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How to care for a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree

If you’ve recently become obsessed with the most popular houseplant of the year the Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree, you are going to love my tips for how to care for this lovely indoor tree.

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Tall fiddle leaf fig tree potted inside next to a window

It’s official. I’ve turned into a crazy plant lady, the other day Matt told his friends at school that our house is slowly turning into a jungle. I don’t know what it is but I’ve slowly started to to become obsessed with having beautiful plants all over our home!

It all started with my fiddle leaf fig tree. I had been seeing them for a long time in all the pictures all over instagram and Pinterest. They are just so unique and elegant and beautiful! I was in Home Depot last year and BAM! There was an entire cart of them being unloaded into the garden section for only $24.

This was before Ikea, Costco and others had them regularly. I snagged one and it all started. Below are my best tips for how to care for a fiddle leaf fig tree and have your fig leaf tree grow quickly! You can order online from Home Depot for only $20!

fiddle leaf fig trees at home depot

How to care for a fiddle leaf fig tree

1. Repot in the right container.

What type of container should you repot a fiddle leaf fig tree in? Fiddle leaf fig trees need depth for their roots to grow, not so much width. A major stumbling block for fig tree care can be root rot, so you MUST have a drainage hole in your pot.

When you purchase your plant you want to repot it immediately into a container that is only about 3-4 inches larger in diameter than what it’s currently in but maybe 6-8″ deeper. Think tall and skinny so those roots have somewhere to go to help your tree become tall.

2. Use good soil.

Fiddle leaf fig soil needs to be a mix that dries out in between waterings. Use an indoor potting mix like Miracle Grow’s indoor potting soil. The soil needs to dry out between waterings to prevent root rot and fungus gnats. Don’t use dirt from outside and risk bringing in bugs that could infest your plant.

large 2 branch fiddle leaf fig tree inside potted

How to repot a fiddle leaf fig tree.

Estimate how much soil you need in the pot from the bag and dump in the bottom of the pot. Then remove the tree from the plastic container, if it’s stuck you can cut the plastic with scissors so as to not damage the plant.

Repotting is easier when your plant is dry, so do not water before you repot. Once you have the plant out of the old container, place it in the new one. It is best for the plant to be just slightly lower than the edge of the container. Fill in with the soil around the edges of the root ball if needed to make the container full.

Water after repotting.

After you have repotted the tree give it a good complete soaking. If it fits into the kitchen sink let it sit under the faucet for several minutes, I like to take my sink hose and use it to water all around the soil for several minutes.

When plants are at the store they are often super dry and need to be completely soaked when repotted. Let the excess water drain through the bottom for an hour or so and then drain the saucer that’s underneath the pot, you do not want your fiddle leaf fig tree to sit in water.

3. Find the perfect light and let it acclimate

Often when a tree is repotted and in a new environment it’s shocked and takes a little bit of time for it to get used to a new home. You’ll want to find a good spot where it gets lots of consistent bright light. In a room that has a lot of windows is ideal. Fiddle leaf figs do not like direct intense sunlight on their leaves, indirect light is better.

Be careful it is not near a draft, cold air will cause it’s leaves to turn brown and fall off. Brown spots on fig tree leaves typically mean the plant is getting too cold, so double check it’s location and make sure it’s not by a vent or drafty window. Once you find a great spot, leave the plant there, fiddle leaf fig trees don’t like to be moved.

4. Water consistently.

How much should you water a fiddle leaf fig tree? Fiddle leaf fig trees are tropical and like warm humid environments, most of our homes are dry and even cool in the winter months.

To trick the plant into thinking it lives in a rainforest I mist it with a spray bottle every week after watering. I’ve found that this keeps the leaves from cracking and having little holes in the leaves. The amount you water depends on the size of your plant, however 1 cup for a medium to small size fiddle leaf tree once a week seems to be a good starting place.

At this point I water my medium-large fiddle leaf fig tree with 3 cups of water once a week. You don’t want standing water in the basin or saucer that your pot is sitting in, so after you water if there is excess remove it.

For a long time I would stick my finger into the soil about an inch or two before watering to see if the soil was damp, then if it was dry I would water. Sometimes in the winter months the soil will still be damp so I will wait a few more days before watering.

5. Clean dull fig tree leaves

How to clean the dull leaves of a fiddle leaf fig tree. The leaves of a fiddle leaf fig tree are large and just like everything else in your house they collect dust. The plant breathes through the leaves so you need to clean those big guys! I take a damp microfiber cloth and wipe down the leaves about once a month.

Because I spray the leaves weekly with water I wipe them down less often. Sometimes older leaves can get dull, and easy way to bring back shine is to take a little bit of coconut oil with a wet cloth and “polish” them. It does wonders for bringing back shiny leaves. I’m not sure how great this is for the plant so I rarely do it, once a year maybe.

6. Don’t pull lower leaves!

Once your tree starts to get tall you may be tempted to pull off the lower leaves to make it look more like a tree. The longer you leave the lower leaves on the tree the stronger your trunk will become. I wish I had left my leaves on quite a bit longer so that my trunk would have become a bit bigger and stronger.

fiddle leaf fig tree with branches in living room next to window

Trouble shooting problems for fig tree care

Why does my fiddle leaf fig tree have yellow leaves?

In the beginning several of the bottom leaves on my fiddle leaf fig tree turned light yellow green and looked very sad. I pulled them off and researched the issue. I was over watering. I’ve read that this can also be caused by pests but in my case it was over watering. If your fiddle leaf fig tree needs more water the leaves will all visibly droop. We came back from a vacation and it was clear just looking at the tree that it was seriously thirsty!

Why does my fiddle leaf fig tree have brown spots?

If the fiddle leaf fig brown spots are light in color and the leaf looks super dry and crunchy the culprit is under watering. If the brown spots are dark, almost black it may be root rot. Stop watering and let the plant dry out. You may need to repot the fiddle leaf fig and cut out any roots that are dark and mushy.

Now that you have the basics for how to care for a fiddle leaf fig tree continue reading below for my tips and tricks for how to make your tree grow fast.

How to make a fiddle leaf fig tree grow fast

1. Fertilize

Every time I water my fiddle leaf fig tree I add a drop of Super Thrive, a friend who is also a crazy plant lady gave me this tip and it has been a game changer. This super concentrated plant/ fiddle leaf fig fertilizer is like magic!  I have also on occasion, maybe twice a year stuck some Jobe’s tree fertilizer sticks into the soil.

2. Pinch

How and why to pinch fiddle leaf fig tree leaves. The first time I pinched off a leaf I was totally freaked out and felt like I was going to kill the tree, but quickly realized it was the right thing to do because pinching spurs more growth for the plant.

When the tree has a baby leaf coming out of the top simply pull off the new growing leaf. I know, it seems crazy and counter intuitive! But you will see within a week the next several leaves grow so quickly! I typically pinch off a leaf and then let 4-5 new leaves grow and then pinch again. In the photo below you can see a small new leaf on top this is around the size I would pinch. To pinch you pull it from the base of where it is growing from the branch.

fiddle leaf fig tree with emerging leaf at top

3. Prune

Fiddle leaf fig pruning, like pinching, can be anxiety inducing. Especially after caring for a fiddle leaf fig tree it seems like cutting the top off is going to ruin all the work you’ve been doing for months!

I was nervous but I was also really curious about propagating (making another tree from a cutting) and seeing new branches on my tree so I took the plunge and pruned! You can see in the photo below my tree was becoming very top heavy and leaning.

extra large fiddle leaf fig needing to be pruned

How to get your fiddle leaf fig tree to grow branches.

My fiddle leaf fig as you can see in the photo above was growing strait up on one branch or trunk, I had seen photos of other trees growing different branches and had even tried notching (where you make a notch with a sharp knife in the trunk) to get my tree to branch but nothing had worked. Pruning is the key to getting your fiddle leaf fig tree to branch out in different directions.

The first step to prune is to plan to do it in the spring or summer. The tree naturally has a period of growth during the warm months so you’ll want to capitalize on the growth period. When you prune you’ll want to use a very sharp clean knife, I sharpened one of my kitchen chef’s knives to use. I then located where I would cut on the tree, just about 1/2″-1″ below a leaf. You can see in the photo below how I trimmed off the top of my tree.

fiddle leaf fig after being pruned

What happens next is SO exciting. After about 3 weeks I started to see 3 new buds appear on each of the trunks that I cut. For some reason when I bought my tree it has two trunks in the pot, which is pretty common when purchasing a fiddle leaf fig tree, so I actually have 2 trees in my pot and I’m way to nervous to try to separate them!

fiddle leaf fig new growth after being pruned

For the first few weeks I was really nervous because I was expecting new growth to appear at the cut site, which is not what happens. The cut site becomes dry and dark and I thought I killed my tree and I would never see a new leaf!

New buds appear below the cut site and in more than one spot, as I mentioned both of my cut stems developed three different new growth buds which means three new branches! It was so exciting to see these three different branches sprout and grow.

new growth on fiddle leaf fig tree after being pruned

You guys I just love this tree! I love how it grows quickly, it’s so satisfying! I love how it looks in my home and I love that even though it’s a little fussy, once you learn how to care for a fiddle leaf fig tree they really are easy. If you have questions leave a comment or tag me on Instagram (@handmadeintheheartland) or facebook!

Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Resources:

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