Fiddle Leaf Fig

Fiddle Leaf Fig in London

Anyone who has ever tried to find advice on how to care for a Fiddle Leaf Fig or Ficus Lyrata has encountered varying, and even sometimes contradictory recommendations.  For someone who isn’t very experienced with house plants, this is a nightmare.  I purchased this small plant in February 2016 and since then have made every possible mistake.  I think I have now finally figured out what my plant needs so wanted to share my mistakes and triumphs.  Here is a summary of what I have learned so far:

  • Put your plant pot into a larger decorative pot with stones in the bottom: this allows the plant to have extra drainage, and also keeps the plant somewhat humid.  Also, this protects your indoor surfaces.  It also looks nice and allows you to change easily.

Link to white planter on Amazon

Link to glossy drainage stones on Amazon

  • When in doubt, remember it is better to underwater than over water: I water strictly one cup per week.  If you are unsure how often you should water, lift up your pot and look at the drainage holes.  If the soil you can see at the bottom is dry, it is ready to water.  If it is still moist, hold off.
  • Dust the leaves: This really does make a difference, the plant seems happier and healthier after the leaves have been dusted.  I also tried the strategy to wipe down the leaves with coconut oil, and I must say I recommend doing this!  It makes the plant seem very happy and healthy.  The key is to take a paper towel or tissue and carefully and gently rub the coconut oil into the leaves.  I do this once every two months or so.
  • Don’t be a helicopter parent: When you first get a tree like this you want to give it as much love and care as you can, and this usually translates into over watering, over fertilising or just over interfering in general.  Once you have placed the pot in the place where it will be, and watered it for the week, the best thing you can do to encourage it’s healthy growth is to leave it alone.

Below are some photos of the progress of growth.

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20th February 2016: Brand new plant, full of bushy green leaves.  Small rip on top leaf but other than that the plant was very healthy.

23rd March 2016

One month later, the plant was struggling.  There was brown spots appearing on the tips of the top leaves, and a few leaves were dropping off.  I realised I was too enthusiastic about watering the tree so I reduced it to a strict one cup once a week strategy.

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23rd March 2016: Top leaves turning brown, and a leaf had dropped

July 2016

The brown spots on the leaves completely dried up, and to me this signalled that the plant had indeed been over watered originally.  The plant was alive and showed no further signs of deterioration, however  between March and July there didn’t seem to be any growth progress, which was a concern since this is the main growing season.  The tree was living about 4 metres from the windows, so in order to encourage growth I decided to move just next to the window, in the corner.  Within less than a month of this move, I saw a fresh  leaf sprouting out of the top!

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3rd July 2016: New leaf sprout appearing! Clearly all the plant needed was more light
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7th July 2016: Healthy new leaf opening to reveal a second leaf coming out at the same time! Also note: the dried brown edges of the top leaves, a reminder of previous abuse this tree suffered
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13th July 2016: The new leaves looking very healthy and happy!

December 2016

Unfortunately I only got the hang of the care for this plant at the end summer, so the plant had to deal with a new environment (moved house!) and also the shortening days.  Over this time, the new leaves continued to grow bigger, thicker, and stronger and as this happened they also turned the dark colour of the existing leaves.

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4th December 2016: The plant in it’s new home, looking healthy.  The newest leaf can be seen on the top left hand side, over this time both new leaves have grown very large and dark.

20th March 2013

Two new leafs emerged in late January and now are looking extremely healthy.  Now that the days are getting longer and I know that I am giving my plant exactly what it needs, I am excited about the future growth.  Today I had my first attempt at fertilising this tree, and I am choosing to use ‘worm tea’ which I have used with success on some of my other plants.

20th March 2017: The two leaves grown in January looking very healthy, and the two leaves below them are the ones which appeared in July.  Hopefully this year will bring more leaf growth!

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28th March 2017: The dry brown tip of the plant was removed (out of curiosity!) to reveal tiny green leaf growth.  I have never done this before and it might have been a very bad decision.
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24th May 2017: The brown covering of the leaf tip has re grown, so I think removing it was a bad idea and slowed down the growth

So far the lesson learned is if you think “should I remove the brown cover of my fiddle leaf fig tip?” the answer is NO!

Updates and results to follow!

If you want to try caring for your own fiddle leaf fig tree, they are available on Amazon in both small (35cm tall)  and larger (65cm tall).

See our other plant stories here

 

 

Click below for posts you might also find interesting:

Fiddle Leaf Fig Propagation

Avocado grown from seed

Gift ideas for a plant lover

 

 

4 thoughts on “Fiddle Leaf Fig

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