Top Tips for Ficus Lyrata Maintenance

Commonly known as the fiddle leaf fig, ficus lyrata is the hippest house plant on the market. It derives its nickname from its large, glossy green leaves, which can resemble the look of a fiddle. It can come in full-grown or compact, bushy varieties. While it’s part of the ficus family and require some careful handling, it tends to be much less temperamental than some of their ficus counterparts. Like your typical ficus, it thrives on indirect sunlight and should be kept in a place that’s not subject to cold drafts. It should be planted in rich, well-draining soil that’s consistently moist to the touch.

Fiddling with a Fiddle Leaf Fig

Ficus lyrata plants are commonly known as fiddle leaf figs. While this typical name is undeniably charming, it shouldn’t detract you from the fact that it is a member of the ficus family. As such, it contains a lot of the same diva-like traits make ficus growing such a challenge.

Of course, the pure beauty that the plant has to offer makes caring for the plant worth the grief it can dish. It gets its nickname from its huge dark green leaves, which are shaped like a fiddle. Glossy, deep-veined, and capable of growing 15 inches long and 10 inches wide, these leaves create a dramatic presence that instantly adds elegance to any room.

This beauty has made the fiddle leaf fig the aesthetic darling of the home décor world. Yet as its achieved the coveted “it plant” status, it’s grown a lot of detractors along the way. Yet don’t let the naysayers intimidate you – it’s not overtly difficult to care for these beauties.

Ficus Lyrata: A Quick Video Tutorial

If you’ve dealt with a ficus before, you already know the challenges that exist behind growing them. Yet as this video demonstrates, once you push the ficus lyrata’s genus-related challenges aside, a lot of the maintenance they require equate to good old fashioned horticultural common sense.

Just How Temperamental are They?

The first thing you need to know about ficus lyrata is that they’re far from the biggest prima donna in the ficus family. While a dramatic change in its environment will cause it to react adversely, keep in mind that some ficuses will drop their leaves if you so much as turn their pot. Fiddle leaf figs aren’t that dramatic.

If anything, these tall plants are very tough as far as ficus plants go, and it has the capacity to adapt to conditions rather harmoniously. Once it finds its groove, you can expect the tree to grow to 6 feet or even more.

Because it can develop into a tall space, you need to make sure you’re giving the plant ample room to reach this height. That said, if you don’t want a plant this tall but still want to bask in its beauty, you can opt for fiddle leaf fig variants that grow to a bushier, more compact style. These variants are usually dubbed “Suncoast” or “Compacta.”

Caring For Your Fiddle Leaf Fig: Light

Regardless of its size, you still need to surround your ficus lyrata with a proper environment that will encourage it to thrive. A lot of these environmental musts are driven by basic maintenance that you would need to do with other plants. However, because it is a ficus, adhering to these requirements tend to take on more emphasis.

The biggest factor that you need to consider is light. This tends to be where a lot of people unfamiliar with the ways of the ficus drop the ball, because they’re more concerned about it fitting in with the décor of a given space.

While the plant will thrive in bright, consistent light, it should be indirect light. Hitting the plant with direct sunlight will overwhelm the plant, and it will react negatively. If you see the plant eventually growing in a way that it looks like it’s “reaching” for more light, simply rotate the plant.

If you are going to keep the plant by the window to maximize its intake of indirect light, make sure the window isn’t susceptible to allowing cold drafts. Sudden bursts of cold air could eventually cause the ficus lyrata’s leaves to dry out and drop.

The Ficus Lyrata’s Watering Needs

Ideally, your fiddle leaf fig will be planted in rich, well-draining soil. This soil will be key in informing you whether or not your plant needs water. As long as the soil is moist, your plant will be perfectly fine.

If you’re not sure if the soil is moist, you can conduct the “finger test,” where you simply stick your finger into the soil and pull it out. If your finger comes out cleanly, it’s time to give your plant a drink.

Paying attention to the soil is important because it will also keep you from overwatering your ficus lyrata. If you oversaturate the soil, your plant will start showing signs of ill health in the form of drooping, yellow leaves. If you start seeing discoloration, adjust your watering habits immediately.

Long-Term Ficus Lyrata Care

Unlike some members of the ficus family, ficus lyrata doesn’t necessarily need a whole lot of fertilizer to reach its full growing potential. You can get away with a monthly spraying of diluted liquid fertilizer during the spring and summer months.

Also, if you’re planning on cultivating a tall, lush fiddle leaf fig, you should plan on re-potting it every spring in its youth, until it reaches its full maturity. Once it reaches “adulthood,” all you’ll need to worry about is replacing its topsoil on an annual basis.

If you follow these steps – which are relatively simple for a ficus – you’ll have little problem cultivating a gorgeous plant that will make you the envy of friends, family, and interior decorators everywhere. More importantly, you’ll have a piece of lush greenery that is bound to make you very happy. You really can’t ask for more from a houseplant than that.

Photo by Casliber Licensed Under CC BY-SA 3.0

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