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Caring for Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree

by Marianne Navada

When I got my first fiddle leaf fig tree, I made the mistake of googling everything, afraid I was going to overwater the plant, not fertilize enough etc. These tips are not exactly a list of what to do, but more a list of what to watch out for.

A Side-By-Side Comparison: Meet Dwight and Kelly

My fiddle leaf fig trees: Dwight (bought 2016) and Kelly (2018). Kelly surely benefited from my experience with Dwight!

On Watering

Test the soil by sticking a finger and if it’s somewhat dry, water the plant until some water drips down. I find that my first tree, Dwight, requires less watering than the lusher tree, Kelly. I live in Southern California, and I have to water Dwight once a week and Kelly every other day. So it’s not just the local weather, but how lush your tree is.

Confession: Dwight started losing leaves after under watering. Tips online always warn you about overwatering and I just got too scared. So instead of following a recommended schedule, check if your plant needs watering.

On Sunlight

Both trees are in the same room with bright light. I like taking them outside for a bit more sun, but I have to do morning sun and for no more than 15 minutes. I burned Dwight’s leaves after leaving him outside for too long. My neighbors in Southern California leave their trees out in the patio with indirect sun all-year-long, and they seem to thrive.

TIP 1: when I see a baby leaf growing I make sure it gets the most light indoors. The early stages of leaf growth affects how large the leaf will eventually grow into

TIP 2: Rotate the plant so it doesn’t start leaning on one side and ensure that each side gets equal amount of sunlight.

On Fertilizing

I use an organic powdered fertilizer. It’s the same one I use for all my houseplants. I fertilize my fiddle leaf fig trees every 2 months, year-round. I understand that this might not be ideal for colder places.

On Dusting the Leaves

Dusty leaves compromise photosynthesis, so make sure your plant eats well by keeping the leaves dust-free. Fill a spray bottle with water and use a soft cloth. Gently wipe the leaves. Too much force and risk tearing them. I dust about every 2 weeks.

On Talking and Singing

The carbon dioxide expelled is supposed to help with plant growth. I don’t have direct evidence for this, but I know that it helps me connect with my plants. I say hello and bid them good night.

Not only for looks, but plants improve air quality at home and the act of taking care of plants can help with stress and depression.

A Note

I got Dwight online. The plant arrived in good condition. I bought Kelly from a local garden store. I don’t think buying online contributed to Dwight’s not-so-good condition.

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