Fiddle Leaf Figs, or Ficus lyrata, definitely get a bad rap for being “fussy”, but once you find the right spot for them in your home they’re super easy and very rewarding plants! If you’re considering buying a Fiddle Fig in Melbourne, or if you’re trying to bring a sick Fiddle Fig back to life, this guide should help you out.
Fiddle Figs need a bright spot, somewhere where they get bright ambient light for most of the day, and even some direct morning sun. Afternoon sun is fine, but take care in the peak of Summer that the leaves don’t burn. Shift the plant or keep the blinds partially closed on those really hot days.
TIP: More humidity will increase the plants tolerance for direct sunlight! In a very humid place like Queensland, Fiddle Figs will happily grow outside in direct sunlight. If you have a very bright spot, consider raising the humidity around the Fiddle Leaf Fig a little. More on that further down the page!
Fiddle Leaf Figs don’t enjoy having wet feet, or staying in wet soil for too long. They really benefit from being watered small amounts at regular intervals, while also allowing the soil to partially dry out between watering.
My technique for watering my fig is to put it in the shower and spray it down for a minute or two. This means the leaves are free of dust which maximises the light they receive. The soil gets watered without becoming overly wet and all the excess water drains away. I try to repeat this method at relatively regular intervals. Using this method I end up watering about every two weeks. In winter I will drastically reduce the quantity of water to keep the soil very dry but still allowing the plant to rehydrate periodically. Remember, dry soil is warm soil!
TIP: Large, infrequent watering, can sometimes cause small red spots on the back of the leaves to appear. This is due to the plant taking up too much water at once and bursting some cells. Generally, these spots fade as the leaf grows, and it’s definitely not the end of the world. Your other plants are not as fussy so don’t stress about this happening to them.
The humidity levels in Melbourne are sufficient to avoid damage to your fiddle fig; however, it’s not ideal and anything that drops the humidity lower such as heater/cooling, or drafts from open windows may lead to crispy brown fig leaves.
Raising the humidity slightly will help to keep the leaves looking healthy, as well as boosting the speed of growth. New leaves are particularly susceptible to damage from low humidity, and in our experience seem to be produced more rapidly in high humidity.
To maintain your fig’s humidity try to keep it out of the path of any moving air, create a pebble tray to increase humidity using evaporation, cluster multiple plants together, or try misting your fig every morning. A small humidifier can be a great way to consistently raise the humidity with little effort!
As far as Fiddle Figs are concerned, the warmer the better! Fiddle Figs must be kept inside in Melbourne, as our outdoor Winter temperatures are far too cold for their comfort. Be careful of cold air radiating from windows. This may result in some defoliation (leaf drop) in severe cases. Moving the plant a foot or two away from the window is usually enough separation to prevent this. Similarly try to avoid cold drafts from open windows and doors.
As mentioned above, dry soil is warm soil. This works because the tiny pockets of air in the soil work as insulation, while wet soil conducts the cold into the plant roots. If you have concrete or tiles floors try to raise the plants off the floor slightly to help keep the soil warmer.
Fiddle Leaf Figs don’t need to be repotted often, they’re perfectly happy to be snug in their pots. Once the roots start to poke out of the drainage holes it means you can repot, but not that you need to. Upgrading the pot by an inch or two every few years should be adequate. Giving the fig a huge pot upgrade will most likely kill it.
Fiddle figs can grow epiphytically (on the side of another tree) because of this they have a tendency to send out aerial roots to explore and secure their position. These roots can be tucked into the pot or cut off if they get unruly. This is also part of why they aren’t too fussed about being a bit cramped in their pot. Even if there are roots growing over the top of the soil, that’s totally fine!
Premium potting mix is great for Fiddle Leaf Figs, you can add a little perlite or orchid bark in to increase the drainage.
Fiddle Leaf Figs will appreciate a liquid fertiliser in Spring, Summer and the warmer parts early Autumn. You don’t need to fertilise over Winter, and we don’t generally recommend using slow-release fertiliser pellets on indoor plants, as liquid fertiliser is much more efficient and accessible to the plant.
If you’d like to make your Fiddle Leaf Fig branch out, you can try these techniques!
Pinching: Break off or slice off the very top of the growing tip (it will look like a little flower bud). This will cause the growth hormone to travel back down the plant to the nearest growth node, causing your Fiddle to branch out nicely.
Notching: You can achieve a similar effect by carefully slicing into the branch with a knife, just above the desired growth point. Make sure the growth point is actually a growth node (a bump in the stem), so that the branch can successfully grow from that point. For more information, check out this really great article.
Fiddle Leaf Figs make a big impact in a space, and have rightfully become one of the most iconic indoor plants. With a little research and preparation you can have a happy and healthy Fiddle Leaf Fig of your very own. Look out, Instagram! #fiddleleaffig.
Check out our range of figs here!
Greener House Nursery is an Indoor Plant Nursery located at 95 Sydney Road, Brunswick, in Melbourne, Australia. We have the specialised knowledge to make sure you get the right house plants, pots, and accessories for your home. Weather you're looking for low-light, low-maintenance, pet friendly, hanging, or air purifying plants, we've got you covered.