Fickle, froufrou, fancy. The trendiest plant in the game is of course, the Fiddle Leaf Fig. Flip through any home decor mag or scroll down design-y 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. (Pro Tip: it’s easier than you think).
What is a Fiddle Leaf Fig?
The Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata) may be the ‘mean girls’ of plants, 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 to care for a Fiddle Leaf Fig?
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 full sun exposure. That means, putting it in a window, rather than next to or a few feet away from. Generally, no plant should be farther than 5-7' from a window.
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 5-10 days. 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.
Another thing Fiddles share in common with other plants is their inhabitability for plastic pots. Plants are often sold overgrown and will die back if not repotted. Remove the plastic and fully repot the plant in a pot that is about 2" larger than the current diameter. The goal is to give the roots more space. (For more on repotting, see here.)
Here comes the hard part
Well, not really. While it’s true that Fiscus 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 full 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.
We encourage you to try all kinds of plants, including the Fiddle Leaf Fig. If you’re not sure about trying your thumb at the Fiddle just yet, here are fine alternatives that will get you in the green groove.
Bird of Paradise
This plant is a bright light plant like the Fiddle, but can tolerate bright indirect light, whereas the Fiddle cannot.
Monsteras enjoy bright, indirect light with some direct sun for a part of the day.
Both love a bright window.