Plants 101

Fiddle Me This: How to Care for a Fiddle Leaf Fig

Flip through any home decor mag or scroll down design Instagram accounts and it’s likely the Fiddle Leaf Fig will make an appearance. If you want to make the addition to your own plant family, you’ll want to read how-to-care-for the notoriously hard-to-care-for plant.

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What is a Fiddle Leaf Fig?

The Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata) may have a reputation for being the ‘mean girl’ of houseplants, but we want in on the clique. Looking this good is hard work, but not so tough once you know a few tricks. Ficus lyrata is a fig (or Ficus), native to tropical Cameroon in Africa and is in the fig/mulberry family, Moraceae. The natural environment is hot, humid, and it rains often but lightly, while the sun dries up moisture quickly. They have giant green leaves with lots of cells that need lots of sunlight for food production.

How do I keep a Fiddle Leaf Fig alive?

If you’ve ever experienced owning a Fiddle Leaf Fig and have watched leaves drop or even the plant die altogether, this is not indication that you are not an excellent plant parent. There’s just a little extra attention needed.

The Fiddle is just like other plants, in that it uses the sun’s energy for food, but the Fiddle’s leaves are giant compared to most other plants, so they’ll need lots of sunlight. Each cell needs light to make food, eat and generate food for the rest of the plant. If the leaves are dropping, the plant is not getting enough light. If your Fiddle is indoors making your room look oh-so-fine, it’s going to need bright indirect light to full sun. That means, putting it in a window, rather than next to or a few feet away from.

Like most other plants, the Fiddle is relatively easy to water. When the soil dries out, add water. The rate you water will depend on the temperature of your home or office, so gage watering between every 1-2 weeks. Water with ¼-⅓ of the pot’s volume of water so that you can saturate the soil with just enough water and then let it dry out. Pretend you are the sun and the rain for your plant. When the soil is dry, be a rainstorm. When wet, act like the sun and wait until it dries.

Are fiddle leaf figs hard to care for?

Well, not really. While it’s true that Ficus are demanding, they aren’t any more complicated to take care of than other plants, as we’ve outlined above. They share a lot of common attributes with other plants. However, there is always the risk of leaf drop because they do need bright sun, and if your Fiddle is indoors, you’ll want to make sure you can provide this. Fiddles are more susceptible to plant pests and diseases than other plants. They attract most pests and often it’s difficult to find one not with leaf fungi or other spots. It is super easy for them to become infected as well.

Leaves need to be handled carefully. If your leaves are dropping, you’ll need reserves of patience because they take their time in growing back. But hey, good things are worth the wait, right?

Humidity, temperature swings, air drafts. It’s true, the Fiddle Leaf Fig is sensitive to a few things, and dropping leaves may be an indication of any or all of these factors. Monitoring the environment in your home and caring for your Fiddle may take a few extra steps on your part, but it’s nothing you can’t handle. The work is worth it.


Words By The Sill

Empowering all people to be plant people — a collection of articles from The Sill’s team of Plant Experts across a variety of plant care topics to inspire confidence in the next generation of plant parents. Welcome to Plant Parenthood™.