After more info for your Fiddle Leaf Fig? Check out my other FLF posts here.
Need advice on Fiddle Leaf Fig Pruning? 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 baby 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 keep in mind they are the same plant, so you can generally 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 may be able to 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 do best in front of a window where it can get loads of light. Start with bright, indirect light but you can always acclimatise your FLF to direct sunlight, which will help it thrive. They also don’t like droughts of cold air.
Soil: Well-draining soil is best so as to not keep the roots damp. This will help prevent root rot.
Watering: Watering may vary depend on the conditions your Fiddle Leaf Fig is in, but generally start by watering once a week to 10 days. Water fully until the excess drains out the bottom of the pot. You can let the soil mostly dry out between watering. Check the soil is mostly dry a couple of inches deep before watering again, or use a quality moisture meter for reference.
If the leaves get dark brown spots from the inside of the leaf, it may be getting too much water or not enough light. If the leaves turn crispy brown from the outer edge, it may not be getting enough water or the air is too dry. Sunburn or leaf-scorch looks like white-yellow to brown spots in areas where direct sunlight touches it. 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 as close to a 3:1:2 as possible, or go for this fertilizer which has the perfect ratio of nutrients for FLFs. See this post for more specific info on what fertilizer is best and how to use them.
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, its possible to 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.
Be aware that some clusters share a root ball and it may not be possible to separate. If your FLF has a cluster of stems that are very close together at soil level, this might be the case. Separating a cluster like this can result in damage or even loss of the plant!
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! For more specific information on growing a FLF tree, this post will be helpful.
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!
Check out my other Fiddle Leaf Fig posts here if you’re after more specific info on fertilizing, pruning, strengthening a leaning trunk and common FLF myths.
My first FLF!Save
I had a big move that my FLF did not like and now it is just the trunks and I have had hope it will grow back but I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do to help it!
I can’t find any info on higher outdoor temperatures and FLFs. It is early August and I just brought home my first FLF. I have placed it outside (in the shade of my covered porch for now), but where I live, summer temperatures regularly are in the 99-101 range, sometimes up to 105 or 106 during the hottest part of the day. Should I keep my FLF inside in the air conditioning instead, or will it be OK out in the 100+ degree weather? Thank you for all your FLF posts, as a newbie they have been extremely helpful!
As long as it is in the shade and doesn’t dry out, I think it should be ok! If you notice it starting to droop, it may be a sign it isn’t coping too well and I would probably move it in that case!
Thanks for this article, it’s very informative. I am the proud owner of a FLF. I prefer the full bushy look as opposes to the long trunk qith the bush at the top. How do I achieve this?
Thanks and all the very best.
Congrats, Georgeia! You may find that as your plant matures it will naturally lose its lower leaves, as FLFs grow to be large trees in nature and reflect this shape. To help with the bushy look, you could choose a Fiddle Leaf that has multiple stems growing at soil level in the pot though 🙂
I have a 8ft fiddle leaf tree and it was quite full. I decided to take off the bottom leaves ( half way up) to give it a clean look. It’s been a month and I haven’t seen any new growth. Tree is still standing tall and no sign of damage ,just no new growth. Should I be worry? Did I stunt it’s growth? Thank you in advance
Hey Sarah, so the leaves won’t regrow where they’ve been lost. However if you’re talking about new growth from the top, this can be affected by a range of factors to do with their care and environment. They do grow in bursts so I wouldn’t be too worried that you haven’t had new growth for the past month. However read my tips on encouraging growth for more info.
Truly, this article is really one of the very best on Fiddle leaf fig! Ours grew beautifully!
Hi! I pruned my 5’ fiddle leaf back to about 3’ in hopes of getting at least two branches. It’s been three weeks now and no sign of any new branches. She sits in the sunniest spot in my home. It’s a large west facing floor to ceiling window. I water about once per week until water comes out the drain hole and then empty the drip pan. I also fertilize weakly and weekly with a 3.1.2 fertilizer. Would it be unusual that it’s been three weeks and no new growth? Thank you.
Hey Tara, I don’t think its too uncommon! The time it takes can vary depending on a range of factors, so I would say to be patient and you should see some new growth soon 🙂
So helpful! My FLF just had new growth for the first time (we’ve had it for almost 2 years). Unfortunately, I made the mistake early on of trimming off browning leaves toward the bottom of the tree and now it’s bare. Any advice on how to grow some new leaves on the bottom of the tree or branches?
Hey Maggie, unfortunately the leaves can’t be regrown where they’ve been lost but it is possible to encourage branches on the trunk with notching, once the plant is quite mature. You can read more about notching here.
Will my little Fig tree recover from cold damage? I bought a 3-4′ Fiddle Leaf Fig tree this winter which arrived with brown curling leaves at the base, and within a day or so, all the leaves were dead and buds at ends of branches totally brown and dry. The company said it was due to cold and preferred refund to replacement, so the little tree remained in its spot, since I didn’t have the heart to throw it away. And lo and behold, it now has little green sprouts at its base! Will my little tree recover?
I read a blog about rescuing dead Fiddle Leaf Fig trees and just tried cutting a third to a half of the top of the bare trunk off, and making some notches, but the trunk is pretty dry and dead seeming. Will I get a new bush from the sprouts at the base? Does anyone one know if I will ever get a tree with branches from this new start? Thanks! These little trees are such lovely friends to enjoy and talk to!
As tropical plants, Fiddle Leafs don’t do well in the cold! You can cut the stem back o a point where it it white/green inside and there’s sap. If you find there’s no sap or the stem is hollow, then it has died so it’s best to cut it back a few inches at a time, until you reach signs of life. By the sounds of it your plant will regrow from the buds that are forming but it will take some time!
Hi, I have one dig lead ficus branch that is growing too far to the side/outward. Almost parallel to the floor. Can I tie it to the main plant teee growing upward? Will that damage the branches to have rope around it?
Hi Anna, you can tie or stake it however this will not help it strengthen in the long run and it will likely always need to be tied if you do this option! You could prune it back to help strengthen it or read more tips about leaning & strengthening here.
My fiddleleaf is pretty healthy after a rough start finding the right location in my home, but it has 3 decent sized “suckers” at the base of it’s trunk now. Can I use those to propagate a new plant?
Thank you : )
Yes you definitely can! More details on propagation here.
I know that you’re not supposed to prune a flf until the spring but mine won’t stop growing even though it’s apparently dormant right now and it’s already touching my ceiling…I moved at the end of the summer and apparently it realllllyyyyy likes it’s new place….should I still wait until spring?
i have a 3ft FLF – when i got it, it was drying on tips. so, i watered and put on the south-facing patio window. also, i leave the light on at night so the fiddle can have some light since it’s winter months. It got a fungal infection – it has small granules over its leaves with fungus forming on tips. i sprayed neem oil water solution and its gone (in my perception). Now, its top shoots are falling to sides as if they can not take the weight (they are bending)). what should i do ?
I got a FLF Bush with two healthy looking stalks earlier this year. The smaller one developed brown spots at the edges of the leaves, and eventually yellowed and fell off. I finally divided the two stalks in hopes of giving the sickly one more light, as it was more in the corner. Most of the leaves fell off and I thought it was a lost cause. There’s still a surviving leaf cluster at the top and now suddenly it’s growing new leaves (speckled with red) on top and also a tiny branch and several leaf clusters way down at the bottom of the stalk! Should I leave the little leaves growing on the bottom, or how can I best doctor it along? Also, the bigger healthier looking one has one side that has no leaves at all. Is there any way to encourage leaves to grow on that side?
It’s up to you if you want to leave or remove the leaves at the bottom, it’s more personal preference! Make sure you rotate the pot by 90 degrees each time you water, which should help even out the growth. Unfortunately leaves can’t regrow where they’ve been lost however pruning and notching can help encourage new growth once the trunk is mature enough.
I’ve wanted a Fiddle Fig for such a long time and today I finally bought one! Although, I may have gone a bit far and bought a large one! I have a great spot for it, but it’s in a large pot and too heavy to move around for watering. Do you have any tips on watering if I can’t move it from its spot?
Hey Carolyn! I use little plant trolleys with wheels (like these ones) for plants that are too heavy to move around. That way I can take them outside more easily for watering, or into the bathroom, or wherever is easiest to water. If I don’t want to move them I also sometimes place a shallow tray under the drainage hole whilst watering to catch the excess. Hope that helps!
Hi! I’ve had my FLF for 11 years and it is beautiful! I went on vacation for 10 days and I live in Phoenix where we’ve had a very hot summer but while I was gone we had some winter weather. The plant is indoors by my front window. When I got home there were about 12 leaves that had fallen off! There is one completely bare stalk. Should I cut it off or leave it? I’m so sad..please help!
Hey Kathleen, you shouldn’t need to cut the bare stalk. Unfortunately the leaves won’t grow back where they were lost, but leaves should grow back from the top of the stalk in time. If you think it will look funny when it continues to grow with the bare stem, then you can cut it back if you prefer!
Help! We went on vacation and had my mom watch our fiddle. 2nd day in she said a few leaves have fallen. Fast forward to today and all of the leaves are gone and all I have left is the main trunk. I was told to peel back on the trunk to see if it is still green. It’s still green towards to bottom, but not on the top half. I saw a tiny leaf sprouting towards the bottom, but that’s it.
Can my tree be saved? Do I cut the dead/dry part trunk? Any suggestions would be great! Thank you!
I’d try pruning the trunk back to a point where the inside is white/green. This is a sign of life and if the top of the trunk has died, it’s best to remove it. Apart from that just leave it in a bright location and be sure not to water too much and it should sprout back! Fiddle Leafs can be fussy but are resilient in that they can grow back from a bare stem 🙂
I have little baby fiddle growing at the base of my 4 ft bush. Should I cut these off? Are they considered suckers like on other plants?
They are considered suckers! It’s up to you if you’d prefer to cut them off or keep them
Please help! My FLF has grown too tall… it’s growing horizontally and breaking off bits of the popcorn ceiling 🙁 I planned to prune and propagate it this summer, but now that it’s October, is it too late? At the very least, I need to prune it away from the ceiling… will I be doing irreparable damage by cutting it now? Not sure if this matters but I live in southern CA, is it possible that it might not have entered its dormant state yet? Any insight would be greatly appreciated, thanks!
Hey Jeri, you can still prune it, its just best to do in Spring in terms of getting new growth/branches where it’s been pruned. Here’s a post on pruning and branching that has more details.
Help! I notched my FLF in a few spots and those branches are now droopy looking! Did I ruin my tree???
I recently repotted my FLF because I when I had first received the tree, I repotted it into a bigger pot but didn’t do a good job of getting the roots unbound. Therefore, I noticed that there wasn’t too much growth happening. The tree was happy nonetheless, but I made the mistake of repotting it (into the same pot with new soil) and unbinding the roots, which I believe caused it to go into root shock. I waited a day to water the roots because the soil seemed moist enough and I didn’t want to overwater. However, I started to notice drooping so I thoroughly watered right away (let water go through drainage holes). Now, two days later, my FLF is still drooping, and the top of the trunk has started to shrivel!!! I’m terrified that I’ve killed my tree and I don’t know what to do! I have placed the FLF in the same spot that it was previously and I’m planning to let it be while it recovers. Is there anything else I can do?? Is my tree going to be okay?? Please help D:
Hey Vanessa, it’s always best to water in a plant straight after repotting, to ensure the roots don’t dry out and allow the soil to settle in around the roots. Overwatering can only be a problem if the plant is consistently getting watered too frequently. It’s good that you watered it when you noticed drooping, however I’d say it is probably just reacting to the stress of repotting and possibly not getting watered straight away. The best thing to do is to leave it be in a bright spot to settle in and recover. All the best!
Hello! I’ve planted my FLF in a plastic pot with proper drainage holes With a plastic plate under it, and then put it in a basket where it fit perfectly. About a month after, the basket is now full of fuzzy white mold! Water never touched the basket directly. The dirt and the tree are perfectly okay.
Is it a bad idea to put it in a basket?
Hey Maria, this can happen in humid, dark environments which is what inside the basket would be like. I don’t think it’s a bad idea to use baskets (I have a few) however I generally take my plants outside to water, let them drain thoroughly and then put them back in. This should help prevent excess moisture being present. Also make sure it’s only getting watered when the top 1-2″ of soil is dry will help prevent a buildup of excess moisture too. A lot of planter baskets are also lined with plastic on the inside to help prevent this, so that might be something you could add that could help too 🙂
Hi! I’ve had my fiddle leaf Bush for about 5 years now, and while it’s grown taller, the leaves at the bottom of my bush kept falling off and don’t grow back. The only new growth I see is on the top. Is this normal? And do the stems grow thicker eventually over time? Thanks for your help!
It can be normal for the lower leaves to drop as the plant matures! As long as it didn’t happen all at once, it sounds normal. Leaves won’t grow back. FLFs have naturally thin stems but there’s some things you can do to help strengthen them and encourage them to grow thicker. More info on that in this post 🙂
Hi! This post was really helpful – thank you! My fiddle lead fig seems to be growing leaves from the bottom – I have about 7 new leaves that appear as though they’re growing from the roots. Any recommendations? I’m worried that these new leaves are taking energy from the plant being able to grow the leaves from the top.
They shouldn’t affect the growth of the rest of the plant but if you don’t like them you can remove them! You could always try propagating them. Small growth from the bottom is fairly common but they may never reach full size like the rest of the plant so removing them is up to you 🙂
Hi! My FLF has two branches where all leaves have fallen off and the branch appears to be dead. Is it ok to cut those off? I’ve had a fair amount of new growth in the past few months, so I trust the plant is ok overall.
Hey Kristen, you can cut them off no problem. If the branch is dead, it will be withered looking and there won’t be any sap where you cut. I’d recommend cutting it back to where there is sap in the branch again 🙂
My FLF has one large branch that I would like to cut back but not remove. Can I just trim it shorter?
You can generally prune / trim at whatever point you like! 🙂
Love your blog. Two questions:
The tips of the FLF are pointy and brown, but haven’t sprouted any new leaves, I purchased it in May. Should I be concerned?
My FLF has some leaves with brown tips. Should I remove these leaves completely?
Hey Becky, thanks so much 🙂 Its totally normal for the growth tips to be brown, pointy and sometimes crispy. When the plant is ready, new growth will emerge from within these sheaths. It’s not too concerning it hasn’t grown yet as they can take some time to adjust to new locations. However lots of light is key to growth, so you could try putting it in a brighter spot!
Leaves only need to be removed if they’re over 50% damaged – otherwise they are definitely worth keeping as they’ll still be working to create energy for the plant & keeping it healthy 🙂
My FLF is only growing leaves on one side and causing it to lean drastically. Help?
Hi, my fiddle leaf is really tall about 8ft with one skinny trunk and only has leaves at the top. How can I make it start growing leaves towards the bottom again? looks like it only wants to keep the leaves at the top going and about 5ft of bare trunk that won’t grow any more leaves. Should I just chop the plant in half and see if it starts producing leaves again?
Hey Casey! Pruning it back is definitely an option. Unfortunately plants can’t regrow leaves where they’ve been lost, but they can produce branches via dormant buds. Some ways to achieve this is through pruning or notching – you can find more info in this post about branching 🙂 Hope that helps!
Hi! Thank you in advance for any additional help/tips! My FLF is doing almost too well 😂 It is in tree form, but keeps growing its branches out, not up. I think it is gorgeous that way, but it is getting increasingly hard to walk by it without knocking into one the branches – any tips!? It has three branches coming out of the main trunk! Would love to send you a picture if it would be helpful 🙂 Thank you!!
Hey Michelle, sounds like it might be time to prune those branches if they’re getting in the way! They can also grow sideways if they’re searching for more light or if the trunks are a little weak. This post on leaning might have some tips for you that could help 🙂
What a lot of wonderful information you have here. I have had my FLF tree since Jan. At the time I did not know how to care for it. Probably over watered and had to keep it outside in the winter months. Every single leaf has been damaged and lower leaves fell off. We have since moved into our new home (March). Last month I re-potted it and started giving is fertilizer. I was about to take a cutting for propagation when I noticed new growth. It has 5 new leaves from possible branches and I believe a new leave about to come through at the top. Should I wait for the new leaves to be full size or can I still take a cutting from that spot?
Hey Regina, you can still take a cutting although it may affect how large the leaves on the cutting get as they mature. I’d suggest thinking about how your plant will look as it branches out at that spot to help you make the decision (pruning encourages branching!). Here’s a post on propagating that might be helpful 🙂
Hi! I have a good sized FLF and I think it is experiencing root rot 🙁 The edges of a lot of its leaves are brown, which is the leading factor in me thinking this. I am planning on repotting, but is there anything I should put in the soil with it to help? I’ve read a tiny bit about hydrogen peroxide but that sounds scary!! Haha. Should I try to look for “bad looking” roots and cut them? I have never done this before!! Any and all help is appreciated.
Hey Jenny! Here’s a post on browning – if its starting at the leaf edges, its possible it could be dry but the post should help you identify the cause. On the other hand if its getting too much water then I would ease off on the watering before repotting. Root rot happens with extreme overwatering so if you can fix it by changing watering before having to repot then that’s great! Here’s a post on repotting if you do find you need to do that too 🙂
Hi there! My fiddle leaf (bush form) has a main trunk and one branch (lower down). It was growing great until we moved house, and then dropped ~4 leaves – mainly from the top of the main trunk – and the top appeared to be brown and hollow, so I snipped off the top bare trunk. It’s now stabilized and sprouting a new leaf from the side branch. My question is how to re-encourage it to keep growing taller or strengthen the main trunk to notch a new branch higher up to add verticality? Thanks in advance!
Hey! Once pruned back, they won’t keep growing from that point but will branch out instead. With time the pruned stem should grow new buds from below the cut. Here’s a post on branching that should help!
I bought my mom a FLF back in January along with one for me. Fast forward to today, mine has shot up so tall though I battle with fungus gnats. But my mom FLF hasn’t done anything or grown an inch. Today I went over her place to take a look at it and it don’t even seem as if another leaf with grow from the top , there isn’t anything for a new leaf to sprout out of. She has been doing everything else right . Is this a FLF cutling that won’t grow?
Its quite normal for them to go through times where they don’t grow too much – but light is key to growth so I would try to move it to a brighter location. Even if the top growing bud has been pruned they can always grow from dormant buds when they are ready 🙂
Hi! I got a pretty sad looking FLF from Home Depot determined to bring it back to life. It’s doing so well. But instead of growing taller it has 5! New offshoots from the bottom with leaves. It has grown 7 new leaves which is so cool! But I would love it to get taller rather than just new stems. Any advice?!?
Light is super important for growth, but unfortunately we can’t always choose from where or how our plants choose to grow! I’m sure it will continue to grow taller with time and given it has lots of bright light 🙂
Hi There! SO happy to have found your blog :). I’m new to a fiddle fig and I noticed there are a couple of leaves that are ripped, potentially from transport. Should I prune those or leave them?
Hey Crystal! Leaves only really need to be pruned off if they are over 50% damaged or browned. Otherwise, they’ll still be creating energy for the plant and its best to leave them on! 🙂
I removed the brown sheath thinking it was a dead leaf. Will this regrow? should I be concern? Thank you in advance.
Hi! Yes – your Fiddle Leaf will keep growing. If it was just the sheath, it will grow a new bud from the top when it is ready. If you removed the whole top bud, it will keep growing by new buds further down the stem, and possibly have multiple branches 🙂
Hi!! I bought a FLF from a grocery store in either January or February. It wasn’t in great shape, but it was cheap so I’m hoping to revive it. I had to repot it twice -wrong size pot the first time – I’m a plant newbie! And then I also battled fungus gnats in it. It grows new leaves well, but hasn’t seemed to get any taller. I do fertilize every other time I water (once or twice a month). Any tips for growing it taller? Thank you!!
Hey Stephanie, if it’s growing new leaves then it sounds like you’re on track 🙂 It will eventually get taller as it grows more. It sounds like the leaves must be growing very close together if its not getting much taller, which is great as it will support the trunk better and is a sign that the plant is getting enough light. I would say just keep doing what you’re doing and it will grow with time 🙂
Thank you for responding so quickly! Guess I’ll just work on being patient 😑😂
Hi! Just bought a new fiddle leaf tree, and though the leaves are still nice and green, a few of the stems (on the underside) look brown. I’m wondering if this is normal or if they should be a nice light green color? Thanks!
Totally normal! They generally turn brown as the plant matures 🙂
Hi Lisa. I have a fiddle leaf fig which is about 2 feet tall 2 months ago. A wrong move that I made is I became too excited and repotted it a few days after bringing it home. The poor thing experienced root shock, and leaves drooped, immediately after. Fast forward, 3 weeks after, I am just happy that it’s leaves are no longer droopy, and were back up like how I originally purchased it, however, I feel like it will not grow new leaves, as the tip of the plant (where the new leaf should grow from) is completely dry. I do not know what to do. What advice can you give me to encourage my plant to grow more new leaves? Thank you so much in advance!!!
Hi May, its totally normal for the top bud to appear dry and crispy. This is like a protective sheath, and when the plant is ready to grow, new leaves will emerge from inside. Normally it can take them a little while to settle in and start growing, so don’t worry if you don’t see growth straight away, this is normal too. As long as its happy and getting lots of light, it will grow! 🙂
I need your help…. I have a very tall fiddle leaf, one thick stem, very tall, to the point the only place it fits in the house is up the sky light! As you can imagine, its losing all its lower leaves up about half or more of its height is all bare, leaves went yellow and dropped, I assume due to lack of light (as its only getting light from above)… so my questions are… should I 1. cut the fiddle totally about half way up so two parts.. one part, still in soil with no leaves on it, just a stem (will this grow leaves again??) and then propagate the top (which would be around 80cm in soil or water…..or 2. should I cut the top a little just below the ceiling, to stop growing up the sky light, and then should I notch it lower down the stem? Will leaves grow from notching where all the leaves have died? I can put it in a better spot sun wise to get better light on the lower leaves?
Thanks so much!!
Hey Lisa! A tall Fiddle Leaf – what a good problem to have! 🙂 So you could do either option, keeping in mind that if you prune it halfway up, you will need to propagate the top half in smaller sections as it would be too large to survive as one big cutting. (more details and explanation of propagating here). It will definitely still grow and branch from a bare trunk. With the second option, notching can sometimes be hit and miss and just pruning the very top of your plant will still most likely result in branching, just right at the top. So my advice would be to visualise how you’d like your FLF to look! I think the best option would be to prune it half way down, which should eventually give the plant a more tree-like shape and it will be a more reliable way to get branches. However the choice is yours – just make sure its getting lots of light for the best results 🙂
Thanks so much, I think I will go with option one… and I will defo watch your video on propagating the top part, thanks! So last question… when should I chop? It’s winter here (though I am in Queensland so its sub-tropical), should I do it now or wait til spring?
I bought a small plant about a year ago. I think I over watered and all of the leaves came off. I re-potted and nothing. I then left it in a sunny room and it sprouted! Eventually those leaves fell off too, except for 5 leaves. There is now about a 50cm bare stick with 2 small sticks – one with the 5 leaves. Not sure if I should remove the bare sticks? How can I get this plant growing again?
Hey Amanda! It is possible for Fiddle Leafs to grow back from a bare stem, so with a little time I’m sure you’ll see new growth on those stems! Often I find the biggest learning curve is understanding how to care for these plants, and then once you’ve got that down pat, their growth can generally take off. It might be helpful to download the Grower’s Guide on this page, which goes through their care requirements and will help to understand their needs and get them growing consistently.
Hi! My very small FLF trunk sprouted almost double it’s length in a matter of days and then 2 new leaves appeared but now there is a significant large gap between leaves, any suggestions? Thank you 🙂
Hey Michelle, this often happens due to lack of light and means your FLF might be searching for more light. I’d try putting it in a brighter spot and there’s more info in this post about leaning which explains it more too 🙂
Hi Emily- I hope all is well! I recently realized that the new bud growth on my FLF went dry, and the leaf looks to be growing out brown. I’m assuming this happened after repotting my FLF and out of fear of overwatering it. Would you recommend I snip this bud or wait for it to grow out?
Hey Naomie! It’s normal for the top growing bud to appear brown and crispy. There will be an outer sheath that protects the new leaves that are coming through. However if you can tell that a new leaf itself is growing out brown, it could have been affected by the repotting. I would just leave it be as this can happen sometimes, and it won’t affect any other new leaves that grow out. 🙂
Sounds good. Will leave it alone. Thank you!
Hello Emily, just a week ago I brought home my first FLF (super excited). Its small and looks more of a small bush with a whole bunch of leafs. I did repot it because I wanted to welcome it with fresh new soil. I have placed it in a Terra-cotta pot. It’s been a couple of days since I reported and it seems to to be ok. But I think I might of reported it to a way too big pot. I would guess and say 4inch in diameter bigger than the one it was originally purchased in. Would this affect my FLF? And around what time would you say it’s too late to report a FLF? I know you mentioned to repot in the growing season “Spring” do you think this far into spring will harm my FLF? I live in Texas and we are mid-end of spring season right now.
Hi Miz, it would be fine to repot your FLF at this time of year but they do really only need to be repotted if they are root bound, as they do like to be snug in pots. It sounds like the pot you chose could be a little too big, which can sometimes cause problems as the soil will take longer to dry out. When they are planted in big pots its also common that you might not see a lot of new growth, as the plant will put more energy into filling out its roots rather than growing new leaves. You might want to consider moving it to a smaller pot – here’s a post on repotting that might help 🙂
Hi! My fiddle grew a small leaf at the base of its trunk. There’s also a growing tip at the top of the baby leaf. Is it just a leaf? Or do is it another fiddle growing? I’m not sure how to tell the difference. Thanks!
Hey Claudia, if its growing out of the trunk it sounds like it is a branch! It’s not possible for them to regrow single leaves so it will most likely continue to grow out as a branch if you leave it. If its growing out of the soil, this is quite normal too and is most likely an offshoot from the main plant. You can leave it or cut & propagate it once it establishes a little, its up to you 🙂
Hi Emilly, please can you help me? I have followed your video and tried notching my fig leaf 5 times now to encourage it to branch but no luck. What could I be doing wrong? I know it can be hit and miss but I figured with an approximate 50% success rate I should be there now. Otherwise the plant is very healthy, it is definitely growing 2ft per year, very thick bushy leaves and gets lots of light. Thank you!
Hey Sarah! Its true notching can be a bit of a hit or miss process. One thing to check is if you are notching on trunk that is mature, brown and woody. The more younger, greener trunk won’t be successful with notching so the plant does need to be at a certain maturity. And then if you’re still having trouble I’d recommend having your plant outside for awhile. Outdoor conditions are best for these plants by far, and the increased light and air flow should also help! If you decide to do this, I’d put your plant outside maybe a month or so before you try notching to allow it to adjust and hopefully store some extra energy that can then be used to respond to the notching. All the best!
Thanks Emily. yes its brown woody stem so I’ll try taking it outside. I’ll keep you posted!
Hello! I put a new fiddle leaf fig in a small area where people passed by a lot. Over time a few leaves fell off the same side of the trunk. Currently there are leaves branching off the main trunk on one side only. I noticed a few new leaves growing on a “trunk” coming up from the roots but attached to the main trunk. Other than that new growth, there haven’t been any new branches on the bare side of the plant. How should I go about this?
Fiddle Leafs generally won’t grow new branches without some encouraging, which can be done by either pruning or notching. Here’s a post that explains how to go about it. Keep in mind they generally need to be in really healthy condition for them to have the energy required to branch, so make sure its getting lots of light and is spring or summer if you plan on pruning or notching 🙂
Hello! I have a tree form fiddle leaf and last summer I had it in a bad spot and lost a lot of lower leaves. Now my FLF seems very top heavy and bare underneath. Is there anything I can do to promote growth below? There are small buds here and there up the stem that have developed but no new growth. Should I leave it and hope for the best now that it’s finally happy?
Hi Tay, notching is one way to promote new growth on bare stems. It encourages new branches to grow from dormant buds. Here’s a post on notching that might help!
Hi Emily, I have a baby FLF growing and doing well, making lots of new leaves, but the leaves are very close and bunches together, much more so than older plants I have seen. Will it just take time for the the stems to grow out, or should something be done to promote this?
Hi Dylan, if the leaves are growing close together on the stem, then this is actually a good sign that the plant is getting enough light 🙂 If it’s multiple stems growing close together its also quite normal that the leaves will touch and this is fine too. All fiddles can grow slightly different but it sounds like yours is quite healthy and with the leaves close together, it should be even more healthy in the long run as the trunks will be well supported by these leaves.
Hi Emily, Thanks for the post, very helpful. I had three questions please: (1) have a tree fiddle leaf that seems to have a fine and healthy trunk. It has new growth coming at the top, so that’s nice. But it also has some new growth coming out of the trunk. Is it best to just cut those off as they come in order to keep it as a tree shape and encourage energy up to the leaves at the top? (2) I also have a tall bush fiddle leaf and it has gotten a few brown spots when it moved in to my apt, maybe getting used to being here? (3) I have ordered some proper fiddle leaf fertilizer with ratios you mentioned, until it arrives, during this growing time for them, can I use a everyday 10-15-10 or a 20-20-20 very diluted until then? Or best to use nothing until the proper one comes? Thank you kindly!
Hi Jamey – if you don’t want the growth at the bottom and prefer the tree shape, its fine to cut them off. You can propagate these sections if you like!
Here’s a guide to brown spots on Fiddle Leafs that should help you determine the cause, as there’s a few different reasons why they can get browning.
I don’t think it will make too much difference whether you use the everyday fertilizer or not – it won’t harm the plant if you did want to use it and if the other fertilizer is a long way off arriving. Fiddle Leafs don’t need huge amounts of fertilizer so I’m sure it would be fine if you just wanted to wait until the other ones arrives too.
All the best!
My single trunk FLF had 5 mature leaves at top, 4 feet of naked trunk, and then 3 tiny branches of 5 new growth leaves at base. Is it safe for me to hack off the trunk all the way to just before the new growth? If I prune the trunk in the middle, will it force new growth at the cut?
Hey Kristy! I have seen a few people cut their Fiddle Leaf trunk right down to ‘start again’, and it it quite successful! Keep in mind that the new growth won’t come from the cut stem itself but from nearby dormant buds, so you will likely get branches from the point that you cut it to. So I’d recommend thinking about the height that you’d like it to branch at and cut at that point! Also keep in mind that its watering needs may change when you cut it, as it won’t have as many leaves to use the water from the roots. So just be careful not to overwater. All the best!
Thank you so much. I enjoy your website and blog tremendously.
My fiddle fig is about 7 feet tall and almost touching the ceiling. I want to cut a foot off the top but I don’t want it to branch out that high… any suggestions on what to do? Should I cut 4 feet off and let it branch from their if it wants to
Hey Sheylah! I always advise that its good to imagine how your FLF will look with branches at the height you’re thinking of pruning. So in your case, if you’d prefer to branch at a more natural spot you may need to prune more off. You can always prune just the top but keep in mind that it can branch or will at least have a ‘kink’ in the trunk where you’ve pruned & where the new growth starts.
I have 2 fig bushes (I call them bushes because they look more like bushes than trees). We have not pruned them in the 5-6 years that we have lived here. This year they have a lot of new growth coming from the base and several taller stalks that are dried out and bare. Do I cut the bare stalks or just leave them alone?
Hey Chrystal – f the bare stalks have zero leaves, you could prune them down to a point where inside the stem is white. This means they are still alive and should re-sprout leaves at some point. If they do have a few leaves at the top, it’s really up to you whether you prune them or not! The plant will be fine either way. However if you’re wanting to encourage newer growth lower down to make it more full, pruning sounds like the way to go 🙂
Hi, I was wondering if you knew why my new leaves are coming out soft? They look great and have beautiful color and are not droopy but they are not rigid like my other fiddle leaf leaves on my other plants. Thanks
Hi John, that’s completely normal for new leaves 🙂 As they mature with time they will strengthen and not droop.
Hi, I have a healthy FLF around 5ft y’all that I recently repotted. I was hoping to encourage some growth and the bud on the top looked brown, dry and dead, so I snipped it off. It revealed a healthy stem underneath and now I’m concerned that I shouldn’t have cut it off! Will this grow back or is there anything I can do to help him grow a little taller? Many thanks
Hey Mike, it’s natural for the top bud to appear brown and dry. This is in fact the protective sheaths that the new growth will grow out of! Unfortunately once snipped, growth won’t continue from that point but it will still grow from nearby dormant buds that get activated from pruning. You may even get multiple branches!
Hello Emily! this was great info, thank you.
I have had my FLF for 1 year, it got sent to me from far north Australia (tropical weather) to Melbourne (south East, much cooler climate). When it first arrived it lost lots of the largest leaves (I assume from the stress of the move/temp change) and I was also overwatering (lots of brown marks on the leaves)
I moved to a sunnier spot in my apartment, and reduced the water, but in the last 12 months it hasn’t grown a single new leaf. When the virus quarantine began I repotted to a much larger pot with the best quality potting mix i could find, but that was 3 weeks ago and still no new growth. Do you have any other tips for me? its such a shame because its a tall tree (almost 7 ft) but the leaves are so small and sparse.
Hey Sarah! Now that it’s coming into winter here in Aus, FLF growth generally slows. So if you hadn’t seen growth previously, its possible there won’t be any new growth until Spring. Also – with repotting, its best to only repot into a pot that is 1-2 inches wider than their previous pot. This is because FLFs like to be snug in pots, and they will generally work to grow their roots in a larger pot rather than putting energy into growing leaves up top. SO if you’ve planted it in a much larger pot, this could play into why you’re not seeing new growth too.
Other than that, I’ve found light & fertilizer to be key for their growth. So if you can maximise light and give a little fertilizer, it could help! All the best.
thanks so much for your quick reply, I’ll wait and see what happens in spring!
Hi! I read through your articles and started to prune my fiddle fig to make it look fuller. It went through some underwatering previous and had lots of leave starting browning and dropping off. How long does it take to start growing new branches/stems after I prune my plant? Also, I realized that I cut it a little too wide apart, more than the 1 – 2 mm your recommended, will this prevent my plant from branching?
Hey Fabian, as long as the plant is now healthy and recovered you can expect to start seeing new buds after pruning within 2-4 weeks. I’m not quite sure what you mean by cutting too wide? Did you prune or notch your plant? Notching isn’t always successful so if you tried any haven’t seen any results, you can try again or do multiple notches, so that there’s more chance of 1 or 2 taking. All the best!
Hello all! I have 2 9 foot FLF. One of which I never had trouble with but the other was in a pot that did not have enough drainage. It did get some root rot and I lost every leaf. It broke my heart. However, I let it dry out thoroughly and said a prayer. Sure enough the leafs started growing again. The large and lovely leaves are at the top of the trunk. I’m here investigating branching for the rest of the trunk. But, if this happens to you don’t give up on it. They will come back from disaster.
Hey Suzanne! What a great success story – and I’ve heard quite a few stories where Fiddles have grown back after loosing all their leaves! I think they are more resilient than we give them credit for 🙂 This post on branching might have some of the info you’re after! All the best!
Hello! Excellent info! Not sure why my FLF stresses me so much. My husband and I realized we had both been watering our God when the leaves browned. I trimmed a few, but still have a few remaining and am afraid to trim too much off of an already smaller plant. It was mostly lower leaves I trimmed off as well. Should I leave the remaining brown ones? Can I just trim off the brown parts? Thanks!
Hey Annie! Leaves only really need to be removed if they’re over 50% damaged. Otherwise they’ll still be creating energy for the plant and are worth keeping! If the brown edges bothers you, you can of course trim
the edges off. 🙂
Hi! So I bought a ficus lyrata almost 2 months ago and it’s been doing great. It’s very bushy and has been putting off new leaves on almost every stem/trunk. I feel like it’s going to start getting too wide and leggy looking. There are 6 bigger stems and 6 very small stems. I believe all the stems are connected, not able to be seperated. Although I haven’t taken it out and to try and seperate the roots yet. Im wanting it to be more of a tree shape, not a big bush. Is there a way I can shape it, even if I can’t seperate all the stems? Can I start just cutting some off at the very base and start new plants with the cuttings.
Hey Kaitlin! This post on growing to a tree shape might help. Even if you can’t separate the plant, as it grows taller you could stake the stems to be more upright. In time once the lower leaves drop I think it will naturally start to look more like a tree. You could definitely prune some of the smaller stems if you wanted to propagate! This propagation post might help 🙂
Hi there! I have a 3ft FLF and it hasn’t grown much since I bought it. It lost almost all of its leaves around last fall/winter but it continues to produce new leaves at the top. For some reason though, the bottom leaves of the new growth start to turn a light green color at the ends and then eventually fall off. I’ve repotted it once from the black plastic pot i bought it in, into a larger pot & I started using a liquid plant food that I notice has made the new leaves much bigger, but I just can’t get it to grow up and into a tree like I want!! Any suggestions?
Hey Sarah! If I’ve understood – you’d like to get your FLF growing into a tree shape. This post might help with some advice. Keep in mind that Fiddles generally like to be snug in pots, so if the pot you choose was more than an inch or so wider than the previous pot, your plant may be using its energy to grow roots rather than new leaves. In that case, it might be better to use a smaller pot OR to avoid putting the plant through more stress, it may just mean waiting a little longer for it to grow.
Thank you very much for your patience and answering everyone’s questions .
I do have a concern too regarding fiddle leaf. I have a very small bushy fiddle leaf. It has so many new branches coming from bottom. It has one root ball. How do I prune this baby.
Hi Kali, thanks for your comment! Pruning really depends on how you want your FLF to look and what you want to achieve. Pruning isn’t necessary but if there’s branches or sections that are unruly, or getting in the way, pruning can help! If you are wanting to have a more tree-shape FLF, separating each section growing from the soil and pruning can help. This post on growing FLFs from bush to tree might help. Let me know if you have more questions!
Wonderful article! But your comment about a too-thin trunk gave me some concerns. I have a bushy FLF that’s about two feet tall. Around nine weeks ago, my FLF dropped all its leaves (a byproduct of a forgetful person and a very stressful finals week, I’m afraid) except for one near the very tip. I genuinely thought he was a goner, but he started sprouting two new leaves within a few weeks! He’s currently growing one more leaf, but I’m wondering if that could be more bad than good. All of my FLF’s leaves are spouting from the tip of the plant, and I’m not sure if that’s normal. Also, should I repot the FLF? When I bought it, there was a rather long root growing out of the nursery pot. I’m just not sure when I should repot him or even if it’s a good idea given his state. Thanks for your help!
Hey Madison! FLFs are quite resilient, so if they loose their leaves they can often grow back. New growth will generally come from the top of the plant though. Because plants aren’t regenerative, they can’t grow back leaves in the same place where they lost them. It IS possible for new buds that become branches to grow though! When your FLF is healthy again and the trunk has grown stronger and turned brown/woody, you could try notching to encourage branches that will fill the bare spots on the trunk.
FLFs also like to be snug in pots, so I don’t think yours would need to be repotted jut yet. If they are rootbound (many roots circling the outer edge of the pot & water just flowing straight through the soil), they need to be repotted. Spring is the best time to do this.
Hi, thanks for this info. Was very useful. I wanted to ask what would happen if i removed my unwanted branches as you mentioned in this article? Will new branches grow from where I removed the old branches or will that part of the plant remain vacant?
Hi Jay, the area would most likely remain vacant. If you’ve pruned before, you’ll notice that the chopped off part of the stem will no longer grow, but nearby dormant buds will become activated to grow, which causes branching. If you’re removing whole branches, it will no longer keep growing from that point. Its possible that some buds around the area may start to grow, but if you don’t want these, you can just remove or pinch them off too.
Thanks for the great info. I would like to make sure I’m clear on one thing before I do it and destroy my tree I received for my father’s funeral 2 years ago. I have two leaves on top that came in deformed. If I cut the stem just above the leaf under them, will it branch or will it stunt the growth and stop there? Thank you for your time!
Hi Melissa! Yes, pruning allows the plant to branch out. When the top growth point is cut off, dormant buds are activated in the plant to keep growing. Generally pruning will result in 2 or more branches. You can read more about it in the post – three ways to encourage a FLF to branch. Hope that helps!
I have a fiddle leaf fig that is several years old. Outdoors in summer, indoors in winter before the first frost. Currently it is in a great location, just needs some care. A lot of care. I have a jew plant in the base just to fill in the legginess. I know that probably needs to come out of the pot. The tree itself has two tall branches, and the only leaves are at the top- about 3 or 4 on each branch. I know I can prune off the top and propagate, hopefully! Is it possible that the tall bare stems will then put out new growth? They are about 3-4 feet tall. I appreciate any information.
Hi Marilyn, it is possible for the bare stems to grow new leaves but it is unlikely it will happen unless we help ‘prompt’ them to grow! You can do this by notching. It is a process of making cuts in the stem to activate dormant buds to grow. You can read more about the process on the post 3 ways to get a Fiddle Leaf Fig to branch. Hope that helps!
Thank you for tis helpful post! I have had a FFF for 3 years now and it’s been doing great in a well lit south facing room. This winter however I noticed the bottom few leaves started to turn yellow before falling off! Is this a watering problem? I don’t think I’ve under or over watered it differently this year compared to previous years. Or could this be root rot? I’ve noticed a few more leaves are going that way – all from the bottom! The plant it self has around 20 or so leaves.
Hi Nina! It is fairly normal and common for lower leaves on FLFs to drop off once the plant starts to mature. So there may not be anything wrong in this case! If there is multiple leaves dropping at once, it could be amplified by something else. Because it is winter I would think they are possibly not getting enough light. If it concerns you, you could try giving the lower leaves more light by moving it or adding a grow light. I don’t think it would be root rot as this normally results in dark spots on the leaves before they drop. If the rest of the plant is healthy I don’t think its too much cause for concern – it is more of a natural process. 🙂
I have an extremely healthy fiddle leaf; in a perfect location, getting the perfect amount of sunlight, and I water it exactly as I was told. Unfortunately, it is growing too big and one branch goes this way and the other branch goes the other way. I would prefer a “tree” style to this beautiful plant and I am wondering… can I tie the two branches closer together, urging them to stay close as they grow? Otherwise, this healthy plant is going to take over my very small cottage living room. I suppose I could sell it to someone and buy a more appropriate “tree” type, but I’ve come accustomed to the lovelyness of her.
Hi Judy! It is pretty common for FLFs to start to ‘lean’ especially when indoors. This is because of the weight of their giant leaves! You could tie the two branches closer together, however this won’t necessarily strengthen the plant as they will simply ‘rely’ on the tie to keep them straight. You can read my post on strengthening a leaning FLF for tips on how to get them growing straighter again. You could also prune the branches too, whenever they get too large. That way you won’t need to give your beloved FLF away! 🙂
Hi! I just got a 4 foot FLF as a gift and I noticed it has some mold in the top soil and the bottom of the soil that I can see through the pot. Should I return the tree or is it possible to get rid of the mold?
Hey Amanda, it’s possible that what you see is a type of fungus, which is pretty normal for plants when the conditions are right. Generally its harmless and won’t affect the plant at all. They can sometimes occur if the soil stays damp for some time, so just make sure you are watering only when the top couple of inches of soil feel dry 🙂
Hi Emily, thank you for your lovely articles on FLF. I’m just a bit confused. I have a three branch fiddle leaf just over 1.2 meters high. One branch is gets the most grown, with the second 20cms shorter, and the third less than half the hight of the tallest. Out of the three branches the smallest branch has the least growth, making me think the gap will only widen between the tallest and smallest branch? How do I promote growth in the smallest branch? Do I prune the tallest- and that will then that break into two branches slowing down its growth? I don’t love the idea of pruning the tallest branch and that stops it’s growth entirely. Sorry if any of what I explained is confusing. 🙂
Hey Aimee! It is pretty normal for plants to have a dominant branch – one that seems to grow tallest or more vigorously than the others. If you decide to prune it, then it will most likely branch. Pruning doesn’t mean that branch will stop growing – it will just grow from dormant buds below the place it was cut.
Unfortunately we can’t always control where plants decide to grow, but to help the smaller branch I would try facing it towards the light. Pruning the larger branch may also help activate the smaller one to grow, or at least get them to look more even in the meantime while the smaller one catches up!
Hi! I just bought an 8ft tree. There are three branches at the top, but one is a lot longer than the others and is dropping down (I needed to get a rope to tie it up). Is it possible to cut that branch off? If so, will I be able to repot that branch? Thanks!
Hey Sarah, you should have no problem with cutting the branch. Pruning is totally fine for FLFs. You can even propagate the cutting to grow a new plant, this post on three ways to propagate a Fiddle Leaf Fig might help with some tips. One thing to keep in mind is that smaller cuttings do better than larger ones, as larger ones take too much energy away from producing new roots. So depending on how long the branch is you want to prune, you could cut it into a few sections to make smaller cuttings if necessary. Hope that helps!
Hi! My fig tree is about 3 feet tall and is growing fast. I cut off quite a few of the lower leaves too soon and now the tree can’t support the weight of the new growth. I am going to get support stick and repot the plant with new soil. Is there anything else I can do to support truck growth?
Hey Paige! I actually have a whole post about strengthening Fiddle Leaf Figs that would be helpful – you can read it here. It should help you! 🙂
Hi Emily, I’m planning on going on holiday for a month and was wondering how I can keep my fiddle leaf fig plant alive. It’s currently a 1ft tall bush I’ve had for two months, and I typically water it every 7-10 days.
Hey Esther! That’s a great question. Some easy solutions would be to get someone to come water it, or get it plant-sat at a friend or family member’s home. I usually leave instructions and get someone to come water my plants for me when we go away. But if that isn’t possible, there’s always tools such as watering stakes that can help. They may take a little trial and error to set up, but it should be able to keep your plant alive for the month. This post has more info on them if you need.
Thanks for the article and great info! I just bought a fiddle leaf today that is already in a tree formation, I noticed, however, that the top of the trunk part looks like it was hacked off (or pinched I guess) and the three branches split from the trunk 2 inches below the hacked stump. I guess I expected it to have a smooth fork branching. My concern is that the branches will get longer and grow but the joint at the trunk will always be at the same height, or the trunk itself wont get any taller because the top of it just stops. Hope this makes sense. perhaps ill send an emailed picture for reference.
I appreciate any guidance you have, I have a chance to exchange the tree now, as I would like it to grow a taller trunk that will clear my couch arm.
Thank you thank you!
Hey Liam! Pruning is one of the most common ways to encourage a FLF to branch, which it sounds like has happened to yours! When a FLF is pruned, the main trunk will no longer grow; instead the branches will continue. Therefore, the height where it branches will stay the same. This is why I suggest to wait until plants are at the desired branching height before pruning (however it sounds like yours came this way!).
If the part of the trunk that sits above the branches bothers you, you could cut it down a bit to where the branches start. Or to give the plant some height above the couch arm, a plant stand could help too.
If all else fails and it’s really not quite what you’re after, the exchange may be best! Hope that answers your question 🙂
my FLF was doing great and growing lots of new leaves at the top during the summer. about a month ago it just stopped growing. a few of the new baby leaves just stopped growing and never reached their full size. Is there something wrong with my tree? is there anything I can do to help it? I water it only when it needs, its in a south facing window, and i use fertilizer 1x/month during growing season in sf.
Hey Sarah, FLFs do seem to grow in bursts. So it’s not uncommon for it to grow and then stop for a little while! One of my FLFs did something similar last summer but is now back to normal.
Having only smaller leaves grow is probably a sign that your FLF is maybe lacking the energy it needs to produce full-size leaves. Light is key for growth, but seeing as it sounds like its in a good location, I would think that maybe it just needed a break or is slowing growth for the cooler months. The only other reason for this growth could possibly be being root bound. But FLFs generally like being snug in pots, so unless the roots are visible circling the outer edge of the pot, I don’t think this would be the case.
As long as the rest of your plant is healthy and not getting any brown spots, I don’t think there’s cause for concern!
I found you way too late for my once beautiful FLF. I brought a very happy, healthy plant into a dimly lit hallway, then proceeded to overwater. I am left with a 6.5′, nearly empty single stalk with two long branches. All the lower leaves are gone to root rot, leaving only a couple healthy leaves on the ends of the two branches. Just as I was thinking it was too far gone to rehab, it started a new very healthy branch at the 2.5′ level, with about 5-6 leaves, but not enough branch, yet, to propagate. What can I do to rehab what is left? Should I cut it all back to give the new branch all the plant’s resources or will that shock it too much?
Hey Deborah! FLFs are actually quite resilient and can make a come back from even having zero leaves. I don’t think you need to worry about shock as almost all the leaves are already gone. It’s likely the two taller branches will continue to grow, so you could either wait until the plant is relatively healthy & leafy again and try notching to fill in the bare patches, or cut the branches back so they start growing leaves lower again. Either way is up to you! Cutting it back will result in a different branch structure (depending on how the plant regrows) or if you’re really fond of the shape, maybe try the notching method.
Either way, light is super key to growth and I think you could get away with giving it some morning direct sun (seeing as there’s not too many leaves that could burn) to help it on its way! 🙂
Hi! I have a bush type fiddle leaf fig (my first) with three stalks coming out of the pot. I tried notching it several times to get branches to form, but it did not work. It is now too tall with the three “trunks” at about. 8.5, 7, and 5 feet. Even though few of the lower leaves have fallen off, it still looks long and gangly. I would like to start by cutting the tallest trunk about two feet to get more branches and thus a more bushy appearance. Is this possible?? This is a big cut, but it would still be at about 10% of the entire plant. I live in San Francisco, so it is pretty always the growing season. I am at a loss as to how to shape it at this point. Help!
Hey Heidi! Notching can be a bit hit and miss, and doesn’t always result in branching, as you’ve found out! There can also be other reasons why the plant isn’t responding, such as not receiving enough light (and therefore energy) to branch out. You mentioned your FLF is long and gangly, which could be another sign it is wanting more light! When they don’t get enough light, they ‘search’ for light, and grow sparse, or taller but with less leaves.
If your FLF is still actively growing, I would say your climate would be fine to prune now. But if it has slowed growth, it might be best to wait until spring to prune, for the best chance of getting multiple branches.
I’ve recently posted a more in-depth blog about encouraging a Fiddle Leaf Fig to branch. It might have some more helpful tips for you!
Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions 🙂
I read in your responses that a cluster of several leaves growing right on top of one another is a good sign that indicates it’s receiving adequate sunlight. I’ve read though that they can grow up to two feet per year, and with hardly any stem growing between all the new leaf growth, I worry that it’s height is being stunted, as it seems mine has grown maybe 6-10” of new stem. Should I move it to a low-light area to encourage increased height via more stem growth? There is no more than an inch, sometimes less, between each of the top eight leaves, so they are very literally right on top of one another.
Also, when I bought my fig it had two separate plants in the same container, and they’re ~5-6” apart. One tree is ~26” tall from the base to the top of the stem, and the other is ~30”, with 14 leaves & 16 leaves respectively. Is it safe to separate them into two separate planters? Or could this severely harm of kill them both? I worry their root systems are too intertwined at this point. But if it is possible, any advice you could offer on when & how to safely do this would be much appreciated! Love your blog, thank you!
Hey Kari, having the leaves grow very close together like that is a very good sign that your plant is healthy and getting the light it needs! Light is vital for growth, so if you move it away from the light it’s not necessarily going to grow any faster. When they stretch out their stem it is a sign they are looking for more light, and they end up with a weaker trunk. When leaves do grow, it is more likely to lean from the weight of the leaf. They also can end up looking sparse and leggy rather than healthy and full. Having leaves grow closer together helps support the trunk more and promotes a stronger trunk.
How fast they grow can also be affected by their environmental conditions (being indoors, humidity, climate, being in a pot etc) so it’s natural that they grow slower than they would if they were in their ideal environment (the African rainforest!). A quality fertilizer may also help with growth if you think your plant could do with some extra nutrients.
It is possible to seperate the two plants, but there will always be some impact on the root system. You can try to carefully detangle the roots when repotting, but you may also need to cut through some if you can’t detangle them. Be sure to not let the roots dry out when repotting too. Just keep in mind it may shock the plants a little and they may take a little time to recover from repotting, and in this time you may not see any new growth.
I’m not sure where you’re located, but its always best to repot around mid-late Spring, when the plant should have the most energy stored. This will help it respond favourably. Hope that answers your questions! All the best 🙂
Hi Emily, I have a fiddle leaf that is about a metre tall and many of the lower leaves have large brown patches around the outer edges. I’m more than sure I have underwatered it because I read somewhere to only giveback it 3 cups of water at a time. If I pull the leaves off, will new leaves shoot from that spot? I don’t want a long bare stem.
Hey Luisa, if you’ve only been giving your FLF a set amount of water, it could definitely be suffering from under watering. I have heard of the ‘cup’ watering method going round but it’s best for FLFs to water them until the excess drains out the bottom. It’s only possible to over water your FLF by watering too frequently (how much you give it doesn’t matter – as long as the pot has a drainage hole!).
When you water it until it drains, you also allow any buildup of salts or chemicals in the soil (that can accumulate over time due to fertilizer or tap water) to be flushed out, keeping the plant healthy.
Unfortunately it’s unlikely for the leaves to grow back from the lower stem if you choose to remove them, as plants aren’t regenerative. It’s possible to encourage new branching in those spots by notching if you prefer a fuller look.
It’s also common for lower leaves to eventually drop off as the plant matures. Another possibility is to trim the brown spots off the leaves if it bothers you!
My FLF is over 6 ft tall with a weak stem. I have had it staked, which I understand is a mistake. I will try the wiggling method. I was wondering if I could cut the top half off and try getting it to root, which should help the stem strengthen, plus I would have another plant! It gets a lot of indoor sun but I have not been fertilizing, so I will try that too. Thanks!
Hey Cheryl, pruning is a good way to help strengthen the trunk, as it means there’s less length for the plant to hold up! You could definitely try this. I have a recent post all about propagation that might help! I would just remember to keep the cuttings not too long, as smaller cuttings seem to propagate better. If you prune off a larger piece, you can always cut it up into two or three pieces for propagation. 🙂
Hi there! This blog is so helpful! I have a fiddle leaf bush that’s now about 3 feet tall. There are two seperate stalks in the pot and it’s over a year old. The bush no longer seems like its growing and I’ve been thinking about separating them to try to shape them into trees. Is it too late to do this? Any tips for separation? I appreciate your help!
Hi Jordan, so glad the blog is helpful! I think you would be fine to separate it, this post has some info on going from a bush to a tree style.
I would say the hardest part is carefully separating the roots when repotting and making sure they survive the transplant. Keep a hose on the rootball or keep it in a bucket of water when separating to stop it from drying out during this process. Also remember its fine if you end up having to cut some of the roots apart but keep in mind the smaller, delicate roots are the most valuable for the plant’s health. Try to keep them intact as much as possible.
I would also wait at least a month or so before fertilizing the separated plants, to give them time to adjust to their new pots. Hope that helps!
Hi! I just tried to notch my fiddle…first time. No Sap came and I am worried I went a bit deep. Will my plant die? I went about a third- close to half way into the branch by accident… how can I prevent this from killing my tree?
Hi! I’m sure your plant won’t die – if the notch was too deep, the leaves above it may start to droop within a few days. You can wrap some tape or a bandage around the notch if you think the plant needs extra support staying upright. But if the plant above the notch starts to droop, its most likely that the plant can’t get enough water & nutrients though the cut to the top. In this case, I would say the best way to save it would be to cut this section off the main plant and propagate it. The rest of the main plant should recover fine and worst case scenario, you will end up with two FLFs. 🙂
I’m horrified to see springtail bugs on my Ficus Lyrata Bambino. How can I get rid of them? Will spraying with diluted dish washing liquid do the trick and not damage the plant?
Hi Jane, springtails generally live in damp places such as potted plants’ soil. They don’t harm the leaves themselves but can cause damage to the plant by chewing on roots in the soil. I would allow the soil to dry out (at least the top 1-2 inches) to discourage them. You may want to put any infested plants outside in the shade to help them dry out and until the bugs have gone. Another way to treat them is to do a soil drench: mix 1:4 ratio of 3% hydrogen peroxide and water, and fully drench the soil. The hydrogen peroxide will break down in the soil and won’t harm the plant. All the best!
Hi! I have a variegated fiddle leaf fig and in an attempt to encourage growth I gave it a chop. When I made the cut, however, no sap came out. Should I be worried?
Hey Angela, if the cambium (inside of the stem) was green/white then the plant is still alive. However if it was brown its possible that the section of stem has died. As long as the rest of the plant is healthy I don’t think there’s any concern! I’m yet to find a variegated FLF in real life (lucky you!) but I have heard they can be a little trickier to grow! All the best!
We got our FLF a few months ago and have seen nice growth of new leaves at the top. It is tree like and about 5ft tall without leaves toward its bottom half. We have some exposed roots above the soil close to the base of the main plant that have begun to sprout a mini leaf cluster of about 4 leaves. Should this be removed? Will another branch grow from the roots?
Hi Chelsea! It really depends what look you prefer for your FLF. The small cluster growing near the soil won’t have any harmful effect on the larger plant, so its up to you whether you’d like to remove it or let it grow! If you do decide to prune it, you can always attempt to propagate the cutting to grow a new plant 🙂 It’s possible it will grow to branch, however I would say it isn’t likely to grow large enough to compete with the main plant.
Thanks for the information! I have quite large drainage holes at the bottom of my FLF and i noticed that theres some yellow mold? It goes away when i touch it but comes back shortly after. Is that dangerous for the plant? Should I remove them? I water the plant once a week every Monday so I’m not sure if it is from overwatering.
Also, there are some roots that have grown through the drainage holes and are quite long. Is it safe for me to trim them without harming the plant?
Hi Dom, glad the posts are helpful for you 🙂 I don’t think the yellow mold would be harmful to the plant. Generally it lives off damp soil and can be caused by the soil constantly being damp or wet. Once a week may be a little much water for your FLF, depending on the climate where you live. You could also try propping the pot up on something, such as a pot stand to allow the base of the pot to air out better.
The roots coming through the drainage holes should be fine to remove. The most important roots for plants are the really thin, micro roots – these are the ones that feed nutrients to the plant. Larger roots are more for stability and should be safe to remove. Unless the plant is extremely root bound with roots circling the outer edge of the pot, it won’t need to be repotted. Hope that helps!
We live in South Carolina. Our son gave us a healthy 4 ft FLF a month ago. We are embarrassed to admit that we didn’t know how to care for it. And we did all the wrong things – left it outside in bright sun, wind and rain. We noticed its failing health and brought it inside. Too late. Needless to say it began to drop leaves and now all of them are off the stem. However, within the last 10 days there is new growth about 6-8″ from the bottom of the stem. Several extremely healthy leaves that are growing larger every day! We see some new buds appearing near the new leaves, but none, so far, near the top of stem. Our question is should we cut the stem above the new growth? If so how much? Will it ever grow into the beautiful gift we originally received? We’re so disappointed.
Hey Marianne! FLFs are amazing plants and after all the flak they receive about being ‘fussy’, they can still appear to come back from the dead, or a bare trunk, like yours! I’ve actually come across quite a few similar situations.
In your case, I would feel the top of the stem. If the top has died, it will be dry and brittle. This can be cut back to where it is still living. If it doesn’t appear to be dead at the top, there is still a good chance the plant will grow new leaves towards the top too. You might want to prune the tip to encourage new growth – when you do this, it’s a good sign if sap oozes from the cut as this shows the stem is still living.
Just as it takes extra energy for humans to go through a growth spurt, I would say that perhaps your FLF hasn’t regrown at the top yet as it’s focus is on the new leaves it is growing near the bottom. If the stem is still living, give it time, lots of bright light and I’m sure it will activate growth again! If you don’t think this is happening after some time, try notching the stem in multiple places to encourage new growth. This post has some tips on notching if you need them. All the best!
Thanks! I have faith in my fiddle leaf fig. 🤞🏼
Hi Emily—So my flf was growing so happy—I let it go straight up—now it’s almost to my very high ceiling—one very healthy stem—I kept thinking I would cut it but couldn’t bring myself to do it—my question is if I cut it, it will branch at that point? So I really should cut it way back down??
Hey Pam, that’s right – the point where you cut it back to, is where it should branch. It’s good to have a think about how you’d like your FLF to look, so that you can decide where to prune it. In general, a good height for branching is around 4-5 feet, as it will then start to take on a standard ‘tree-like’ shape. You can also propagate any section that you do prune, so nothing has to be wasted!
If you really don’t want it to branch, you can pinch off any extra stems that start to grow and leave just one main stem (whichever one appears to be leading and growing straightest would be best). It can be a little scary or sad to chop off the height, but it really is a simple process and it’s actually good for plants 🙂 Let me know if you have any other questions!
I rec’d my first FLF a few weeks ago and it seems to be doing nicely. However, I noticed a cobweb around a part of the pot/soil line, but have not seen any actual mites. I just wiped down the leaves w/ a damp cloth and there wasn’t any orangish residue on the
cloth. My leaves do have some holes in them. Is this due to mites? When I spray w/ the oil, should I spray the soil top as well?
Hey Joanne, spider mite webs are very small and generally occur along the veins of leaves or between the leaf and trunk of the plant. Fortunately, I don’t think it’s likely that a web near the soil would be from spider mites.
Spider mites also don’t actually create holes in leaves. They suck out the chlorophyll from leaves, leaving the leaf with a whitish tinge. If your leaves have holes from a pest, I would say you’d be able to identify the pest by looking over the plant. If you don’t see anything, it’s possible that the holes are from past damage or from when the leaves were maturing. Also keep an eye on the plant. If there’s no new holes occurring, I would say there’s no pest problem!
If you do find mites, spray the plant entirely until it’s dripping. As they don’t live in soil, you won’t need to spray the soil. All the best!
I’m about to get a small FFF for the first time but what does it mean well draining soil? Sorry I know this is probably a silly question but I’m really new to plants.
Hey Giani! That’s totally fine 🙂 Well-draining soil enables you to fully water a plant until the excess runs out the bottom. This is best for most plants to ensure that all the roots get watered, but without the roots ‘sitting’ in water for long periods of time which can lead to root rot in extreme cases. A soil that is well-draining normally is a ‘chunky’ mix which allows water to run through the particles. For example, pre-prepared cactus & succulent soil is well-draining as cactus & succulents prefer drier soil. When you buy a FLF the soil it is planted in should already be good for it and you’ll only need to worry about soil & repotting when it gets rootbound (generally every 2-3 years).
When you water your FLF, make sure to water it thoroughly until the excess comes out the bottom. If it takes a long time to drain or nothing comes out the bottom, this could be sign the soil isn’t well-draining. Unless this happens you won’t need to worry about the soil for a while 🙂 Enjoy your new FLF!
Hello Emily – a pruning question for you. I have what appears to be a very healthy about 5-6ft tree like FLF. It’s getting quite large, a bit dense and wider than I’d prefer. However, I’m terrified of pruning it. There are essentially 2 branches on each side and trunk in the middle. How do I safely prune this guy down without causing serious damage and shock? Assuming my timing is bad and I should wait until Spring as well? Appreciate the help.
Hi Beckah! Pruning is actually healthy for plants and while it does seem scary doing it for the first time, it shouldn’t be! The best way to prune is to remove no more than a third of the leafy sections of the plant, to avoid it going into shock. This also ensures there’s still enough leaves to produce energy for the plant’s size.
If you’re based in the northern hemisphere (end of summer), you could probably get away with pruning it now. You may not see any regrowth until the next season though. However if growth has stopped, I would wait until next spring before pruning. This would allow the plant to respond the best, and if it’s not growing any further, then it won’t get in the way any more than it already is. I hope that makes sense!
Make sure you use a sharp pair of cutters and prune on an angle, generally just above a leaf is best.
Also think about how your plant will regrow from the pruning, and the shape you’d like to prune it down to. Remember it will grow back, and you can always prune again to shape it how you like. Hope that helps – all the best!
Hi Emily, I am having some problems with the soil not draining/drying fast enough and now I have gnats!! I made my own potting mix using the 5:1:1 ratio but I think they don’t have enough roots to suck up the moisture fast enough. I just separated a bush type into 5 single pots. Even after 2 weeks the top 2 inches of soil is still pretty wet. I’m thinking of repotting them by introducing something that will aid drainage. Any ideas? OR, do you think it’s okay to leave them until they’re dry (at this rate, it may take about a month or longer). Ideally, I’d like to water them once a week or 1.5 weeks but I can wait if that won’t ruin the plants. Also, I’m trying to get rid of gnats by spraying the soil with diluted dish soap solution. Is that okay? Do you have a suggestion on what else I can use? They’re not dying fast enough! Thanks!!
After using insect control sprays to no avail, I put a layer of sand and it seems like it’s working! I still haven’t decided how much water to give and how frequent. I see new growth so I’m guessing it’s doing okay except all of them have edema. So I’m just going to cut down on water–maybe water them about a cup or two every week/other week. Do you think this will work? Any input would be appreciated! Thanks!
Hey Aaron, sorry I just saw your comments! Yes I have heard a layer of sand works well in discouraging gnats, along with allowing the top of the soil to dry before watering again, which it sounds like you’re having trouble with.
Edema is caused by the frequency of watering rather than the amount you water, and FLFs should be thoroughly watered until they drain to allow all the roots to receive water. Watering them only when the top 2 inches of soil has dried out is the best method, but if you are having to wait more than a couple of weeks for it to dry, I would consider changing the soil… I can’t remember what you ended up using in your soil mix, but it you do decide to repot, try leaving out sphagnum moss and consider using more chunky parts such as pine mulch, that will allow water to move through more quickly. Adding some horticultural charcoal will also help with drainage & repel insects. Thanks for the update! Hope that helps! 🙂
Hi!! I’m trying to figure out wether or not my fiddle will still continue to grow up if I botch it or pinch it. Will it only grow the branch or will it grow on the original stem and the branch?! Please help me!!
Hey, great question! When you pinch or prune the stem, it will not keep growing from that point. However this is the best way to get a FLF to branch. When they branch, they will continue to grow taller from the branches. So it’s a good idea to think about what height you’d like it to branch before pruning or pinching the stem.
Notching won’t affect the growth of the main stem like pruning does. The main stem will still continue to grow while the notch encourages it to branch just below the notch. Notching can be trickier to get right and pruning can be more effective in growing branches. Hope that clears it up!
Hi I just purchased my second flf when I got home I noticed the roots are growing all the way at the top around the top part of the soil and out of the soil up top should I wait to repot it or let it acclimate for a couple of weeks in the nursery pot
Hi! It’s actually normal for some of the roots to show at the surface of the pot. FLFs are banyan trees in nature, so some aerial roots will grow. They like to be snug in their pots and only need to be repotted if there’s a lot of roots coming out the bottom, or if the soil isn’t retaining any moisture because its too rootbound. If you do think it needs to be repotted, it should be fine to repot straight away. FLFs only really respond negatively to changes in environment if they are ‘downgraded’ – aka put in a spot with less light than they’re used to, or if the environment is a severe change. If you do repot, remember to use a well-draining soil 🙂
Hi Emily! Really nice blogs you have! Thank you for all the good info! I got my FLF at walmart she was not looking to good. Well there was 2 in 1 pot. So i took them home gave them a shower right away and i trimed them i got them in march. 1week later i moved the 2 into bigger pots with fast draning soil. 1 didnt look so good after that but i watered it alot and she come back! Its May now and i have new leaves coming like crazy!!!!!! I was so excited! There in my big window facing west! I feed them plant food to. I had some red spider mits but i just showered them off there was not much i only seen about 5 so i got them in time lol anyways as a newbie at this i think im doing really good! Happy Happy! Oh and i wiggle them every Wedenday! For 2min.
Hey Lynn, sounds like your plants are doing well! Keep an eye on those spider mites as they can reproduce quickly.. Spraying with neem oil or an isopropyl alcohol dilution a few days after you showered them off can make sure anything left behind gets destroyed. So glad the blog posts are helpful! All the best! 🙂
Hi Emily!! Do you have any advice on how to get my fiddle leaf growth more dense? It’s stems grow several inches between each few leaves the put out and looks thinner and scragglier as a result. If I left it alone it would be 20 feet tall but skinny as a straw. I see all these gorgeous trees that look so full and dense and I’m wondering what conditions affect how close the leaves are to each other? Thanks so much!
Hey Allison, great question!! The biggest reason that FLFs grow ‘scraggly’, or with several inches between leaves is a lack of sunlight. Fiddles are full-sun plants in nature and when they grow tall without many leaves, this generally means they are ‘searching’ for more light. This is how they naturally reach the sunlight when growing from the bottom of forest floors. So – see if you can move it to a more well-lit position. If this isn’t possible, you may want to consider getting a grow light to help (details about them here). One other thing that can help the leaves grow closer together is a specially-formulated fertilizer. This can help reduce ‘internodal distance’ – or how far apart the leaves grow.
If your FLF’s trunk is weak or leaning because of the lack of leaves, read this post to get it growing strong again!
If you’re wanting to fill in some gaps on the stem, I would suggest to try notching. This is where you make a cut into the stem with sharp cutters or razor, deep enough to make it ‘bleed’. Aim to do this above a leaf node or just above any small buds you can identify. Notching will encourage branches and leaves to grow on mature trunks, therefore filling in any gaps. If you’re wanting your Fiddle to branch like a ‘tree-shape’ just prune it to a height you’d like it to branch at. Multiple new buds should start growing within a couple of weeks.
Hope these tips help!
Last night I split a fiddle leaf that had 6 medium strength 3’ trunks. I thought they would come apart easily BUT when they didn’t (like at all) I sawed them apart. I also put in new compost mix and In a sunnier exterior location. Now the leaves are turning black and actually curling. 😬. I’ve loved this for over a year waiting to separate it and it looks like it’s dying. Is there any way to save it?
Oh no! It sounds like your FLF is in shock from the splitting. Some FLFs with multiple stems have been planted in the one pot, while others share a root system – it sounds like yours shared roots, which is why you would have had to cut them apart. Hopefully you watered them straight after repotting – if not, I would do that. The best thing to do would be to monitor them, and make sure they have the best conditions possible – mostly including bright light. It’s good you put them in a sunnier spot but be careful if they are not used to direct sunlight as they normally need to be acclimatised slowly.
Hopefully with the right conditions, they’ll each be able to grow new roots and recover. Just be aware this may take some time and they may look worse before they get better.
I’d love to hear an update in a few weeks of how they’re going!
I was given a tall fiddle fig plant when the neighbours moved but it has most of the leaves on one side as I don’t think it was turned. Should I try notching to make it more even?
Hey Jackie, if the leaves have mostly grown to one side, facing the bare side towards the light may help the leaves lean back the other way. This could help it look a little more even. You can definitely try notching on the bare side! Notching is best done on the older ‘woody’ parts of the stem and should encourage new leaves and branches. All the best
Thanks for your post! It’s full of really helpful info.
I’ve had my fiddle leave fig for about a year now and I love it dearly but it’s started to grow a bit strangely and I’m just wondering if you have any suggestions.
First of all, it had a big spur of growth a while ago and now has a cluster of leaves at the top but the stem has barely grown so the stem that is there is like an S shape with so many leaves coming out of the same area. Is there anyway I can stop it doing this and coax it to grow taller?
Secondly, I have one leaf that all of a sudden became much bigger than all the rest (like at least two times bigger) and its curved, almost concave in shape. It looks really strange compared to the rest of the leaves and it seems to be weighing down the plant. Why has it done this? Is it light related? And can I trim it off or is there someway to train it to grow straight and upwards rather than curved downwards?
Hey Rachel, so glad the post could be helpful for you 🙂
When the leaves are growing close together, that’s actually a good sign! It means your FLF is receiving enough light. When there’s gaps between the leaves on the stem, it’s a sign they are searching for light. As you’ve had a spurt of growth, it may take a little while for the stem to adjust to the new added weight of the leaves. If it is bending towards a window, make sure you rotate the pot so each side of your FLF can receive light. This may help it to straighten up.
Another thing you can do to straighten the stem (which I’m posting on in more detail next week!) is to give it some time outside where the breeze can help strengthen it. I bought a new FLF where one stem was weak and bending with the weight of new leaves. After being outside for 1-2 weeks, it learned to straighten up and was much stronger. When we keep them indoors, they don’t have the opportunity to strengthen their stems as they never need to withstand a breeze.
If the larger leaf is kind of dimpled, it could be a sign of low humidity as it developed. There may not be much you can do now to change the shape. FLFs naturally produce larger and larger leaves as they grow, so I’m not surprised yours has done this (mine did too)! I would also say that putting your plant outside for a while to strengthen the stem can also help it to support this extra large leaf. Other than that, I would just make sure your FLF is getting enough light as sometimes the leaves will turn towards light.
As it continues to grow, I’m sure the giant leaf will become less noticeable. If it really bothers you, you could trim it off but I always prefer to leave all leaves on as they help provide the plant with nutrients.
Hope that helps 🙂
I have a few questions, but first, I better give you some background info so that you have the bigger picture. I live in Ohio (almost as cloudy as Seattle) and I bought two shrub type Ficus Lyrata from IKEA last summer (around July 2018). Since then, it dropped a lot of leaves so I panicked but soon learned that they were adjusting to the new environment. Anyways, starting end of February (this year), I noticed new leaves and I’ve been fertilizing them with Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant Food (about 2tsp diluted in 4cup water every 2 weeks). It’s put out quite a lot of leaves. Both plants are about 2ft tall from top of the soil to the top of the plant and about 1.5-2ft wide. I’d say these are still pretty small. My goal is to have them looking like a tree (branches and all) with about 5-7 ft tall eventually. Now here are my questions.
1. Each plant is still in a cluster (around 5-6 stalks in one pot). Should I separate these into single tree? You mentioned to do this early growing season, which I assume that’s end of Feb-March. I don’t want the repotting to shock these plants and make them drop leaves. But I’ve noticed the edges where it bumps against another leaf turns brown and that portion of the leaf just dries up and doesn’t look nice. So I’d like to separate them if it’s not too late and won’t cause much damage.
2. How often should I fertilize them? I’ve seen every watering to once a month.
3. I see red specks in new leaves. I’ve read that these are indication of edema (too much watering). But I only water when the top soil (2 knuckles deep) is dry (when pinched, there’s no water/moisture). When the leaves grow bigger, the red dots disappear. Sometimes, the new leaves look great and don’t have red dots. Is it due to irregular watering?
Thank you so much!
Hey Aaron, I’ll try answer you questions one by one:
1. If your FLFs are several planted in the one pot, you can definitely separate them. Have a look around the base to see if it looks like they connect just below the surface or have their own root ball. You’ll have better success separating them if they have their own root ball, however you can still separate them if they share roots. Doing this is a little bit more tricky and risky and it may take a little while for them to recover. In this case, you would need to use some sharp cutters to cut through the roots to give each plant a root ball in proportion to the plant’s size. You may also want to put the roots in a bucket of water to help remove as much dirt as possible and to help detangle. Make sure the roots don’t dry out when repotting!
Its best to do this when your FLFs would have the most energy stored, around May or heading towards the longest day of the year. This will ensure they have the best possible chance of responding well to the change.
If this seems like too much, you may be better off getting a new FLF that has a single stem. That way you can prune it when it reaches the height you’d like it to branch at, and train it into a tree from there.
2. FLFs are light feeders and it would be fine to fertilize them once a month. Some people prefer to dilute the fertilizer and feed it in a weekly watering, which is also fine. I would go off the product’s instructions. Some fertilizers are more concentrated then others, so there’s not really a ‘one size fits all’ rule.
3. That sounds like edema! As long as its not too severe, it isn’t a major problem. Like you said, the dots generally lessen or disappear once the leaf matures. If you are watering only when the top two inches of soil is dry, its possible the edema is caused by the soil retaining too much water. FLFs like a well-draining mix, which you could look into changing if you plan on repotting. Also make sure you are fully saturating the pot until water runs out the bottom each time you water.
Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions 🙂
Emily, thank you so much for your thorough reply!! This helps A TON. I am up for the challenge so I will repot in May since that’s when I have more free time anyway. Thanks again!
So glad to hear it was helpful! 🙂
Hi Emily! I’m ready to separate these bushes into single trees but I’m unsure if I need to get a smaller pot for them or the one I have is small enough. How do you pick the pot size? Depending on height? Root size? How do I make a good enough estimate so that I don’t have to rush to a nursery to make an exchange for the correct sized pot?
Also, I’ve noticed that the ones that I want to grow as trees is not one straight trunk. It seems like the trunk grew at an angle after a branch was cut near the bottom. Will the trunk correct itself and grow straight up by the time it reaches 4 – 6ft? Or should I try to choose one that grew straight? Thanks!
Hey Aaron, generally when FLFs get repotted, they only need to be put into a pot that is 1-2 inches wider in diameter than their current pot. They like to be snug! But as you are separating the plant, I would say just to aim for a pot that is no bigger than its current one. I don’t think the size of the pot would cause any major issue.
It’s a little tricky to give advice without seeing a photo of your plant, but I would say that any kinks or bends in the trunk would remain. They may become less noticeable as the plant matures.
Sometimes it’s best to work with a plant’s natural shape rather than change them to be exactly how we like, so I would say that any bends like that would just provide added interest! Similarly, I think I mentioned in my last comment that bush-growing FLFs generally have shared roots that may get damaged when separating. It’s up to you to decide if you think it’s worth giving it a go, keeping in mind the potential damage and time it would take for each to recover. During this time, you may not see new growth for a while as the plants are most likely to focus on developing their root system again. Let me know how you go!
Hello – thanks for the details, this was super helpful!
I have a FLF that I found at Home Depot (I was stoked) but it’s not grown at all since I brought her home (I did repot her upon integrating her into my house). She’s mostly vertical (leaves are tight to the stem). She sits in a bright window but it’s winter. Water levels seem ok – should I try to prune the top to encourage growth? Will she just wake up at some point?
Hey Michele, so glad the post was helpful! It’s not abnormal for FLFs to be dormant during the cooler winter season. My FLF generally stops growing for around 4 months during the coldest part. I wouldn’t be worried! You can use a fertilizer to make sure she’s got all the nutrients needed to grow. If there’s no new growth by May, I would say there would be other issues such as lack of light or the temperature. If there’s a reason she’s not growing, pruning may not necessarily encourage growth. For new growth to occur, FLFs need to have enough energy reserves to push out new growth. This energy comes from sunlight & climate. Most likely, its just waiting to warm up to Spring 🙂
I think this winter is getting the best of my fiddle fig, admittedly I have negelected her a bit over the last 2 months. She sprouted 3 new leaves in December but even while sprouting new leaves most of her other leaves were dark green and starting to curl under. Then this week she dropped 30 leaves! Would giving fertilizer to give her a boost? And is there a certain time of year that is better for that, or could I do it anytime? Or do you have any other suggestions.
Hey Amanda, you can give fertilizer any time of the year, normally just using less in winter (or less often). However I would say your FLF has probably dropped leaves more due to environmental issues! These could include not getting enough light, or extreme cold temperatures, or dry air. Check these things, which can change during winter. Also check the soil a couple inches into the pot to see if it is mostly dry before watering. Hopefully now that winter is coming to an end, your FLF will start to recover!
Hi Emily, just wanted to thank you for all the incredible information on this site! You’re the best!
I do have a questions though. The new leaves on my FLF are developing lots of red/purple spots and just wondering what is causing this?
Thank you in advanced!!
Hey Chloe, thanks so much for your comment! Its always nice to hear my blog has been helpful 🙂 Those reddish dots are caused by an excess of water in the plant’s cells, that burst as the leaves develop. Generally they will become less noticeable as the leaves mature. Sometimes this is due to overwatering as the new growth happens – check your watering to make sure you’re not watering your FLF too often! FLFs love to be fully saturated when you do water, but that means watering less often. Check the soil is drying out a couple inches into the pot before watering again. 🙂
I have a fiddle tree with 3 close stems really great and growing but the leaves on the 2outer stems are branching outwards do I slightly string the 2 together to get a tall look or just leave it to grow to the sides
Hey Jeannie, if they are growing outwards rather than upwards, they may be reaching for more sunlight. Try put it in a place with higher light levels! If they are growing outwards because of the weight of the leaves, it may help to put your FLF outside, so that the breeze will help strengthen the stems. I recently bought a new FLF which had one stem that was weak and leaning, but after being outside for 2-3 weeks, it is now growing upwards and not longer leaning. If it’s not possible to do these things, staking can help if you’d prefer them to grow closer together. However for a long term solution, the first two options would give you better results than staking. If you don’t mind the way your FLF is growing, you don’t have to change anything – as long as it is healthy 🙂
I just recurved a FLF as a generous gift. It has leaves growing off the trunk pretty much from the soil. It’s about 6 ft tall. Should I trim off most of the lower leaves? It’s extremely full on the bottom and I feel like they usually have a bare branch woth leaves only towards the top. Thanks!
Hi Ashley, what a nice gift! You definitely don’t have to trim the leaves, some people prefer the lush & bushy style FLF. Sometimes the lower leaves will drop off as the plant matures. The tree-styles you see have mostly been pruned that way for their look. The leaves also help to provide energy for the plant so if you remove too many at once, it may not be beneficial for the plant. You could remove some of the leaves if you prefer the tree-look, but don’t do too many at once or the plant may go into shock.
Please help! My beautiful 6+foot FLF that I’ve had for over two years has succumb to freezing temperatures last night when our heater failed in the all season room. The leaves look aweful drooping and are very dark green/brown. Can I revive it ? I bought a plant lightbulb and put it on. I watered it with FLF fertilizers. Now I sit and wait ?
Thank you in advance !
Hey Anna, I think I answered you on the other page but yes, after doing those things, wait to see if it livens up again! FLFs are tropical plants and are very sensitive to cold. Even if all the leaves drop, keep caring for it as it is possible that it will push out new buds and leaves as Spring arrives.
Would love to hear how you get on with it. All the best
Thank you so much for your reply. I’m assuming that the leaves will eventually just fall off? I’ll keep you posted.
I just bought a large fiddle fig tree and it needs to be potted. Should I wait awhile to pot it so it can adjust to my house first? If so, for how long? Also, how do I know what size pot to get? Thank you!
Hey Bridget, the best time to repot is mid-late Spring. This timeframe would give your new FLF time to settle in and also time for you to get to know its needs, in terms of light and watering. Generally FLFs need to be repotted every 2 years or when rootbound. Its best to pick a pot that’s around 2-3 inches wider than it’s current pot – you don’t need to drastically upsize the pot as FLFs generally like to be more snug. When you repot, try to remove as much of the old soil as possible from the roots without damaging them. This will give your FLF the best chance of new nutrients with the new soil and prevent the soil from compacting over time. Hope these tips help 🙂
I received a FLF as a present which was gorgeous. Shortly after getting it, we got a bigger pot and did our normal manitenance. After about a month of having the FLF it started to develop brown spots which grew in size, eventually dropping to the ground.
I bought a water meter and was keeping it in line avoiding to over water the tree.
I deemed the tree dead a month ago as all that is remaining on the 6’ tree is a couple of leaves on 4 branches coming off of the Main stem. Two weeks ago it started sprouting new leave and branches up and down on the main stem.
Have I killed it and miraculously brought it back to life? What is going on with the top portion? I have the tree in a drainable pot and never have water come out of it.
Hi Justin. FLFs can sprout new growth when this happens, similar to pruning – when the tree thinks there’s no growth left on top, it automatically grows more in its place. This means your FLF is hanging in there, so that’s good! The leaf drop could be due to a few different things, normally over or under-watering.
Only you could tell which one it could be, but make sure when you water to saturate the roots fully until water comes out the bottom. If it doesn’t drain well when you do this, the soil may need to be changed to a chunkier, well-draining mix. Moisture meters can sometimes be unreliable, but if you stick your finger in the dirt a couple inches, you’ll be able to feel if the soil is still damp or not. If you hadn’t watered in the last month when you thought it was dead, then it started pushing out new growth, I would suspect it was being overwatered! FLFs like a lot of water, but less often.
When the leaves develop browning on the edges first, this is normally due to dryness.
If some of the branches remain bare, try pruning them back a little to encourage growth again on these areas. You may also want to get a quality 9-3-6 fertilizer to give it nutrients especially while it is putting out all this new growth.
Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any more questions. With some extra care I’m sure your FLF will push through to be just as lush as it used to be 🙂
HI Emily! I really enjoyed your post and tips for growing this wonderful plant. I was curious, what do you suggest for a fiddle leaf that has multiple trunks that are all attached? I’ve read on separating trunks that are detached but not so much on if they are all coming out from one trunk. My fiddle leaf is almost 5 ft now (after growing for 1 year) so I’d say it’s a very young teenager but I’m not sure what I can do to encourage growth on just one trunk. Do you have any suggestions? Should I just wait till it starts getting more mature or should I start cutting those other trunks and just leave the main one?
Hi Ashley! Thanks for your comment, so glad the post is helpful 🙂 When you say they are all attached, are they branching out at a point from the main trunk or growing out of the soil? If there’s multiple trunks in the soil, you can try to separate them when repotting, however for a FLF that is already 5ft, the roots may be too interwoven to do this without too much damage.
If there’s lower branches coming off the main trunk, they can be pruned. You would need to identify the leading branch (healthiest / largest) that you would like to be the main trunk and prune the others. However if your FLF is already naturally growing with multiple branches and its already 5ft, I would wonder if its best to let it continue growing this way? If you try to prune too much off it, it may go into shock or not recover.
Some FLFs are grown for their bushy style, while others are grown as a standard tree shape. There’s things you can do while your FLF is young to train it in a certain form, but seeing as yours is already a bit larger, it may be best to enjoy its natural shape and pick up another single trunk FLF (or smaller plant that you can then train as it grows) if that’s what you prefer. Of course you can still prune the FLF you have, making sure it’s not going to sabotage the tree’s health. Hope these tips help! Let me know if you have more questions 🙂
Hi! My FLF is going on 3 years old and is doing quite well growth wise. Mine is the columnar type of plant. My question is this; the lower leaves, although healthy, are pushed to point downward by the larger leaves above them, which seem to simply weigh them down. I hate to prune healthy leaves off my plant but I am unhappy with the way this makes the plant look. Should I remove them? Thank you.
Hi Heidi! It’s pretty normal for some of the leaves to point downwards. They generally face where the light is coming from, so if its coming in horizontally through a window (rather than from above) this could also be why. It is the same with one of my FLFs. You can prune these leaves if you choose, but if they are still green and healthy, they’ll be producing energy for the plant and I would preferably leave them be! You may be able to get them to face upwards again by putting them in a location where the light source is from above. Hope that helps 🙂
Thank you for posting such an informative post! I have 2 fiddles and would love a little advice 😁 Around 6 months ago I purchased one that is more of a bush (around 1.5 metres) and has big, full and mature leaves. What can I do to encourage more growth at the top so it grows more tree like. In the last few months this guy has also been growing some kind of mushroom/fungi in the soil. Should I repot him or remove the funghi?
My other fiddle is around 1 metre tall and more tree like. There are two shoots. The tallest shoot has been growing ferociously over spring/summer with large leaves at the top. This has left it with small leaves at the bottom and a thin stem, causing him to bend over. Should I use a stalk? What can I do to encourage bigger leaves at the bottom?
Th am you so much for your advice!! ☺️🍃
I’m glad this post could be helpful Mel!
For more tree-like growth, I’m guessing you mean branching. To encourage branching at the top, try pruning the tip. I did this and got 2-3 new branches out of it. You can also try notching for branching in specific spots too. For the fungi, I would check that you’re not overwatering the plant and make sure it gets enough sunlight – if the soil is drying out at the top between watering, you shouldn’t have any mushroom issues. You may need to repot if you find the soil is retaining too much water. Use a well draining mix. The best time to repot is late spring.
Your second FLF sounds similar to mine – FLFs naturally produce bigger leaves as they grow. Staking can help it from leaning in the short term if its an issue. You can also try wiggling the stem to strengthen it (I now put my FLF outside and the breeze has helped strengthen the trunk). If the leaves are far apart on the stem, your FLF needs more sunlight. When the leaves grow closer together they provide more support for the stem. A quality fertilizer can also help to thicken the trunk (check out my FLF fertilizer post for more info). Hope these tips help!
I have notched my plant but it does not grow new branches. What am I doing wrong.
Hi Ron! Here’s a few tips with notching:
-Make sure the notch is directly above a leaf node. This will activate the particular node to grow.
-Make sure the notch is cut one third deep of the diameter of the trunk, and takes out a section of about 2mm of trunk. It is basically cutting a section out of the trunk to stop the growth hormone flowing, tricking the plant into putting its energy into growing a new branch.
-Make sure your FLF is already getting the proper light, watering and nutrient needs. Your FLF will need to have enough energy stored to grow a new branch.
-Lastly, make sure it is the growing season! If you’re based in Australia / southern hemisphere, now is a great time to notch. However if you are in North America, I would wait til around June when your FLF should be at its peak energy reserves.
Hope these tips help. Let me know if you have any more questions?
Hi Emily, my fiddle leaf fig is struggling. It will sprout a new shoot, turn into a leaf, but then stop growing/staying very small. What is going on? Thank you! Julie
Hey Julie, it sounds like your FLF may be lacking the energy resources to grow to full size. This can happen for a bunch of reasons, depending on your circumstances. Make sure it is getting the correct water & sunlight needs, then check if it is root bound. If all these things seem ok, it may be lacking nutrients in the soil. When I started fertilizing my FLF, the new leaves doubled in size! Check out the fertilizer I’ve linked in this post (affordable & VERY effective), or look for a fertilizer that has a NPK ratio of 9-3-6. This ratio is most effective for FLFs and can be found on the label. All the best! I would love to hear how you go.
May I please ask what the best thing to do is? My fiddle Leaf fig is now about 12 feet tall!!! Am I able to halve the height & would I be able to replant what I’ve cut off? I absolutely love it, but it’s out growing my house!! ?
Hey Leigh, you could totally prune your FLF to the height that suits you! For best results I would wait until mid-late Spring, when it will have more energy to handle the change. Make sure you cut on an angle and when you replant the cutting, stick the bottom 3-4 inches into the soil (remove any lower leaves if you need to). If its a large cutting, you could even cut it again to propagate from two pieces! All the best!
I just bought a FLF bush and it is in a temporary pot and needs replanting. It’s November in the San Francisco Bay Area and it is still warm – days are in the 70s but nights are in the mid 40s. Of course it is an indoor plant and I don’t let my house get cooler than 65. Everything I have read says to wait until the growing season in spring for this plant to replant. Will it be okay in the temporary black pot until spring or should I repot?
Hey Julia, your FLF should be fine to wait to spring to repot! As it cools down it would have slowed or stopped growing, so being root bound won’t get any worse until you get the chance to repot anyway. Waiting until spring will give it the best chance for recovery and new growth! ?
I want to repot before my fiddle slows down for the winter, I have Hyponex plant soil with fertilizer, the other potting soils I have bought formed worms and ate my plants, so my question is can I repost? and it’s growing into a tree so how can I make it a bush is which I prefer?
I have a 1 very tall fiddle leaf fig stem (1.5meters) with sparse leaves and with 2 much smaller stems (30cm) which appear to be coming from the same root ball. I am wanting to notch the larger one to encourage branching. How many notches can I do at once and should I give it a dose of seaweed tonic (seasol) at time of notching to help with stress??.
Should I also remove low small branches so more energy is put into the new growth from the notches??
Amy advice would be greatly appreciated
Hi Eleanor, I would probably try pruning the top of the tall trunk to encourage branching first, before trying notching. If the trunk is sparse, this should encourage branching as well as back-budding, which can help your FLF grow more leafy (and fill any sparse gaps). Are the lower branches that are growing attached to the main trunk, or are they growing out of the soil? If you don’t plan to keep them you could prune them off. But if they are growing out of the soil, it shouldn’t affect the energy levels of the main trunk as they would be seperate plants. It’s good to fertilize regularly during the growing months – this will help with any changes you make to your FLF. I’m not sure where you are located, but its best to make any changes (including pruning) during Spring/Summer months while your FLF is growing. If you are heading into the cooler months, it might be best to wait until Spring. If you did do some pruning when its cooling down, you may not see any changes as your plant will be conserving its energy for winter… Hope that helps you. Here is a link to my post about fertilizing FLFs if you’re interested in more specific info on nutrients 🙂
Hi! I just found your blog, so so helpful! I have a single stem FLF which has a sparse patch where the leaves browned/dropped after being sunburnt. So the bottom leaves are fine, then a gap, then top leaves. Should I try notching in the gap to see if itll branch out there and fill out? Or am I better off cutting there and propagating a new plant? Also I’m confused about pinching; does that stop the plant growing taller or just divert energy towards growing branches and then itll continue to grow from the top? Thanks!!
Hey Nadine, so glad the blog has been helpful 🙂 You could really do either option, depending on how thick your FLF trunk is. Notching works best on trunks that are more mature or have turned ‘woody’ brown. If your trunk is still quite thin you could either prune it and propagate the cutting, or wait until your FLF matures before trying notching. Keep in mind what shape you’d like your FLF to have in the future, as the height that you prune it is where it will branch. Think about if you’d like it to be lush and bushy, or a single tall stem with a ‘lollipop’ style tree top, or something different. This will help you determine the best path to take.
Pinching is similar to pruning, but instead of pruning off a section of the stem, you just take off the top growing tip. Whether you prune or pinch, your FLF should send out new growth from dormant buds where leaves meet the stem. Both these methods encourage branching and while the pruned/pinched stem won’t continue to grow, your FLF will still grow taller via other branches. This is why it’s a good idea to wait until your FLF is at the height you’d like it to start branching from, before pruning. All the best!
I picked it up at my FLF at local my local grocery store for $7.99! I was so excited when I found it! I have wanted one but didn’t want to spend $100 on a decent size maturing tree… just to kill it from my lack of FLF care. So I have had the three young trees in the same 10″ pot since I bought it over 2 months ago. They have lost some of its lower leaves on each of the three trees. Two of the 3 trees have new growth budding at the top. So I must be doing something right. My questions are should I fertilize now? Also should I wait till spring to separate the three trees into their own new pot till early spring next year? Thanks!
Hi Brittney – you could fertilize it once or twice now before the weather cools down too much, but I mostly only fertilize mine during Spring/Summer, when it will be needing the extra boost to grow. And yes, I’d wait til mid Spring to repot them, this will give them the best chance to react well to the change and grow again. Make sure you remove as much of the old soil as you can and give it a fresh new batch of soil so it can benefit from the new nutrients. All the best!
Learned quite a bit today. I cut apart a cluster FLF to start as trees. All have let out a single branch. But I want that bushy tree look. So I am definitely going ti notch them.i took them outside for the summer. They are definitely thriving. Of course not in direct sun. Everytime it rains I pull them forward. I had no idea I had to wait years for a good look. I am patient. When I cut them apart I thought they wouldn’t make it
Thank you for the advice.
Thanks for your comment Anna 🙂 Glad that these posts were helpful for you!
Hi Emily! I’m new to the FLF family! My husband bought me one back in the spring…so far, so good! I haven’t transplanted it to a new pot because I’m not quite sure what type of pot to get. I see most people put their FLF in baskets and I even found a basket I love. I obviously don’t want a pot with a hole at the bottom because the basket would get wet. But if it doesn’t have a hole, how does the water drain so the FLF doesn’t get over watered? Help! Also, what type of soil should I use to help fill the pot? Thanks so much!
Hey Laurie, that’s so exciting you have a new FLF 🙂 I think the first thing to ask is if it needs to be re-potted? Can you see roots at the bottom hole or does the plant look too big in proportion to the size of the pot? Baskets are a great way to hide a plastic nursery pot or other cheap pot, if you’re repotting based on just the look of the pot it’s in now.
However if it needs repotting, I would definitely recommend getting a pot with holes in the bottom as your FLF needs to be able to drain. If you don’t want to wet the basket, there’s ways around this. Either take the plant out of the basket when you water, or add in a pot plant dish / tray that the water can drain into. If the water can’t drain out, it will jeopardise your FLF’s health!
When you decide to repot, get a good quality soil mix or ask for a mix that allows for good drainage. It can get more in-depth when it comes to soil, but that’s a simple and effective place to start.
Hope that helps! Let me know how you get on and if you have any more questions ?
Hi love this page!! My fiddle leaf fig has 3 very thin stems growing at the base of the plant are those viable or should I just cut them off.
Hi! I think I answered you on instagram but you could wait and see if the stems take off. If you like the look of just a single trunk you can just prune these stems off. Either way they shouldn’t harm your FLF 🙂
Emily, thank you for the good advice! I wonder how you continue to have a nice thick “tree” form once it is about the size you want? Can you prune off the uppermost leaves to keep the growth modest and the tree thick rather than with long spaces between leaves?
Thank you Jane! If your FLF has reached a size that you don’t want to continue to grow it past, you can keep pruning it back to size. Another benefit of doing this is that it may back-bud and get more lush growth on the remaining branches. Generally if there are long spaces between leaves, it means the FLF isn’t getting enough light. To encourage bushier growth where the leaves grow closer together, see if you can move it to a place with more sunlight. I’m glad this post was helpful for you!
I’m looking for tips on how to thicken the trunk, and encourage new leaf growth at the bottom of my “bush/column” type FLF. At the moment it’s healthy, but the leaves are small, sparse, and the trunk is quite thin. What do you suggest?
Hi Maddie, FLFs trunks are naturally quite thin but should strengthen and thicken as the plant grows. Don’t remove any lower leaves, as they provide energy for the trunk to thicken. If the leaves are far apart, your FLF may need more sunlight! Try to move it to a place where it can get more light, which should help the leaves grow closer together and also keep the trunk strong. Hope that helps!
I accidentally notched too deep and now the branch is really dropping. Is this bad? Should I just cut it off? Also, I did a couple other notches on other branches at the same time. I hope this is ok!
Hi Jamie, your FLF should be fine to have multiple notches at once, although it may not respond to all of them if it doesn’t have the energy reserved. It’s best to notch when you know your plant will have reserves – around the time of summer solstice where the hours of light are the longest. If the end of the branch you notched that’s dropping is still alive, the branch may have just lost some support from the deep notch. You could try making a splint for the branch to keep it straight – if you don’t want to lose it and it’s still alive, or you could just cut it. If you cut it you can always propagate a new FLF from this part, so there’s nothing lost!
If the FLF has gotten too tall for the available space, can the trunk be cut off I.e. topped? If it can be cut, is it possible to root the cut portion to make another tree?
Hi Bill, yes and yes! You can cut the trunk off where it is getting too tall and your FLF will send out a new shoot and keep growing. it’s great that you don’t have to waste the part you cut off as well, by propagating the cutting! Make sure when you prune it, you use something sharp to get a clean cut, and you might like to pick up some rooting powder to help with propagating the cutting.
My FLF, Sven, has grown a few feet! One trunk, very happy, but he’s near the ceiling. I’m sure I need to prune or ?, but I’m anxious about it. Help!
There’s no need to be nervous about pruning!:) Its a totally natural part of plant ownership. Just make sure whatever you use to prune has sharp blades to give a clean cut, and as long as you’re not cutting the majority of the plant back, Sven will be fine. If you live in the northern hemisphere, now is the perfect time to prune too! The warm weather gives the plant enough energy to push through changes like pruning and keep growing. All the best!
I recently bought a Ficus Lyrata. It had a new leaf bud, but it has dried up and turned brown (worrying about over watering, I didn’t water enough!) Should I pinch the leaf bud off? Thanks. Serife.
Hey Serife, there’s no harm in pinching off the leaf bud if it looks like it isn’t growing anymore or has died. Your FLF should simply grow a new lead leaf bud and keep going! All the best!
My Fig tree is growing rapidly and is getting too tall. Can I cut off the top main stock by 2-3 feet? Is it possible to use the cutting to start a new plant? Thanks for your help, Linda
Hi Linda, as long as the 2-3ft you want to cut off is no more than around a third of the leaves on the FLF, it should be fine! Plants need their leaves to produce energy, so if you remove too many it can go into shock. Make sure your FLF will still have the majority of its leaves left after pruning! You can always use cuttings to propagate, and if you would like multiple cuttings, you can even trim the section that you cut off into several parts.
I received a Fiddle Leaf Fig in poor condition from a friend of mine, as I was willing to try to save it. I have 2 other successful FLF’s at home already. The one in poor condition is entirely bare except for a couple of leaves at the end of each branch. In the last month or so, it has grown a couple more new leaves at the end of the branches.
I saw the tree when she first bought it, and it was beautifully shaped. It now looks so awkward with nothing on the branches except the tips. I’ve been considering cutting down the branches and seeing what it will do (but then there would be essentially no leaves). I just don’t want it to forever have these long bare branches and it doesn’t seem like a FLF will ever pop out a new leaf mid-branch (just at the ends). Would this work? Or should I try to notch it?
Hi Lauren, you could definitely try notching or cutting it back, but if it were my own FLF, I would probably go with cutting it back. Notching may work to get a new branch, but most likely won’t get you the desired lush and bushy look if all the other branches are mostly bare. Make sure it has the best conditions possible first eg light, air flow and a good fertilize. If you cut each branch back closer to the main trunk, hopefully new branches will grow from these pruned ones. It is a bit of a bonsai trick to do, to cut everything back with no leaves left, but give it time and it should recover with the right conditions! Spring going into Summer is the best time to do this. All the best! Would love to hear the progress.
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
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 🙂
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.
Hi Gary, that’s true – they can need some trimming if they outgrow their position! 🙂
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
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 🙂
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
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.
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!
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!
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 🙂
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?
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 🙂
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!!!!!
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.
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!!’
Hey Melissa, if there’s still green leaves on the tree, there’s still hope! 🙂 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 🙂
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.
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 🙂
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!
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 🙂
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!
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 🙂
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 “one 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 “flat 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
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! 🙂
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!
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 🙂
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!
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. 🙂
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?
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 🙁 It might be time to take a trip to the nursery for a new one!
If I have removed leaves from the trunk, do they ever grow back?
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.
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?
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.
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. 🙁
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 🙂 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 🙂
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?
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 🙂
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 !
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:)
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?
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.
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.
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!
We need help. Can we send you a ours is a tree and leaves are dying however is new growth at the very top.
I can send photos via email.
Hi Fee, you can send me some photos if you like via my contact page, or check out these forums on the link below:
They have a lot of good info and help, and taught me a lot when I first got my FLF! 🙂
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?
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 🙂
I replanted my FLF, it has grown a lot and is hitting the top of my ceiling? Where can I trim it so it won’t die?
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 🙂
Great information… thank you.. tony
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?
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! ?
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
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.
Thank you Emily. I had given thought to putting it in water to sprout first. Hope it works! ?
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.
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!
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.
Hey Elana, thanks for your comment! I’m also anxiously awaiting Spring in Aus to do a bit of work on my FLF 🙂 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!
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.
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. 🙂
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.
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!
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?
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!
My fiancé 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??
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! 🙂
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!
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 🙂
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.
Hey Whitney, thanks for the update 🙂 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
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?
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.
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?
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! 🙂
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!
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! 🙂
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!
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. 🙂
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 ?
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 🙂
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
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!
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?
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!
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 for your comments Scott! It’s always a good idea to let your FLF acclimatize to its new surroundings. All the best! 🙂
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!
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 🙂
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!!
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 🙂
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.
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.
Hope that helps you! 🙂
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
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 🙂
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?
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 🙂