Winter brings about a whole bunch of changes for plants. They can be affected by lower temperatures, a lack of humidity and less light – just for starters!
If you’re a Fiddle Leaf Fig fanatic like me, you’ll want to know exactly what winter means for your plant and how you can help it thrive through the cooler months.
During winter, Fiddle Leaf Figs can sometimes be ‘dormant’. This is when they appear to stop growing, because of less-than-ideal environmental conditions (Fiddle Leafs are tropical plants!).
But, your FLF doesn’t have to stop growing and thriving in cooler weather! This past winter season, I was able to keep my FLFs growing new leaves with no negative wintery symptoms.
Read on for details on how to care for your Fiddle Leaf Fig during winter.
Bringing Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Inside When Temperatures Cool Down
If your Fiddle Leaf Fig normally lives outdoors and you live in a place that gets cooler than 55F (12C) at night, it’s best that it comes indoors to get out of the cold. FLFs are tropical plants that don’t do well in cold conditions.
To some extent, these plants can acclimatise to cooler weather. But a sudden cold snap or temperatures close to freezing can result in shock and leaf loss for our lush, tropical friends.
So, you’ll want to know how you can move your FLF indoors for the winter months.
How to Transition a Fiddle Leaf Fig to Indoors
You may have heard that FLFs don’t like to be moved. This is true, but it’s mostly if they’re moving to an environment that is less ideal than their current location.
This is also why they can suffer when you first bring your Fiddle home. Plants grown for sale are often grown in ideal, greenhouse-like environments.
Worse locations are ones that have less light, humidity or temperatures lower than around 65F (18C). But a Fiddle Leaf Fig that is moved to a brighter, warmer location than its current one should not respond negatively.
There’s a few main factors to address when moving your FLF indoors: the lower light, lower humidity and less fresh air flow. While we can’t control all these elements, understanding them can help you stress less if your FLF does take a little time to adjust.
Because indoors has a lot less light than outside, your FLF may struggle with the lack of light. Our eyes may interpret our home as bright. But for a plant, the lower light levels is much more noticeable!
If your FLF is in a sunny spot outdoors, before bringing it inside, transition it to an outside shady spot for a couple of weeks first. This will help with the transition and will hopefully lessen any shock for the plant by bringing it in to a low-light space suddenly.
Be aware that it’s normal for there to be some possible negative side effects of transitioning a plant indoors. Unfortunately, some leaf drop may be unavoidable.
Theres a few things you can do to help your FLF transition indoors well, such as supplementing light with a grow light (more info on using grow lights indoors here) and increasing humidity through a humidifier (read on for more info on humidity).
Dealing with Lower Light During Winter
Winter often means less light for our plants. There’s a few reasons why:
- Less daylight hours
- Less access to sunlight because of the angle of the earth
- Gloomy weather means lower light levels
- Bringing plants indoors = lower light levels
Short of putting your plants front and centre in the brightest window of your house, the next best way to increase light is with a grow light. Grow lights are special plant-lights that simulate sunlight to give plants the energy they need to survive.
A grow light can either supplement sunlight or can even replace natural light altogether in some situations (that’s how powerful they can be)!
There’s a myriad of different colours and styles of grow lights, which can be confusing. Because FLFs are foliage plants, it’s best to opt for a full-spectrum grow light. My pick is the Aspect pendant light, which is beautiful as well as effective!
Coloured lights are more specifically designed towards a certain type of growth (such as flowers or fruiting). Also, coloured lights don’t look so nice on display in our homes!
A quality, full-spectrum grow light can provide extra light for your Fiddle Leaf Fig during cooler weather (or even all year round). A nice bulb can also be a decor feature, as opposed to a flaw. If you’re after more info on how grow lights work, read this guide to Grow Lights for Indoor Plants.
Water Less Often in Winter
Overwatering is a big Fiddle Leaf Fig killer. Less light and less growth during the cooler months means that your plants will be using less water!
This means your plants will have less water requirements. The best way to tell if your FLF needs water is by feeling if the top two inches of soil are dry.
During the cooler months, it may take longer for the soil to dry out. This means you’ll need to water less often (and not on a schedule!) When you do water, remember that it’s still best to water until the excess drains to ensure all the roots get watered.
Less Fertilizer Needs
It’s normal for most plants to slow down growth during the cooler months. Because of this, your Fiddle Leaf Fig won’t have the same fertilizer requirements as it would during Spring or Summer.
Fertilizing your FLF when they’ve slowed or stopped growth can result in a buildup of unused fertilizer in the soil, or it getting flushed out of the pot and wasted. I generally stop fertilizing or fertilize less often, at half strength if there are any signs of growth.
Dealing with Dry Air Indoors & Through Winter
I’m sure you’ve noticed that dry-skin feeling that comes with the cooler months. Winter is renowned for dry air, which means your plants are probably feeling it even more than you are!
Fiddle Leaf Figs are tropical plants that LOVE humidity. Dry air means low humidity, which can result in dimpled leaves or even crispy leaf edges. If you notice these symptoms, you may want to consider running a humidifier or putting out pebble trays to help increase humidity. For more tips, read my guide to humidity for indoor plants.
Contrary to popular advice, misting does little to nothing for increasing humidity! Misting only helps with humidity for the minute or so that the water particles are sprayed into the air.
So unless you’re planning on quitting your day job to become a full-time plant mister, it’s really not worth it! I sometimes give newly-forming leaves a mist to stop them from ripping, and that’s about it.
Dealing with Heating & Cooling Systems
If you run a type of air conditioning or heating system during winter, beware of the affect it can have on your plants. Make sure that vents or fans are not blowing directly on or nearby your Fiddle Leaf Fig. This can damage leaves or even cause leaf drop!
Be sure to place your FLF further enough away that it isn’t in the path of hot, blowing air.
Don’t Forget to Dust your Fiddle Leaf Fig
Those large leaves can quickly build up a covering of dust particles, which can block light from the plant. Be sure to remember to dust your Fiddle Leaf Fig. A monthly check should be fine.
Only use a soft, damp or dry cloth to dust the leaves. Hosing the plant to remove dust is another option, although this is obviously best left to the warmer months when it’s safe to take plants outside!
I hope you now feel confident about caring for your Fiddle Leaf Fig in winter! With a little extra care, you can have them continue to grow through all seasons. I often share my own Fiddle Leaf Fig updates and care tips over on Instagram – come join me!
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