Growing and Pruning Your Fiddle Leaf Fig

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I’ve recently written a more specific post on How to Grow a Fiddle Leaf Fig from Bush to Tree form, and an update on my FLF – check them out if you’re interested in this topic! πŸ™‚

Fancy a Fiddle Leaf Fig? Those waif-like trunks with leafy foliage are quite eye-catching! You can splash out on buying a full-grown plant but this can be expensive – and risky – if you haven’t looked after one before! A much better option is to buy a cheaper and smaller Fiddle Leaf Fig, and enjoy the process of caring and training the plant yourself. Here’s a guide to growing and pruning your Fiddle Leaf Fig, from bambino to adult size!

Growing and Pruning Your Fiddle Leaf Fig - A guide for small plant or bush to standard tree form.

There’s no question that the Ficus Lyrata aka Fiddle Leaf Figs are the new ‘it’ plant for indoors and generally they are quite easy to look after! I have recently purchased a bambino Fiddle Leaf Fig myself and have scoured the interweb for the best info on how to grow and train the FLF into the shape you want.

I have heard it said that there are in fact two types of Fiddle Leaf Fig, the bushy type which you can often buy in a cluster of trunks and the more standard / tree form, but whichever one you have, you can always prune and manipulate it to look how you would like it to look. The standard tree form is more popular, but if you have a bushy type, with time and a bit of work you can train it to look like the decor tree of your dreams! Read on for the guide.

Basic Care

The main factors in your Fiddle Leaf Fig’s growth are light, soil and water.

Light: If its indoors your plant will need to be away from direct beams of sunlight, but still getting lots of indirect light such as near a window. They don’t like droughts of cold air.

Soil: Well-draining soil is best so as to not keep the roots damp, which prevents root rot.

Watering: Watering may vary depending on the conditions your Fiddle Leaf Fig is in, but generally once or twice a week is enough. You can let the soil dry out between watering. If the leaves are turning brown it may be getting too much water or not enough light and if the leaves are turning yellow it may be getting too much light. Change something in your fig’s lifestyle and give it time to react: move it’s position, change water levels etc.

Growth: During Spring and Summer is when your FLF will appear to grow the most and be getting lots of energy from extra sunlight hours. During autumn and winter it may appear dormant – the fig is conserving its energy to make it through the winter months and may not grow too much.

Change: Generally FLFs don’t like change, so if you are planning on doing something drastic (like pruning, splitting a cluster or re-potting) do it at the beginning of a new season of growth, aka Spring so it has enough energy reserved to push through the added stress.

How to Repot or Pot-Up

When your Fiddle Leaf Fig is looking too big for the pot it may be time to pot-up (aka move it to a larger pot). This will give it more room to grow and get taller. It is also a good idea to fully re-pot your FLF (which means removing as much soil from the roots as you can, trimming and planting it in new soil), which will give it fresh nutrients to grow with rather than reusing the same old soil.

How to Train you Fiddle Leaf Fig into a Standard Tree form (from bush / cluster or small plant)

 

Image via
Image via

While its tempting to get out the secateurs and start clipping your FLF to instantly look like a standard form, this may not be the best way to go about it. Those drool-worthy interior design pics make it so tempting! While your FLF may not be the ideal shape at the moment, if you allow some planning and time to go into it you will end up with a much nicer tree! The process might take at least a couple of years or seasons of growth to get it to the tree you want, but this is OK. Be patient and enjoy the process of training you fig.

Firstly, don’t remove the lower leaves! These help bring nutrients to the lower trunk and therefore strengthen and thicken it. FLFs are known for having waif-like trunks, but if the trunk is too thin it won’t be able to hold up the leafy tree-top part like you want and will forever need to be staked or be leaning. In my opinion, removing the lower leaves is probably the last step to do.

Separating a Cluster: If you have a cluster or group of FLFs in one pot, you can separate them to be single trees. At the start of the growing season, remove them from their pot and carefully separate the roots, giving each plant an appropriate root ball for its size (If you have to cut the roots apart, make sure each plant has a root ball respective to the plant’s size). Replant each one in its own pot. This forum is lengthy but has some great info on one of the key elements in your fig’s growth – the soil!

Branching: If your Fiddle Leaf Fig is one trunk with no branches, there are also ways you can help it sprout new branches. One way is to nip off the tip / top few leaves of the trunk to encourage new growth. Another process is called notching, where you make a small cut into the trunk just above a bud you want to branch. This will trick the tree into branching out at this point.

If there are branches you don’t want on your FLF, just remove them close to the trunk. You can also use them for propagating and growing a new FLF! If there’s more specific information you need, these Indoor plant forums have a wealth of good info worthy of sorting through.

Are you embarking on a journey with a new FLF? Let me know how its going in the comments below, I’d love to hear about it!

I’ve recently written a more specific post on How to Grow a Fiddle Leaf Fig from Bush to Tree form, and an update on my FLF – check them out if you’re interested in this topic! πŸ™‚

My bambino FLF!
My bambino FLF!

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104 Comments
  1. Hi my tree was moved during winter and all its leaves fell off .now its just a tall stem but its starting to grow leaves at base of trunk all the way down looks like there coming out of the dirt .do i need to prune the top because it looks dead or just leave it alone .theres 4 leaves on the bottom babys .about size of my hand the leaves are but the poor trunk is bare .help

    1. Hi Kathy, sorry to hear the leaves have fallen off! Are the leaves that are growing near the bottom growing from the main stem or a different one? Unfortunately no new leaves are likely to grow on the bare stem, unless they grow from the top. You may be able to check if the stem is dead by feeling if it is brittle and dry or still ‘bendable’ like live growth. If there are leaves growing at the bottom, you can prune the main trunk so it doesn’t look odd or leave it and see if it will continue to grow from the top. It is a little hard to tell what is going on without seeing it, but obviously some part of your FLF is still alive, which is good news! And means it can be salvaged πŸ™‚

  2. I really like the look of fiddle leaf figs. I would love to get one for my living room. It’s good to know that spring and summer will allow it to grow the most. I’m sure there could be some overgrowth that would require some trimming as well.

  3. Hi! Great article. My fiddle fig has developed dry brown areas on the tips of many leaves. Is there a way to confirm if this is from over watering, or root rot? Thanks! Paula

    1. Thanks so much Paula. Generally its best to feel the soil around an inch deep to see if it is still wet from the last water before you water it again. If it is damp in any way, wait til it dries out more before you water it again. This is a good way to make sure you don’t overwater. If you keep having this problem, it could be to do with the soil type it’s planted in retaining water, and you could repot it with a chunkier/looser soil to allow for water drainage. Hope that helps your FLF πŸ™‚

  4. Hi there, I have a tree about 8 ft high. I want to trim it at the top, about a foot or two. I don’t want to kill it. Can I repot what I cut off? Any tips would be much appreciated

    1. Hi Noah, yes you can prune the top, this is actually good for your FLF. You can also use what you cut off to replant, this is called propagating. Make sure you use something sharp to prune your FLF, and you can either place the cuttings in water or straight into soil. If you go straight to soil, try using cutting powder (can be found at nurseries) which helps new roots to grow. All the best!

  5. Hi Emily,
    Thank You for all the information on the Fiddler Fig Ficus plant. I’m waiting for the Wal Mart or Lowe’s to get that plant in here in Southern Illinois. I prefer the bush to the tree but I’m seeing more info about the tree. I would appreciate all the information on the name of the bush so I’ll know what to purchase and not get a tree plant and any other information you can give me on the Fiddler Bush.

    1. Hi Cathy, thanks for your comment. There’s actually just one type of Fiddle Leaf Fig – so you you don’t have to worry about finding the right type! The tree style vs bush style just depends on how you prefer to grow and prune it. Some people remove the lower leaves to get it looking more tree-like. If you prefer it to be more bushy, you can just prune back any branches or parts that are making it look too leggy. Keep in mind that as your FLF grows (they can get quite large), it may tend to appear more like a tree. What you could do is to keep an eye out for one that has multiple trunks in the pot (called a cluster), which will help with the ‘bush’ effect. Hope this helps with your search! Happy growing.

  6. I have a Flf that is only one trunk. I am interested in having it branch out and grow into a tree. At what point should I cut off a leaf, or notch. It is about 18″ tall at this point.

    1. Hi Beth, if you decide to prune off the top, it will branch from that height. If you’d like it to branch higher up, it might be best to wait until it grows to the height where you’d like it to branch, and then prune it. Similarly, notching gives an exact spot where a branch will bud from, as you are targeting a dormant bud just above a leaf node. So it all depends on where you’d prefer it to branch! I’ve let my FLF grow for about a year or so before attempting to get branches from it, so that it is a bit taller and more mature first. But it is up to you! Hope that answers your question πŸ™‚

  7. My ficus is 12 feet tall and starting to bend at the top. The are plenty of lower branches and leaves. Can I trim the top off and plant it in another pot? It’s so lush and I’m afraid I’ll kill it. If I can trim it how do I get it to root at the bottom?
    I’d appreciate any help and info.

    1. Hey Mari, you certainly can trim the top and repot it! This is called propagating and is often done with plant cuttings. I’ve heard its best to propagate with a piece that has a few leaves on it. If you are wanting to trim more than just a few leaves off the top of your plant, you can always cut into smaller sections the piece that you do trim off, and have multiple new plants.
      There are two ways you can propagate – by planting the cutting straight into soil, or by placing the cutting in water for a few weeks or so, until roots start to grow. It is up to you which way you decide (and if you get multiple cuttings, you could try both ways!). If you do water propagation, be careful with the roots when you transfer the cutting into soil, as roots that are grown in water are often more delicate. If you decide to place it in soil straight away, get some cutting powder from your nursery. This helps to encourage root growth.
      As long as you’re only pruning 1/3 or less of your FLF, it should respond fine! Pruning is good for plants and even encourages more growth. Have fun experimenting and let me know if you need more help!

  8. Hi! Thanks for this article! I’d like to notch to encourage branching in two places. Should I do one notch at a time? Would two be too traumatic to the plant? Thanks for your advice!

    1. Hi Cari, thanks for your comment! I couldn’t say for sure whether two at a time would be too much – how well your FLF responds often depends on its level of health and energy, which is why its always best to make changes during the growing season. While there may not be any negative effects of doing two notches at a time, I would probably stick to one and see how it responds. Remember, it will only be able to grow a branch if it has the energy reserved to do so at the time of notching, so make sure it is in good health by getting good amounts of light and fertiliser! You could also try pruning the tip to encourage branching, but you won’t have much control over where the branches grow this way. I’d love to hear how you go with it πŸ™‚

  9. My fig is getting way too tall and is bending badly. Can I just cut the trunk back to where I want it? Will it branch out if I do?

    1. Hi there Juanda, yes you can prune the tree back to where you’d like it, but it’s best to only prune around one third or less at a time, to prevent your FLF from going into shock from the change. Make sure there will still be enough leaves left on the tree! This will encourage your FLF to branch and grow more leaves. You can also try staking it to help it stand straight. All the best πŸ™‚

  10. My fiddle fig tree is totally dying, it has brown spots, some leafed are turning totally brown and falling and as soon as that happens the next leafs go through the same process, what should I do to save it. Should I just cut the leafes? Help please!!!!!

    Thx,

    Janette

    1. Hi Janette, is your FLF getting too much sun? While it is tricky to figure out the exact cause of your FLF leaves turning brown and dropping, I would start by changing things one at a time. If you think it could be getting too much sun, move it to a shadier spot. If you don’t think this is the cause, is it not getting enough water? The last thing I would check is to look up close and see if you can see any eggs or bugs on the leaves that could be causing the plant to die. Changing things will help you figure out the cause to then fix it! Hope that helps.

  11. I have a fiddle leaf tree which I bought last summer. Having it only for months. The leaves just fell off. I now have 2 or 3 leaves left on this tree. Will it grow back when spring and summer hits? Or is it dead? Very confused. Please help!!’

    Melissa Papiersky

    1. Hey Melissa, if there’s still green leaves on the tree, there’s still hope! πŸ™‚ I would give it some fertilizer once Spring hits and see if that will give it a boost… If you think it’s too far gone, you could always cut the remaining leaves off and propagate new FLFs from them… Let me know how you get on πŸ™‚

  12. Hi Emily, Feb. 9, 2018

    I recently (4 days ago), purchased a fiddle leaf fig plant—the bushy kind—in only 4 days of having it in my living room, in an apartment building, my tree smells awful and I have developed breathing problems, itchy eyes, and a stuffed nose.

    I understand that the ficus lyrata (which this plant is), may produce mould spores and thus cause these allergies.

    Should I get rid of my tree? Or possibly put gravel on the top so I don’t smell the soil.

    When I enter my apartment, after several hours, there is a bottom of the garbage pail smell throughout the house. Yes. My tree smells awful.
    Please help.

    Julia

    1. Hey Julia, I haven’t heard of that problem before but here are a few things you could try:
      It may have had a smelly fertiliser applied, if you have an outdoor space, you could put your FLF outside until it improves. Sometimes the fertiliser is present on the leaves, so try wiping them down with a damp cloth too.
      You mentioned putting gravel on the dirt- if the smell is coming from the soil, try giving it a big water next time you water it, to flush anything out of the soil. Water it until the water comes out the bottom of the pot.
      If its still smelly, you may want to try repotting it with new dirt, and getting rid of all the old dirt it was sitting in. I hope these tips help! And I hope your symptoms get better – hopefully you will be able to keep your tree πŸ™‚

  13. Dear Emily,
    Thank you very much for all of the good information that you have provided about Fiddle Figs. I recently inherited my son’s fiddle fig when he moved to Germany. I hadn’t realized that there were two types of fiddle figs… his had the leaves growing from the bottom to the top of the plant (bush). I saw a picture of a fiddle fig on line that looked like a tree so I decided to get rid of the leaves on the bottom part of the plant to reveal the trunk. On reading your blog I discovered that I shouldn’t have done this! Oops! I hope that my fiddle fig will be able to overcome my mistake.
    The roots of the plant are highly visible at the top of the pot… is this normal? Should I cover them with dirt? I realize that I will either need to trim the roots a bit or re-pot it. Would you please advise me? Is there a special soil recommended for my fiddle fig?
    Thank you so very much in advance for your advice!
    Sincerely,
    Sonja

    1. Hi Sonja, there is only one type of FLF, but it all depends on how you would like to grow/prune yours. Some prefer a bushy style, while others prefer the tree style! As long as the FLF still has the majority of its leaves it should handle having some on the trunk removed. It’s possible that there has been some soil loss from the pot if the roots are showing. If the plant is root-bound or getting too big for the pot, it would make sense to repot it. It is probably better to remove all the dirt and have a completely new mix than adding new dirt on top. Make sure you get a well-draining soil mix, your local nursery should be able to point you in the right direction πŸ™‚

  14. I purchased a FLF late last summer. I had it near a window but it only received morning direct sunlight. After a few months nearly all but maybe 3 leaves have fallen off the top of the tree but I have substantial growth at the base. I was watering it once a week but I don’t think I was using enough water. Will the top leaves ever grow back in especially with spring right around the corner or should I consider the notching? Thanks!

    1. Hey Carla, unfortunately leaves can’t grow back in the same spots, but that’s not to say it won’t keep growing upwards from there. If the whole top is bare, you could consider pruning it back to where the last leaf is, so that if it continues to grow upwards, you won’t have a ‘bare’ patch on the trunk. I’m not sure why only the top leaves would have fallen, but if its still got growth then that’s a good sign! You could also check the trunk at the top – if it’s brittle and snapping off, the section has died – feel free to trim off any bits like this. Hope it helps. Happy Growing πŸ™‚

  15. Hello Emily,
    I have a fabulous FLF that was given to me like a year and 1/2 ago.
    It has grown to at least 10 ft but in doing so has become somewhat β€œone sided” and a little leggy in my opinion.
    During the summer I pruned a small amount, learning later this was not the time to prune.
    I did see new growth after that pruning but still have no signs of new branches.
    The main goal of the pruning was too encourage new branches filling in on the β€œflat side”

    ??
    Did I screw up pruning during the growing season?
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    I will try to attach a couple of photos

    Thanks for your time
    God bless

    1. Hi Cherie, thanks for your question. Its actually fine to prune in summer, when the days are long and it’s peak growing season! If your FLF is leggy, it may need some more light. I also turn my pot 1/4 of the way round each week when I water it – this encourages it to grow evenly and not get lop-sided. Plants will always lean / grow towards the light! You could also try notching on the side you want to encourage more growth on. Let me know if you need any more help! πŸ™‚

  16. I am looking for some advice to keep my FLF alive! I’m hoping you might be able to help! I bought the tree at the beginning of the summer and it was doing beautifully for several months. I water once a week, and let it dry out before watering again. I also had it in a great spot, but during the winter that spot turned out to be very drafty so I moved it. The spot it was in seemed very similar, and was doing well. Now it has started to drop leaves, and the leaves are turning brown and crunch at the ends. Any advice??? Thank you!

    1. Hi Lindsey, FLFs typically love humid conditions, so if you have a temperature-controlled home during winter, my guess is that it could either be too dry or in the path of your a/c. Check that its not in a draughty spot, and you could also try using a spray bottle to give it some moisture. Hopefully you can bring it back to health again πŸ™‚

  17. Thanks for your article! I have a FLF that is about 12 feet tall & is leaning hard at the top. I’ve been debating taking off the top & rooting that, hopefully encouraging branching at the top (it has 2 branches lower down). I will follow your advice and wait until spring. Any further tips are welcome!
    Thanks!
    Karrie

    1. Hey Karrie, sounds like it is definitely ready to be pruned! If it starts leaning further down, you can always stake it until you are ready to prune, so that it doesn’t tip over. Staking will also help it grow straight in the meantime. πŸ™‚

  18. I think I killed my fiddle leaf tree! He was getting brown leaves so I moved him to the office to more indirect light. Then I found little worms in the pot so I took him out, got him new dirt and rinsed his roots. I replanted him and he seemed to be fine, but I went on vacation and he was forgotten. I came back to his last four leaves broken off from dropping. He didn’t get watered while I was gone. Now I just have three branches with no leaves. It’s the middle of December and from what I read I might not see any new growth until spring. Is this true? Do I have any chance of bringing him back?

    1. Hi Jenna, it sounds like your FLF has no leaves? If this is the case, unfortunately I don’t think there’s much chance of revival. You could wait and see if anything happens in Spring, but if the branches are brittle and can be snapped off, this is a sign that its died πŸ™ It might be time to take a trip to the nursery for a new one!

    1. Hi Bender, Unfortunately they won’t grow back. The only possible solution is to prune or notch the trunk to encourage your FLF to back-bud, which means dormant buds could grow into branches off the trunk. This will help it look fuller, but where the leaves themselves were removed, will stay bare.

  19. I bought a really nice, full, bush style FLF this last spring. I had it growing in the shade on my patio in Dallas, TX. We had an early cold snap – didn’t freeze, but was windy and temp dropped to 38. The FLF has been brought indoors, but has dropped all the lower leaves – probably lost 25-30 leaves. The only ones still intact are on the very top – probably 12 leaves remaining. Is it a total loss or can I cut it back?

    1. Hi Kathy, as it sounds like your FLF has lost the majority of its leaves, I wouldn’t prune it back, especially during the cooler months. It would have lost its ability to produce energy when it lost the leaves, and therefore the ones still there will have to work extra hard! Pruning any back may harm your FLF. When the warmer months hit and you notice it growing again, you could try pruning it just a little bit to encourage buds to grow on the lower area.

  20. Hi. I have my FLf and I am afraid to prune it. What will i do? Maybe because I’m afraid to kill my plant. I have only 1. And I noticed after a week from the time i bought it, most of the leaves are getting weak… what to do? Pls help… I wish that my FLF will grow and add some branches on top. πŸ™

    1. Hi! If you have recently bought your FLF home, it may take some time to adjust to its new location. If it is not improving, change something small. This might be getting more light or watering more/less. FLFs don’t grow much in the cooler months, most growth occurs is Spring and Summer. They are slow growing, so be patient πŸ™‚ Only prune it in the warmer months and make sure if you do, that you only prune less that 1/3 of the leaves. All the best with your new FLF πŸ™‚

  21. Hi, the new leaf coming in on my fig leaf tree has some brown around the leaf. When it fully comes in, can I trim the brown off of the leaf without hurting it?

    1. Hi Sheila, you can trim the brown off the leaf however this section of the leaf won’t grow back! So it just depends whether you would prefer to leave to brown on or have a trimmed back leaf. If you do trim it, there will most likely be a brownish line where you have cut it anyway. Your FLF will most definitely be fine either way πŸ™‚

  22. My tree is losing leaves so fast. Two or three a day. Any suggest ?? The veins turn brown and tips are crispy. I have it near a window and water only when soil is dry. It’s a single stem and most the leaves have fallen except for the few on the top. They continue to show new growth but recently the leave I do have left are droopy. Please help !

    1. If it is getting direct sunlight through the window, your FLF might be getting too much sun! You could also try giving it some more water, this may be part of the problem if the leaves are drooping. Yellow leaves are caused by overwatering but if they are turning brown, it would most likely be too much sunlight or not enough water. Hope that helps:)

  23. Hi Emily,
    I have a very happy 3-trunked FLF which was probably 4 ft tall when I brought it home 2 years ago. I did have to stake it to keep the trunks straighter for foot traffic reasons.

    It has grown to approx 8 feet tall, which is amazing! So far it’s still standing tall – but with much more growth, it may start to topple! And I don’t necessarily want it any taller.
    You mention trimming leaves off the top. Could you please give me a bit more informaton?

    1. Hi Myrna, you can simply cut off the top of your FLF at the height that suits you to prune it down. Make sure you have a sharp pair of secateurs to prevent any unnecessary damage. As long as there’s still a decent amount of leaves left on your FLF it shouldn’t be a problem! Keep in mind its best to prune in Spring/Summer, and growth should slow in Autumn/Winter, so it you can leave it as it is (it won’t grow much during the cooler seasons) until its Spring/Summer, that would be ideal. Hope that helps.

  24. Hi Emily. I have a FLF that has grown over 2 feet in 1 year. Its active growth recently slowed (over the spring and summer, which surprised me), and it dropped nearly 10 leaves on the lower trunk. I thought it was dying but it’s since stopped, so I assume it was transitioning from a bush to a tree. Does growth typically slow when a FLF is transitioning from bush to tree? Also, I added more soil to its pot this spring but it looks low – would adding more soil (even to the bottom of the pot) encourage growth? It has a very curvy, thin trunk, with three long branches – the longest being the main trunk. I’m hoping new branches will help fill out and balance the tree. How do I encourage new branch growth (rather than continuous growth on the 3 existing branches)? Should I notch the trunk in order to encourage new branches, or prune? Which is more effective, and less likely to cause damage? If I notch the main trunk, will it kill the leaves above the notch? If I prune the main trunk, will new growth happen where it was pruned, or elsewhere? Also, it’s October – should I wait until the spring to do this? Lastly, if I stake the tree to support the trunk upright, do I need to be careful in how I stick the stake into the soil? Can it damage the root system? Thank you so much for your advice.

    1. Hi Elyse, I’ll try to answer a few of your questions… There’s a number of reasons why growth may have slowed/leaves lost, and its a little bit of trial and error, but its possible that the pot/soil its in is no longer providing it with enough nutrients – especially if your FLF has grown a lot. You may need to repot it with new soil (remove all the old soil from the roots) or try a fertiliser. Notching is more effective than pruning to encourage branching. Both of these are not designed to damage the plant, in fact they are healthy parts of a growing plant. With notching you can almost ‘choose’ the area you’d like a new branch to grow from. With all plants its best to wait for a growth season to apply any changes (you could still fertilise to keep it healthy though). You could also stake it until you’re ready to try pruning/notching/repotting… If your FLF doesn’t seem healthy (dropping leaves etc) its best to focus on getting it back to health first. For example if its not getting the nutrients it needs from soil or fertiliser and not growing in general, it won’t have the energy stored to create new branches anyway. Hope that helps you!

  25. Do you have to separate a cluster? I purchased a mid size cluster (3 total) and repotted the cluster all together. Is this okay or should I repot them in separate pots?

    1. Hi Anthony, it is totally fine to repot a cluster together! Its totally up to the owner what look they prefer – fortunately FLFs look great as a single tree or as a cluster πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Julie, you can trim it at any point as long as the majority of leaves are left on the tree (rather than being cut off)! If its growing after being replanted, this is a good sign, and should be able to handle some pruning πŸ™‚

  26. Hi Emily,

    I just bought a 3ft. tall FLF this weekend. In proper conditions how fast can I expect the tree to grow in terms of height?

    Thanks

    1. Hi William, FLFs are generally slow growing and do most of their growing in the spring/summer seasons. Mine has grown about 2 foot in the past year, so if you’d like it to grow fast, the best things to do is provide the best living conditions for it- light, soil and water. Be patient and enjoy! ?

  27. Hello – I have had a fiddle leaf fig for years now. After a couple of years I gave up on it and had even placed it by the trash. Having second, third and fourth thoughts I brought it back in, started caring for it again, and Lo and behold it reappeared and took off. Knowing nothing specifically about the fiddle leaf, but loving plants, I didn’t know how to care for it. Over the years it has continued growing, losing all leaves up to about five feet, with the top this year reaching against the inside of the roof window, where those leaves have been roasted, toasted and burned by the sun. Would the plant survive having the top several feet lopped off, and/ or do you have any suggestions? I’d be happy to send you a photo if there’s a way to do that. Thank you very much – Barb

    1. Hi Barb, FLFs respond well to a bit of pruning, however it is best to make sure the majority of leaves are left on the tree after pruning, ie make sure you don’t take too many leaves off! Without the leaves the FLF will not be able to produce energy. Keep this in mind if your FLF is already missing leaves from the bottom! All the best.

  28. Hi Emily
    I have x3 FLF slender trunks that have been twirled (you can tell I am a novice gardener) together to form a stronger trunk. It is super happy and I’ve had it for a year. It is now starting to splay as I’ve not tied the trunks to twist around each other, plus a branch has sprouted. There are now four very happy branches which currently feel pretty sturdy. I would like to re-pot it as the roots are busting out from the original planter but also need to manage it’s size. It’s about 4.5 foot high from the soil base so has lots of potential to grow. Another couple of feet up is fine but it is the width that I’m a little concerned about. I have a new larger pot at the ready – should I wait til Spring (UK) which seems so long away or go for it now with a good few months of sun left ? I’d welcome your thoughts on the above plus any re-potting tips.

    1. Hi Philippa, sounds like a healthy FLF! I think it would be ok to repot now, keeping in mind that a bigger pot will allow the tree to grow bigger altogether. You can always trim the branches or stake them up a bit straighter if they are too wide. Make sure the roots don’t dry out when you repot by working quickly and watering in its new pot straight away. Soil choice is one of the most important things so double check with your nursery if you are unsure on the type ? Hope that helps!

  29. What a great blog just when I needed it. I inherited a tall single stem FLF from my daughter and since being here indoors the last 7months has grown taller, now at least 5ft. I came across your blog because when spring comes in Australia I want to chop the top off, perhaps by at least a third. I was reading that I can plant the top I cut off. Do I do this just into a new pot straight away? This is one of 3 FLF I have. The other two are multi head.

    1. Hey Elana, thanks for your comment! I’m also anxiously awaiting Spring in Aus to do a bit of work on my FLF πŸ™‚ I think the best way to propogate the piece you cut from the tip would be to put it in water first, until some roots start growing. It would then be easier to plant in soil, knowing it has a better chance of surviving. Let me know how you go!

  30. Help…my 2 FLSs in one pot are reaching my ceiling. What should I do ??? Beautiful but beginning to bend as they reach less light above the upper part of my window.
    Thanks.
    Carol

    1. Hi Carol, sounds like your FLF is quite tall! It would most likely be bending from the weight on top and thin trunk. You could try pruning them to a more manageable height and can always use the cuttings to propagate from. Or you could stake them so that they don’t bend. However if they are already reaching the ceiling its probably a good idea to prune them! As long as the majority of leaves are left on the plant when you prune it, it should handle it ok. πŸ™‚

  31. Thanks for your info. I have a tree FLF and the branches are long. I have tried to cut the tips hoping it will start a new branch from the trunk but it does not. How can I encourage more branching? Thank you.

    1. Hi Maureen! Try pruning the tip of the main trunk rather than the branches themselves. Pruning the branches will encourage the branch to back-bud, which means they’ll end up bushier. Otherwise you could try notching on the trunk above what looks like it could be a bud. Hope this helps!

  32. Hi! I’m thinking of pruning off the top 2 feet of my tree, can I just plant that cutting in the same pot for propagation?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Frederica, sometimes its best to keep a cutting in water until roots start to develop, and then plant. I would say to use a new pot so its not competing for the same nutrients or overcrowding the pot. Hope that helps!

  33. Hello!

    My fiancΓ© surprised my with my dream fiddle leaf fig the other day. I’ve only had it for like 3 days, but I’m already wondering if I’m doing something wrong! Most of the leaves on it are pretty sturdy/firm.. but I noticed today that the very top three leaves (one of which is the smallest/newest leaf) are soft/flimsy. They are not drooping down.. they’re still sticking pretty straight up but I’m worried that this might be a sign of something I’m doing wrong? Have you experienced any of this?? Any tips??
    Thank you!

    1. Hey Lauren! This is pretty normal for the new growth at the top of the plant. The new leaves are usually softer, lighter in colour and will stand straighter up until they grow bigger and heavier. No need to worry! πŸ™‚

  34. I bought a FLF (2 trunks in one pot, approx. 2′ tall) the other day and had no idea they were all the rage! I guess I’ve been living under a rock. Anyway, the ladies at the nursery suggested that I repot it so I did. Now I’m seeing pictures of all these fabulous single trunk/braided trunk with tons of branches and big full tops. I’m wondering if I should work toward that now or if I should just leave it alone for a while so it can get used to its new home. And if I should wait, does that mean waiting till next Spring? Will it be too late to separate them by then? I don’t want to shock the poor thing too fast. My impulse buy suddenly has me very anxious!

    1. Hey Whitney, separating the two plants could have been done when you repotted it but now I would wait til at least next Spring before you try that! Generally they can be repotted every 2 years or so. It won’t be too late to separate them at that stage, as they are two different plants they will have their own root systems. FLFs can be a little slow growing so there’s no rush to get a beautifully bushy tree-like structure happening. It might take a little patience and care but with the right light, soil and water your FLF should thrive πŸ™‚

      1. Well, I’m less than two weeks in and my plant has brown spots on the bottom leaves. I’m pretty sure I overwatered it because I followed the advice of others to flush it completely. That was 10 days ago and the top soil still feels moist. ??‍♀️ Is there something I can do to accelerate its drying?

        Lighting may be an issue, but I’d rather not move it if I don’t have to. (It’s about 3′ from a south facing window.) If the brown spots spread once it’s dry, I guess I can try relocating.

        Thanks for your first answer, by the way. I’m not typically a commenter but your responses to others was so helpful. I’d happily take the advice of anyone else reading as well.

        1. Hey Whitney, thanks for the update πŸ™‚ hmm you may have given it a bit too much water the first time if it is still moist at the top, I generally water mine once a week and it seems to be a good routine. I think you’re right – wait until it dries a bit more and if the brown spots are spreading, try moving it to a lighter spot. It is all a bit of trial and error but I think as long as you keep an eye on it and change things accordingly, you should be able to have a healthy FLF! <3

  35. I just purchased a nine foot FLF that is one stalk with leaves from the base to the top. It was wrapped when I purchased it, so I did not realize that there were no branches. (Maybe that is why it was only $20.00! I am unsure whether I should notch it and if I did, at what height I should do it. Or should I prune some of the top off to encourage branching, or possibly do both?

    1. Hey Carrie, $20 is still a great price for a 9ft FLF! I would give it a chance to settle in first to make sure its happy in the position you’ve put it, then you can try pruning, notching or both. Notching is probably a more specific way of encouraging your FLF to branch, as you notch directly above the leaf / section you’d like to see branch. Pruning may or may not encourage branching, but if it does branch, its a bit unknown where a branch will start growing. Hope that helps.

  36. Hi!
    I have a beautiful 10ft FLF in my living room that has a 10ft ceiling…clearly, I have a bit of pruning to do. I’m nervous to do anything to this gorgeous tree that my shock it or damage it but I have to trim the top.
    Do I just simply cut the top or is there a special method?
    Help….please!

    1. Hey Stephanie, if you’re making any changes to your FLF just make sure you do it in a season of growth – Spring being the best time, so it has the best opportunity to thrive. Use something sharp to prune it and you can always use the pruned section to propagate with. As long as you are leaving the majority of leaves on the plant it shouldn’t respond badly to being pruned! πŸ™‚

  37. Hi! I have two FLF and they are both quote skinny with one trunk. How do I make them busy and more leaves. They’re both about 3 feet and need some fattening up!

    1. Hi Sharon, FLFs naturally have very thin trunks but you could always do some pruning if its getting too top heavy or to encourage more bushy branches. Make sure they are getting enough light too! πŸ™‚

  38. I have a FLF that I bought that was in tree form, almost 6 ft tall. A few months ago it started sprouting growth at the base of the trunk and I let it grow. There are now three little branches that range from about 8″-18″ long with several leaves. I’m wondering if I should just let my FLF do it’s thing and let them grow or if I should trim them to keep it looking more like a tree. My trunk has always had a curve to it, so I’m wondering if these new branches would balance things out a bit. Would love your opinion!

    1. Hey Sarah! That’s interesting, I haven’t seen one do that before! I guess it depends on what you want your FLF to look like and how much you want to do to get it looking like that. Some people do prefer more branchy, bushy FLFs but if not, you could always use the branch cuttings to propagate a few more! It might help to think about the location of your FLF and if the bottom branches will get in the way or if it has room to grow. πŸ™‚

  39. Hi Emily!

    I just purchased a FLF bush last month. I have left it in it’s original container. There are a few leaves at the very bottom of the branch that have dark -brownish/black spots on the edge. Is it best to cut away, remove the leaf completely or repot ?

    1. Hi Lee, the leaves won’t grow back if they are removed so think about what your FLF will look like without them before you remove them! At the same time, the spots will also stay there so it depends if you prefer to leave the leaves on the tree with the spots or take them off. As FLFs get older they can lose some of their lower leaves automatically as well. If the spots were really bad I would remove the leaves so that the plant isn’t wasting energy on keeping those damaged leaves. You shouldn’t need to repot straight away, unless you can tell your FLF is bursting out of the container! Hope that helps πŸ™‚

  40. How do you notch the tree? Xo you notch it where you want the new branch to grow. Does the notch site need any special card after?
    I have a single stand that is approximately 7 foot tall with no other out quotes and would like it to become more branched about 3 to 4 feet from base. I felt uncomfortable cutting it down to a three or four foot height

    1. That’s a good question, I’d recommend looking up some forums for more specific details! Generally you notch the branch around 1/3 of the trunk deep, just above a leaf, around the height you’d like it to branch. You could also try pruning the top of the tree (just a few leaves) to see if that stimulates branching if you’re uncomfortable with trying notching first. Hope that helps!

  41. I have an 8 foot FLF that is looking healthy. It has a main trunk with 3 branches on top. One of the branches has taken off, growing like crazy. The other two branches don’t seem to be growing much. I’d like to keep it looking like a normal “ball” on top. Should I prune down the one branch to where it should be? Wouldn’t that encourage more growth and make the tree more lop sided?
    Thanks

    1. Hey Eric! That is a good question. To keep a more even ‘ball’ shape you’ll need to prune that longer branch back to where it should be – you can always use the pruned part to propagate a new FLF! Pruning the longer branch may actually encourage growth in other areas, especially if your FLF sees this branch as the main growing tip/trunk. Sometimes when a branch is pruned, the tree will redirect its energy into other parts of the tree… Pruning can ‘trick’ the plant into thinking that section is no longer growing. Hope it works out for you!

  42. Hi,
    I just bought a single bush from a store in Estonia. I can send you a picture. I read your writings and i just want to say thanks. I am going to go through the process of trying to turn it into a tree. Right now i am going to just let it acclimate to its new home.
    Thanks,
    Scott

    1. Thanks for your comments Scott! It’s always a good idea to let your FLF acclimatize to its new surroundings. All the best! πŸ™‚

  43. Hi! Thanks for all the great advise! I was planning on pruning my 7 foot single FLF bush this coming spring since it’s almost touching my ceiling. I was wondering what you meant by “pinching” the top? And when making notches on the side of the trunk to encourage branching in a specific area, how deep should I notch into the trunk? Thanks!

    1. Hi Jen, Pinching the top refers to literally ‘pinching’ out with your fingers the very growing tip, which is said to encourage new growth below to create a thicker, fuller effect. You would definitely need to do more than just pinching if your FLF is touching the ceiling though, pruning sounds like a good idea. Notching is generally done about a third of the width of the trunk, above an area you’d like to see growth. There’s lots more specific info in the plant forums linked above if you need! Hope that helps πŸ™‚

  44. Thank you for all of your great advice on FLF’s! I have a FLF tree whose branches and leaves have gotten so wide and heavy I am concerned it will start tipping over! Is there anyway to encourage the tree to grow upwards instead of becoming a top-heavy tree? It has one trunk. Thank you!!

    1. Hey Janel, thanks for your comments! I would suggest pruning the branches that are growing too far outwards back closer to the trunk – you can use these to propagate new FLFs! With the outwards-growing branches gone, it may redirect its energy and effort into growing upwards. Check out the plant forums on Houzz which can help with more specific info, you can even post your own pics and questions to get plant-specific advice. It really helped me, I hope it does for you too πŸ™‚

  45. Hi, I had been looking a the fiddle leaf fig and I bought one for a friend hoping I would wait until spring so I could get me one cheeper , but the day before Christmas I luck up and went to a home depo and found one it was only 12 dollars so my husband got me 2 of them . They are about 1-2 foot and they are a bush. I want a tree also. Do I wait until they are about 3-4 foot tall and do I start taking leaves off the bottom first then pinch the top so they branch out. I know I have to do it slowly but I want a tree so bad. This is my first 2 plants. Thanks for the help.

    1. Hey Gwendolyn! Thanks for your comment. That sounds like a great deal on two FLF’s, as you might know the bigger they are, the more expensive they get (and quickly!) You definitely have the right idea, FLFs naturally start as a bush form and with a bit of training and pruning (and patience) you can shape them into a tree. I would only take off the bottom leaves once the trunk is nice and strong, or as the last step in your process. You can pinch the stop when it has reached the height you would like it to branch around. This is a good forum which goes into a bit more detail.
      http://forums2.gardenweb.com/discussions/4234290/training-fiddle-leaf-fig-bush-into-a-tree
      Hope that helps you! πŸ™‚

  46. hi, i just bought my own fiddle fig leaf but it the bushes one, is there any other way that i can make it become a tree one. ? or i just need wait for it to grow as a tree ? by the way its just about 3 feet

    1. Hi there, you can remove the lower leaves to create the tree-like shape, however the lower leaves help the trunk grow strong so it’s best to only remove them once your FLF is at a desired height with a strong trunk. You can look into removing the growing tip to help it branch out and pruning to grow taller if that’s what you’re after. You can buy more mature trees that already have the tree-form although they do get expensive! I’m in the process of growing mine into a tree-form too πŸ™‚

  47. My friend dropped a 6 ft. Fiddle Fig plant off she no longer wanted. Love it! But its to tall and is starting to lean. It has two stalks. Can I saparate them into two plants. And can I prune it to the height I want. Its in side now because I live in ohio. It has leaves down to the base of the trunk. Says not to remove these. So how do you getting looking like a tree?

    1. Hey Lesha! If it has two stalks coming out of the dirt, it is most likely two plants that can be separated when repotting. The lower leaves help the stalks grow thick and healthy so if it is already leaning, it might be best to keep them until it can support itself. Alternatively you could prune it from the top so there’s not so much strain on the stalk. From what I’ve read, the tree form can be constructed from removing the lower leaves. If you do any pruning or repotting, just make sure you wait until Spring when your FLF hits another growing season! Hope that helps πŸ™‚

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