Plants 101

How to Care for a Fiddle Leaf Fig or Ficus Lyrata

Flip through any home-decor magazine or scroll down design Instagram accounts and it’s likely the Fiddle Leaf Fig will make an appearance. Find out how to care for this statement-making plant (it’s not as hard as you may have heard!).

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Ficus lyrata, or the Fiddle Leaf Fig, is a species of evergreen tropical tree native to the tropical lowlands of western Africa. Belonging to the fig/mulberry family, Moraceae, it takes its nickname from its giant green leaves: They are similar to the size and shape of fiddles. These leaves are also known for being alternately arranged and for exhibiting foliar polymorphisms, a quality that the Fiddles share with others in their family (encompassing trees, shrubs, and lianas). In simpler terms, this means the leaf shapes can be different for different stages of life, a fairly unique characteristic. In fact, most other plants’ leaves make the same shapes throughout their lives.

Fiddle Leaf Figs can be tricky plants to keep: Like most figs, they are temperamental and extremely sensitive to environmental conditions, especially the cold. However, once you know a few tricks, this is a rewarding plant to care for, living up to its reputation as the “‘it’ plant of the design world” with its lush and bushy appearance.

How much sunlight does a Fiddle Leaf Fig need?

In the native lowland environment of this plant, from Sierra Leone to Cameroon, it is hot and humid; it rains often, but lightly; and the sun dries up the moisture. You can recreate these conditions by placing your Fiddle in bright indirect light with a few hours of full sun from time to time. For instance, place it in a window, rather than next to or a few feet away from one.

Remember, the Fiddle is just like other plant in that its cells use the sun’s energy for food. Since its leaves are giant compared to most other plants, they’ll need more sunlight than you’d typically give a plant. If you are unsure whether you are giving it enough light, signs like drooping leaves are a sign that it is craving more.

How often should you water a Fiddle Leaf Fig?

The rate you will water will depend on the light and temperature of your home or office, so gauge watering between every 1-2 weeks. Pretend you are the sun and the rain for your plant. When the soil is dry, be a rainstorm and water with ¼-⅓ of the pot’s volume of water so that you can saturate the soil with just enough and then let it dry out. When wet, act like the sun and wait until it dries. Expect to water more often in brighter light and less often in lower light.

Yellow leaves and wet potting mix are a sign of overwatering, and crispy, curling leaves mean that it needs more water.

Do Fiddle Leaf Figs need humidity?

Normal room humidity is fine, but the Fiddle Leaf Fig will benefit from higher humidity; in fact, leaf crisp can also be a sign that more humidity (as well as more frequent waterings) are necessary.

What temperature does a Fiddle Leaf Fig prefer?

Your best bet is to keep the Fiddle Leaf Fig at 65°F-85°F (18°C-30°C) and avoid letting temperatures drop below 60°F (15°C).

How big does a Fiddle Leaf Fig get?

This plant will reach an ultimate height of about 30 ft. (10 meters) and will have a spread of about 10 ft. (3.2 meters) in the outdoors. As a houseplant, it will be smaller, growing up to about six feet (1.8 meters) tall.

Are Fiddle Leaf Figs easy to care for?

Fiddles are demanding, but they aren’t any more complicated to take care of than many other plants, as we’ve outlined above. There is always the risk of leaf drop because they do need bright sun, humidity, consistent temperatures, and minimal drafts. Fiddles are also more susceptible to plant pests and diseases than other plants. They attract most pests, and it is super easy for them to become infected. However, they are fairly low-maintenance in other respects (e.g., watering) and if they need something, they will often communicate it to you by dropping leaves.

As we have mentioned, Fiddles are considered one of the most distinctive and stylish plants for any indoor space, so monitoring the environment in your home and caring for your Fiddle is worth the few extra steps that it takes.

Are Fiddle Leaf Figs safe for pets?

Fiddle Leaf Figs are not safe for pets. They are toxic to cats and dogs, as well humans if consumed. The best practice is always to keep houseplants out of reach of small children and pets.


Fiddles are happiest in a stable environment and should always be placed right in or near a window. Keep away from air conditioners, heaters and drafts. If you do notice leaf drop, while following our above guidelines, handle the leaves carefully and be patient—they take their time growing back.

As mentioned, the plants should be kept out of reach of small children and pets. The species, including its latexy sap, is toxic if ingested.

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™.

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