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!
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.
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.
When I started to use a fertilizer on my FLF, I saw the most amazing growth – the leaf size doubled and it grew the most it has ever grown in one season. FLF’s will benefit most from a fertilizer with a NPK ratio of 9:3:6, or go for the Dyna-Gro Foliage Pro which has the perfect ratio of nutrients for FLFs.
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)
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!