How to care for your Fiddle Leaf Tree
“The Ficus Lyrata also called the Fiddle Leaf Tree is one of the cool kid in town. My advice: buy one!”
|Moraceae||West Africa||15 – 24º+|
|Yes, please||Bright indirect light||Canopy/tall|
|Moist soil, not soggy||Yes||Medium|
|October to March||To be near a cold window or a heated vent||Spring/Summer|
Credit: New York Times
Fiddle Leaf Tree’s
Do not leave your plant in a cold draft or near a cold window or a fan heater
Do not leave Your Fiddle Leaf tree in full hot sun especially in summer unless it has been acclimated to the sun
Do not overwater it or let it dry out for long period of time, keep it moist
Do not leave the roots in constant contact with water for an extended period of time
Do not place it in a dark corner
Fiddle Leaf loves bright light and needs to be in front of a window
Wipe its leaves periodically to remove dust
Just relax and enjoy it
The more you fuss about it, the more problems you will have
Light and Location
In their natural habitat, they can sustain the sun all day. Sadly, most Fiddle Leaf trees we buy, have not been used to their natural environment, and they are grown in filtered light.
They need bright sunlight to grow as they feed on it. Place your Fiddle Leaf in front of a window or very close. Do not keep it away from the light and place it in a dark corner.
You can acclimate your plant to be in the sun gradually. It can sustain the early morning or late evening sun in the summer. Start with an hour of direct sun for a week and slowly repeat the process by increasing to 1 to 2 hours to accustom your plant. Follow this process until you have achieved at least 6 hours of sunlight every day. Morning or evening sun is good to start with.
In the summer, I tend to place my Fiddle trees in the garden where they are exposed to the morning sun. This method will allow your plant to grow faster.
If you bring your plant outside on a warm day, always remember to bring it back inside, if you know that you are going to have a drop in temperature. In the winter months, the sun is not strong enough to do any harm, it is a good start to acclimate them.
They prefer a South facing window. However, if you have a large North facing window, do not discard it. One of my Fiddle Leaf trees is very happy.
Use rain/filtered water if you can or leave your watering can sit with water overnight for the chemicals to evaporate. Generally, water your plant once a week depending on the temperature of your environment. You have two ways of knowing when you need to water your FL.
You can use a moisture meter which will need to be calibrated (personally I do not like them), or use your finger by inserting it in the soil. My preferred method is using a wooden stick is perfect. Insert it inside the soil (10/15cm/2″ deep), check 15mins later, and you will clearly see if it is dry or not.
When you water your plant, make sure the water runs out from the bottom of the pot to have the root ball soaked and to drain any salts which have built in the pot.
Remember, do not let your FL dry out thoroughly, they enjoy being slightly moist.
Temperature & Humidity
Make sure the temperature around your Fiddle Leaf is no less than 15º. They like constant warmth. In winter, do not place it next to a door which is regularly opened and let the cold in, or in front of a cold window.
Ficus Lyrata trees thrive in a humid climate. I have read that many people use a humidifier in winter. Personally, I do not, and mine have survived many winters. It all depends on your environment.
You can make a humidity tray to increase humidity by putting some stones in a saucer, pour the water over it but do not cover them. Place your Fiddle Leaf tree on top. Make sure the roots do not come into contact with the water as they do not like to be waterlogged.
You can also have a container on top of the soil with some water inside.
Another option is to consider grouping a few plants together to create a mini rainforest by clustering them together.
Repotting & Compost
Spring is the best time to repot your Ficus Lyrata when the plant is starting to grow. Repot it in a pot 1/1.5” larger in diameter than your current pot. Do not forget to add drainage with stones at the bottom as again, the roots do not like to be sitting in water. Once you have repotted your plant, water it a day later.
Fiddlle Leaf trees like to be root bound in their pots. If you buy one in winter which needs repotting, I would advise to do it once it has acclimated to his new environment. Do not put your Ficus Lyrata outside to repot in winter.
I always add Root Grow which contains mycorrhizal fungi if my plant is young. The mycorrhizal fungi are essential to the soil life, continually growing out from the roots of a treated plant into the soil, finding new sources of nutrients and water.
All my Ficus Lyrata trees are planted in terracotta pots; they allow air and water to pass through their walls which promotes healthy plants by avoiding root rot and disease caused by overwatering. However, this can also cause the soil to dry out quickly, which means more watering in Summer. Plastic pots are also acceptable.
The way I mix my compost is:
10% part charcoal horticultural coconut shell
80% part Westland houseplant compost (as recommended by the Palm Centre).
As for the charcoal, it is less dense, and it will get rid of impurities. It also airs the soil and helps to increase the drainage and to grow healthy roots. It adds a source of carbon to the plants, speeds water drainage, allows good airflow in the subsoil and inhibits the growth of bacteria and fungi.
Credit: Alyssa Rosenheck, Design Leanne Ford Interiors
Fertilise once a month during the growing period. There is mixed information about fertilising a FL.
I use instead Happy House Start Me Up (in addition to RootGrow when I repot). It is completely natural and there is not risk of overdose. Just add to the surface of your plant, lightly fork and water as usual. Remember, do not over fertilise your FL and always follow the guidelines of the fertiliser you are using.
There are different methods:
It is a great method, but it takes time. You need to be a confident and experienced gardener to use this method. You also need to have a thicker trunk to avoid accidents.
It is the most popular method. Cut off a branch, and keep two leaves, dip it in rooting hormone and wrap the stem in Sphagnum moss, mist the moss and place it inside a plastic bag in a bright location. Once it has developed healthy roots, you can plant it.
Alternatively, fill a vase with water, place the stem upright and leave the vase (transparent is better to see what’s going on) in a bright area but not in direct sunshine. Change the water when it becomes cloudy. And wait… I will take a few months.
Once you can see a good rooting system, (which can take a few weeks) place the plant in compost and watch it grow. Remember that roots which grow in water are harder to plant in soil. Keep the soil well watered and slowly decrease the amount of water over time. This is my favourite method.
Another method is to cut a 3″ healthy stem below a leaf node. Remove the bottom leave. Before planting, dip the stem in rooting hormones. Plant it and cover it with a clear plastic bag to increase the humidity. If the compost dries out, water it as it needs to be kept moist. After a few weeks, you can check if the cutting has rooted. If it has, remove the plastic and look after your plant like any other FL.
Branching your Ficus Lyrata
There are different ways to help it sprout new branches. Before you decide to branch your Fiddle Leaf, make sure the trunk has thickened enough to support its tree shape. It will also be more pleasing to the eyes. Wait until you are satisfied with its height. Once you have achieved the desired height and trunk thickness, you can start branching your Fiddle Leaf. Patience is key.
It promotes branching when done correctly. Make a small cut into the trunk above a bud where you want to see a branch. This will trick the plant into branching out at this point. You need to make a cut deep enough until you see white sap coming out. I have been unsuccessful using this method.
Unless you are an experienced gardener, I would not attempt this method as you can damage your plant.
Credit: Facebook page from Ghetto Gardeners Tips for Dope Ass Plants Inside & Out. Fiddle Leaf
Pruning will promote branching by cutting your tree with a good pair of secateurs. Cut where the leaf node is. Always make sure to disinfect your secateurs before using it. The new growths should emerge from the stem where the leaf is. You should get two new stems to grow from the leaf node below the cut point. Use gloves when you are cutting your FL as the sap can be irritating.
Nip the tip-off of a new set of leaves at the end of the tip of the tree or the branch, it will encourage new growths. Once your tree has started branching, you can repeat the process. This is the easiest method to use.