The fiddle leaf fig (Ficus lyrata or FLF for short) can surely be ranked as the houseplant of the decade. Its popularity seems perennially strong thanks to social media, glossy magazines, and savvy interior decorators. Originally from West Africa, the trees can grow to between 30 and 50 feet, so it's important to remember it's not originally a houseplant. The name comes from the leaf shape, which can look like a fiddle or violin. Though they are reliable and tough indoor plants, they do require some basic care. Garden designer and director of Garden Life, Richard Unsworth, shares his expert advice:
When to Water
Water your FLF only when it is dry to touch. Stick your finger well into the potting mix, and if it feels dry, then it's time to water. If the pot feels light, that's also a sign it's time to water it. If the potting mix feels moist, then leave it for a few days and check it again.
When it's time to water, one of the easiest ways is to sit it under a shower or place it in a bath and water well, allowing the excess to drain away. The roots do hate wet feet, so avoid letting them sit in wet saucers.
Light and Position
FLF's love a light and sunny position. Try to avoid dark corners and hot sunshine coming in from a window. Avoid air conditioning and blasts of warm air from central heating where you can.
It's good to use a liquid fertilizer in spring and summer and apply it when you are watering the plant. Using a nitrogen-based fertilizer is best, but general houseplant food is okay, too. Don't fertilize it in autum or winter when there is no growth happening.
One of the most common problems is when your FLF becomes pot-bound. This occurs when roots quickly fill the pot, making it hard for the plant to take up water and nutrients. The solution is to give the roots a new home by repotting into a bigger pot using a good quality potting mix.
If your plant is half a foot in diameter, then buy a 1-foot-wide pot. If you have a 1-foot-wide plant, then buy a 1-and-a-half-foot-wide pot. Late winter is a good time to repot. If you want to let your FLF grow into a large ceiling-topping tree, then it's essential to repot it every year. You can keep it in a small pot, but make sure you work harder at watering and feeding it.
This post was written by Olivia Clarke. For more, check out our sister site Homes to Love.
Looking to add more plants to your home but not sure where to start? Watch the video below to learn more about the best air-purifying plants: