PRO TIP: Rotate your tree once a month to keep it standing straight and tall. Fiddle Leaf Figs in particular like to reach towards the light, so if you don’t rotate you’ll notice them bending over time.
Native to the rainforests of western and central Africa, the Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree (Ficus lyrata) is a stunning plant with huge green leaves and an even larger following of houseplant fans. Despite its popularity, it's certainly not the easiest houseplant to look after, but its visual impact in a space is unmatched when given proper conditions and care.
The Fiddle Leaf Fig appreciates a warm, humid environment, a fair amount of water and plenty of light. Choose a location away from air vents and drafts where the tree will receive plenty of bright ambient light. Directly in front of, or close by a southern or western facing window is ideal, and eastern exposure can also work as long as the plant is directly in the window and the space feels very bright. A few hours of direct sun is also beneficial. If placed in a full-sun location (where the plant will receive over 6 hours of direct light daily), a humid environment will keep your Fiddle Leaf looking its best. We do not recommend this plant for windows with northern exposure. They will not thrive in low-light locations.
If you’re unsure about your lighting conditions, placing the tree directly next to the window is the safest bet. We also have a guide for how to measure light in your space.
Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees are particularly sensitive to environmental changes. They will likely take a little time to adjust to their new home. Be sure to follow the care instructions, and don’t panic if yours loses a few leaves. If leaf discoloration or leaf loss persists, please reach out and we will help troubleshoot!
Lastly, if you are using a container made from organic materials to pot your Fiddle Leaf in, we highly recommend using a cork mat underneath to protect your floors, as humidity may accumulate beneath the pot due to the volume of water this plant requires.
PRO TIP: Every three months, rinse your plant’s leaves with room temperature water. This helps remove any dust that’s accumulated, ensuring they’re able to absorb and photosynthesize sunlight more efficiently.
Always be sure to assess your plant’s watering needs upon receiving it. Before giving your plant a drink, it is best to check the moisture level in the soil first to ensure it isn’t moist right beneath the surface. Also, consider aerating the soil of your plant before the initial watering. We compact the soil to avoid shifting during transit, so aerating can help the soil breathe and allow moisture to be released.
The Fiddle Leaf Fig likes its soil to be kept consistently evenly moist, with a brief drying out period between waterings, as it comes from an area of the world that gets very dry between rain. Water it thoroughly whenever the top 2” of soil have dried. Allowing the soil to dry more than a few inches will lead to leaf loss, so be sure to check in with the soil regularly until you develop a routine with your plant. In contrast, too much moisture in the soil can lead to root rot and also cause leaves to drop.
We highly recommend potting your Fiddle Leaf, as it is a challenging plant to keep alive long term in its nursery pot — however make sure to pot it in a permanent planter with plenty of soil mass and crucially, drainage. If your Fiddle Leaf Fig is planted in a container without a drainage hole, you must be very careful not to overwater. In this scenario we suggest allowing your Fiddle Leaf Fig to dry out slightly more between waterings. These plants do particularly well in our self watering containers!
The best way we have found to obtain an accurate moisture reading throughout the soil is with the Soil Sleuth Soil Probe. You can check the soil moisture in the different strata of the soil in your pot while helping keep the roots aerated and your fingernails free of dirt! Another way to tell if your Fiddle Leaf needs water is to look at the leaves. If the typically rigid and upright leaves are looking soft or floppy, this can be a sign of under watering — however the most foolproof way to tell is to test the soil’s moisture level.
Rotate your plant periodically to ensure even growth on all sides and dust the leaves often so the plant can photosynthesize efficiently. When dusting the leaves, also take the opportunity to inspect the undersides and keep an eye out for pests.
Remember each plant is a unique living thing and may have varying needs, especially in their individual locations. Pay attention to the condition of your Fiddle Leaf Fig and its watering needs and you will have a long and happy relationship.
Frequently Asked Questions
Help! My Fiddle Leaf Fig dropped a leaf!
Ficus trees are sensitive to environmental change and transplanting. The dry, cold air is a big shift from the warm humidity of the greenhouse, and Ficus will temporarily go into shock and drop leaves. Don’t worry, this is a temporary state. It will take a couple of weeks for your tree to normalize and it might drop a couple of leaves in the process. However, if the leaves continue to drop it could be a sign of improper light or water.
My Fiddle Leaf Fig has brown spots and the leaves are dropping. What do I do?
The number one mistake most people make in taking care of their plants is overwatering. Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees prefer to dry out slightly between waterings, and while they take a good deal of water to keep healthy, soggy soil will drown the plant. If your leaves start to brown and fall and the soil is moist, let the plant dry out until the soil becomes completely dry.
The second biggest mistake people make is not enough light. Fiddle Leafs need a lot of light to thrive and will start shedding their leaves if they’re not absorbing enough energy. If you’re unsure about where to put your plant, it’s best to place it by a window. For more information visit our lighting guide.
Under watering can also be a big killer of the fiddle leaf fig. When under-watered, the rim of the leaves will start to brown and curl in, which will eventually spread throughout the leaf. Under-watered leaves that have fallen will normally be either fully brown or mostly brown, and dry to the touch.
An example of overwatering on a dropped leaf. Note the browning spreading through the leaf's veins from the central node (or midrib), a telltale sign that the plant has received excessive water.
Brown spotting or holes in the leaves typically signal that the plant isn't receiving enough light. This is common on the lower leaves of the tree, which can become shaded out over time.
How do I tell when my Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree needs water?
Once you've established that the top few inches of soil have dried, the easiest way to tell if your Fiddle Leaf needs water is to look at the leaves. If the leaves are not rigid and upright, and they start to look floppy, they’re telling you they need water. Be sure to check in regularly with your tree to ensure you don't underwater until you establish a routine.
An under-watered Fiddle Leaf Fig tree on the left, and the same tree less than 24 hours later.
How much light is too much light for the Fiddle Leaf Fig?
Fiddle Leaf Figs will generally do fine if placed right in front of a window in NYC. However, they can’t take extended periods of full sun (being placed outside on a sunny day). In extremely bright apartments (i.e. floor to ceiling windows) they may get sunburned, and in this instance your safest bet is putting them in front of the window with a sheer curtain. Do not block the light with a partial shade like a solar shade as they will block out the full spectrum of the sun’s radiation.
Can I put my Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree next to the AC / heater?
Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees are tropical plants that appreciate a humid environment. If conditions are too dry they will drop their leaves. While Fiddle Leafs will thrive in an air conditioned apartment, always avoid putting them in the direct line of fire for either AC or heating units. If their leaves are wagging from the air, it’s best to find another spot.
How often should I fertilize my Fiddle Leaf Fig?
In general, house plants will thrive when they are fertilized spring through fall. Fertilize once a month with an organic houseplant fertilizer, following the package instructions for dilution and administration. Greenery NYC uses an organic potting mix with a slow release fertilizer in the soil, so your plant will not need fertilizer within the first 6 months of receiving it.
How often does my Fiddle Leaf Fig need to be repotted?
For larger floor plants, we suggest repotting every 18-24 months. Typically you want to choose a potting vessel 2”- 4” larger in diameter to allow for growth. Don’t choose a pot much larger than the previous as this could drown the plants roots. If you prefer to maintain the current size of your plant, repot into the same vessel, providing new soil and trimming away some roots and foliage. Spring or summer is the ideal time to repot as the plant is at its strongest.