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Double its Growth – How to Fertilize your Fiddle Leaf Fig

The one thing that doubled my plant's growth - using the right fertilizer! | Dossier Blog

Hello again plant lovers! It looks like there are more than a few of you out there who are just as obsessed with growing a healthy Fiddle Leaf Fig tree as I am! I’ve already written a few posts on caring for Fiddle Leaf Figs which have been some of my most popular posts.

Whenever I discover something new about my FLF, I like to share it with you and keep you up to date with everything I’ve learnt about looking after these house plants.

I have touched on the one thing that doubled my Fiddle Leaf Fig growth in a previous post. But I realised I may not have put enough emphasis on it, and it really deserves a post all of its own!

This one thing may not be ground-breaking. But what may be new to you is how and when to do it, and which type is best. Yep, you guessed it, it’s to fertilize your Fiddle Leaf Fig!

Double its Growth – How to Fertilize your Fiddle Leaf Fig

Firstly let me tell you… From when I first started fertilizing my Fiddle Leaf Fig, the growth has been AMAZING! The new leaves literally more than doubled in size, and my FLF tree grew twice its height in just one growth season. It grew more than it ever had before! This may seem like the greatest growth hack, but in fact, fertilizers for plants are kind of like multivitamins to humans. They make sure the plant is topped up on all the nutrients it needs for the best possible growth and health. And who wouldn’t want to give their FLF the best conditions for it to thrive!

So let’s talk about the best type to fertilize your Fiddle Leaf Fig with. Did you know that different plants have different nutrient needs? That’s why some plants do well in acidic vs alkaline soil, for example. And all fertilizers are specifically made for different types of plants and their needs. No wonder there’s so many options in the fertilizer aisle! It can be a little confusing, especially if you’re fairly new to plants.

Tips on growing a lush and bushy Fiddle Leaf Fig | Dossier Blog
Which Fertilizer is Best?

For FLFs, try to look for a fertilizer that has an NPK ratio (Nitrogen – Phosphorous – Potassium) as close to 3:1:2 as possible. This is the ratio that is best for a FLF’s needs. Fertilizers that have an NPK ratio of 9:3:6 are also good – this is the same ratio but in a different concentration. The instructions for use on the bottle should reflect how concentrated the fertilizer is.

Alternatively, check out this Botanicare GROW Fertilizer, which already has the perfect ratio required for your FLF’s needs! Its also designed for lush and leafy growth. I like it because not only does it have the correct NPK ratio, it also contains all 17 micronutrients that Fiddle Leaf Figs need. There are a few different bottle sizes available, depending on how much you’ll want.

How extreme is the size difference on my Fiddle Leaf Fig leaves- before I fertilized, and once I started using a proper formulated FLF fertilizer!
How & When to Fertilize your Fiddle Leaf Fig

Its best to fertilize your FLF mainly in the growth season, which is Spring and Summer. Typically I water my FLF weekly. Then once a month (or every 4 weeks) I’ll take it outside to fertilize as I water it. This is also a good time to give the leaves a hose-down to get any dust off. Then I give it a watering with the liquid fertilizer mix. You can also fertilize weekly or bi-weekly with a more diluted mix for maintenance, if you prefer.

Make the mix up according to the instructions. Then water the plant until the excess pours out the bottom of the pot. For mine, this is generally about 3-5 litres worth – make sure it’s saturated! For this step, it is SO important to make sure your FLF pot has a drainage hole in the bottom. If it doesn’t, it can cause root rot, it may drop leaves or have other problems! I then leave it outside for a couple hours until it has stopped dripping before I bring it back inside. I don’t often fertilize mine during winter, and if so I use a weaker mix. During winter, your FLF generally slows down growth so fertilizing isn’t as necessary.

FLFs prefer a lot of water but less often, which is why it’s best to fully saturate them when watering and fertilizing. This makes sure all the roots receive nutrients evenly. Generally it’s best to water them once the top 1-2 inches of soil is dry. Feel the soil or use a reliable moisture meter to check if the soil is dry enough to re-water.

Once you start to fully saturate your plant when you water, you may find you need to water it less often. This is because it will take longer for the soil to dry out between waterings. This is totally normal!

When you fertilize your Fiddle Leaf Fig it also has other health benefits for the plant. The distance between the leaves on the stem can shorten (making your FLF more lush-looking) and it will help the plant grow a strong root system and trunk. This is great for FLFs, as their trunks are naturally thin and leaves so enormous, which means they are prone to leaning.

So there you have the details on how to Fertilize your Fiddle Leaf Fig! FLF’s may be renowned for being slow-growing. But if you provide the best conditions for them, including the right fertilizer, you can have your Ficus Lyrata growing in lush leaps and bounds. There are a few other factors that can affect your FLF’s growth, so make sure you address all of them to see your Ficus turn into a Frankenstein plant.

Fertilizing my Fiddle Leaf Fig is now something I’ll never go without! I can’t wait to see the amazing growth it gets in just one more season. Would you like more tips and info on Fiddle Leaf Figs? Check out my other popular posts here.

How, when and what fertilizer to use on your Fiddle Leaf Fig to maximise its growth - both in bushiness and height! DON'T miss this crazy good growth hack!
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50 Comments. Leave new

  • Does this fertilizer have Urea in it? How is your plant doing with the use of the fertilizer mentioned?

    Reply
    • Hey Natasha, I don’t think this fertilizer specifically contains urea. It does have nitrogen (which urea is a form of), however the fertilizer doesn’t specify which form of nitrogen. My FLFs are actually doing really well! 🙂 The fertilizer has helped them grow really ‘lush’, or with the leaves close together so they look nice and full. I post updates more frequently on Instagram if you’re interested in seeing them. Let me know if you have any more questions!

      Reply
  • I brought a FLF and it took a while to adjust to its new environment. I should have probably not repotted so soon. I should have let it assist to my house first. But I didn’t know what I was doing at first either. I realized it wasn’t growing which is why I started reading and researching my new baby. There we 5 trees intertwined. I figured it out finally! I believe they were crowded. Is it true that they don’t like to be crowded? I slowly separated the trees and now I have 5 plants. All of them have adapted except for one. But that last one is still alive and I believe it will pull through or atleast I’m praying for the little fella to pull though. As soon as I gave them their own pots they started growing and shooting new leaves out the top. Is there anything else I should do for them or the one that is fighting for its life??

    Reply
    • Hey Charisma! FLFs generally are ok with being snug in pots, but if they weren’t growing its likely the five were root bound or each plant wasn’t getting enough nutrients in the pot. It’s always a good sign when they start growing though! It sounds like yours are happy in their new pots. Separating & repotting can sometimes shock plants, so to have 4 out of 5 doing well is great. It may just take time for the last one to adjust. If it is in the same location where the others are thriving, I would just continue to care for it, knowing that it may just take a little longer. If you had to cut any of the roots apart, don’t fertilize straight away as this can burn new or traumatised roots. You could possibly use a half-strength seaweed solution to help strengthen it. Hope it pulls through! 🙂

      Reply
  • Hi, I just bought a flf what products I have to care my little flf?
    Watering how often?
    Food ?
    Fertilizer?
    Light ?

    Reply
    • Hey! You don’t need a lot of products to care for FLFs, except a fertilizer if you want to make sure it’s healthy. Check out the recommendations on this post. I actually have heaps of info on the blog about FLFs – check out the FLF page in plants for all of them! For general care routines, read this post and also the six myths about FLF care has some common misconceptions about the plant that might be helpful to know too. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  • My Flf is not growing! I had one new leaf and it hasn’t grown ones 2 inches. I am fertilizing with Flf food! Should I move her outside for a bit?

    Reply
    • Hey Susan, light can also play a big part in how much FLFs grow. It’s a vital part of them creating the energy they need to push out new leaves! You could move it outside, making sure to acclimatize it to any direct sun. Otherwise it could be a good idea to find a brighter indoor location – generally within 1-2 feet of a window is best. In general, FLFs can take a little while to adjust to new locations. So if you haven’t had yours for very long, it may take a little while for it to settle in. I haven’t used the FLF plant-food branded fertilizer myself, there’s a lot of cheaper options that contain all the nutrients that FLFs need. But if you can find a good, bright location for your FLF and combine that with regular fertilizing, it should grow better 🙂

      Reply
  • Hi Emily,

    I came across your site while looking into fertilizer options to (hopefully) help my newly-damaged fig.

    I’ve had it for a few months now with now new growth – a learning curve indeed.

    I put it outside this morning so it could get nice light throughout the day. Much to my dismay, an unprotected, brief but strong, thunderstorm hit during the day while I was at work. My fig has hail damage on heart every existing leaf. The hail caused tears or even holes in some spots. Any advice on helping it through this damage?

    Reply
    • Hey Nicole, sorry to hear about the hailstorm! Unfortunately there’s not a lot that can be done, as leaves cannot repair themselves. However if they are still green, then they are still producing energy for the plant and are worth keeping! It’s only worth removing leaves that are over 50% damaged.

      FLFs love sunlight and I think that’s a huge key in getting them to grow. Sometimes they like to spend some time settling in to a new environment, which could also be why you haven’t seen any growth yet. Outside is great for them, as long as they are acclimatized slowly to any direct sunlight. I would say to find a good spot for it and keep it there – consistency will help it settle in.

      If you’ve had it for a few months and there hasn’t been any other cause for concern other than a lack of growth, I would say you’re probably doing better than you think! 🙂 Allowing it to settle in and tweaking the few things above should help it grow again. All the best!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Charity Wills
    June 8, 2019 1:32 am

    Hi Emily,

    I’m sorry I just found this post which is great btw! My fiddle leaf fig went through quite a bit and I believe I definitely overwatered it, the leaves started to get spotted with brownish/red dots and the edges of the leaves were turning dark brown and brittle. I believe it was on the verge of root rot! I immediately un-potted it and dried out the root ball and repotted it once I knew it was dried out and happy again. It’s still recovering but looks so much better, the dots are starting to fade and the new leaves I am getting are green and spot free. The one thing I lack is good lighting in my home which is why I believe my FLF was dying. I moved it by a window away from drafts but I am still concerned it’s not getting enough light since there is a huge tree in my front yard that blocks most of the sun. I am going to move it to my bedroom where I get more light then downstairs, which will hopefully make it grow since there hasn’t been too much growth since I got it. I tried putting it on my front porch but it would either get direct sunlight or no sunlight. I am eventually going to trim the tree so more light can shine through but in the mean time I want to make sure it’s happy and it grows. I really love my FLF and I want it to grow tall and beautiful! I am also going to try fertilizer as well and see if that helps! My leaves are like 6-7”

    Reply
    • Hey Charity! I’m glad the post was helpful 🙂 FLFs can be a bit of a learning curve to begin with, but once you figure out what they like they are no problem 🙂 Grow lights can help supplement sunlight if they’re not getting enough indoors, this post has more info on them if you need. Once they have good conditions they should grow quite quickly! All the best 🙂

      Reply
      • Thank you!! I just noticed new growth today!! I also just received the fertilizer in that you recommended and it’s time for me to water it so hopefully this helps give it that push it needs!

        Reply
  • Hi There,

    My top FLF leaves are turning yellow. I bought Osmocote Smart-Release Plant Food (dry granules) in addition to Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant Food (liquid fertilizer). Is it overkill to use both? Which one is the more effective one to use?

    Reply
    • Hi! You definitely don’t need to use two fertilisers. Slow release fertiliser is difficult to control and doesn’t necessarily have the right ratio of nutrients for FLFs. Using too much fertiliser can cause fertiliser burn, so I would only go with the liquid one!

      Reply
  • I have recently (3 weeks ago) purchased my first FLF and it has just started growing new leaves but they are a very light green with brown spots, am I doing something wrong?

    Reply
    • Hi! New leaves do start out lighter in colour, softer and sometimes even floppy until they mature. So that’s not a problem 🙂 If the brown spots on new leaves are quite small, this is known as edema and is quite common in new leaves. It normally becomes less noticeable as the leaf grows, so not to worry! It’s generally caused by overwatering or inconsistent watering, so double check you’re only watering your FLF when the top couple inches of soil is mostly dry. Otherwise it could just be settling in to your it’s new home and routine 🙂

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Maricela medrano
    May 17, 2019 10:44 am

    I little nats on the soil of my fig leaf trees. Anything to kill the nats but not my tree ?

    Reply
    • Hi! I haven’t had to treat gnats myself, but have heard that mosquito dunks work well (something like this). Gnats are attracted to moist soil, so remember to only water when the top 2 inches are dry. I’ve also heard of people using a top layer of sand to keep them away, and that cinnamon repels them. Hope that helps!

      Reply
      • YES!!! Sand does work. I had to put sand on the plate or the bottom of the pot (pop the bottom off and sprinkle some sand in there) also because that’s where the gnats were producing. I lifted my plant up and there were hundreds under there. I took the plant to the bath tub and rinsed them down the drain. It waslong hard fight to get rid of them naturally, but is doable. Gnats are the worst!!!!! I actually think they come home from the stores. If not treated, they will get into your other plants fast.

        Reply
  • Hi. My 3 year old FLF looks sick. It’s about 3 feet tall with 2 stalks and about 7 leaves per stalk. The new sprouts are yellow with brown edges??? It gets about 1-2 hrs of morning light. I took it outside and fertilized it and watered leaves. I only water it every 2 weeks as Im afraid of root rot. How much fertilizer/water mix is good for this size? Just until it comes out the bottom and every week? The soil still feels a little damp after only one week? Help!

    Reply
    • Hey Linda, overwatering and root can only happen if you water your FLF too frequently. When you water, the best way is to fully saturate it until the excess runs out the bottom. Then, don’t water again until the top 2inches of soil feels dry. It’s hard to say without seeing a pic, but generally leaves with brown edges are caused by dryness. 2 weeks seems a little long to go between watering, so if you suspect that the soil is compacting or holding lots of water, I would recommend repotting into a well-draining mix. If you’ve never repotted in the three years you’ve had it, I would definitely recommend doing so. If you are having trouble assessing when it is ready to be watered again, you may want to use a reliable moisture meter.
      Fiddles are light feeders and don’t need huge amounts of fertilizer. It is ok to fertilize them weekly, as long as you are diluting the mix according to the directions. Generally, they’ll only need to be fertilized once a month at full strength.
      It sounds like it may not be a very leafy Fiddle – if there’s large gaps between the leaves, this can be a sign that the plant is ‘stretching’ or looking for more sunlight. See if you can put it in a spot that gets a little more light, which should help new growth grow close together and look more lush. All the best!

      Reply
  • Hi Emily! Your FLF posts are so informative, thank you! I just got the fertilizer you recommended but I’m confused as to how to mix it. I’ve had my tree for 3 years and it is a decent size. How should I mix it? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Glad the posts could be helpful, Angie! There should be instructions on the fertilizer but I know they recommend different amounts depending on what you’re using it for. As a general rule, use about 10mL (or 2 teaspoons) per gallon. I water the soil with the fertilizer mixed in until the excess comes out the bottom, to ensure all the roots get saturated. If there’s any left over I use it on my other houseplants too. Around a monthly fertilizing should be enough for FLFs 🙂

      Reply
  • Hi Emily, I’ve recently bought a pot of FLF with 3 separate trunks. They all looked healthy and normal for a few weeks until the leaves started to turn yellow and droopy. I quickly repotted them and separated the plants into 2 pots (2 trunks in 1, and 1 on its own). I believe it was a shock to them and the yellowed leaves all fell off. 2 out of the 3 plants are recovering albeit having lost many leaves (not droopy nor yellow and have good green appearances).

    Unfortunately, one plant (that is in the sharing pot) has lost all of its leaves. I did not remove it as the stalk is still green and firm. Can an FLF trunk with no leaves recover and grow leaves again? Thanks!

    I did not remove

    Reply
    • Hey Yen, FLFs can loose their leaves if their environments change – I would say that it’s possible if they had a decrease in light when you got them, this could be why they suffered! The good news is that yes, a bare stalk can recover! Keep on watering it as normal and give it lots of light. With time, you should notice new buds appearing.
      If it lost a lot of root system from separating when repotting, it may focus on re-establishing it’s roots first. You will know it’s still alive if the stalk is still firm. If it turns brown and brittle, or is able to be snapped off, that part has died! If that happens, cut the dead part off until you reach a part of stem that releases sap (a sign of life). All the best! 🙂

      Reply
  • Hi Emily. My FLF is really happy in its spot. But it is growing too fast and high. How can I keep it shorter. Also, the leaves are beautiful and happy but they stay close to the stem, resulting in us seeing only the bottom sides of the leaves.

    Reply
    • Hey Amanda, that’s a good problem to have! If your FLF is growing is must be happy. You can always prune it to keep it at the height you prefer. Just make sure you only prune off a third or less of the leaves to prevent it from going into shock.
      The leaves will naturally lean towards to the light, so if they are facing upwards this is ok and pretty normal. As long as it is getting enough light and watering I wouldn’t be too worried! As yours is growing so much it sounds like you are looking after it well 🙂

      Reply
  • Hi Emily,

    I’ve had my FLF for about 18 months now and the tallest stem has grown about 40-50cm since we got her. There are three stems (sorry i’m not sure if that’s the right word) in the big pot she’s in, and although all three have grown taller, the thickness of their stems haven’t thickened up so now they are starting to droop over the taller they get. Was just wondering what I can do, if anything, to help thicken up the stems? Her leaves are beautiful and green and I fertilise and water her.
    Thank you! 🙂

    Reply
    • Hey Ashlee, FLFs are known for their skinny trunks but there are things you can do to get them strong and standing on their own. That’s good you are fertilising, it will definitely help. If there is more than an inch or so of stem between the leaves, your FLF may be searching for more light. When they don’t get enough light, they grow a bit lanky. So firstly, make sure it’s getting adequate light, as the leaves really help support the stem when they grow closer together.
      In nature, FLFs trunks grow strong when they have to withstand the wind. So if you can give your FLF some time outside, it will greatly help the trunks strengthen. I put a new FLF outside that was leaning, and within 1-2 weeks it was standing straight by itself.
      If you can’t manage to get it outside, try imitating the wind by wiggling the stems a couple of times a day. It sounds silly but I’ve heard people get great results from this! It may take a few weeks, but doing this will allow the stems to strengthen and stand by themselves, which is definitely a better option that trying to stake them. Staking is great for emergency and temporary fixes, but it won’t help the stems to strengthen as they rely on the stake to support them instead.
      Light and airflow (or wiggling) are key! You can get your FLF stronger within a few weeks 🙂

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Margaret Simmons
    March 15, 2019 4:30 am

    My flf has leaves on the bottom, then a long section with no leaves and then 2 leaves at the top. What should I do?

    Reply
    • Hey Margaret, I would firstly make sure your FLF is getting enough sunlight. Elongated stems with leaves far apart can be caused by a lack of light. Notching can help encourage growth on bare areas however if the trunk is quite thin (depending on the size & age of your FLF overall), I would just let it grow and become stronger before trying this. Notching is the process of making cuts a third deep into the trunk. This activates dormant buds to grow. It’s definitely easier to notch on thicker trunks to avoid cutting too deep.
      If there’s a section of stem at the top of your FLF (above the top two leaves), you could try tip pruning. This can activate branching further down which may improve the look of the bare section.

      Reply
  • My FLF is over six feet tall. Can I cut the main trunk of the tree?

    Reply
    • Of course, Lacey! Pruning is totally normal. I would say to prune a section with no more than a third of the leaves, to keep your FLF healthy. You can always propagate the cutting to grow another FLF, too. Make sure you use sharp clippers and make the cut on an angle. All the best!

      Reply
  • I think I killed my FLF. I Have it in my sunroom and we just had freezing temps. Our heater in this room stopped working over night and bam! Super sad dark greenish brown dropping leaves. Think I can get it back?

    Reply
    • Oh no! It definitely sounds like the temps got too cold for your FLF. Only time will tell if it can recover, I would give it a chance (and keep it out of the cold) and see how the next month or so goes. Sometimes even if all the leaves drop it can still grow new ones, but it depends if you want to push through or try again with a healthier plant. FLFs are tropical plants and minimum temps should be no lower than around 65F! 🙂

      Reply
  • This is great information. I recently got a large flf and 3 babies. I was wondering about fertilizer and so thankful to you for clearing it up! The info on here on watering is also useful. Thanks again!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Vitalii Khromets
    November 3, 2018 5:43 am

    Your post is useles at all.
    “Use the fertilizer” that’s all you want to tell about?

    Reply
    • Hi Vitalii, I’m sorry this post couldn’t be more helpful for you! I’m speaking from my personal experience, and understanding fertilizers & using the right one was the change that gave my FLF great growth. I have a few other posts on FLFs if you’re looking for other information. Let me know if you have any specific questions and I’ll do my best to answer!

      Reply
  • Hi Emily,

    I unfortunately and very sadly killed my first FLF tree and I’m unsure why it died as it grew leaves very quickly then dropped them all. Anyway, I now have a new shrub-like Fig. It was kind of sickly looking when I got it but now it is very healthy. It gets watered once a week and the new leaves are seem to be sprouting g almost daily for the last month. This October, so not the growing season – but my Fig doesn’t know that so when should I fertilize him? Homer is his name. Lol.

    I mentioned he is shrub-like. There many stalks, so this good for his future? I like his “shrubbiness” and would to keep him tris way instead of a single stalk. What are the odds on keeping him this way?

    Cheers
    Angie

    Reply
    • Hi Angie, sounds like you’ve got a great FLF for it to be growing so much! You can still fertilize during the cooler months, either by doing a half-strength mix or fertilising half as often as you would in warmer months. That’s totally fine to keep him looking shrubby – the tree-form can require a bit more work to attain but you won’t have to do much to keep one shrubby. You can always prune parts back if they get too tall or out of control. Other than that, Homer should grow fine as a shrub! All the best 🙂

      Reply
  • Thanks for the information! I’m trying to find out how to get my FLF to be bushier/fuller. It has no problem growing taller, but I’d like more leaves throughout. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • Hi Amy, if your FLF has sparse growth, it might need more light! Often when there’s not enough light they grow ‘leggy’ in search of light. When it is getting enough light the growth should be bushier. This should help with any future growth, but as for getting more leaves throughout, try tip pruning to activate buds that lay dormant along the stems/branches. When you cut the tip of a FLF, it tricks the plant into thinking it needs to activate growth elsewhere. Hope this helps! 🙂

      Reply
  • Hello Emily
    I got a few FLF plant and most of them are doing great but there’s one that I have issues with.When I got it it had small leaf sprouts .Unfortunately they dried off.Now there is no growth of new leafs. What should I do.
    Thank you ,

    Reply
    • Hi Memy, if your FLF isn’t growing there could be a bunch of reasons. Take a look at my growing and pruning FLFs post for some info on care to make sure its getting everything it needs. Other than that it may just need time to adjust if its a new plant in your home. Let me know if you have any more specific questions 🙂

      Reply
  • Will this also thicken the trunk? I have two FLF bush-types and I have to support them with a stake currently. They are only about 2 feet tall, but it can’t hold the weight of the current leaves. I’m in san antonio and I moved them outside about 2 months ago. They seem to love it – one of them sprouted two new leaves immediately. But they need stronger trunks. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Summer, the trunk thickening should happen naturally as your FLF grows. Using a stake is a good way to keep it stable, and the other thing that helps strengthen the trunk is the leaves! When your FLF is getting enough sunlight, the leaves should grow close together which helps support the trunk. If there are spaces between each leaf, it most likely means your FLF needs more light. Moving it to a lighter place should help the leaves grow closer and support the trunk more. Also, some people like to remove the lower leaves on their FLF, but doing this will slow the thickening of the trunk, so let the lower leaves stay. If you are already doing these things, great! Add a little bit of patience and your FLF should get strong enough to support itself 🙂

      Reply
  • Thanks for all the tips. They are very helpful

    Reply

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