Six Myths about Fiddle Leaf Fig Care

Six Fiddle Leaf Fig Myths - what you're doing wrong, and what to do instead | Dossier Blog

Hey guys!

As you may already be aware, I am a bit of a Fiddle Leaf Fig fanatic. They are a much loved houseplant that can be a little tricky to care for. This is only made worse by the misinformation on the internet! However once you understand what the FLF’s natural environment is like, it’s so much easier to grow a healthy, thriving Fig. So in light of some of the errors I’ve heard recently, I thought I’d dispel a few myths about Fiddle Leaf Fig care to get you growing them like a pro!

Six myths about caring for Fiddle Leaf Figs - what you're doing wrong, and what to do instead! | Dossier Blog

Six Myths about Fiddle Leaf Fig Care

Bright, Indirect Light – Myth

The common information about FLFs needing bright indirect light isn’t exactly true. Fiddle Leaf Figs will take all the light you can give them! They are full sunlight plants in nature and can handle a full 6-8 hours of direct sun a day – ONCE they have been hardened off.

If you’ve noticed a bad result from direct sunlight it may be because your FLF is not used to it. Without gradually acclimatising them to direct light, they can get sunburnt leaves and dry out too much. But once a FLF is used to direct light, it will grow like crazy! Take the time to start your FLF on an hour-ish of direct morning light each day, working up to putting it in full sun.

What does this mean for your indoor Figgy without direct sun? A FLF can still be placed in bright indirect light, however it probably won’t reach its growth potential. A lack of sunlight can cause leaf drop or slow down growth. If you want to keep your FLF in a spot without direct light, you may want to supplement its growth with a grow light. This post can give you more info on the best grow lights for your situation.

Watering Weekly – Myth

As you probably already know, how regularly your FLF (and all plants) need water is dependent on a few things. Firstly, it depends on the size of the pot and how well the soil drains. Secondly, the current weather and climate will change its watering needs and lastly, each type of plant has specific water needs. Dependent on these three things, it’s not likely a set-and-forget weekly watering schedule will get your Fiddle thriving. Let’s address these three things:

One: FLFs like well-draining soil and pots that are slightly smaller. A well-draining soil will dry quicker, while other soils may stay damp and eventually cause root rot. If you repot in a well-draining soil, you may notice you need to water more often as the soil dries quicker.

Two: How often you water also depends on how fast the soil dries due to the temperature, humidity and season. Your watering will most likely slow down during winter as the soil takes longer to dry in cooler air. However, if your FLF is indoors, a less humid environment can also cause it to dry out. FLFs like humidity levels 60% and over. Any lower than this and growth will slow down, while leaves may potentially dry out and turn brown. To help raise humidity indoors, some people like to use a humidifier. Humidity can also allow you to water less, as the plant will get some moisture through the air.

Three: The FLF is a plant that likes to mostly dry out between waterings. They do best with larger amounts of water less frequently, as opposed to watering in small sips. Watering in small sips is dangerous as not all the roots may receive the water they need using this method. Watering until the roots are saturated allows for healthier roots and growth.

If this all sounds a bit complicated, don’t worry! You will begin to know how often they need watering in your environment over time. A reliable moisture meter can help in the early days to help you understand how quickly your FLF’s soil dries.

What you might be doing wrong with your Fiddle Leaf Fig. Read this for the right information! | Dossier Blog
Water when the top inch of soil is dry – Myth

We’ve just learnt that there’s a few factors that impact on watering your FLF. Another one is that when the top inch of soil is dry, it’s time to water. The problem with this is that FLFs like to mostly dry out before receiving a watering. Just checking the top inch isn’t enough – the rest of the pot may still be moist and this can lead overwatering! Overwatering can lead to leaves dropping, root rot and bugs. A better method is to use your finger or a dowel to check the moisture a few inches down into the pot. Or, get a reliable moisture meter to check. That way you’ll always be sure your FLF is ready to be watered! When you do water, be sure to water until the excess drips out the bottom of the pot.

A leggy Fiddle Leaf Fig with a thin trunk - it needs more sunlight! six FLF myths | Dossier Blog
Stake the trunk to Strengthen – Myth

Staking a weak or leaning trunk can be beneficial, but its not ideal. Really you’d like your FLF to stand strong on its own, right?! Staking can be helpful for temporary but immediate support if your FLF trunk is really bending.

Instead of staking, there’s other things that can be done to get the FLF trunk to thicken and grow straight.

One: Wiggling the trunk. Yes, it sounds ridiculous. But in nature, the wind bends and sways the trunk naturally. In response to this, the plant grows the trunk thicker and stronger to withstand the wind. If your FLF is indoors, spend a couple of minutes 2-3 times a week wiggling the trunk. Start around mid height with small swaying, until you work up to quite a bend. Your FLF can withstand more than your think without breaking! It needs this bending to force it to strengthen. Within a few weeks you should notice a difference!

Two: A trunk can also be thin due to a lack of leaves. This is because leaves provide the trunk with nutrients to grow. Without leaves that grow closely together, the trunk won’t be getting as much support as it needs. A thin, leggy-looking FLF (like the one above) is often due to a lack of sunlight – the FLF grows straggly in search of light. So firstly, put your FLF in a brighter location. Secondly, pruning the tip can encourage more leaves and branches further down the trunk, which will also help support your FLF. Read a step-by-step guide to strengthening a leaning FLF trunk here.

Lastly, a quality fertilizer can help the trunk grow strong. I really noticed a difference in the trunk of my Fig tree after using fertilizer for a while. It really thickened and stopped bending in wind when I took it outside. If you haven’t tried a quality fertilizer on your Fig yet, this is a great fertilizer specially formulated with the correct ratio of nutrients FLFs need. For more info on fertilizing your FLF, see this post.

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Mist to Increase Humidity – Myth

It’s true that Fiddle Leaf Figs are tropical plants and love a humid environment. However what you may not know is how little misting helps to increase humidity. In fact, it can even be HARMFUL to your Figgy! Using a spray bottle to mist a FLF is marginally effective, as the mist only lasts a few minutes before drying. What it does do, is cause cells in the plant’s leaves to close up, like how the plant would naturally respond to rain. These stay closed for a lot longer than the misting lasts. When they are closed, the plant cannot photosynthesise! So while you may be thinking you’re increasing your plant’s air humidity by misting several times a day, the plant is unable to process sunlight for much longer, making misting do more harm than good. It can also attract pests and disease – something no one wants!

The only time misting is beneficial is to use a spray bottle on any new leaves forming at the top of the plant around twice daily. This will allow the leaves to grow without sticking together due to dryness (the reason some new leaves get holes).

A better way to increase overall humidity levels is by getting a humidifier. Make sure it is not spraying directly onto the plant’s leaves, but keep it nearby to increase humidity in the room.

Using Coconut oil as Leaf Shine – Myth

We all love shiny, glossy leaves. But using coconut oil, milk or other substances to get that shine is only doing harm! Any substance you put on the plant’s leaves potentially blocks the leaves not only from breathing, but also from photosynthesis.

Instead, use a damp or dry cloth, or give it a hose-down every now and then to keep any buildup off the leaves. Dust can also block the leaves!

If your FLF get some direct sun, in warmer temperatures any oil that sits on the leaves can cause the leaves to burn. I have experienced this and its not nice! Burn and sunburn can start anywhere on the leaf and turns yellowy before going crispy brown.


So there you have the six myths about Fiddle Leaf Fig Care! I often read some these myths on the internet and to be honest, I believed some of them when i first got a FLF too! While I’m sure everyone is trying their best to be helpful by sharing what they know, I know how frustrating it can be to feel like something isn’t working for you. I hope this post has helped clear up a few things and you understand more about a Fiddle Leaf Fig’s natural environment. It has helped for me to remember that they are tropical plants, and to do my best giving them a tropical environment to live in – light, water, air flow and nutrients have been game changers for mine.

Let me know if you have any questions or check out my page dedicated to Fiddle Leaf Figs for more info.

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32 Comments. Leave new

  • Hi there,
    I bought my FLF march 10 from home depot and he was looking just fine until yesterday. All top leave started to droop! I was worried that he was probably was too close to the heater. I moved him and watered him. I’m so afraid of over watering but the leaves are still drooping 24 hours later. The leaves look healthy and green with no yellow/brown spots. Should i keep watering even though my moisture meter says hes a 6-7?

    • Hey Joana, it’s possible your FLF could be drooping for a number of reasons. Being too close to a heater could be one of them! It could also be the shock of change in environment, or not enough light. I think the best thing to do would be to find a bright spot for it to settle in. If you’ve just watered, you won’t need to water again until the top 1-2″ of soil is dry. Also make sure that when you water, you give it enough water so that all the soil gets wet and the excess drains from the bottom. This will ensure all the roots get a drink. I would give it time to recover and settle in before making any more changes. All the best!

  • Hi there. I bought 2 FLF at Costco. Brought them in and they have the worst odor. I am not sure if it’s the fertilizer they used or if the roots are rotting. Help. I don’t want to kill these beauties

    • Hi! I would say it would be some kind of fertilizer or something added to the soil. If there’s nothing on the surface of the soil, you could try flushing out the soil when you water by giving it a few litres and letting it all drain out. If that doesn’t work, you may need to repot if you’re wanting to keep it inside! Generally you’d be able to tell if the roots were rotting by big dark patches on the leaves.

  • Hi Emily. Got my first FLF. I have done my research and all on FLF care. I put it in my bedroom to get morning east sun. Leaves started brown and most have fallen already. You think this could be due to the AC in my bedroom of which temperature could drop to 64F from 9pm to 6am? Anyway I transferred my FLF just a week ago to the living room coz I don’t normally use ac in my living room. I don’t see any brown spots developing on the remaining 4 leaves. You think it can thrive in my living room even though it’s got low light only?

    • Hi Eve, while 64F is a little low for Fiddle Leaf Figs, I don’t think it would cause all the leaves to drop like that. Leaves normally drop suddenly due to shock if they have been drastically moved, or if they have been in the way of a draft. But if they were browning first, you might be able to determine the cause by reading the post of Fiddle Leaf Fig brown spots. It will help you analyse the environment to work out what it could be from.
      Fiddle Leaf Figs like quite bright light so it sounds like the living room probably isn’t the best place for it. However if you did want to keep it there, you could always look into getting a grow light to help supplement sunlight!

      • Thank you Emily. Appreciate your response. I will definitely consider all your suggestions. Wish me luck.

        I mean FLFs are gorgeous, but caring for them is quite daunting 😊

  • Avatar
    Daniel Lizarraga
    October 31, 2019 2:37 pm

    Good evening Emily! I made the mistake of shining my FL plant with coconut oil and a bottom leaf burned bad. I’m not sure if I should remove it or leave it?! My plant is 13 feet high so there are plenty of leaves but I was really upset about it. Should I Start to remove the coconut oil from the rest of the leaves or just leave it for now?! I definitely learned my lesson! Thanks for this blog and your expertise!

    • Hey Daniel, generally if a leaf is over 50% damaged I remove it. If the damage is less than that, the leaf will still be producing energy for the plant and it can stay on. However seeing as it sounds like your FLF has lots of leaves, you could remove it if you like. I would definitely try to remove the coconut oil off the plant if you can, as apart from sunburn it can also block leaves from breathing. I think wiping the leaves with a dry cloth would be the best option to remove it! Hope that helps 🙂

  • Hi Emily, I just got a new FLF after I killed one last year–over watering and maybe not enough light I guess. Anyway this time, I’m getting a water meter and have placed this one near a south-facing window that is shielded by a porch. But already, I think I see brown shading starting to appear underneath one of the top leaves. I’ve only had it a week and a half and have not yet watered it!! When I went to check the soil I noticed that the plant was stuck inside TWO black plastic growers pots. But the two plastic pots were aligned so that the drainage holes weren’t aligned so they were covered. I removed the second pot and sat it outside in the warmth for a day, but the soil is still damp. Should I keep it the growers pot? Should I put it in a ceramic pot since they are porous? Please help, I don’t want to lose this FLF.

    • Hi Cinthia! I think its fine to keep it in the plastic growers pot. I actually keep most plants in these pots, and just place them inside a decorative pot so it’s easier to take them outside and water them. It won’t need to be repotted unless it is rootbound, which I would say isn’t likely as your FLF is new.
      If anything, the type of soil is a lot more important than the pot type. If you don’t notice the soil starting to dry out in the next few days-week, it may be that the soil is retaining too much moisture. In this case, I would suggest repotting with a well draining mix (cactus/succulent soil is a good start!).
      Keep an eye on the browning. I often find that I notice irregularities after I’ve bought plants but it may be that the browning on the plant already existed… If it continues to worsen, this post on identifying Fiddle Leaf Fig brown spots could help. Let me know if you have any more questions!

  • Hello Emily, we just got our FLF a few months ago. Left it outside (hot, dry desert sun) for about 8 hours without acclimating it beforehand. It was first time the plant was outside. Leaves are now super burnt and wilting. Is there no hope? Thank you!

    • Hey Andrew! I’ve found Fiddle Leaf Figs to actually be pretty hardy when it comes to bouncing back from accidental disasters. Keep it in a well-lit location and keep watering – even if all the leaves die, I’ve seen some FLFs come back from a bare stalk! You could remove any leaves that are almost all damaged, as these won’t be helping the plant. A little bit of care & time should see it bounce back 🙂

  • Hi Emily, your Fiddle information is wonderful. I am a huge fiddle fig lover and like you have learnt by mistakes how these guys like to be looked after. Thank you agin for such great content. 🙂

    • Thanks so much for your lovely comment Polly! It does take some trial and error in the beginning doesn’t it, but hopefully others can learn from my mistakes and what I’ve learnt though them too! 🙂

  • My flf has been getting very buggy lately. I water it every ten days as I was told to do by the gardening store we got it from. That was working great for a while and now in the past month I have all these gnats flying around. I figured it was overwatered after doing some research so I skipped the next watering to give it time to dry out and applied neem oil Now the leaf edges are really “wavy” and the gnats have gotten worse. I’m considering getting new soil, removing the current soil, repotting (same pot) and starting from scratch. The pot has a half dollar sized drainage hole in the bottom center, not sure if it needs more.

    Any suggestions?

    • Hey Brandon, it sounds like you’ve done your research! Gnats are attracted to damp soil, which is why overwatering can perpetuate them. I’ve heard that adding sand on top of the soil ‘tricks’ the gnats into thinking the soil is dry, which deters them from laying their eggs in it. It’s also best to wait until the top 1-2 inches of soil is dry before watering again – this will also help control them.
      However if it all seems too much, repotting is another way to fully rid the soil of gnats. If you decide to repot, try to remove as much of the old soil from the roots as possible.
      As long as the pot has some drainage, that’s fine! And unless the plant is seriously root bound, you won’t need to repot in a bigger pot. FLFs prefer tighter pots anyway 🙂

  • I got my FLF mid July and right now it is flourishing on my covered porch outside. I am in Canada and I know I must bring it in for the winter and I am very concerned about what is going to happen. The lighting will not be very bright and the air will get drier as the furnace will be kicking in. Any ideas about what to do about this would be appreciated. And also I am wondering if drafts in the house will be a problem.

    • Hey Eileen! It’s true that your FLF may struggle a little moving indoors, but fortunately there’s measures you can take to help it settle in. I think the biggest issue may be the light levels. In some cases, when plants are moved to a place that receives less light than they’re used to, they can drop leaves. Using a grow light can help supplement natural light for them and keep them healthy. It can also help lessen the shock of moving them indoors. This guide to grow lights has more info on them if you need!
      It’s best to keep your FLF away from any drafts of hot or cold air. For humidity, your FLF can adapt a little but you may notice crispy leaf edges if it gets too low. You could keep track of humidity- FLFs love upwards of 60% but over 50% or so will be fine. If it bothers you, a humidifier in the room is the best way to go. Also if you have other plants, group them together. This creates a more humid micro-climate as they release moisture from their leaves.
      I think if you can address the lighting and keep an eye on the humidity, that will give your FLF the best chance to adapt to indoors. Remember that it most likely won’t need to be watered as often either, so keep an eye on your watering schedule.
      Hope that helps! All the best 🙂

  • Thanks for the info! I keep hearing about how direct sunlight is bad for FLFs

    • I’m also going to stop misting mine and get a humidifier.

    • Hey Zac! FLFs LOVE sunlight – they just need to be acclimatized slowly if they haven’t been in direct light! At the moment mine are inside as it’s coming into winter here in Australia, but they’re still getting a couple of hours of direct morning sun, and they’re still pushing out new leaves 🙂 So glad the info could be helpful for you!

      • 2 weeks ago I bought a small flf and a I noticed a few days ago that it was growing a new leaf I accidentally touched it
        And the leaf fell off. I was really upset about it. Would you know why?

        • Hey Marie, congrats on your new FLF! New leaves are more delicate and fragile than normal ones. It’s possible that it just wasn’t strong enough to stay put! I’ve accidentally torn new leaves from gently touching them before. They can also take a few weeks to acclimatise to a new environment, so if it was growing a new leaf during this time it could have added a little stress to the plant. As long as the rest of the plant is looking healthy and you’ve figured out when to water it, I wouldn’t be too concerned. If it keeps happening with new leaves, try placing it in a brighter spot and giving it some fertilizer 🙂

  • Thank you for this information. I’m going to replant mine in well draining soil because it’s leaves are turning brown. How often should I have the humidifier running please?

    • Hey Christy, well draining soil is definitely best for FLFs! The leaves can turn brown for a few different reasons. When the soil is holding too much water, it can cause really dark brown spots that start in the middle of the leaf. Brown spots can also be caused by dryness and these usually begin on the leaf edges and are a lighter brown.
      It’s ideal for FLFs to be in a constant environment with humidity at or over 60%. They can adjust to slightly lower levels of humidity though. Normally when the air is dry the leaves will curl on the edges and new leaves may get dimpled. It may not be possible to run a humidifier all the time but if you can measure the humidity and give it a boost with a humidifier when you can, any extra humidity will help! 🙂

  • Just got my flu a week ago and am attempting to get it acclimatized
    Whenever I look at the plant it seems like a daunting task. I hope I can master growing a beautiful lush plant!

    • Don’t be daunted Helaine! Once you get the basics right, they are actually easy to care for and not as finicky as people say 🙂 I’m sure you will master it it no time. All the best!

  • Avatar
    Ron Kannegeisser
    February 5, 2019 12:56 pm

    How can I get my Fiddle leaf to branch out. It is growing vertically but does it does not branch out.

  • How do I get my FLF’s trunk to sprout more leaves to bring strength to it? A window fell on it taking many leaves 🙁

    • A good way to do this is to prune the top of the trunk – this will cause dormant buds to grow further down as long as your FLF is healthy & in a good growing environment. Another way is to give notching a try – this is making small cuts into the trunk about a third of the thickness using a sharp razor or knife. This tricks the plant into thinking the top has been removed, and also activates the bud below. There’s more detailed info on my Fiddle Leaf Fig page to help you! 🙂


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