PLANT TALK: Ficus lyrata
Photo by Lauren Kolyn
Prized and loved by many, the Ficus lyrata or fiddle leaf fig is a beautiful, large-leafed plant. Cultivated as a tree or bush form, you’ve probably seen it in a design magazine or movie. It’s beautiful, no doubt there, but there are a few things you should know before you take one home.
They love the sun!
Ficus lyrata should have at least 6 hours of bright, indirect light. We usually recommend that they are placed in windows facing South, West or East. North facing windows are a bit trickier but if it’s a rather large window, it is worth a shot. One of the biggest mistakes people make with this plant is over-estimating the amount of light in their home. If you do not have the right amount of light, you can supplement with full spectrum grow lights.
There are a number of ways to address watering your Ficus lyrata. However, we at Urban Gardener have had the most success letting the soil dry almost completely and then giving the plant a thorough watering. From April to September, you may notice that your Fiddle leaf fig needs to be watered a little more often, perhaps in the 7-10 day window. However, keep in mind that the number of days between waterings depends on how much sun the plant is getting and humidity levels in your home so this is always a guideline as watering by feel is much more accurate.
Another key factor when watering is making sure the plant has proper drainage. Please do not attempt to put your Ficus in a pot without drainage holes; it is asking for trouble. The main reason being that you run the risk of over watering even if you’ve added gravel to the bottom of the pot. If water collects at the bottom and the root ball is never allowed to dry out, it can cause root rot which will affect the appearance of the leaves and eventually kill your plant. The most common symptom of over watering is leaf drop and black to dark brown spots on the leaves. If this happens to your plant, we recommend that you repot your ficus in fresh soil and take care to remove any rotten roots. Look for mushy, foul-smelling areas and prune out with a sharp pair of shears or a knife. Allowing the soil to dry out between waterings is key, ensure you do not want to wait too long between waterings and have leaves yellow or drop due to under watering.
There are no traffic jams on the extra mile
It is important to clean the leaves of your Ficus lyrata every one to two weeks, because clean leaves allow your plant photosynthesize, unimpeded by dust and debris. It is also generally your first line of defense against pests as it encourages you to look closely at your plant. To clean the leaves, use a damp cloth and take care to place one hand underneath the leaf you are cleaning to ensure that you are not using too much pressure. We also recommend that you mist your plant regularly. If you do not have a humidifier, note that your plant would benefit from misting every few days.
Well, we hope we haven’t scared you. We just want you and your plants to be happy! The Ficus lyrata is not for everyone, but if you have the battle scars of having an unhappy Fiddle leaf fig, you can rest easy knowing that these plants are resilient and if you find ways to correct past misadventures, they will recover in time.