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.
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.
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.
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.
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 a couple of weeks or so. 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.
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 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!