Botanical Name — Ficus lyrata
Common Name — Fiddle Leaf Fig
Plant Family — Moraceae
Ficus lyrata is a tree native to western Africa. One of the most popular houseplants it’s pleasing, wide, ribbed leaves shaped like a string instrument have led to its common name. In the wild, it can grow up to 50 feet tall.
- Ficus lyrata prefers plenty of direct sunlight. Provide 4-5 hours of sun’s rays directly hitting the leaves for best results. Low-light conditions could lead to leaf drop.
- An ideal spot is right in front of a south- or west-facing window.
- These plants prefer high humidity, and warm temperatures. They will thrive in temperatures above 65 ºF. Mist them daily or place a humidifier near by to increase ambient moisture.
- Water your fiddle leaf fig when the soil starts to dry out. Feel the soil down to about two inches and if it feels dry, it’s safe to water.
- If leaves high up on the plant start to drop, dial back on watering.
- Water less often during the winter, as the soil will dry out slower.
- Fiddle leaf figs prefer a fertile soil mix that is well-draining, yet moisture-retentive. A high-quality, soil-based potting mix is ideal. Soil mixtures can be amended up to 25% with coco coir, which improves soil structure by keeping it light and airy, while also offering increased moisture retention. Compost, up to 25%, is another great amendment which improves the nutrient quality of soil.
- Ficus lyrata typically bloom during the spring, although indoor plants rarely produce blooms.
- An interesting note is that Ficus flowers are actually hidden inside of what we know as their “fruit”. The “fruit” is actually an enclosed inflorescence containing hundreds of small, inconspicuous flowers inside. Figs are pollinated by a specialized wasp. The wasp enters via a small opening where it both pollinates the flowers and lays its eggs. Once pollinated, female flowers inside the receptacle bear small fruits containing seeds.
- Ficus lyrata plants benefit from regular fertilization during the growing season. In temperate regions this is typically limited to spring and summer.
- Ficus lyrata plants propagate reliably from stem cuttings. Use a clean sharp knife to remove a healthy branch. Also remove leaves at the base of the cutting; leaves that are buried in soil or submerged in water can encourage rot.
- Let the sap on the cutting dry for about an hour, then brush with rooting hormone. Place in moist soil and keep in a warm environment while the plant reroots. During this period, keep the soil consistently moist.
- Ficus lyrata can fall victim to both bacterial and fungal diseases. Leaf spot diseases are some of the most common among Ficus plants and tend to be caused by either bacterial or fungal infections. These types of diseases tend to be invited by the conditions Ficus plants favor the most: warmth and high levels of humidity.
- To control leaf spot, remove affected parts of the plant to prevent the spread of the disease. Open windows or place a fan nearby to improve air circulation. Avoid overhead watering, as water sitting on the leaves can encourage disease.
- Root rot is another disease that can often plague Ficus lyrata plants. Overly saturated soils are the primary causes of this issue. Avoid over watering and aerate your soil regularly. You can do this by gently poking several holes in the soil using a pencil or chopstick. Plants that have been affected by root rot should be repotted into fresh soil, and water should be gradually reintroduced, allowing the plant time to stabilize.
- Ficus lyrata do not require much maintenance. They can be pruned for shape or to encourage fullness.
- These plants will start to drop leaves at the base of stems and become leggy if they are not receiving enough light.
- Ficus lyrata plants should be repotted once every one to two years. When repotting, select a container that is 2”-4” wider in diameter to give the plant plenty of room to grow.
- Ficus lyrata plants are toxic to humans and pets. All parts of the plant contain a highly irritant sap. Ingestion of any part of the plant can cause throat irritation, drooling, and vomiting. Dermal contact with any part of the plant can cause irritation and redness.
- Keep this plant out of reach of pets and small children. Wear gloves and take care when handling this plant.