How to Care for your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree, from an Expert
Despite living in the city for the past 7 years, I really love working outside in the garden with my hands, but surprise! We’ve never had more than a patio when it comes to outdoor space, so I’m yet to have my large sprawling garden. Crossing my fingers that I get it soon enough!
In the meantime, I’ve amassed a pretty nice collection of houseplants. I’ve got small one that sit on tables and big ones that fill entire corners and add such a nice green, organic touch to every room. Maybe it sounds silly, but I really love them. Watering them, trimming them and caring for them has become one of favorite hobbies. It leaves me feeling so calm and grounded, which is something I feel like I constantly need in the city.
The latest addition to my collection is a fiddle leaf fig tree that I picked up in early August. I originally drove out to Gethsemane’s just to ask their experts a few questions on my dying Birds of Paradise plant. Also, pick up a few gardening items, but left with a new planter, gardening sheers and a cute little fiddle leaf fig! Frankly, it was hard to get out of there with only one plant. This place is amazing!
But, let’s back track for a hot second. A few years ago, I bought a gorgeous fiddle leaf fig tree, plopped it in a pot, watered it regularly and within a few weeks. It started dropping leaves. Not just a few either, like probably half of it’s leaves. Worst of all, it wasn’t growing new ones. I moved it to a sunnier spot in the house, but still no luck. Eventually, I had to throw it away which was really sad, because that particular tree was not cheap!
This time around I’m determined to take better care of my tree and actually see it thrive! On a reader’s suggestion, I talked to Eric at Gethsemane’s to get his best tips for keeping my little fiddle fig alive. If you’ve ever walked by the Lou & Grey on Southport and lusted over their insane fiddle leaf fig tree (guilty), Eric is the one responsible for keeping it alive and well.
The whole reason I went out there was because one of you guys suggested I do and talk to Eric (thank you!), the guy responsible for keeping Lou & Grey’s tree alive and super healthy. Seriously it’s the best looking fiddle leaf fig I’ve seen! Lucky for me, Eric was the first guy that I talked to when I walked in. He gave me some tips to help revive my Birds of Paradise and also shared his tips for keeping your fiddle leaf fig tree happy and healthy! Here’s what he said:
Before we dove in, he reminded me that fiddle leaf figs are very “fussy”. They require love and attention, so if you want a house plant that’s easy, this probably isn’t the one for you. But, I was looking for a bit of a challenge. Plus, I love the way they look!
Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Are Fussy Plants
If you’re looking for a low maintenance house plant, skip this one because it’s anything but easy. They’ll let you know they’re not happy by dropping leaves. So pay attention to your plant and “listen” to it!
Don’t Water on a Schedule
He actually said this was a good rule of thumb for all plants, which makes sense. Depending on the temperature, humidity, amount of sunlight and other factors, your plant may need to be watered more or less. The easiest way to tell is to feel the top of the soil. If it’s dry, water it, if it’s damp, let it be for a few days. He suggested that you check the soil every 2-3 days. That doesn’t mean you’ll water every 2-3 days. Just check to see if your plant needs water!
Don’t Repot Immediately
When your fiddle leaf moves from the nursery to your home, it may drop a few leaves as it adjusts to a new place. To keep from shocking it too much, Eric suggested I wait to repot until next spring when it’s grown a bit and needs more space. For now, my tree is still in the plastic pot it came in and sits inside a bigger ceramic pot that has good drainage and a saucer underneath. It’s very important that your plant can drain properly, so make sure you get a pot that’s got drainage at the bottom and if it’s sitting on the floor of your home, get a saucer to catch water underneath.
If you’re thinking you need to repot, he suggested sticking your fingers around the inside edge of the pot. Also, if you can easily get your fingers in the soil, you’re probably okay. If you hit roots immediately, it’s time to repot into a larger container.
When it is time to water, make sure you’re soaking the plant to the roots. A pint or two won’t do it. This is when that saucer becomes really important! Eric suggested a gallon or two to fully soak the plant. Any leftover water that drains into the saucer can be removed so that the roots don’t get soggy. Usually I don’t have much water left in the saucer and it evaporates in a day. But if you do, try using a turkey baster or sponges to soak up the excess water.
Your Leaves Are Talking To You
Whenever my plant’s leaves started changing color, I figured it meant something, but I couldn’t figure out what exactly. Brown, crispy leaves mean your plant needs more water. Yellow leaves mean you’re overwatering. I wish I had known this tip a long time ago. It would have saved several of my plants lives!
Plants need sun and Eric suggested that I place our fiddle leaf fig in a spot where it gets at least three hours of sunlight a day. Our bedroom gets really nice afternoon sun, so I’ve put it there in front of the sliding glass door. It does make getting out to the patio a little harder, but it’s worth it! The one at Lou & Grey gets great morning light at it’s roots and Eric said that’s a big reason why it’s done so well.
My old fiddle leaf fig was in a big basket so the root area almost never saw the light. It makes me wonder if that contributed to its untimely death. Either way, I think it’s important that the base of the plant gets plenty of sunlight too! If you need to put something underneath your plastic pot to raise it up, try a terra-cotta planter turned upside down. That’s what we did for mine!
Do you have a collection of houseplants too? What tips do you have for caring for a fiddle leaf fig tree?!