The fiddlleaf fig prefers consistent care and location in the home. |
Toni Reale | File Photo

Ficus lyrata, commonly known as the fiddle-leaf fig, is one of the most popular houseplants around due to its elegant branches and unique fiddle-shaped dark green leaves. These beauties have graced home and garden magazines since the 1970s and have exploded in popularity since the advent of Pinterest.

Many new plant parents shy away from owning this plant because it has a reputation for being finicky. But with a few helpful tips, this plant will surely make a statement in your home and will be easy to care for. 

Caring for this tropical native

Fiddle-leaf figs are native to the low, tropical rainforests of western Africa where they grow in thick, warm and humid surroundings. It’s important to know a plant’s native habitat because as plant parents, we need to do our best to replicate those environmental conditions at home for the plant to thrive.

One of the most important considerations for proper placement of your fiddle-leaf fig is to locate where in your home you get the most indirect bright light. These plants love light, but direct light (if not introduced slowly) might burn the leaves. Find a place in your home that has plenty of sunlight. Do not place it directly under a vent as the air turning on and off is not ideal.

Watering your fiddle-leaf fig is easy. These plants like to be watered about once a week, but to ensure that you are not overwatering, stick your finger in the soil and if the top 2″ to 3″ is dry, then it is time to water. Water it so the soil is saturated but not soggy. Be sure your pot has drainage to avoid root rot.

Encourage growth in the spring and summer with fertilizer. Any high-nitrogen fertilizer will do, and even Amazon sells a product specifically formulated for these plants.

Take good care of your fiddle-leaf fig by wiping its beautiful big leaves with a damp cloth or neem oil. Not only does this encourage good health but they look better without dust on the surface.

Settle it in

The bad rap these plants get is from its desire for consistency, meaning it doesn’t like to get moved around from spot to spot, doesn’t like to be under air-conditioning vents and likes consistent (not necessarily persistent) care. When you bring a new fiddle-leaf fig into your home, be sure to have its spot ready and keep it there. Let it stay in its nursery pot for a month or so before you re-pot it. You can tuck the nursery pot into a prettier planter before you re-pot it as long as there is drainage. After four to five weeks, plant it with a good soil medium in a pot that is one size up from the nursery pot. 

Be on the lookout 

Keep an eye on the leaves: Too much direct sunlight might burn the plant.

Take notice of the leaves when you are caring for your plant. If leaves are dropping, that could be a sign that the plant is not getting enough light. You may have to consider a new location. If the leaves are brown or crispy at the edges, you may need more humidity.

Pay attention to your plant and its needs. Unlike a snake plant, it will not thrive on neglect. With just minimal effort, though, this beauty will be a statement plant in your home that you will be proud of.

Toni Reale is the owner of Roadside Blooms, a unique flower and plant shop in Park Circle in North Charleston. It specializes in weddings, events and everyday deliveries using nearly 100% American and locally grown blooms. Online at 4610 Spruill Ave., Suite 102, North Charleston.

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