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Simple Natural Living: How To Care For An Indoor Fiddle Leaf Fig



Well, it's sunday and I've been surrounded by plants and coffee today-- so it made sense to post this to match my day :) Hope you guys all had a great weekend! Lots of colorful photos coming up this week :) -drea


emily:
My house is full of plants. From where I sit writing this, eight potted plants are visible. And that's just in the office, folks. Maybe it's the part of me that still wishes to live in a treehouse or even a hut in the middle of the jungle. Maybe I just think they're pretty. Whatever it is, people often comment on the plants when they walk into my house. And mostly, one plant in particular. Everybody wants to know about the fiddle leaf fig. And who could blame them? This plant is seriously handsome. Fiddle leaf figs seem to have become a design staple in interiors of all shapes and sizes in recent years. The large, boldly veined leaves along with their soaring height (they can reach 50ft in their natural habitat) are a spectacular sight. But, pretty as they may be, caring for them can be a real pain in the butt. These guys are reallll particular. The first one I brought home (named Mr. Fig by my toddler) started turning brown and dropped about 70% of it's leaves within in the first month. And my thumb is fairly green. It was heartbreaking. But, so far, my second attempt is going much MUCH better. Mr. Fig 2.0 is thriving. 


So, for those of you that have asked, here's what I learned about how to keep a fiddle leaf fig happy:

Light: 
Fiddle Leaf Figs (FLL from this point on) enjoy very bright INDIRECT light. Meaning, you want to place your FLL in a spot that receives a lot of light, but you don't really want any sunbeams actually falling on the plant. Direct sun exposure will burn the plant and leave it with sun spots. I've got mine in the northwest corner of a room that has windows on the east, south and west sides. So, it gets plenty of bright indirect light all day long, but never has any direct light on it. If you're growing your FLL outside (something you want to do when it gets too big for inside) plant it on the east side of the house. This way it will receive a few hours of the less intense, early morning light and will remain mostly shaded for the rest of the day. 

Water:
This is the tricky part because it varies from plant to plant. FLLs thrive in high humidity and they need to be kept moist. But, they also can't sit in water or they'll develop root rot. I currently live in south florida where humidity is abundant, so once every three weeks I move my FLL into the shower and give it a good soaking. I leave it there for an hour or so (without the saucer!) to make sure all the excess water is able to drain out before returning it to the pot. If you live in a place that's dry, you may need to water you FLL every two weeks. You can also try misting the leaves every day or two to keep it happy. Not sure wether your FLL is thirsty or not? Stick you finger into the soil about an inch deep. If the soil is dry, it's time to water. 

Pests:
FLL often host aphids, mites or mealy bugs. The trick is to identify and treat the infestation quickly. FLL are sensitive to pest sprays. Even the most mild solutions may harm the plant. So, instead of a spray, try wetting a soft cloth and gently (verrrry gently) wiping the bugs off of the leaves. It's easier than it sounds and is really effective. 

Repotting:
Don't do it. That is, don't do it until you absolutely have to. Moving can be very traumatic for FLLs. So, it's best to leave them be. You don't need to move them to a bigger pot until the roots are visible above the soil. When the times comes, very gentle wiggle the plant lose with the soil intact. Transfer the entire thing into it's new pot and fill in the gaps with a well-draining soil. Then hold your breath and hope that the finicky thing isn't going to die on you. 


Ok, I think that's it. But, if I missed something, feel free to ask and I'll do my best to answer. May your fiddle leaf fig relationships be long and full of growth!

Author & Illustrations by Emily De Nicolais exclusively for ohdeardrea. To see more of Emily's work, click HERE

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