Botanical Name: Ficus lyrata
Origin: This beautiful long-lived indoor tree originates from Western Africa.
Height: Even when kept indoors, Ficus lyrata can grow to heights ranging between 90 cm and 3 m (3 to 10 ft).
Soil: Fiddle Leaf Figs are content with any quality general purpose potting mix.
Light: Ficus lyrata needs indirect bright light all year. Turning it (a quarter turn) once a week or so will ensure all sides receive adequate light, avoiding 'crooked' growth.
Humidity: The Fiddle Leaf Fig does not have any specific requirements with regards to humidity levels, and is generally happy in normal, average room humidity conditions.
Temperatures: Not terribly fond of the cold, Ficus lyrata likes to be kept at temperatures between 16 and 24 degrees C (60 to 75 degrees F).
Water: The potting mix should be kept evenly moistened, taking care not to over-water. Yellow, drooping leaves indicate too much water, while browning leaf tips indicate that the soil is too dry.
Fertiliser: This house plant requires fertilising - using a diluted balanced fertiliser (diluted to half the strength) - only three times per year, once each in spring, summer and autumn.
Propagation: Propagating these large leafed trees can be quite difficult at home, but can be done by air layering or from stem tip cuttings. Either way, rooting will be slow and require incredible patience.
Description and Care Tips
This rather fussy member of the Moraceae family can grow up to heights of as much as 12 m (40 ft) in its native habitat, but will grow extremely slow and typically stay much smaller than this when kept as an indoor plant.
Pruning the top off young plants will help to limit its growth, as well as promoting branching. Keeping the Fiddle Leaf Fig in a comparatively small container will also help to limit its size, although it is important to use a heavy container to prevent toppling, as this plant does tend to get a little top-heavy..
The bold, violin-shaped and prominently veined naturally glossy leaves of this striking plant feature wavy edges and will grow up to 15 cm (6 in) in width and 30 cm (12 in) in length. They can be kept clean by frequently wiping them with a soft, damp cloth. Ficus lyrata also appreciates a misting once in a while.
Like many of its relatives, this house plant is prone to dropping its leaves when being moved. Bringing it home from the garden centre is therefore likely to result in at least some of the leaves disappearing. This is quite normal, and, with good care, the plant will recover.
Once at home, it is best to find the Fiddle Leaf Fig a nice, bright spot away from direct sunlight, drafts and AC/ heat vents and then leave it there, because any change in temperature or light will have it dropping its leaves.
For this reason, Ficus lyrata should also only be repotted (into a pot that will just hold its roots) when absolutely necessary. Best done during the spring months, repotting is not a solution to shedding leaves. Extra fertilising or over-watering will also not help, but instead add extra stress to the plant. The best way to deal with a tree shedding its leaves is to let it get used to its new environment in peace. It may take a few weeks, but it will get there eventually.
Once fully adjusted, the Fiddle Leaf Fig will provide a beautiful, dramatic accent to any home for many years. To keep it looking its best, it is also a good idea to check regularly for pest invasions - both scale insects and spider mites are commonly known to invade this lovely house plant whenever they get an opportunity.