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! You can also get 15% off with the code dossier22 thanks to Soltech.
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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I’m so confused with my FLF!! I started noticing crispy, brown edges and initially thought root rot but my watering habits tend to the “less is more” approach. I only noticed this happening as the temps dropped. So, is my FLF dry or is she being fussy due to the weather? Leaves are not dropping and spots are random from top to bottom. Help!
Hi Rob, it does sound more like dryness to me, however this post on identifying brown spots should help you to determine the cause and what to do next!
Hello! I bought a 5’ tall FLF tree from Costco back in August that my daughters named Milly :). Beautiful and lots of leaves… until the cold weather came and I started to notice browning and leaf dropping. I then realized the heat from our vent was blowing straight onto it. I was told to repot by a nursery employee – which I had read that you should not do in fall/winter, but trusted the source. Then came very dark, almost black spots that turned eventually light brown. I water only when moisture meter indicates 4. Long story short (too late I know), but now it is very sad looking with only a handful of leaves (7), and seems to be losing at least one every couple of days. It does look like there are two new buds at the top, with tiny dormant buds along the trunk, but I am curious where to go from here. A friend’s mom- a horticulturalist – advised to water it thoroughly, then “tent it” in clear plastic wrap for a month, then then prune it back and see how that goes. Do you feel that’s a good strategy? The hubs is ready to throw it in the compost bin which I don’t want to do, so any advice would be much appreciated.
Hi Sue, the watering & tenting is definitely an option for plants that are struggling! However if you were planning on pruning it back, I would probably do it before tenting so that any new growth during tenting is not chopped straight off. The plant could probably benefit from a grow light by the sounds of it too!
Hi! I live in Massachusetts. I bought a smaller fiddle (Igor) the end of summer that had already been notched and thus has two stems growing out of the one trunk. It’s just short. I have another fiddle (Flora) who I got in the spring. It’s not January 2021 and Flora is doing fabulous, putting out new leaves and thriving. Igor looks the same from the day I brought him home. Anything I should do/ change? They are both in the same window.
I have some tips on encouraging growth in this post – they should help!
This is the first year my large 3 year old FLF found a new home on my screened in porch at the new home. It did great during the warm months in South Carolina. However, I completely forgot about the FLF not doing well in the cool temperatures…. I don’t yet notice any major issues but should I move it inside or leave it? I don’t want to shock it with the dramatic difference in temperatures so quickly.
Hi Ashley, I’m not sure of the climate where you are but if it is dipping below about 15C it would be best to bring it inside. They’ll generally only experience shock if they are going from an ideal environment to a worse one, meaning that if the temps are better indoors for your plant it should be fine! Just make sure that the light levels are ok indoors or supplement a grow light if possible!
I’ve got 2 baby fiddle leaf figs. During most of the year, the weather is great here on the Gulf Coast for them to be outside. Now, during the winter months, it gets too cold at night but drastically warms throughout the day. Can I set the plants out in the morning to get the good outdoor light they are used to and then bring them in at night to protect them from the cold? Will that send them into shock?
Hi Jayme, I’m sure that would be fine to do. Fiddle Leafs will generally only get shocked by extreme temperatures or dramatic changes in location where the plant is going from an ideal environment to a worse one. All the best!
Hey, I am experiencing my first winter with my fig tree. I initially brought it inside the house for a month in fall, and the leaves slightly began to turn brown at the edges. I think read about keeping it in the garage for winter. I live in zone 6. Now I have kept my potted tree in the garage for winter, I covered it up so no light goes through and covered the base with bubble wrap However I noticed before i covered it, the leaves were drooping but had no fallen the way they should in fall/winter.
Will the leaves remain on it all winter and if so should i cut the leaves off in spring?
Hey Myra, if you’re talking about a Fiddle Leaf, then they shouldn’t lose their leaves in winter. They’re actually tropical plants and I wouldn’t think they’d survive covered up all winter! They’re quite sensitive to cooler temperatures and need bright light. If you’re able to keep it in the house with as much light as possible, I think that would be the best way to make sure it makes it through winter! Hope the tips in this post can help! 🙂
We’ve had our very small FLF since last December and it’s always been fine. Sitting against the far wall of an east facing window. We recently moved it because we moved the unit it was sitting on and very suddenly (as in within days) it’s leaves have all turned yellow and are falling off. It did grow 2 new leaves very quickly before this began to happen as well. We moved it into a window but it only seems to be slowing the dropping down. I live in scotland and the sun has been behind clouds for weeks now. We’re getting very low light levels. It’s only got 3 healthy leaves left now and I’m very scared it’s going to die. Is there anything I can do for it now? I’ve been trying to get a full spectrum grow light but they seem to be sold out everywhere I try or they wont be delivered for weeks.
Hi Abigail, it’s good that you’ve moved it closer to a window (FLFs love light). The sudden yellowing & leaf drop sounds like it could be exposed to cold air or a draft though – can you check if there’s any cold air coming through the window or if there’s an air vent or heater blowing onto the plant in its new location? Generally sudden drop like this is because of a change in temperature or drafts nearby. Apart from that a grow light would be very helpful, fingers crossed you can get your hands on one over there!
Hi, I brought home a beautiful fiddle leaf tree. Now the problem is all our windows have heater vents along them and I want to place it near the window for maximum light I’m scared that the dry air might kill the plant. I live in Alberta, Canada & it gets really cold here. Do you think placing the humidifier might near it might help?
Hey Fatima, you could try a humidifier near it, as long as the heater vents aren’t blowing directly on the plant itself. Another option is to keep it away from the events but use a grow light for added light. Grow lights are great for this purpose and also for helping plants through winter in colder climates like yours. More info on grow lights here 🙂
I love your advice. I just received a fiddle a couple weeks ago and so far so good. However, I live in NYC and I’m anticipating a really dark and dry winter. I’m also concerned that my fiddle isnt receiving adequate light. Additionally, my windows are quite large and my heater only intermittently blows warm air, so temperature isn’t constant, but fluctuates every hour. I already have a humidifier and I’m planning on getting a grow light. Do you have any suggestions about temperature regulation or am I worrying too much?
Hey Nathaniel, if the temperatures are fine for you they should be ok for the plant too! As long as it isn’t in the way of hot air or a draft, it should be an issue 🙂 A grow light will definitely help with the light situation, especially over the winter months. All the best!
Hi Emily, I’m in Adelaide and have a 6ft FLF that is doing quite well inside next to an East facing window. I’ve noticed that 3 leaves near the bottom have yellowed and now I have cut back on watering. I generally add about 2 glasses of water at a time and it never drains through. So you recommend watering until it drains through approx every two weeks In Winter? Should I pull the yellow leaves off now too? And finally what is best fertiliser to use come Spring? Thanking you
Watering is dependant on so many individual factors rather than than a set schedule! They will need water less often in winter but its always best to check if the top 2″ soil is dry rather than a timeframe. More info on fertilizer here. 🙂
Hi Emily, first of all thank you for creating this blog, it gives hopes to a black thumb like me 😉
I’ve only brought home a cute FLF (oh I’m in Australia, it’s Winter here) my ideal location for it is my massive east-facing window where it gets morning sunlights.
I’m not so sure if it will have problems if the sun never physically hit the leaves? I mean I don’t want to burn it, but is that enough for them? The sun here is even its filtered through the window, you can still feel the warmth.
I kind of think that I want it to be nourished in sunlights, but kind of scared to do so! Do you have any suggestions?
Love from Sydney ❤️
Hey Nicole! I’m in Australia too 🙂 Sounds like that window would be perfect for your Fiddle Leaf! FLFs do love light but they’ll do fine without any direct light. If they do get direct sunlight, they just need to be acclimatised slowly so their leaves don’t burn. However seeing as its winter, if it gets an hour or two of direct morning light I think it will do fine and be very happy. All the best!
Hi Emily, My FLF stopped growing new leaves two months ago after I moved to a new apartment (I’ve had it for three years, and it has thrived up until now). It’s now also started to crinkle, brown and split at the edges of the leaves. I’m pretty sure the problem is that it’s not getting enough light — the brightest window in my new place is east-facing and so it only gets about five hours of sunlight. By noon or so, the sun has risen over the top of our building, and for the rest of the day the apartment only gets lit by reflections and shadows. I’m wondering, what do you think is the minimum amount of direct light a FLF needs in order to survive? Now that it’s spring and approaching summer, does my plant stand a chance?
Thanks for any help you might be able to give!
Hi Jerald! If I understand what you’re saying, your FLF gets about 5 hours of direct sunlight a day? That is good!! FLFs can handle having no direct light (as long as they’re still close to a window) although the more light the better. The symptoms you’ve mentioned such as the crinkling, cracking and brown edges sound to me like a sign of dryness. This could be low humidity or that the plant needs to be watered more often. Humidifiers can help if the air is dry however the crinkling leaves are kind of like an adaptation to our environment, as they are tropical plants in nature. As long as the leaves aren’t being taken over by browning I don’t think it’s too much to worry about.
in terms of no new leaves growing, I’m sure it is just settling into its new environment as Fiddle Leafs generally don’t like change. Now that it’s spring, you could give it a fertilize to help encourage new growth. Here’s a guide on fertilizing if you need any help 🙂
Emily, thanks so much for responding! I’ll try what you suggested – it is kind of dry in my apartment (though I don’t think it’s for lack of watering – the soil of my FLF seems to always be damp, even if I take a couple days off from watering. Thank you again for your insights. Jerald
Hi Emily, your posts are really helpful! I wanted to ask about drainage – I recently bought a FLF, but the drainage holes are quite small at the bottom of the pot. I last watered the plant a week ago and while the top few inches of soil are very dry, the soil seems somewhat moist in the bottom of the pot and there are white bits in the soil near the drainage holes. It’s my suspicion that it’s not draining optimally. I’d like to ultimately change the soil and also add clay pebbles to the bottom of the pot to improve the drainage, but it’s the dead of winter here in the UK and I’m worried about causing too much stress for the plant by taking it out and changing the soil. What would you recommend? Perhaps cutting larger holes in the bottom on the plastic pot until the spring, or is it all right to change the soil now? It was just bought and transported across London 3 weeks ago, so I don’t want to stress it too many times in a row. Thanks so much for your insight!
Hi Austin, it is pretty normal for the bottom of the pot to be more damp than the top. The pot should never fully dry out, and when the top couple of inches feels dry, you know its time to water again. When you water, does the water run through & out of the bottom of the pot within less than a minute or so (provided you are watering enough that it can drain)? If so, I think your FLF should be fine. Its possible the white bits could be part of the soil (like perlite) or maybe some kind of funghus, which shouldn’t be harmful for the plant. Unless your plant is not draining and there are signs of overwatering (dark brown spots on leaves or yellowing), I think you will be fine to wait until spring to repot. Keep in mind that plants will use less water in winter and they’ll also take longer to dry out, so you won’t need to be watering as often as you would in spring or summer. Maybe watering every 10 days – 2 weeks is enough.
If you have issues with signs of overwatering, then it might pay to repot now in a chunky, well draining mix with something like cactus soil & some horticultural charcoal. All the best!
Hi, Emily. I just bought 2 new, small FLF about 2 weeks ago and have watered them once so far. This week one of them grew a new leaf! I understand during dormant fall/winter months we shouldn’t fertilize as often when watering because they aren’t growing new leaves but should I fertilize the FLF that has new growth?
Hi Randy, I would leave it at this stage as plants will often come with a slow release fertilizer in the soil from the nursery. I’d recommend starting once Spring hits.
I recently noticed when I put water on the plate underneath orchid ..it drank it up so fast.I put a little at a time.. we get fierce Santa Ana winds and humidity drops from 35 to 50 in minutes.
Thank you for answering me. I put the flf nearer to the window. t gets morning sun. I talk to my plants. I told my flf I was sorry and please come back to life. I really appreciate hearing from you. Thanks again. Sharlee
Your advice has made me a relatively good FLF grower!
Thanks Ruth! Hopefully one day you’ll be an expert FLF owner 😆
My baby FlF loves older type light bulb heat..not the no heat mercury LED light bulbs. It’s finally thriving now. I have it facing North West in my bedroom in Camarillo, California. I share my oxygen..FLF gives me filtered cleaner air. Thanks for all your help.
It’s always good when you find something that works! 😊 I love having indoor plants to help freshen the air too!
I overwatered my flf . It was growing well then I added miracle grow and water and now it is really droopy. Have I killed it? thank you
Hey Sharlee, FLFs can be pretty resilient so I’m sure it will recover! I find it’s best to wait until the top inch or two of soil is dry before watering again. Hoping it recovers for you! 😊