We like to think of the fiddle leaf fig as the Kim Kardashian of the indoor plant world. You love to hate her (but secretly you’re obsessed), her big lush leaves are just as iconic as Kim K’s butt, she can be a total pain in the ass and at least once a month you can imagine her doing cry face just like Kim…
It surprises us how many people are totally petrified to own a fiddle leaf fig, and yet still so desperately want one! We get it, they are one of the most beautiful indoor plants getting around with their luscious green foliage and ability to grow to the ceiling, that’s why we’re stocking a 1m tall version and a smaller bambino version. They can be found looking perfect in almost every home and garden magazine and were dubbed THE house plant of 2017.
The reasons for this fear are warranted – the death rates for these poor plants is pretty damn high, and that’s at the hands of indoor plant beginners and pros alike! Our 2017 survey results saw one in every three fiddle leaf figs were chucked on the verge within two months of purchase*. But while she can be a fickle biatch at times, the stunning fiddle leaf fig is actually not as tricky as most think. Seriously, don’t you roll your eyes at us.
Allow us to share some tried and true tips from our own experience and from (many) chats with the guys growing these beauties from scratch at the various nurseries around Perth.
Image credit: POPSUGAR
Let’s start with finding the perfect spot for this incredible creature. Indoor plants need varying amounts of light and the fiddle leaf fig is one that needs, no, demands bright, indirect sunlight. You’re going to want to pop her close to a window that gets a lot of light for most of the day (think north-facing). A bit of direct sunlight early in the morning won’t brown her leaves but only if it’s before around 10am (check how hot the window and space directly in front gets during the day as, for example, a west facing window will be super-hot even if the sun isn’t shining directly in). After 10am, any direct sunlight is going to scorch her bootylicious leaves and she will begin hating you and die. OK, maybe not quite but she will begin dropping leaves faster than a fat kid chasing an ice cream truck.
Bonus tip: like almost all other indoor plants, the fiddle leaf fig will hate being too close to a heater or catching the draught of an air con. Keep them well clear or risk the dreaded leaf drop.
We have personally tried several different methods of watering from a glass or two once a week to monthly soaks in a tray of water and drenching in the shower. After a lot of trial and error, the method we found that will keep your fiddle leaf fig fit as a fiddle is a full drench in the shower or outside under the hose.
Here’s how it works;
- Always wait until the first three to five inches of top soil are totally dry before you water (the time this takes will vary between summer and winter, so always check before watering). We use a hand soil thermometer like this when we aren’t feeling like getting dirt under a fresh manicure!
- When it’s time to water, take your fiddle leaf fig to the shower or outside with easy access to a hose and literally just turn on the tap and drench her for a few minutes. This will also help get rid of any dust from her leaves.
- Leave the plant to drain for half an hour or so then pop her back in her permanent possie.
Bonus tip: If your fiddle leaf fig is way too big to lift then we suggest investing in a plastic plant tray that can sit under the pot and then water her with a watering can until the soil is drenched. Again, allow her to sit for half an hour to catch all excess water but do not, I repeat, DO NOT leave her sitting in the water in the tray. Either lift the pot out and throw the water out or soak the excess water up with an old towel.
What not to do – One of the key things NOT to do with your fiddle leaf fig is move her. Once you find a well-lit possie she loves, leave her to do her thing. Sure, moving her to water is fine but don’t move her from your living room to your bedroom every other month. She ain’t gonna like it!
Fertilising – For all indoor plants, you need to provide a top-up of nutrients that they would otherwise get from the soil in their natural habitat. For fiddle leaf figs we recommend a slow release fertiliser like the miracle working Troforte CRF Pots and Plants that we use on all our plants, every six months and then in spring and summer, a liquid fertiliser like Seasol once a month.
Bonus tip: Green Assembly supplies indoor garden size fertiliser packs so that you don’t need to buy enormous bottles that you will never get through. Available here.
Leaf shine and clean – Give her leaves a shine with a mix of equal parts full cream milk and water (rather than the chemical leaf shine sprays) and gently wipe the top and bottom to clear dust and make that deep green shine through. You’ll also want to remove any browning leaves with secateurs and collect any that have fallen from the base of the pot.
Re-potting – Just like most of us after the festive season, the fiddle leaf fig will eventually need to go up a dress size. If you’ve had yours for a year or more, be sure to check the base of her pot and if you see roots poking through, it’s time to either give her a bigger pot or prune her roots to keep her the size she is.
Dropping leaves – Did we not just go through all the tips you need to avoid dropping leaves?! Go back and read the beginning of this article and make sure you are following all these key points.
If you’re sure you’ve got those covered, read on. Leaf dropping can be caused by too much or too little water or being exposed to cold or warm airflow. The fiddle leaf fig originates from tropical regions, so she likes a warm, humid habitat with consistent moisture and even te
mps. If you keep the natural habitat of any plant in mind and try to replicate it as much as possible you will enjoy a happier, thriving plant.
Pruning and rotating – If your beauty is about to touch the ceiling you can easily prune the top to keep it at a height you’re happy with. She will also grow towards the light, so rotate her on the spot every couple of weeks to make sure all sides get even exposure to the light.
And that’s a wrap! Everything you need to know to keep your fiddle leaf fig happy and healthy. We know it may seem like a lot but really the trick is to set the plant up for success by choosing the right place in your home, then make sure you are regularly providing the essentials she needs. I mean you wouldn’t neglect Kim K if she was your plant baby, would you?
* Totally fake survey conducted on never by no one.