Ficus Lyrata – the amazing Fiddle Leaf Fig

This post may contain affiliate links, and we will be compensated if you buy after clicking. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases on our links.

Photo of author
Written By Martin Cole

Plantsman, gardener, plant-obsessive

Ficus lyrata with its beautiful large green leaves

Ficus Lyrata, the Fiddle Leaf Fig, is an undoubted star house plant.

If ever there was a statement house plant it is Ficus lyrata. You only have to look at the size and shape of the leaves and stature of the plant to get a serious plant crush – or I do anyway.

The drawback with Ficus lyrata is that they are not especially easy plants to grow indoor. So careful nurturing is essential.

Ficus lyrata quick care guide

  • Light: Bright, indirect sunlight; avoid direct sun to prevent leaf burn.
  • Water: Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Allow the top 2 inches (5cm) of soil to dry out between waterings.
  • Humidity: Moderate to high humidity; use a humidity tray or humidifier, especially in centrally heated homes in winter.
  • Temperature range: Ideally 65-75°F (18-24°C), with a minimum: 50°F (10°C)
  • Soil: Well-draining, rich potting mix with organic matter.
  • Fertiliser: Feed monthly during the growing season with a balanced liquid fertiliser.
  • Propagation: Stem cuttings, air layering or seeds.
  • Repotting: Typically every 2-3 years in spring when root-bound.
  • Pruning: Prune in spring to shape and remove damaged leaves.

All about Ficus lyrata

This tropical plant is characterised by its unique oval and lobe-shaped green leaves that resemble a lyre or fiddle (hence, the names).

In its native habitat in western and central Africa, Ficus lyrata can reach heights of up to 50 feet. Fortunately, when grown inside, the plants typically max out around 10 feet tall. If they do get too big, you can prune the main stems to keep it from butting up against your ceiling.

Ficus Lyrata key facts

  • Scientific name: Ficus lyrata, also known as Ficus pandurata or Ficus triangularis.
  • Meaning of name: “Ficus” refers to the genus of plants commonly known as figs. “Lyrata” is derived from the Latin word “lyra,” meaning lyre, in reference to the plant’s fiddle-shaped leaves.
  • Common names: Fiddle Leaf Fig, Fiddle Fig.
  • Plant family: Moraceae.
  • Place of origin: West Africa.
  • Type of plant: Evergreen tree or shrub.
  • Size (grown indoors): Can reach heights of 6 to 10 feet (2 to 3m) with the right care
  • Foliage: Large, glossy, violin-shaped leaves with prominent veining.
  • Flower: Rarely blooms indoors; flowers are small and inconspicuous.
  • Fruit: Occasional fruiting with small, non-edible figs. Will not usually fruit indoors.
  • Toxicity: Toxic to pets. Leaves and stems contain calcium oxalate crystals in white sap. These crystals have sharp edges that can irritate the mouth, throat, stomach, and intestines if eaten. Sap can irritate skin on contact.

Buy Ficus Lyrata

US Buyers

Buy Ficus Lyrata

Uk Buyers

Uk

The buy links are affiliate links, which means I’d be paid a (very) small commission if you go on and buy after clicking these links. But that does not affect the price you pay.

How to grow Ficus Lyrata: the detailed guide

As mentioned, Ficus lyrata can be a bit difficult to care for. They need plenty of light, but not harsh direct sunlight and not too much shade.

They also need a pretty humid environment.

The soil should be kept evenly moist but not waterlogged. You should also protect the plant from sudden temperature drops below 54°F (10°C), or exposure to cold drafts, as these can cause leaf loss.

Mist the leaves regularly to boost humidity and keep the leaves free of dust to maintain the shiny leaf surfaces and supports efficient photosynthesis.

These requirements can be a real challenge in northern latitudes in winter, but I’ve seen them survive and thrive with good care.

There is a particularly good specimen visible in a house near where I live. It seems to be growing strong – and even gets draped in tinsel and other decorations and Christmas time, so it must be pretty robust.

The secret is to position Ficus lyrata optimally and give it the right care – consistently.

Read more in our comprehensive guide to the 7 critical requirements of house plant care here.

Ficus lyrata leaves

Light

Fiddle Leaf Figs thrive in bright, indirect light. Position them near, but not directly in front of, a south or east-facing window to provide the ideal lighting conditions.

Too little light can lead to leggy growth and reduced leaf size, while too much direct sun can scorch the leaves.

Rotate the plant occasionally to ensure even growth.

House plant bright light
Ficus lyrata: ideal location for optimum light

Soil and Feeding

Use a well-draining potting mix with a blend of peat moss, perlite, and organic matter. Fertilise your Fiddle Leaf Fig once a month during the growing season (spring and summer) with a balanced liquid fertiliser. Over-fertilisation can lead to salt build-up in the soil, causing leaf burn.

Watering

Maintain soil moisture by watering when the top inch of soil feels dry. Ensure proper drainage to prevent root rot. Water sparingly in winter when the plant’s growth slows down.

Pruning

Pruning serves to shape your Fiddle Leaf Fig and remove dead or unhealthy growth. Make clean cuts just above a leaf node to encourage new growth.

Propagation

You can propagate your Fiddle Leaf Fig through stem cuttings or air layering. Stem cuttings should be taken in spring or summer and rooted in water or moist soil.

Air layering involves creating a small wound on a stem and allowing roots to form before detaching the new plant. You can also grow from seed, but this is a pretty slow process

Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Ficus lyrata

Common Problems and Solutions

Ficus lyrata problems arise from over and under watering, but also from insufficient humidity. I’ve identified the main problems and potential causes below.

Ficus lyrata troubleshooting guide

Leaves and shoots

  • Leaf drop – usually caused by low light, or sudden changes in temperature or humidity.
  • Yellowing leaves (especially in upper parts) – can be a sign of over-watering or root rot. Adjust watering, improve drainage, remove damaged roots.
  • Brown spots or edges on leaves – usually caused by lack of water, low humidity or over-fertilisation.
  • Drooping leaves – sign that the plant needs water. If soil is wet, this may be a sign of root rot (see below).
  • Leggy growth – plant is not getting enough light. Move to position with more light, but not direct sun.

Roots

  • Root rot – caused by overwatering or poor drainage. Improve drainage, trim off damaged roots and repot in fresh soil.

Pests

  • Mealy bugs, aphids, red spider mites. Can be caused by lack of humidity or infestation from other plants. Treat with neem oil or insecticidal soap, or wipe the leaves with a damp cloth to remove individual or small numbers of pests.

Diseases

  • Leaf spot or powdery mildew can be caused by high humidity and poor air circulation. Increase airflow, reduce humidity, and apply fungicidal treatment if necessary.

Ficus lyrata winter care

During winter, reduce watering frequency as Fiddle Leaf Figs enter a dormant phase. Ensure the plant is protected from cold drafts, and maintain a minimum temperature of 50°F (10°C).

You can try using grow lights if natural light levels are especially low.

Read more about how to overwinter your house plants here.

Buy Ficus lyrata

So, if you’ve got this far and are feeling like you can’t resist this beautiful plant, I’ve listed some buying options below – depending on whether you are US or UK based.

The buy links are affiliate links, which means I’d be paid a (very) small commission if you go on and buy after clicking these links. But that does not affect the price you pay.

Ficus Lyrata

US Buyers

Ficus lyrata

Uk Buyers

Uk

Ficus lyrata frequently asked questions

1.Why are the leaves of my Ficus lyrata turning brown?

Brown leaves can result from lack of water or low humidity. Adjust your watering routine and increase humidity to improve leaf health.

2. How often should I fertilise my Ficus lyrata?

Feed monthly during the growing season (spring and summer) with a balanced liquid fertiliser diluted to half strength.

3 Should I mist my Ficius lyrata?

Misting can help increase humidity, but you have to do it a lot. It is often more effective to use a humidity tray or a room humidifier for consistent moisture.

Other Ficus plants

Other indoor Ficus species include:

  • Ficus elastica
  • Ficus benjamina
  • Ficus moonshine shivereana

Other great foliage plants

Monstera adansonii

Philodendron Ilsemanii

Leave a Comment