Originally posted in July of 2016 and updated February 2020.
Fiddle leaf fig trees are one of the most popular indoor plants right now. They’ve have been popping up all over magazines, blogs, and Instagram for the last couple of years. I remember thinking it was the new “it” decor item and I just had to have one! If you’ve been feeling that way too but are unsure about taking care of one, I have a few tips and tricks on how to care for a fiddle leaf fig. (post contains affiliate links, see disclosure)
To be honest, I hadn’t had a houseplant in almost ten years because I thought I was cursed with a black thumb so I gave up on my dreams of ever having a fiddle leaf fig. But then one day while stopping at Home Depot for supplies on a last-minute DIY project, I saw him (yes and he has a name too)! The fiddle leaf fig was just sitting there in my pathway, alone in the wood aisle, as if someone had grabbed him and then decided not to take him home. I immediately put him in my cart and went to the garden section to find another. There were no other fiddles in the entire store and there hasn’t been any since then, about six months ago. Ps – Home Depot now sells them online! Click here!
I brought him home and named him Phil, #philthefiddle (yup, he even has his own hashtag on Instagram). I researched caring for a fiddle leaf fig and promised Phil I’d do everything I could to give him a nice happy home. We’ve had Phil for a while now – he’s lost a leaf, sprouted a few more, grown a few inches, and continuously surprises me. If you ever thought you had a black thumb, buy a fiddle and he will prove you wrong.
Phil the Fiddle in May of 2019
10 Tips on How to Care for a Fiddle Leaf Fig
1. WATER REGULARLY (but not too much)
Duh. Yes, of course, a plant needs water, but fiddles can be picky. A fiddle leaf fig doesn’t need very much water and overwatering is no bueno. Once you’ve had a fiddle leaf fig for a couple of weeks, you will develop a watering schedule. In the past, this was one thing I could never get right with houseplants. Now, I let Phil tell me when he needs water by checking his topsoil. If the top inch or so is dry, I water him. This is usually about once a week and he gets a water bottle worth. Keep in mind it may change during the seasons and humidity.
2. CHECK THE WATER TEMPERATURE
Plants, in general, don’t like extremely cold water, especially fiddles. Use lukewarm or room temperate water. Test the water first or leave the cup of water on the counter for a few minutes before watering.
3. CAREFULLY CHOOSE THE LIGHT
Duh. I know, I know another obvious tip. But this is important, a fiddle needs indirect light. When I first got Phil he sat next to a window that got a lot of direct sunlight all day long. One day, I moved him next to our sliding patio door for a photo op and I thought he looked great there so I left him. It was probably the best decision because he has grown a lot more since then. Our back patio is covered, so while he’s still getting a lot of sunlight, no direct rays are hitting him. Update: I moved Phil again during our guest bedroom makeover and he has grown twice the size!
4. ROTATE ON REGULAR BASIS
This is a big one. When the fiddle fig tree starts to hang more to the right or left, rotate the plant so that the stem will swing back the other way (towards the light) and straighten out. Whenever Phil starts to look lopsided, I rotate him the other way and in a couple of days, he is standing tall again.
5. WIPE THE LEAVES
Another big tip. This will help so much! When the leaves are too dusty, they aren’t able to soak up all the sun and nutrients. Phil uses his leaves to “breathe” so I always make sure to keep his leaves free of dust by wiping them with a damp cloth.
5. LOOK FOR BROWN SPOTS
Brown spots on the leaves can be caused by a number of things including overwatering or not enough water. When a brown spot occurs it doesn’t usually go away and can get darker and develop a hole in the leaf. If the brown spot is towards the end of the leaf, take scissors and trim around it. When I got Phil, he had few brown spots and holes (maybe that’s why he was all alone in that aisle) but I cut them out and he’s been thriving ever since.
6. BE CAUTIOUS OF DRAFT & HUMIDITY
The location of the fiddle leaf fig in your home will determine how much water and sunlight it will need. Try to keep the plant away from an air vent or drafty window, they don’t like to be cold. Keep watch of the soil during the climate changes and adjust accordingly.
7. WATCH THE ROOTS
Depending on how long you have had your fiddle leaf fig, you may start to notice roots coming out of the bottom of the pot. This means it is time to repot into a larger pot or root prune. Root pruning involves removing the plant from the dirt and using a sharp knife to remove about twenty percent of the root ball and then replanting it in your pot with new dirt. I personally would just get a larger pot. 😉
(these next two are just for fun, but equally important)
8. GIVE IT A NAME
Give your fiddle leaf fig a name. It will make him or her feel like part of the family. You will get attached and ultimately remember to water and take care of it. Plus it’s just fun!
9. TALK TO IT
Ya know those crazy cat ladies that talk to their cats? I’m one now with my plants! When I water or check Phil’s leaves, I ask him how he’s doing, tell him how much I love him, ya know the usual.
(and most importantly…)
10. DON’T FRET
Fiddle leaf figs are a slow-growing plant, they go through phases, and really don’t need much attention. I really only talk to Phil about once a week (I swear) and he’s doing just fine. If you hover and obsess over your new fiddle it might feel like your new relationship is too much and it’ll break up with you. Play hard to get, give it water and attention when it needs but mostly just leave it alone and let it do its thing!