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Four Things You're Doing Wrong With Your Fiddle Leaf Fig

Plants Mar 12, 2020

My pride and joy, this giant fiddle leaf fig.

For those of you who haven’t been following along with the FLF drama over on Instagram stories, I’m going to catch you up. A few years ago I bought a large fiddle leaf fig and out it in our bedroom. She was a beauty, but after a few months we had to go away for a while, so without much thought we planted her in the garden. Fast forward about 6 months and I noticed she had more than doubled in size! At first I was ecstatic, but was very quickly informed by a few followers that they are a really bad plant to grow in your garden, as they tend to have invasive root systems that seek out your plumbing and basically ruin your life.

It didn’t take long to realise we would need to transplant it. And so we did! One scary Sunday morning we bought the biggest pot we could carry and Ben and my brother dug it out of the garden and I planted it in the pot in the veranda. In truth I didn’t have much faith in our FLF living after the trauma of the move. We literally had to hack through her significant root system to remove her so it seemed unlikely that she would survive. But she did! And look at her now. She’s grown another metre since we removed her so I’m happy to say it was a success! After spending a LOT of time working out the intricacies of this plant, and getting sooooo many questions about how to have a thriving one, I wanted to share a few thoughts on what you might be doing wrong.

You’re being too kind

You know what I have come to understand from my time as mother to this incredible FLF? That these plants are widely misunderstood. Everyone thinks they are precious little sunflowers that are likely to have a tantrum and drop all their leaves at the slightest hint of neglect or one ray of sun too many. But in my experience, and through testing on two different plants, I’ve found that FLF’s are in fact the opposite. They’re very robust and love being treated badly. AND they have zero respect for your fussing! So stop thinking of your FLF as a weak child and start thinking of them as a bossy teenager you need to tame.

You’re not giving it enough sun

After my FLF was planted outside and grew like crazy in the space of a few months, it became VERY obvious that the reason we put them in pots in the house is because if we didn’t they would absolutely take over. This completely changed my perspective of this plant, and made me question all the advice I see out there that the FLF needs to be given soft, indirect sunlight. This old gal was in full sun and LOVING it. It made me realise that the number one reason FLF’s fail in the house is because they don’t get enough sun. Honestly, the more the better! Direct! Harsh! Bright! This is what will make your FLF thrive. If you notice leaf drop, chances are it’s just not getting enough light.

You’re Not watering Enough

Another piece of advice I see a lot if not to overwater your FLF. But in both the garden and upstairs in the pot we have an irrigation system that waters her every second day for five minutes. Which is A LOT! At first I wondered if it would be too much but look at her. She’s not complaining. So long as your soil and pot have good drainage, I suggest getting on schedule in this way. We don’t even test the soil moisture, we just water on schedule. And although this probably contravenes all the advice that even I have given in the past, do what I say and chances are your fig will be happy.

You’re not giving it enough fresh air

In the last year I have come to realise that your fiddle leaf fig wants badly to be planted outside, with its leaves pushing towards the sky and its roots towards your plumbing system. That means sun, water and some delicious breeeeeeze! In fact, the best place for a FLF is a balcony, which is as close to being in your garden as possible without actually sacrificing your pipes. If your plant lives inside, an open window or a bit of time spent outside is just what it needs.

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