Guide to Fiddle Leaf Fig Soil & Repotting

Lately I’ve had a few questions about repotting Fiddle Leaf Figs and the best soil for Fiddle Leaf Figs, so this post will answer all these questions!

If you’re wanting to repot your Fiddle Leaf Fig, keep in mind that this should be done in the growing season, such as Spring or Summer.

I’ve come across people who’ve repotted out of season, and it can cause more problems than it can fix! This is because during the cooler months, Fiddle Leafs are conserving energy. And they don’t like change – so any repotting or changes you make will be a lot harder for the plant to recover from.

Also, FLFs don’t like the cold. If you’re taking your plant outside to repot in temperatures under 60 degrees (15 Celcius) for example, and using close to freezing water on the roots, it’s possible your plant will go into shock!

It’s best to wait until the temperatures warm up, and there’s signs of growth from your plant before making any changes.

If you’ve just water propagated a Fiddle Leaf Fig cutting, learn how to pot and care for it here. 

Guide to Fiddle Leaf Fig Soil and Repotting | Dossier Blog

When does a Fiddle Leaf Fig need to be Repotted?

Fiddle Leaf Figs only need to go up a pot size when they are root bound. These plants generally like to be snug in their pots. So only once you notice roots circling the outer edge of the pot, or masses of roots showing on the surface or coming out the bottom of the pot, is it time to repot.

You can check this by gently wiggling and lifting the plant out of the pot, by holding on to the base of the plant or the trunk. The plant should slip out of the pot fairly easily, and you can check how many roots you can see and if there are many running horizontally around the pot (root bound) or not.

Even if your plant isn’t root bound, it’s a good idea to repot it with fresh soil every 2-3 years. This will enable the plant to get fresh nutrients from the new soil. To do this, just use the same pot rather than going up a pot size.

The aim is to gently break up the soil and shake as much old soil off the roots as possible, before replanting with fresh soil.

Choosing a Pot for your Fiddle Leaf Fig

If your Fiddle Leaf Fig is root bound, you’ll need to choose a larger pot to replant it in. It’s best to choose a pot that is only 1-2 inches wider than its current pot.

This is for two reasons. Firstly, Fiddle Leaf Figs like to be snug in pots. And secondly, if they’re given a much larger pot, these plants will often spend their energy filling it out. That means the plant will focus on growing its roots system, rather than growing new leaves!

If you’ve got a Fiddle in an overly large pot and aren’t seeing any new growth, this could be why.

Another thing to note is that you’ll need a pot that has drainage holes at the bottom – this is crucial! Without proper drainage, your Fiddle Leaf is prone to all sorts of nasty conditions including overwatering and root rot. Find out if your FLF is suffering from overwatering here.

If you’d like to use a decorative pot that has no drainage hole, make sure you plant your Fiddle Leaf in a pot with drainage holes, and then place that pot inside the decorative one.

Fiddle Leaf Fig well draining soil mix | Dossier Blog

The best Soil for Fiddle Leaf Figs

I’ve seen lots of advice online where others give a very specific formula and soil products to use for FLFs. While this is handy (especially if you’re a beginner), by no means does it mean that your Fiddle Leaf isn’t going to thrive when using other products!

With that said, the most important thing to know about Fiddle Leaf Fig soil is that they like it to be well draining.

And a well draining soil mix will need to have chunky particles to allow water to move through the mix freely. So rather than giving a very specific formula for repotting your plant, here’s a few ideas of what you can use to help make a chunky, well draining soil mix that your Fiddle Leaf will love!

Option 1: Cactus & Succulent Mix

Cactus & succulents are known for liking things on the drier side, with well draining soil. So if you’d like the most simple option for your FLF, pick up a bag of cactus & succulent mix to use for your plant!

To take it up a level, add in around an extra quarter of a chunky substrate (like bark chips) into your mix.

Option 2: DIY Fiddle Leaf Fig Soil Mix

Another option is to make your own soil mix. For this, you’ll need high quality potting mix, pine bark mulch and some horticultural charcoal.

Pine bark mulch helps create a chunkier mix that allows water to move more freely through. And horticultural charcoal helps with this too, and also contains antibacterial properties that can help your soil.

Mix around four parts of the high quality potting mix to one part pine bark mulch and one part horticultural charcoal. This will be a great, well-draining mix for your Fiddle Leaf.

How to Repot a Fiddle Leaf Fig

Whether your Fiddle is root bound or just needs fresh soil, the most important part of repotting is to remove as much old soil as possible and ‘fluff out’ any root bound roots.

If your Fiddle Leaf is root bound, simply placing it it a larger pot and filling in soil around the edges won’t help. This is because the roots are trained to grow around the pot, and they need to be fluffed out to grow normally again.

Adding in fresh soil just around the edges will also make your watering less effective. If you water when there’s two different soil types in the pot, the water will take the easiest path to the bottom of the pot. This means the roots are less likely to get watered properly!

Step One: Mix up your new Soil

In a seperate large container or bucket, mix up the new soil mix you’d like to use. If you’re just using a bag of cactus & succulent mix, you won’t need to do this step.

Step Two: Lift the plant out of the Pot

Hold the plant at the base. Tip the plant and pot on its side and gently wiggle and lift the plant out of the pot. This should happen fairly easily. If not, squeeze the pot to help loosen it.

Step Three: Gently break away Old Soil

The aim here is to remove as much of the old soil as possible, without breaking too much of the roots. A little breakage is inevitable, but remember the small roots are most important – they’re the ones that carry nutrients! The larger roots provide stability.

You can also place the root ball into a bucket of water or use a hose to help wash away the old soil. Do not let the roots dry out in the repotting process! Also make sure the water you use isn’t close to freezing – this can cause shock for these tropical plants.

Repotting Fiddle Leaf Fig - bare roots | Dossier Blog

Step Four: For Root bound plants, trim some of the longer, outer roots

For plants that were root bound, giving the roots a trim can help stimulate new growth. Aim to cut away any extra long, outer roots. Think of it like getting a trim at the hairdressers – you don’t need to cut too much, just an inch or two all round (depending on the size of your plant).

Step Five: Fill the planter with around a third new soil

Fill up the planter you’re using with around a third new soil. Then place your plant back in the pot, taking note of how high it’s sitting in the pot. You’ll want to plant it so that all the roots are covered, and the soil fills up to within an inch of the top of the pot.

Step Six: Place the root ball into the Pot & Fill

You may need someone to help you hold the plant upright as you fill in around the sides with fresh soil. Keep in mind the soil will settle, so pat it firmly around the roots to help support the plant.

Fiddle Leaf Fig repotted with new soil - water straight away! | Dossier Blog

Step seven: Water the plant

Don’t miss this step! Watering the plant will allow the soil to move around and settle between the roots, so that none are exposed. Be sure to water it until lots of excess drains. You may notice the soil level lowers too – you can gently but firmly press the soil down with your hands, or tap the pot to help it settle.

Make sure not to water your Fiddle Leaf Fig again until the top 1-2 inches of soil feels dry (use your finger to test).

Because the roots have been disturbed, skip the fertilizer for around the first month after repotting as it can potentially damage the roots. You can use a soil conditioner, such as Seasol which will help keep the soil & plant healthy and strong after the process, without overpowering the plant.

When you’re ready to give your plant some extra nutrients, read this post on How to Fertilize your Fiddle Leaf Fig.

After repotting, place your plant in a bright spot and allow it to adjust. Keep in mind that Fiddle Leafs generally don’t like change, so now it’s best to allow it to adjust to it’s new pot & soil without any more further changes.

If you need more help with your Fiddle Leaf, enter your email to download the Fiddle Leaf Fig Grower’s Guide below!

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16 Comments. Leave new

  • Hi Emily!

    I’ve had my FLF for four years now and I recently noticed It going into a rapid decline. I figured It was time for some new soil. I pulled It out and noticed It wasnt root-bound so i decided to just put It in the same pot with fresh soil. When I shook out the soil from the roots I discovered literally ALL the roots are dead. Everything. There was maybe one big root for stability and that’s It. And it was short . I have FLF 3 stalks in one pot and The dead roots were twisted as if they strangled each other :(. There’s still plenty of leaves on top but they are starting to drop from the bottom. Basically what I’m asking is is It possible for the roots to grow back and support such a tall plant? The tree is almost 7ft tall and there’s basically nothing supporting it. Should I pull it out again and do anything to get the roots grow in again? Thank you so much. I can’t find anything online on this weird issue.

    Reply
    • Or maybe I could repot It in a smaller pot? Maybe if all the roots are dead, this large amount of soil isn’t helping

      Reply
      • Hey Elle, it is important to plant FLFs in a pot that is suitable for the root size, so if you think the current pot is too large you could go down a size. If the roots have died off it sounds like it possibly could have been left to dry out? There could also be some clues of what went wrong on the plant itself. You said it declined rapidly – was there any browning? This post might help identify a problem & how to avoid it happening again! I can’t say whether your plant has enough roots now to support the plant but if you notice it is not getting any better, you may want to prune a few healthy stems off to at least propagate from in case the plant doesn’t make it. Using a seaweed solution like Seasol could help the roots too. All the best!

        Reply
        • Thanks for getting back to me! I moved It into a smaller pot and It seems to be doing ok so far. Looks like It might lose a leaf or two at minimum… time will tell. I looked up the seasol you recommended and that seems like great advice as well. Will give It a try

          Reply
  • Avatar
    Chriss Colon
    July 19, 2020 5:22 am

    I haven’t repotted in about 5 years and all I can say is “My POOR FIDDLE LEAFS!”. I’m sure you are going to be their Hero. Any way, one planter has three trunks (which I believe are three plants) and they’re so close that leaves are encroaching each other. When I repot can I separate them? For my second planter there is almost three feet of bare trunk can I cut off the top part with the few remaining leaves and plant them in a new planter then trim down the trunk to almost the bottom and basically start over?

    Reply
    • Hey Chriss, you can separate the plants but it does come with some risks. Here’s a post that might have some helpful info on that! Separating them is more of a personal choice and it won’t harm the plants to keep them together. You can do what you’ve mentioned with the second plant – I’ve seen lots of FLFs regrow from being cut right back too!

      Reply
  • Thanks for all the helpful tips!!! It’s been so helpful with my 2ft 4in. fiddle leaf!
    My problem is I potted my FL in a way too big of a pot! 17” pot and it’s about 1ft deep.
    it doesn’t seem root bound but lots of roots everywhere filled up the pot and my plant isn’t even that big. Though it is healthy I feel it’s wasting time with it’s roots. Is there anyway I can get it into a smaller pot or not a good idea to downsize?

    Reply
    • Hey Cindy! When FLFs are planted in oversized pots, they do spend their time growing roots instead of growing upwards. Sometimes it can also just take them some time after being repotted to start growing again, so if its been maybe a few months or more with no new growth then it could be the case that the pot is allowing the plant to spend its energy on its roots. You could try repotting into a smaller pot, keeping in mind that it may take a little time to settle back in after being repotting again.

      Reply
  • Hi Emily!
    I’m living in a dry climate (Flagstaff, Arizona) and was wondering if I need to tweak the substrate recipe you described above to prevent over-drying in the plant. Additionally, for the needs of a fiddle-leaf fig, is there any difference between utilizing pine or coconut bark?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hey – good question! FLFs will still need well-draining soil, no matter what sort of climate they are in. The climate and the amount of sunlight they get may affect how often they need watering though (more info on watering here). Pine bark helps with drainage. If you’re using coconut husk (the fibrous sort of medium) then I believe that it is actually moisture retaining so I would stick to some sort of bark/mulch if you can find it 🙂

      Reply
  • Hi Emily,

    My flf became rootbound so I reposted it early spring. I made 2 mistakes, chose a much larger pot and also moved it to a new location with much less sun. Eventually it started shedding leaves. After much effort, I.e moving it to a sunny spot, fertilizing it by 3-4-5 fertilizer, twisting the nips, it has started showing new growth. I am super happy and relived . But the plant still looks super leggy . How should I fix that? Should I move it to a smaller pot? Very nervous since after trying many things I finally saw new growth. Please advise!”

    Reply
    • Hey Anvita! Fiddle Leafs get leggy when they’re not getting enough sun, so making sure its in a bright location will ensure new growth is fuller. If you’re wanting to change the leggy growth, you could either prune it back or try notching – more details here. The pot size shouldn’t affect how leggy or lush the plant is, although it can encourage overwatering issues. If you’re not seeing any negative affects you could keep it in the pot rather than transfer it again, but its up to you on what you think would be better for it. All the best!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Sharon Brower
    May 10, 2020 12:10 pm

    I value your knowledge. I lost my last flf. so I’m using caution with this one. I’ve been using root supplement and Bloomerang fertilizer with good results. I had browning soon after purchasing my 6 ft “Freddie” but no further browning and 2 new large beautiful leaves! I’m also misting every day since the mister I purchased didn’t work. (Ordering a new one.) I also have a grow light hanging thanks to my husband’s work. Thank you so much for sharing with us novices!

    Reply
    • Sounds like you’re mastering your Fiddle Leaf care, Sharon! 🙂 Keep in mind that misting won’t really affect humidity, so you don’t really need to use a spray bottle. A humidifier will definitely hep, but I’m sure it’ll be ok until it arrives 🙂

      Reply
  • Hi Emily! This was super helpful. My FLF is outgrowing it’s current pot at the moment and I can see the roots coming out of the pot. Only problem is we’re coming around to winter here in Australia – do you think I should wait until spring/summer and repot in 6 months or do it now?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hey Bec! I think you could probably get away with either – seeing as we have a relatively mild climate here in Aus. However if your FLF has stopped growing coming into winter, and there isn’t any negative side affects of it being root bound, you could probably wait until spring as FLFs may not grow as much through winter. If you’re seeing growth or negative affects of the small pot – you could repot now. Hope that helps!

      Reply

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