Plant Highlights: The Fiddle leaf fig AKA "mr. mc fussy pants"

Yes you read that right. My. Mc McFussy pants, the tree. There are so many posts out there about the fiddle leaf fig. It is in almost every over instagrammed post. It is the star of many a Pinterest photo and every issue of House & Home magazine.

So why add my 2 cents?

Well first because this plant might be more popular than ever. It isn't a trend but more like one of those design staples that becomes what we like to refer to as a classic.

Secondly, we sell a fair amount of this plant in the shop and I have growing 3 in my home, the longest is going on 7 years now. I have killed a few, made the mistakes, pushed a few past boundaries in recent years to see what they can handle and have a pretty good grip on what this plant takes to grow properly and successfully. Having said that, there will always be exceptions to the rule as stated in my last post. Plants do not need to be a life long commitment. They need to bring you happiness and green to a space you are creating to live and love in.

So, having said that let's get to the point and learn about the 

Fiddle leaf fig

latin name "Ficus Lyrata"

available as a bush

[this means the leaves extend fully down the trunk to almost soil level and look more like a bush than a tree]

or as a standard

[this term generally means there is a significant space of trunk before you see leaves giving the appearance of a tree like structure as seen below with the tree on the left]

Light: bright indirect light. ABSOLUTELY NO DIRECT SUN AND NO DARK CORNERS. i have successfully grown fiddle leaf figs from medium to bright indirect light. low is a no go as you will start seeing the tips of the leaves turn brown from lack of sunshine. Once they go brown there is no turning back.

One of the most important things we tell customers when deciding to bring a fiddle home is choose your location wisely. A fiddle leaf fig does not enjoy musical rooms at all. Know your windows and light levels. Keeping in mind the changes that go with winter to summer in our Canadian climate. We are short 5+ hours of daylight this time of year and the sun is not always out so a semi-bright window this time of year could be a frying pan in the summer. Try to find an indirect location that receives gentle light for a minimum of 6 hours per day

Air: this is not a concern for a lot of plants but the fiddle leaf fig tree cannot handle any kind of draft. Whether that be from an opening front door, sliding dog door, air conditioning vent or gorgeous spring breeze window. Prima donna right? They kind of are but, ensuring these first 2 conditions are right gets your tree its best chances possible. It's one of those things that people in warmer climates don't need to worry about but in our 4 season could have those 4 seasons in 1 week climate, we need to think about these things when investing in plants.

Water: Once a week. Every week. At the same time. Same bat time. Same bat channel.

Alright fine, the time doesn't matter but fiddle leaf figs enjoy a schedule like a newborn baby. You will check that the top of the soil is dry with your finger and if the answer is yes, you give your plant a nice healthy fully wet drink of water. If your plant is in the growers pot allow to drain off and make sure not standing in water. If your plant is planted [i have a note about when to plant later] make sure you are giving water amounts your plant can handle drinking within a couple days. Soggy soil causes root rot and DEATH.

ie. a 10" growers pot should be able to handle 2-3 cups of water per week.

Alright, note gleaned from years of experimenting. The above same bat channel comments basically mean similar to succulents, fiddle leaf figs absolutely hate dribble watering. The over mothering killer. They don't want small amounts of water a couple times a week. It may equal out to the same amount but, they prefer a good healthy drink once a week vs. multiple small drinks over the period of a week.

Cleaning: the broad shape and size of the leaves of this plant may mean that it collects some dust and loses its shine over the course of time. easy clean once a year method: put old socks ( you know the ones that get magic toe and heel holes) on both hands and a light amount of melted coconut oil on one and massage the tops of the leaves. why socks? the leaves of the fiddle leaf fig do not appreciate the oils from our hands and can turn brown at the locations. this means kiddos grabbing those fantastic leaves will not have a pleasant ending. this is not a great science experiment tree for young people.

the above is my 7 year old. i bought a skinny metal rod at canadian tire to stake all the trunks too as it was starting to expand and flop. the tree will easily keep growing when staked as long as the rest of the conditions are right. this tree has lost a ton of lower leaves over the years and every spring starts growing new ones from the top like crazy.

i have found in our climate that these trees are not super consistent growers in a home during the winter months but come summer va va voom.

MOVING OUTSIDE: most definitely yes. i move my one tree outside every summer where it has a hey day with the humidity and grows like crazy. the night time temperature must be above 60 degrees which means you likely aren't moving this guy outside until at least the middle of June but watch that baby grow. Keep in mind this tree needs to be in shade when outside. Rule of thumb: outdoor shade is still brighter than most locations in the house.

Brown leaves & tips/ leaf drop: This can happen as a plant adjusts to its new surroundings. Most fiddle leaf figs are grown in greenhouses in Florida, transported to Canada, acclimate to a wholesale greenhouse, transfer to a smaller greenhouse or store like Oliver and Rust then hop in your car to head into your home each time having its daily dose of heat and light decrease. You'd be losing your hair too. Do not panic and start over watering to compensate. If all the other conditions are right your plant should recover just fine and just be short a few leaves which it will happily re grow.

Planting: So this is a tricky one and much debated. When you buy a fiddle leaf fig in the growers pot you can usually see a lot of roots circling the top of the pot as you are buying a mature plant that has done its share of growing. If in a warmer climate there is not much to hold you back from re-potting right away. In the winter in Canada, my personal recommendation from years of watching these trees/plants grow is take your plant home [make sure wherever you buy it from is heavily bagged protecting your new purchase for transport; do not take it out into the cold naked. NO EXCEPTIONS! It will reward you with death] and let if first spend a few weeks acclimating to its new home before you also rip it out of its pot and force it into new growth. Making sure your plant likes its new location is always a good bet and then get it a stellar pot to live in for the next couple years. My trees are on about a 4-5 year re-pot cycle. Remember only a few inches extra diameter in your pot is good practice. 10" growers pot can go up to a pot about 14-15" at most.

The tree in our living room is about 7.5' tall right now but started as a 4' squirt. It has been repotted twice and uses the main wall as support.

So have I scared you off? I hope not. These trees while "fickle" are a wonderful design feature that can live with you for years to come. It seems like a lot to think about when all you want is a tall tree like you saw on pinterest. When you break down the no draft, bright light once a week water, its really not that big of a deal.

Good luck and don't forget the most important element...

The name of course. You have to name your tree and talk to it.

1. your tree will love your more

2. talking to plants has shown to have healing and depression reducing properties

and D. because i said so

Another edition of our plant focus comes to an end.

Enjoy your Friday's all,


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