Fiddle leaf fig, or banjo fig, is a native to Africa. This broadleaf evergreen flora, when planted in the native tropics may grow to become a 60-100 feet tall tree.
How much light does a fiddle leaf fig need? The answer is the plant prefers a lot of bright (but filtered) sun.
But, when the same fiddle-leaf fig is planted in a cold climate, such as that of the UK, it grows to a 2-10 feet tall houseplant, popular among gardeners and plant-lovers.
Once it grows into a healthy houseplant with lyre-shaped, dark green leaves, it is easy to see from where the plant gets its fiddle name. You got it – the violin (fiddle) shape of its verdant leaves.
The genus name of the fiddle-leaf fig is Ficus lyrata which is Latin for edible fig. However, bearing fruits is a rarity in plants grown outside the natural habitat, and its stem bears a milky sap. The word lyrate may again be referring to the lyre-shaped leaves of the plant.
The Enlightening Fiddle Leaf Fig Facts
Although, fiddle leaf fig tree is the evergreen “it” plant that refuses to wither away. From Instagram hashtags to magazine papers, you will find the plant’s graceful silhouette trending everywhere.
However, the fig tree has a strong reputation for different reasons too. Being a nature epiphyte in the wild, it is known to assert dominance over nearby trees by embedding its seeds on top of them and then growing downwards. And as it grows, it might even strangle the host plant to compete for light.
Fortunately, the fiddle leaf fig houseplant is a gentler version of the tree counterpart. The houseplant inside homes will share their space and light.
Fiddle Leaf Fig Care Tips to Ensure Green Health
The houseplant can grow a couple of feet each year and eventually climb more than 6 feet if given the proper care.
Their bottle green and shiny leaves can also grow up to 18 inches, turning into the iconic shapes, giving your home that Instagram-famous tropical look.
Despite being famous among pro and new gardeners alike, fiddle-leaf fig care guidelines get a little tricky. Yet, it is an easier-to-care for plant than many. Here are some of the main things to consider when caring for the indoor fig.
How much light does a Fiddle Leaf Fig Need?
Now the real question that brought you here and perhaps a tricky one – what’s the ideal amount of sunlight fiddle leaf fig should get? The answer is the plant prefers a lot of bright (but filtered) sun.
Just like with most tropical houseplants, keep it near a sunny, east-facing window. Rotate the plant every few months when you observe the other side of the plant is starting to reach for the sun.
An additional tip would be to keep it dust-free and make it easy for the plant to absorb the light.
Read on for a longer, more detailed answer about fiddle-leaf fig sunlight requirements.
Can You Give Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Direct Sunlight?
FLFs, i.e. fiddle leaf fig, loves sunlight and a lot of it. Without access to enough sunlight, it is like the plant is growing without sufficient oxygen in the room. Consider how FLFs are native to Africa, a hot continent that enjoys plenty of sunlight.
So, can you plant its houseplant version under direct sunlight? Depends on the plant.
If your plant is still young, it is best-planted under filtered and moderate sunlight. But once it has hardened off, you can position the plant under full sunlight for 6-8 hours.
The best way to make the transition from moderate to full light – that is if at all you want to make it – is by slowly acclimatising the plant to the change.
The sudden repositioning will cause sunburnt and dry leaves. But, once the plant gets used to the new setting, it will grow like crazy and reach its growth potential.
When to Shift the Fiddle Leaf Fig in Direct Sunlight?
The size and number of leaves on an Fiddle leaf fig can help in determining how much light it will need to stay healthy.
For example, the larger the plant grows, the bigger a window it will need. A bigger plant will also need brighter and prolonged sunlight to thrive. However, even if the plant is medium- or small-sized, but has lots of leaves, it will need more sun to keep them nourished while growing new ones.
The best way to tell if your figgy is not receiving enough light is to watch if it begins dropping low or bending towards the window. Other signs include:
Leaves growing at an unusual distance
Dull greyish spots on the leaves
Yellowing leaves lowering in a withering fashion
Small-sized new leaves
This plant may be known for throwing fits when relocated, but if it is done for more light, the fig tolerates the environmental change.
What Does Direct Sunlight Mean and Where to Place Fiddle Leaf Fig?
The question might sound silly, but it creates lots of confusion for plant owners. Does it mean keeping the plant in the balcony or in front of an open window? Clarity = Care.
Ideally, when it comes to the Fiddle leaf fig, what you are aiming for is a window with mostly-unobstructed southern, eastern, or western exposure.
Let your figgy sit in front of a large, preferably French, south-facing window. Make sure trees or close buildings are not shading the window – the idea is to provide direct morning through afternoon light to the plant.
Keep an overhang outside the window to protect the plant on extremely hot days. If you don’t have an overhang, consider keeping a few feet’s distance between the plant and the window.
Why Consider Sunlight & Window Direction at All?
Being a wild plant from Africa, Fiddle leaf fig tends to need at least 6-hour of bright sunlight to thrive. Place it in front of a north-facing window, and the plant only receives morning and late-afternoon sun, which is not enough.
Since the plant cannot store sunlight to use later, it requires to sit in a place awash in sunlight much of the day. Therefore, the ideal place to position the plant is in front of a south-facing window, as mentioned above.
Although, refrain taking the plant to the west-facing windows, where the harsh sun might burn its leaves.
Note that these directions were for the countries in Northern Hemisphere. If you live in a country, located in the far north or south of the equator, the ideal sunlight direction for the Fiddle leaf fig will change accordingly.
What Happens If You Leave the Fiddle Leaf Fig in Indirect Sunlight?
If making the transition from moderate to full sunlight feels tricky, or the plant keeps falling out under the full sun, you might want to keep it in indirect sunlight. What would that mean for your indoor fig? It will mean that your houseplant will keep growing, but the growth might be slow and not reach the full potential.
A lack of sufficient sunlight for a mature, hardened off the plant can play a part in health issues too. However, you can prevent it by supplementing its growth with the help of a grow light.
Measure the Fiddle Leaf Fig Sun Exposure
Now, this is a total pro-move when it comes to fiddle leaf fig care. It is optional but worth considering if you are new to indoor planting To do so, you can use a dedicated Fiddle leaf fig meter that can measure sunlight, soil pH, as well as moisture that the plant is receiving. Such meters are easily available on eCommerce websites like Amazon.
When using the meter, a reading less than 200 lux means dark, up to 400 lux means medium, and above 400 means bright. Add up the sunlight reading between 9 AM and 3 PM. If it is 600 lux or more, your fig will grow healthy.
If purchasing technical equipment doesn’t feel like your go-to option at the moment, you can resort to yet another efficient in-house option – white paper. To use the paper to quantify the sunlight, hold it up between your hands and the window. The darker the shadow, the brighter the sunlight. Aim for the dark shadow.
To add up the light using the paper method, assign a number to the shadows – let light shadow be 1, medium be 2, and dark be 3. Tally just like you would do with a meter. If the total is around 4-6, your plant is getting sufficient sunlight.
PSS. here is my guide to the best grow light for fiddle leaf fig
Additional Fiddle Leaf Fig Care Tips
How to Clean Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves?
The ideal way is to wipe the leaves one by one with a water-soaked cloth.
The easiest way to keep the leaves dust-free is by taking the plant outside and spraying it with a hose. Since that’ll soak it up in the water, leave it outdoors for an hour or two to let it dry. Keep it under the shade, not in direct sunlight.
If you want to be extra careful, take the plant to the bathroom and wash it with lukewarm water. Once it is clean, drain it for several hours. Note that if you use water-softener, avoid fully soaking the plant-soil lest the salt will damage it.
When to Water Fiddle Leaf Fig and How Much?
When it comes to getting water, the houseplant is picky. It likes to be watered thoroughly but doesn’t prefer sit in water. The best way to find the ideal balance is to wait for the topsoil layer and the planter to dry before watering the plant. Lukewarm or room temperature water is better since cold water can put the fig in shock.
Look out for the signs too. If the leaves are turning brown along the edges, the plant is under-watered. If the leaves are turning brown and reeking with bad odour, it is overwatered.
What’s Fiddle Leaf Fig Temperature Range?
The ideal temperature range for the houseplant is between 17°-23° C. The fig plant enjoys constant warmth and prefers temperature higher than 16-degree Celsius. How would you know if the climate is colder than the plant prefers? It will begin to develop brown spots.
In addition to the warmth, maintain little humidity around the plant too. You can do it by either keeping it near other plants to positioning its planter on a tray of gravel.
The houseplant is also sensitive to breezes and drafts. To avoid them and suction of unwanted amount of humidity, keep the planter away from air conditioners, open windows, and other draft sources.
When to Re-pot a Fiddle Leaf Fig?
Perhaps, it is the easiest thing to identify. When the roots of your plant begin to outgrow the planter and show up from the drainage hole, it is re-potting time. Another sign is when the water starts to sit on top of the soil and does not absorb. You can also re-pot it if it’s been years.
When and How to Prune Fiddle Leaf Fig?
The best time to prune fiddle leaf fig is during the spring or early summer. In the season, there is plenty of sunlight to aid recovery and new growth of the plant.
Once you’ve decided to trim the fig houseplant, start by cutting back a few (damaged) leaves at a time. It encourages regrowth and allows the plant to focus on sending nutrients to the healthy leaves.
The best way to trim fiddle leaf fig is by using a sharp pair of pruning shears to make cuts at least an inch away from the main trunk. If two branches sprout, it means your fig plant is healthy.
Let Us Wrap It Up
In this care guide, you learnt about how to grow fiddle leaf fig indoors. You learnt how to water, re-pot, reposition, prune, and most importantly, keep the plant adequately sunlit. On implementing the tips mentioned in the guide, you should get a healthy, growing, and shiny-green fiddle leaf fig as a result.
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