How to Encourage a Fiddle Leaf Fig to Grow

Are you frustrated or worried that your Fiddle Leaf Fig doesn’t seem to be growing? You’re in the right place! These plants can be notoriously tricky to figure out. But the good news is that there are steps you can take to make sure your plant is happy, healthy, growing & loving life.

Below I’m sharing some common reasons that can cause these plants to slow or stop growing, and some tips on how to encourage your Fiddle Leaf Fig to grow. Read on for details!

How to Encourage a Fiddle Leaf Fig to Grow | Dossier Blog

It’s normal that when plants are in an environment that is different to their natural habitat (like our homes), their growth will be somewhat inhibited by the conditions. Because Fiddle Leaf Figs are naturally tropical plants, they grow best in bright, warm and humid conditions.

Fortunately there are some things you can do to improve the conditions in your home and help encourage your Fiddle Leaf to grow.

Tips to encourage new growth on Fiddle Leaf Figs | Dossier BLog

Why isn’t my Fiddle Leaf Fig Growing?

Keep in mind that there are a couple of instances where it’s actually normal for your Fiddle Leaf Fig to not grow, and everything is actually fine with your plant (phew!).

Your Local Climate has a Winter Season

Because these plants are tropical, they can sometimes slow or stop growing when they are living in climates that have a winter season. Winter seasons bring cooler temperatures and less hours of sunlight during the day, which can affect their growth rate.

While this may not happen everywhere, if you do find your Fiddle Leaf isn’t growing and it’s winter, remember this is a normal plant reaction. It is storing it’s energy and you should begin to see new growth as spring arrives.

It’s in a New Environment

Another completely normal reason why your Fiddle Leaf might not be growing is if you’ve just brought it home. Or if it has just experienced a change such as moving location or repotting.

Fiddle Leafs are notorious for not liking changes, and so you may notice that it can take a little while for your plant to settle in if you’ve just brought it home or changed something about its environment.

Even if you don’t notice new growth for a couple of months, this can be normal. However read on to make sure that your Fiddle Leaf is in an ideal situation to grow again when it is ready!

Remember: Fiddle Leafs Grow in Bursts

Lastly, one characteristic I have noticed with Fiddle Leafs is that their growth often comes in bursts. While some plants have slow and consistent growth, Fiddles generally have a burst of growth that can result in 3-4 new leaves at a time.

Between these bursts, you may not see individual leafs coming through. This is my personal opinion, but I think that because FLFs have such large leaves, they need this time between for their new leaves to strengthen and mature. And to stock the energy required to grow more of these epically large and lush leaves!

How Fast do Fiddle Leaf Figs Grow?

The good news is that given the right conditions, Fiddle Leaf Figs can be quite fast-growing! Like all plants though, their rate of growth (and general health) does depend on how suitable their environment and care is, so growth rates do vary.

Because Fiddle Leaf Figs are tropical plants, the closer their environment is to their natural growing conditions, the faster they’ll grow and the more healthier the plant will be in general.

Three Things That Can Help your Fiddle Leaf Fig Grow:

More Light

Hands down – the most important aspect of growth for Fiddle Leaf Figs (or generally any plant) is giving them enough light! Not many people realise that Fiddle Leafs are notorious light lovers.

Light is the key requirement for plants to create energy through photosynthesis, so it makes sense that if they’re not getting enough light, they can’t produce the energy required to grow. I heard someone refer to the FLF’s large leaves as solar panels recently, and this is a perfect analogy of how they work!

Solar panels can only create energy if they’re subjected to light. So the brighter indirect light your plant can get, or the more direct light you can give them (provided they’re acclimatised so they don’t burn), the better they’ll grow.

So what should you do? Fiddle Leaf Figs grow best when they’re positioned directly in front of a window or door. Because plants use light differently to us, what you may not realise is that the light level dramatically decreases as soon as a plant is more than a couple of feet from a window. or even if they’re against a wall next to the window instead of directly in front!

I know – those Pinterest pics of lush Fiddle Leafs in the corner contradict this point. BUT if your FLF is stuck in a corner, sooner or later you are going to notice a lack of growth, dropping leaves or just a lanky, unhappy & unhealthy plant in general.

If for some reason it’s not possible to place your plant in front of a window or give it more light, you may want to invest in a grow light.

Use a grow light to encourage growth | Dossier Blog

A Well-Formulated Fertilizer

Fiddle Leafs aren’t necessarily big feeders when it comes to fertilizer, but one of the major increases I saw in my plants’ growth rate was when I started fertilizing.

Not only did the plant double its size in around a year, but the leaf size itself doubled and the leaves grew closer together (this helps strengthen their trunk and makes them look more full).

If you can, try to use a fertilizer that is especially formulated for Fiddle Leaf Figs’ nutrient requirements. This means having an NPK ratio of 9:3:6 (aka 3:1:2). I have more information about fertilizer here, including my recommendations.

(Lastly) Checking if its Root Bound

This point is last because there is a myth that if plants aren’t growing, they should automatically be repotted. But as I mentioned above, Fiddle Leafs don’t love change. So even if you do repot your Fiddle, it still may need time to adjust to the repotting before you see any positive changes.

These particular plants do prefer to be snug in pots. So unless your plant is extremely root bound, or the soil is so old that it is nutrient deficient, repotting won’t always have a big impact on growth rate.

However if your plant IS root bound and the soil has not been changed for more than 2-3 years, there is a chance that it is hindering the growth of your plant.

One thing to be aware of when repotting is that you should only go up one pot size. This means choosing a pot that is only 1-2 inches wider than the current pot. This is because if the new pot is a lot larger than the current pot, Fiddle Leafs can spend their energy growing new roots rather than the growth we want to see – new leaves!

You can find out more about soil & repotting here.

Fiddle Leaf Fig growing tip, crispy brown sheath | Dossier Blog

What NOT to do if Your Fiddle Leaf isn’t Growing:

If you find your Fiddle Leaf isn’t growing, there’s a couple of common things I’ve noticed people try that probably aren’t going to help the situation.

Cut off the Top Growing Bud

I’m often asked about the seemingly dry, crispy brown sheath at the top of the plant. People often mistake this as dead. However this is totally normal, and does NOT need to be cut back to encourage growth! When the plant is ready to grow new leaves, they will emerge from within those protective sheaths.

Cutting this growing tip back won’t necessarily harm the plant, but it means that the plant will need to grow from new buds rather than the top point and you can even end up with branches. Once pruned, new growth will no longer come from the cut stem itself.

Move the Plant Around

Another thing people try is to keep moving the plant to new locations. Fiddle Leafs don’t like to be moved around, so once you find a suitable (bright!) location for it, the best thing to do is leave it be. This will allow it to settle in and get into a routine.

Repotting As Soon as You Get it or Even if It’s Not Root Bound

And as I mentioned above, people will often repot their plants as soon as they bring them home or as a ‘solution’ for not seeing any growth.

Fiddle Leafs are unique in that they are quite ok being snug in their pot! So only repot if it’s been years since the soil has changed, or if it is very root bound.

Changing the soil otherwise will not necessarily impact the growth of the plant.

 

So if you’re struggling with a Fiddle Leaf Fig that isn’t growing, first ask if it is in a natural period of little growth due to winter or recent changes.

Then to encourage growth, increase light levels either by moving it in front of a window or using a grow light. Make sure you’re using a well formulated fertilizer at least once a month during growing season. Lastly, check if its rootbound or needs a soil change.

If you’re a new Fiddle Leaf owner or are experiencing issues with understanding your plant’s needs, download the free Grower’s Guide on this post! It has a bunch of useful tips and info on the A-Z of Fiddle Leaf Fig care.

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16 Comments. Leave new

  • Avatar
    Connie Sta Ana Cimafranca
    November 8, 2020 8:41 pm

    I heard that keiki paste helps fiddle leaf figs to grow. Is that encouraged? If so, how is it best done?

    Reply
    • I haven’t used Keiki paste before but understand it encourages plants to grow when put on the nodes of plants like orchids. There’s a lot of talk about whether it actually works and what plants it works on but I’m sure it wouldn’t harm the plant to just give it a go!

      Reply
  • The best information given yet!

    Reply
  • Hi Emily!
    Just found your site. What an amazing resource! My lovely FLF that is growing lopsidedly. It has 4 arms are growing from one trunk, although they all started at about the same height, one is over 8 feet tall and the other are all about 5 feet tall. The 8 foot arm is pulling the trunk the trunk toward it. All arms show growth but the large arm seems to grow exponentially compared to the other arms. Any ideas on how to balance my FLF’s growth? Huge thanks in advance.

    Reply
    • Hey Cody, this is quite a normal thing! Plants will generally have a dominant or ‘leader’ branch that tends to grow more than the others. There is a simple fix – prune the leader branch to be slightly shorter than the other ones, which will redistribute the growth hormone to the other branches.

      Reply
  • Do you have experience with edema in FLFs? My recent growth has lots of red spots on it (I think I overwatered… guilty) but the leaves seem to be becoming more green so hopefully the plant is recovering.. any tips with how to deal with this and avoid it in the future?

    Reply
  • i bought a FLF 5 days ago and noticed that the leaves looks like its been curled inwards and thought it just needed sunlight or is just under watered, so i checked the soil and was 2 inches dry, i proceeded to water it down until water came out of the drain then placed it in direct sunlight for about 6 hours. i now realized that i made a big big big mistake! i’ve noticed that 5 of the leaves (including the small new 1) got sunburned and 4 other leaves fell off.😭😭😭 just today i checked the soil again, and it still feels dry despite waterimg it down 5 days ago. I am feeling down and stressed about it, can you please advice what else i could do save it? thank you!

    Reply
    • Hey Sheila! Sorry to hear your FLF got sunburnt. If the leaves are over 50% damaged/browned, you can remove them. If there’s only a little browning on a leaf, it is best to keep it on the plant as it will still be creating energy for the plant (even though it may not look the nicest!) If the soil is drying out quite quickly or not retaining moisture when watering, you may want to give bottom watering a go. Place the pot in a shallow tray of water to allow the soil to soak it in for a couple of hours. This should help the soil soak in the water properly rather than running through. Other than that, it probably best to leave it be to adjust to its new location and settle in 🙂

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Melisa Rodriguez
    September 15, 2020 7:24 am

    I’m a new mom to m 1st FLF so I did repot instantly but I think the pot is too big. So, I’m not sure if I should reply again to prevent root rot or just keep her the way she is? I’m so confused 😩

    Reply
    • Hey Melisa! I don’t think there’s necessarily a right or wrong thing to do here… If you don’t want the hassle of repotting, you could leave it be and just keep an eye on it and only water when it needs. This will probably be less often as the soil will take longer to dry out. If you notice early signs of overwatering or root rot (dark brown patches forming on leaves), then it would be a sign to repot. You should be able to manage though by just ensuring you’re watering correctly. More info on watering here. Root rot is a sign that the soil is holding too much water and/or the plant is being watered too often – a large pot can attribute to this but isn’t necessarily the main factor! So focusing on your watering is key 🙂

      Reply
  • I bought a FLF and it actually has 3 in the pot. Should I separate them into 1 to a pot or just leave it?

    Reply
  • Awesome, so maybe just slowly increasing the time in front of the window? Don’t just put it there all day initially?

    Thank you for responding!!

    Reply
  • So about light, you say to place them in front of the window, i have a west facing window that gets a lot of afternoon light but wouldn’t that be direct light? My plant is struggling and im pretty sure its due to not enough light. I have it in the corner of that west facing room but not directly in front of the window because i feared it would burn.

    Reply
    • Hi Lexi, FLFs love light and can take as much direct light as long as they’re acclimatised slowly (in nature they grow in full sun!). Afternoon light can be harsher so as long as you can slowly adjust it to being in front of the window it should be fine.

      Reply

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