Fiddle Leaf Fig Care + Tips

INSIDE : The best tips on how to care for Fiddle Leaf Fig trees and shrubs! From overall Fig care, their watering needs, the best light amounts and even a diagnostic checklist to help you identify if your Fiddle Leaf needs more or less water.

Fiddle Leaf Fig plant

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This post has been updated since it’s original publish date of May 2019.

Their technical name is Ficus lyrata, but their more common name is Fiddle Leaf Figs.  And although they may have had their highest trending time a few years ago, but FLFs are a classic plant that I don’t think will ever lose it’s “cool” factor. 

 If you have been on Pinterest for long, you have probably seen the endless war stories about how fickle fiddle figs can be.  I know when I got my first one (gifted by a dear friend), I was terrified he would die immediately!

Rest assured, that same fiddle fig actually survived, made a huge cross country move in our car and then grew A TON of new leaves.  Fast forward a year later and I almost killed it via root rot.  Thankfully, it survived and is now happily growing new leaves again. 

Additionally, I bought another larger fiddle fig and wow that guy is massive and so happy.  

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Happy Houseplants eBook covers
– A helpful checklist for the 6 steps to keep your plants alive + thriving.
– A deep dive on 7 trending “it” plants (like those tricky Fiddle Leaf Figs).
– 5 Plant Printables to hang in your home.

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I have learned a lot about fiddle figs in the 4+ years I have had mine and I’m happy to be sharing some important care tips with you as well as dispelling a few myths!

Looking to get a better green thumb?  You will definitely like some of my other Plant Care posts.

What is the best light for growing Fiddle Leaf Figs?

The main two things to remember when growing fiddle leaf figs is to give them bright light and plenty of water.  Finding that perfect combination can often take a little trial and error.  I’m sharing my tips so you hopefully don’t have to have any errors.  

You can check out my Best Sunlight Levels for Indoor Houseplants post.
Fiddle Leaf Fig leaf zoom

All plants need sunlight, but the giant size of the individual leaves of the Fiddle Leaf Fig (especially compared to most other plants) require a lot sunlight.  

Let’s talk quickly about how I almost killed my first Fig because of a lighting issue.
My living room has floor to ceiling windows and I put my smaller Fiddle Leaf Figs FAR away from the window, thinking that the high brightness of the room was enough.  

A few weeks later I noticed all his leaves were looking healthy but going straight down (see picture below).  He was near death from a combination of not enough light and continuing with my regular watering schedule = root rot.  

Fiddle Fig root rot

Generally, no plant should be farther than 5-7′ from a window.  Ideally windows should face either south or east.  A west-facing window is okay, but don’t give your Fig too much direct sunlight.  They like bright consistent light, preferably near a sunny window. 

I also turn my plant every week when I water it so it doesn’t begin to lean toward the light but keeps growing nice and straight.

Why is my Fiddle Leaf Fig’s leaf pointing straight up?

Often times, when leaves are pointing straight up that is an indication that they are seeking out more sunlight.  If slightly rotating your plant does not seem to cure it’s leaves going upward, then it may be time to move your FLF a little closer to a window.

Weekly rotations after watering, also helps to keep your plant growing tall and straight.

Watering Fiddle Leaf Figs

The watering needs for a Fiddle Leaf Fig are fairly simple once you learn the system.

The amount of water will depend on the temperature of your home and the size of your plant.  However, you can safely assume that your Fiddle Fig will need water about every 5-10 days.

Fiddle Leaf Fig disco ball

We live with very low humidity in New Mexico, so I water my Fiddle Figs on Fridays, my weekly watering day.  However, if you are located in a more tropical environment, you might need to water your Figs less.  Getting your Fiddle Leaf on a regular watering schedule can really help to keep things consistent and take the guess work out of watering.  

Another good recommendation is to only water only when the top 2″ of the soil is dry to the touch. At that time, you can water thoroughly (until the water drains into the saucer below) and then allow it to dry out again.   

A helpful Fig watering trick : The leaves tell all. If the plant doesn’t get enough water, the new leaves will turn brown and drop.  If the plant is getting too much water, the oldest leaves (toward the base of the plant) will turn brown and fall off.

If you still aren’t quite sure about your Fiddle Fig’s watering needs?  Check out my helpful info graphic below for some tips.

Fiddle Fig watering Diagnostic

How much water do Fiddle Leaf Figs need each week?

Sometimes people think they need to water their FLF until the pot drains.  This is not true.  I have found it best to find the amount of water your Fiddle Leaf Fig needs and then do about the same amount each week.  

If you have a smaller plant, about one cup of water each week should be plenty.  If your plant is medium sized, roughly 2-3′ tall from soil to top leaf then two cups of water per week will be ideal.  If you have a big FLF tree then you can safely give it about three to four cups of water.  

Make sure you allow your plant to drain fully and then you can soak up any excess water with a towel if the plant is too big to move.  Otherwise, stop by about an hour after you watered your plant and empty the drainage saucer.

Why is my Fiddle Leaf Fig dropping leaves?

If your Fig leaves are starting to drop, then be ready – you will probably need to do some investigating and be prepared for a long road back to recovery.  However, it is completely possible for them to regain their health so don’t give up hope!  (Mine was near death and now is doing wonderfully again.)

The most common cause of brown leaves on a fiddle leaf fig is due to too much water.  Too much over watering and poor drainage causes root rot, which spreads from the roots to the leaves of your plant.

The roots of a fiddle leaf fig need to slightly dry out between waterings to function properly. Once root rot has set in, the leaves will slowly turn brown and then eventually fall off.

Fiddle Leaf Fig

The only way to be certain that your plant has root rot is to remove the pot and check out the roots. If the roots are brown and look kind of mushy, root rot is probably the issue. Using scissors or pruners, you can remove the damaged roots.  You can also remove the leaves all together or the brown parts of the leaves so it will look nicer.  Make sure if you remove dead leaves, that you still have a few remaining to help the plant with photosynthesis and recovery.

If there are just a few brown spots on the leaves, you may not need to do anything too severe.  Let your plant dry out for two weeks, remove the affected leaves and make sure your plant has enough sunlight.

Why does my Fiddle Leaf Fig have red spots on the leaves?

It can be very common to find your new leaves have small little red spots or dots all over them.  This is called edema and can be a symptom of moisture stress (too much or too little water while your plant was making a new leaf).  

When a plant’s roots absorb more water than the leaves can consume or transpire, pressure builds until the leaves’ cells burst. Subsequently dead cells are visible as small bruises or spots.

Mild cases of this is very normal and depending on how bad your spots are, many times the new leaves will out grow their dots and appear completely normal and healthy with age. 

Can I do anything to make my Fiddle Fig branch?

My friend, Mandi from Vintage Revivals wrote a whole post about helping create branches on your plant.   She has three different methods, so you can pick which is best for your plant.

Do Fiddle Leaf Figs need fertilizer?

Although it is not required, during the warmer growing months, your Fiddle Leaf Fig loves a bit of extra tree food.  During Spring and Summer I feed my FLF once a week as per the directions on my fertilizer and WOW, I have been shocked at the results.  

My figs have always been pretty healthy with nice sized leaves, but using this Fiddle Leaf Fig fertilizer really pushed them over the top.  I was getting tons of new leaves each week and they were almost DOUBLE in size from previous leaves without fertilizer.

- Cutting back Fiddle Leaf Figs
- Fiddle Leaf Fig B/W digital download Print

Can I move my Fiddle Fig around the room?

Fiddle leaf Figs are typically not big fans of being moved around a lot.  They love being in one place and moving it around your house can sometimes cause the leaves to drop.  You can take your Fig outside for a drink or to the kitchen sink to water it, but moving it for extended periods of time or to too many different locations can cause problems (leaf drop). Find his happy place and for the most part, just leave him there. 

Fiddle Fig Chair

Supplies needed in growing Fiddle Leaf Figs:

Plant Moisture Meter | Pruning Shears | 6″ Pot Fiddle Fig  | FLF Fertilizer | Water Bottle

Where can I buy a Fiddle Leaf Fig indoor plant?

Fiddle Leaf Figs have started being sold at various big box stores like Home Depot or Lowes.  However, you never know when they will be in stock or what their quality is.

I have had great luck buying one at my local nursery and I got another one online in a 5″ pot at The Sill.

Miscellaneous Fiddle Leaf Fig care tips

– Fiddle Leaf Fig leaves need to be handled carefully.  They can grow such large beautiful leaves, but a quick brush past them and you might get a big crack in your leaf.  This doesn’t harm the plant, but it doesn’t add to it’s attractive look, either.  When my leaves get holes or big cracks in them, I often will cut the leaf at the break with sharp purners for a clean line.

Fiddle Fig Pot and chair

-Don’t plant your Fig in too big of a pot.  For a smaller plant, go with 8″-10″ diameter and for a larger plant, look for a 12″-14″ sized pot.

-Once a month, plan to dust off your leaves.  I often take my plant outdoors in the summer for a drink with the hose and clean off my leaves then.  Use a gentle cloth to get off that layer of dust.  Check out my How to Clean your Plants post.

-Fiddle leaf figs trees grow toward the light so be sure to rotate the planter every few weeks.  I rotate mine after each watering (weekly).

-Figs can be grown mostly indoors but during warmer months they love being outside.  Be sure to slowly transition them to being outside.

-If you notice the soil in your pot is pulling away from the edges of the pot, your soil is staying too dry.  Take a stick or chopstick and poke holes into the soil to help with water soaking in and not just running off the edges.

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You might be interested in some of my other Plant Care posts:

Pilea Care and Best Tips

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