If you’re thinking of bringing a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree home (or you already have), you’re definitely not alone.
These are really the plant of the moment for so many people, and it’s easy to see why.
Their huge, broad leaves, coupled with a delicate upright main stem, make a fantastic statement piece for many design styles.
(You can even keep these as bonsai!)
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about taking care of your Fiddle Leaf Fig, from its history and unique characteristics to our favorite tips and tricks for keeping it thriving indoors.
Plus, we’ll even share a fun tip for bringing back the shine to those beautiful leaves.
Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Care Guide
History, habitat, and characteristics
The fiddle leaf fig (FLF) is having its moment as one of the most popular houseplants of the year. Calling Western Africa’s rainforests its home, Ficus lyrata features beautiful broad leaves that resemble… you guessed it, a fiddle (or violin).
(Well, not quite a fiddle, actually closer to a lyre, hence the species name lyrata.)
These same leaves display a unique trait known as foliar polymorphism, a fancy way of saying that the shape of their leaves varies significantly as it grows from juvenile to mature.
We always cover where a plant originally comes from because it gives us a lot of insight into what kind of care and conditions it might thrive in. In this case, we don’t need to visit these rainforests, but we’ll keep in mind that fiddle leaf figs going to like a humid environment and filtered light.
These plants can have really big leaves, like… huge, and they’re fantastic as statement plants that you can really decorate a room around.
Fun tip: when you have a fiddle leaf fig for a while, its leaves can lose a bit of their luster and shine. Some people will spray leaf shine on these plants, mostly to get them looking perfect for Instagram, but the substances in these sprays can accumulate and block up the stomata over time.
The alternative? Banana peel.
Next time you munch a banana, save the peel and use the inside to gently rub over the leaves of your plant. Don’t grind it in, because pests and mold love these peels too – but a gentle rub will bring back some of the shine without clogging the pores of your plant.
Picking out your plant
You’ll want to take a look at the entire plant, really making sure it has a lot of growth and leaf density from the start. It’s really hard for a fiddle-leaf fig tree to regenerate its leaves, and it doesn’t tend to produce many dormant stem nodes.
Next, look at the stems and make sure there’s compact growth. You’re looking for the length between any two leaves (the internode length). Faster-growing plants in the greenhouse sometimes produce leggy, long growth.
Remember, you can always prune away this growth later, but it’s hard to get a denser look without cutting it entirely back, so give yourself more options.
Next, we look at the leaves. Since it’s hard to get more of them, we really want to check for damage. They should point up, and not have browning edges, yellowing, or holes. Check underneath for mites or pests.
Lastly, let’s look at the roots. You can sometimes feel the nursery pot itself to see how full it is, but if you can slip it off, you’ll want to make sure the roots look healthy and that the soil is holding itself together.
Crumbling soil often means an immature root system. You’ll also make a bit of a mess, but it’s better to have a little cleaning up to do than to buy a difficult plant that you’ll struggle with for months.
The roots won’t look white like many other houseplants – they’ll be browner and even a little creamy yellow. The youngest roots will be the whitest.
When bringing your plant home, you really want it to be more than 50 degrees out. Fiddle leaf figs are very cold-sensitive, so if it’s freezing and you’re carrying it home, or if there’s a long walk to the car, you’ll want to either come back during a warmer day or wrap it up a bit.
If your plant loses all of its leaves a few weeks after getting it home, it might have been cold-shocked.
Ficus lyrata “Bambino”: not just a younger plant, as the name would have you believe, but its own variety. With the Bambino, the leaves stay smaller, even as it grows. You’ll see it’s much more compact and also bushier, with more leaves and less distance between the internodes. Typically grows to be around half the size of your regular fiddle-leaf. Leaves tend to be a bit darker, too.
Variegated Fiddle Leaf Fig: These are incredibly rare and hard to find in most countries. As far as appearance, it kind of speaks for itself with beautiful white variegation. These will need a lot more indirect light than the regular FLF, but also are prone to being damaged by too much sun. Tricky, right? If you do find the perfect location for your Fiddle Leaf Fig ‘Variegata,’ we suggest keeping it there.
So now that you have your fiddle leaf fig tree home, where should you place it for optimal light?
Well, these plants thrive in lots of light, not a dark corner or too far into a room.
Signs of not enough light: similar to a bit of cold shock, if you’re losing lots of leaves, it’s likely the plant isn’t getting the light it needs to really grow and sustain itself.
You’ll want to be careful about moving this plant to a new location. It really wants to be placed in one spot and left there. If you are going to move it, try to wait until spring or summer, when it’s getting more light. During winter dormancy, again, leaves might fall off.
(This is one sensitive plant!)
Fiddle leaf fig trees can tolerate some direct sunlight, but a south-facing window is going to be difficult, especially in the warmer months. You’ll notice its large leaves drying out, because this plant does like a lot of water. When it gets too hot, the plant can’t keep pushing enough water through its leaves to compete with the sun as it evaporates water through its stomata to stay cool.
Generally, the rule of thumb is, more sunlight means more water.
Speaking of water, fiddle leaf fig trees really like to stay hydrated, and leaves drying out is a real risk.
You don’t want this soil to dry out completely, like with other indoor tropical plants. Dryness causes brown spots on leaves that will become crispy and in time turn to plant dust. These spots won’t ever regenerate, and it can take a really long time to recover.
Instead, let the soil stay a little moist all the time. When you feel the soil with a finger, you’re trying to detect that moment from where it goes from damp/wet to… very lightly moist and kind of cold? That’s what it should feel like just before you water again.
How much water? How often?
We can’t really say, because different environments, pots, room sizes… these all influence watering frequency. That’s why we recommend against a specific schedule and letting your plant tell you instead.
Signs of overwatering: Yellowing or browning of leaves, leaves and stems that feel squishy and bend over completely. If the plant is starting to rot or sitting in excessive water, you might even smell a funky odor or see mold.
Signs of underwatering: Dry leaves that droop and curl up. They’ll feel crispy and flake away as you touch them. It’s also likely that your plant’s growth will slow down considerably.
Humidity and light both influence how much water your plant needs, so we really want to keep all of its care in harmony.
- Really drench the soil when you do water your fiddle leaf fig tree, letting it pour through the drainage holes on the bottom of your pot. Afterward, you can let the plant sit in the sink, outside, or in a bathtub while you let all of the water drain out.
- Water slowly, like you’re preparing a coffee pour-over.
- Use room temperature water, either tap water or filtered water (if you know that you have very hard/soft water).
- Don’t let water stand in your pot or keep the roots saturated and moist, as this can lead to rot.
Temperature and humidity
Fiddle leaf fig trees love high humidity, but homes tend to be pretty dry, especially in the winter when the heat turns on. They’re more tolerant of household temperatures, but can be easily shocked by cold air.
Let’s cover both.
Temperature: Fiddle leaf figs thrive in warm and steady temperatures between 65°F to 80°F (18°C-27°C). Any sudden draft or cool air can really cause this plant to drop leaves. Being placed in warmer temperatures can be fine, but you’ll really need to keep an eye on the soil and make sure the plant is getting enough water to support it.
Humidity: As we said before, we really like to investigate where a plant comes from to understand the optimal conditions indoors. Since Fiddle leaf figs come from tropical rainforests, you know they’re going to want lots of humidity. We’re looking to keep things above 40%, but ideally closer to 60% for lush growth. If you notice brown spots on the leaves or a dry feel, despite providing plenty of water, it could be an issue with humidity.
Placement near a radiator can an issue with both temperature and humidity. Dry heat should generally be avoided.
So, location is a bit tricky.
The good news?
Once you get the placement right, these actually are very easy plants to care for.
Tips for hitting that optimal humidity:
- A cool mist humidifier works great if it fits your decor, just place one nearby.
- Avoid direct light. You’ll experience a lot more dry air near a south-facing window. If your FLF is in front of one, add a sheer curtain or place it behind other plants. In fact, grouping your plants together is a great way to keep local humidity levels high without turning your whole home into a sauna.
- You can place a pebble tray (fill a tray with pebbles and water just covering them) underneath the pot of your plant. As the water evaporates, you should see (if you have a hygrometer) local humidity levels raise between 4-8%.
Some people advise misting with water, but this won’t help much with humidity unless you permanently plant yourself nearby. Instead, you can wipe down your leaves, which does help get rid of dust and contaminants, making them better at photosynthesizing, as well as evaporating off excess water.
Wiping leaves down (and moisture in general) is also great for fighting mites, which can be an issue for this and other tropical plants.
Soil and planting
Fiddle leaf fig trees do great in regular potting soil, so we’ll focus on repotting, fertilizing, and pruning in this section.
Really, almost any regular potting mix works. If you can find one with orchid bark (or add your own) that’s even better. You don’t want cactus soil or to mix in too much perlite for this plant, since the roots drink up a lot of water and love staying a bit moist.
Unlike some other plants, you’ll want to repot your fiddle leaf fig tree right away. You should go a single size up, not much more.
While this plant loves water, too large a pot, and the soil will stay a bit too moist, as volume increases faster than the surface area (a little math wizardry). Plus, the roots won’t be able to take up all of the moisture you’re offering them.
You can re-pot this plant every other year, and if you’re using a secondary pot, please make sure it doesn’t sit in standing water. Empty out that excess water!
With your Ficus lyrata, you can actually do a neat trick because of its tendency to grow water roots. When planting in a secondary pot, add gravel, pumice, or LECA to the outer pot. Any water that drains into that pot will evaporate over time but won’t be touching the sole of the interior pot, contributing to a humid environment.
Your fiddle leaf fig tree will also send down water roots over time and be able to take up some of that extra water without exposing itself to rot issues.
Stones, gravel, whatever you can find – toss ’em in.
You should fertilize your fiddle leaf fig tree in the spring and summer, probably monthly depending on its rate of growth. You can add this fertilizer as part of your watering schedule, just make sure to dilute a balanced liquid fertilizer.
Nutrients take the form of salts in fertilizer, so too much can shock the plant and damage its leaves. You’ll want to flush the soil out with water if you notice your plant trying to push these salts out to the edges of the leaves – they’ll look brown and crispy.
Start slow. Fertilizers can really turn this slow-growing plant into a faster grower, so also keep in mind how big a plant you want.
Explaining how to prune your Fiddle leaf fig tree as a bonsai is a little out of scope for this care guide, but generally, all pruning is best done during the spring.
This is a sensitive plant. When you cut off leaves, you’re removing the nutrients stored inside.
You can cut/prune during the winter months, it’s fine, but you’ll see fewer buds and less growth from where you do.
A quick question for you: what’s better than a fiddle leaf fig tree?
How about… three fiddle leaf figs?
If you just finished pruning or you want to change the shape of your FLF, this is a great opportunity to propagate some additional plants for your friends and family.
Propagating fiddle leaf figs with stem cuttings
You’ll need the following materials to start: pruning shears, rooting hormone (optional), water, a jar, and a healthy fiddle leaf fig tree.
- Find where you want to make a cut on your plant. You’re going to try to grab at least 6 inches of stem, ideally with at least 3 healthy leaves on top. If there are more leaves on the bottom, this is great too, you’ll just need to remove them.
- Trim your stem so that you have at least 2-3 inches of the stem before a leaf, and an exposed node near the bottom, where roots will form.
- Dip the bottom of your stem cutting in rooting hormone (optional) and then place it into your jar of water.
- Place your cuttings in a location with plenty of bright indirect light, changing out the water every 2 days or so, but at least once a week.
You can keep humidity high for these cuttings with either a clear plastic bag or any large clear container. It can sometimes be hard to find something large enough because of its large leaves.
After 3-4 weeks, you’ll see roots around 2 inches long. That’s how you know it’s time to replant into regular potting soil, keeping it moist and humid as it matures.
You can do this with any size plant. If you’re grabbing a younger stem from the bottom of your fiddle leaf fig tree, you can even place it right into the soil. Remember: high moisture, high humidity.
- Start with a healthy plant. If your plant has issues, you don’t want to stress it out more by cutting off a source of nutrients and light exposure.
- Propagating during the growing season. Fiddle leaf fig roots a lot faster with the brighter light of the spring and summer, and this is when the plant itself is preparing its nutrients and getting ready to send out new roots.
- Keep your tools clean. Sterilized tools protect your plant from any bacteria or fungus you might be introducing. You can either boil them or use rubbing alcohol.
- Cut your stem at an angle. Either cut a V-shaped notch or at a 45-degree angle to give yourself a lot of surface area for rooting. Cutting at an angle also makes sure the stem cutting won’t sit flush with the bottom of your container, which makes it hard for water to travel up the stem.
The beautiful fiddle-leaf fig tree may seem like a hardy plant, but it can encounter issues just like any other. Below are three common issues you may experience with your fiddle leaf fig and ways to identify and resolve them.
Honestly, most issues are location-based. Once you have your FLF in its favorite location, they’re actually a delight to care for.
If you notice your Fiddle leaf fig tree’s leaves are hanging downward, not standing up, and generally looking sad, it’s often an issue with light or water.
Not enough water. You’ll feel the soil and it’ll be dry. You’ll know… hey, I think I forgot to water this plant. Or else you’ll have it in a very bright location with direct sunlight. You’ll want to increase your watering frequency, add humidity, and even adjust the location slightly.
Not enough light. The easiest thing to check is… do you have your fiddle leaf fig tree in a location that’s really bright? If not, nudge it a bit closer to a window and see if the leaves perk up. You really don’t want to move this houseplant too much at once, so small changes are almost always preferred.
Drooping leaves can also occur from brushing against your plant a lot, known as mechanical damage. You’d also expect to see brown edges from where you touch the plant most often. You might want to move it out of the path of mechanical damage if possible, because its leaves are hard to recover.
Remember, fiddle leaf fig trees don’t get new buds on the bottom, so the only way to get new growth and improve their quality is to really prune it all the way back to the bottom and start over.
Take care of those lower leaves!
Brown spots on leaves
Leaves turning brown, especially with brown splotches, can be a sign of rot and overwatering. We’ll cover root rot in the next section, and you’ll want to check that out if this is what you’re seeing on your plant.
Brown spotting can also be from water with too many impurities, but you’d expect to see this closer to the edges and not the center. If they’re on the youngest leaves at the top, this could be pests, too.
Lastly, too much direct sunlight can cause brown spots, but you’d expect them to be crispy and crumble away. The solution: add a sheer curtain, another plant in front (sorry other plant!), or move your fiddle leaf fig out of the sun a little bit.
Leaves turning yellow is another sign of too much water. If you’re seeing leaves that look discolored and yellow, and the soil is feeling pretty wet, you’ll really want to cut back on how frequently you’re watering this plant.
Also, make sure that the soil doesn’t feel overly compacted and that it does have an opportunity to drain.
If you think you might be underwatering your plant, you’d expect to see drooping and wilting leaves along with this.
Diseases and pests
Fiddle leaf figs are very resilient indoor plants, but if they become damaged from poor conditions they can weaken enough to succumb to these little invaders.
Root rot is one of the most common problems we see with fiddle-leaf figs. They like moist soil, so it can be hard to get the conditions exactly right at first. Brown, soggy, and mushy roots are a clear sign that your plant is suffering from root rot.
You’ll want to look at what the roots look like normally, because fiddle leaf figs do have slightly browner roots than most indoor plants, but issues should be obvious… plus the smell.
To fix the issue, follow these steps:
- Remove your plant from its pot, prying apart the soil to really see the extent of the damage.
- Cut off any affected roots using a sharp sterilized knife.
- Get rid of any old soil and place the pot outside for a few weeks to let the sun clean it for you. Thanks, sun!
- Any affected leaves should be cut off too, right at the stem.
- Replant in fresh soil, adding orchid bark or perlite to increase aeration and drainage.
Make sure whatever pot you use does have enough drainage holes, and that you aren’t letting your plant sit in wet soil. If you use a decorative exterior pot, make sure to add stones to the bottom of it, or pour off any excess water.
If your fiddle leaf fig tree dries out too much, it’s very likely you’ll see spider mites soon after. Where do they come from? Where are they lurking? Honestly, I’m not sure, but come, they will.
Mites attack the youngest leaves on the top, since those are full of nutrients and the juiciest. If you see some damage, color change, or yellowing, these could be signs of mites.
Mites are often detected when the infestation is already pretty rampant. You’ll see the webbing if they’re spider mites, or lots of holes and damage to the middle of the top leaves.
Fortunately, they’re easy to treat. You can really just spray your plant down with water daily, ideally outside with a hose so it can dry out a bit after. Mite eggs will stay, so you need to spray for a few weeks to disrupt their life cycle – and never during the winter, because the temperature and wetness combo will hurt this plant.
You can always brush the eggs off, but you’ll never get all of them, so other mitigation still needs to occur.
If you want something less labor-intensive, you can treat your plant with neem oil every few weeks, until the mites decide to depart for greener pastures. Neem oil works great for any pest you’ll see indoors.
The Fiddle leaf fig isn’t a difficult indoor plant to care for. Once you nail the placement just right, it’s pretty easy to keep this plant healthy.
Fiddle-leaf fig care summary:
- Use a slow-release fertilizer monthly in the growing season, keeping an eye on your fiddle leaf fig’s leaves to make sure they aren’t getting shocked from too much salt. Start slowly.
- If a few leaves suddenly drop, this is often from cold shock. Make sure your plant isn’t near any drafts or outside overnight to prevent leaf loss.
- You can wipe down your plant’s leaves with a damp cloth monthly. This is a great time to inspect for pests.
- Give this plant a thorough watering and let excess water flow out of the drainage hole (ideally multiple) at the bottom. Room temperature water is ideal.
- Full sun is fine, just avoid a south-facing window, because too much will dry out your plant pretty quickly.
This really isn’t a challenging plant to keep healthy!
We hope our care guide helped, and feel free to drop us a question if we didn’t answer yours in this article.
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Do Fiddle leaf fig trees produce fruit?
Fiddle Leaf fig trees are not known for producing fruit. In fact, they are cultivated for their stunning oblong leaves instead. Fruit production in Ficus lyrata is rare outside of its natural habitat,so don’t expect to see any tasty figs from this houseplant.
Are fiddle leaf figs easy to care for?
This can be a difficult plant when you first get it, but we often find almost all issues are due to improper placement. If you’re noticing dropping leaves, make sure that it isn’t right in the path of any heating vents or air conditioning.
Is the fiddle leaf fig tree an actual tree?
Yup! Fiddle leaf figs are actual trees, even though they’re sold commonly as indoor houseplants. In western Africa, where they come from, they can grow upright to over 40 feet tall. Indoors, they’ll usually max out at 8-10 feet tall (if you let them).
Are Fiddle-leaf figs toxic?
Like many tropical plants, Fiddle leaf fig trees contain calcium oxalate, which is a toxic irritant. You should keep this plant away from any pets or small children, and be sure to wash your hands after pruning or handling it.