For our one year anniversary, Chris wanted concert tickets and I wanted a plant. I think it's obvious which one of us is more fun :)
After seeing fiddle-leaf figs all over the blogosphere, I'd fallen in love. Those big, beautiful leaves just looked like they'd purify our air and make all of my plant dreams come true! Little did I know, I was taking on far more responsibility than I realized. These things aren't hearty succulents, my friends. They are finicky!
But that hasn't stopped me from totally falling in love with Fiddle Fig Newton. He's part of the family now and we've gotten his care down to a science. It's been almost a year since we adopted him and I think he's grown almost a foot! I thought I'd share a few things that would be good to know before investing in one.
Plant websites often rate the fiddle-leaf fig as an "easy" plant to manage. What I've learned is this: they are easy to maintain, but only once you figure out your plant's specific needs.
So here's how you learn to care for your very own fiddle-leaf fig:
1. This is not a one-size-fits-all plant. Every fiddle fig is different.
At first you will basically need to treat it like a child. Get to know it. Observe how it responds to various types of care. Recognize it may have different needs than your neighbor's fig tree.
Not even kidding. My old roommate, Melly, and I both had fig trees in our duplex. This meant they got similar amounts of light all day long. Yet, they needed totally different care. My sister's fig tree? Super low maintenance. Mine, on the other hand, behaves like an a-list celeb with all its needs.
2. Try different things and pay attention.
It took me a long time to figure out how much water Newt needs. It turns out, his leaves look best if we put him in the shower every 10-12 days for about 15 minutes and run warm water over him. Apparently this is not uncommon for fiddle figs, because it feels most similar to a natural rain shower. In the warm seasons, if a rain shower is coming, we will put him outside instead of the shower.
Some people say their fig tree needs one or two cups of water each week. This is worth trying, too!
Your plant will tell you if you're overwatering, though, based on dropping its leaves. I've learned that if it drops a brown leaf, it's too dry. If it drops a yellow leaf, it is too moist.
3. They do not like change.
Our fig tree goes into a small depression when we move him around the house. He likes to stay in the same spot, with a good amount of sunlight. Minimize how often you relocate your plant.
4. Their home matters to them.
As your tree grows, watch its roots. If they become exposed, it's time to re-home your plant. However, they prefer to be replanted in the spring and for the pot size to increase by only one to three inches at a time. We are getting ready to replant Newt in just a few weeks.
Also, it has to have drainage, so be sure that your pot has a hole in it. When you see design magazines with fig trees in a basket, it likely has some sort of drainage within it - the soil isn't directly placed in the basket.
5. The little things make a big difference.
They like their leaves dusted. They like to be in front of an open window when it's balmy spring weather, but they don't like to be near a vent. They prefer a humid environment; if it's dry, they'll drop their leaves. Too much light and they'll get a sunburn.
Your plant will have a lot of preferences, but, as you get to know it, your fiddle fig will become easier and easier to care for. Before you know it, you'll find yourself saying things like "plants are people too!" and then having to check yourself :)