-leaf evergreens at most local nurseries or growers. I purchased mine from the Gardens of Babylon in Nashville, TN, part of the Nashville Farmers' Market. That's where I unearthed the secret to its success (revealed below)!
Where Does the Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Originate?
It is a native to tropical Africa and grows on high, sloping hills. Left in the wild, the tree can tower up to 30 meters. But don't worry, it won't do that in your home! Knowing where it grows is the important key to understanding how it grows best in your home...keep reading!
How to Water Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree
Fig trees do not need to be watered too much or too often. A lot of factors contribute to how much you should water: season, climate (even indoors), humidity, size of plant, and size of pot. It may take you a while to figure out exactly how much to water. Some people only water 1/2 cup a couple times a month, but my tree likes a bit more than that. You want to err on the side of under watering. Now for the secret to the Fiddle Leaf Fig's success.
The Secret of a Thriving Fiddle Leaf Fig!
The secret is you should never give all its water at once, but separate its watering into two stages. Give a few ounces to the tree, walk away for two hours, then give the remaining ounces. For example, my tree seems to do well right now on about 16 oz. once a week. I begin by giving my tree about 8 oz. Then, I do some other things around the house, but I leave the jar by the tree as a visual reminder to myself that the chore is not done. An hour or two later, I resume and give my tree the remaining 1/2 of its water (an additional 8 oz. in my tree's case).
Why Water in This Way? Why Does This Secret Work?
Since it grows on the steep, hills of Africa's rain forests, this species is accustomed to shallow, quick drinks of water. Picture water quickly trickling down the mountainous terrain. The fig tree's shallow root system allows it to absorb surface moisture quickly. Thus, when you give your tree its full watering all at once, the water will quickly drain to the bottom of the pot. The plant roots will then search below for the water. However, going deep for a drink opposes its natural preference. It will stress the plant's roots out.
Fiddle Leaf Fig Brown Spots
If your tree develops brown spots, you are probably overwatering. Also, if your tree displays yellow spots, that is a sign of infection caused by an overgrowth of bacteria. Carefully cut off affected yellow or brown spots. Overwatering and improper draining can cause root rot too.
Where to Place Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree
Your Fiddle Leaf Fig will need plenty of bright light to thrive. They love light, especially indirect sunlight. Too strong or too direct light will burn the leaves. Place your tree near a light-filled window (mine is near a large bay window).
As far as interior design goes, I recommend placing a fig tree in an empty corner, anywhere you need to add an organic shape, or any area where you need height. Before purchasing your tree, measure! Stand back and decide the approximate height and width you desire. Keep in mind where you need branches to start. You may be working around artwork, accessories and furnishings and don't need branches in the way!
How About Placing One in a Basket?
When you purchased your plant, it probably came in an unsightly black plastic container. I just kept mine in that plastic pot but placed it inside an attractive basket from World Market, very similar to their Noelle basket. It was the right size and very affordable. However, if you would like to repot yours entirely, just lay your plant on the ground on its side. Carefully loosen up the bottom 10% of the root system then gingerly repot your tree in a container a few inches larger than its current pot. A little extra loose soil at the bottom of the new pot will help your tree feel cozy. A brisk drink after repotting will aid in it settling and getting acclimated to its new home.
If at any time you see roots creeping out of your pot, it's time to repot!
Will My Fig Tree Produce Fruit?
While they obviously produce fruit and seed in the wild, it is very unlikely that your plant will have seed-bearing fruit. Even if it does, the chance for germination indoors is only 20%.
Caring For My Fig Tree (Additional Insights)
I know you are like I was and wondering "am I going to pay over to $100 and this kill this thing?" But you can do it! The main thing is lots of good indirect sunlight and not to water too much, nor water all at once. In addition, you may want to rotate your tree so that all sides grow evenly to the sunlight. If it appears to not be doing well, look for a more well-lit spot. Your tree doesn't like cold, so keep it away from any drafty areas.
You can prune your tree to achieve different shapes.
Speaking of leaves, your leaves should always remain clean. If you notice dust or debris gathering, lightly dust the leaves. Better yet, give your leaves a light misting shower outside to clean them off. You can do this about once a year.
Your tree should never drop leaves or have brown spots (see above for brown spot care).
Picking Out Your Tree: What to Look For:
Pick a tree with rich foliage, no discoloration and a strong trunk. Don't be surprised if it looks a bit unhappy in the first few days in your home. It can take all plants a while to reacclimate to new living quarters and air quality. This is especially true if your purchased it from an outdoor facility and are bringing it indoors.
Will My Tree Grow Outside?
Not in temperate climates such as Gallatin, TN; Hendersonville, TN, and the greater Nashville area. They need to live indoors!
If you have further questions or comments about Fiddle Leaf Fig trees, please share them below. I hope you will find just the right spot for your tree and enjoy it as much as I enjoy mine.
Missy Pitt Interiors is located in Gallatin, TN.