The Fiddle Leaf Fig, Ficus Lyrata, native to Australia, Melanesia, and Southern Asia, is easily recognized by its violin shaped leaves. It is a close relative of the popular Weeping Fig (Ficus Benjamina), the Rubber Tree plant (Ficus elastica), and is the same family as the Creeping Ficus (Ficus Pumila). All are part of the Ornamental Fig family Moraceae. As an outdoor plant, growing in a tropical rainforest, it sometimes reaches a height of 40ft (12 cm) or more.
Fiddle Leaf Fig Description
A Fiddle Leaf Fig has large, green, shiny, leathery leaves with a wavy margin. The heavily veined leaves can be 12″- 18″ ( 30cm – 45cm) long and 8″-12″ (20cm-30cm) wide, and grow on upright, woody stems. When immature, the plant can be small enough to sit on a table plant, but eventually, with proper care, it becomes a tall, impressive indoor tree. This is a bold looking plant that makes an impression wherever you place it.
Fiddle Leaf Fig Varieties
The most common fiddle leaf fig has solid green leaves, but there are several other varieties gaining in popularity
Ficus lyrata “Bambino” “Dwarf Fiddle Leaf Fig” is a smaller version of common fiddle leaf fig
Ficus lyrata “Variegata” leaves have the usual dark green centers but the leaf edges can be white, cream, yellow, or silver.
Ficus lyrata “Compacta” is shorter ( 5 feet tall) and has smaller leaves bunched closely together.
Leaves turn yellow – too much sun or spider mites
Brown Leaf Spots – overwatering, under watering, leaf spot disease, too much plant food
Leaf Drop- overwatering or not enough light
Long stems without leaves – not enough light
Quick Care Tips
Bright light but no direct sun or leaves will burn
Average warmth above 55°
Allow soil to dry out somewhat and be careful not to over water
Like to be a little root bound so do not rush to repot
Prefers high humidity
This plant is considered poisonous and should be kept away from pets and children. Read more about common houseplants that are poisonous in my book Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat: A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants. The sap of all ficus plants is very irritating so be sure to use gloves when pruning or propagating.
A Fiddle Leaf Fig requires bright, indirect light. In low light, new leaves are small and mature leaves may fall off. Turn frequently to keep a Ficus Lyrata from growing toward the light and becoming lop-sided. Too much bright light causes the leaves to fade.
A Fiddle Leaf Fig requires less water than other ficus trees. Allow the top 50% of the soil to dry out and the leaves to become soft and flexible before watering. Keep the leaves dry and water off of the large fiddle shaped leaves to prevent mold. Too much water and water on the leaves can also cause ugly brown spots on the leaves.
Fertilize monthly in the spring and summer with a balanced plant food diluted to 1/2 the recommended strength. Too much fertilizer when the plant is not actively growing causes leaf tip burn.
Fiddle Leaf Fig trees do well in temperatures between 60°-80°F (15.6°- 26.7°C). Keep all types of ficus trees away from air conditioners, cold drafts, and heating vents. Intense cold or heat causes leaf drop.
This plant does well in normal household humidity through it prefers higher humidity.
The broad leaves of a Fiddle Leaf Fig attract mealy bugs, thrip, whitefly, spider mites, and aphids. Spray every other week with warm soapy water to discourage these pests. Spraying a Fiddle Leaf Fig also keeps the large leaves dust free and clean so they can absorb more light. Dry leaves after spraying to prevent bacterial infections..
Powdery Mildew, root rot, and leaf spot disease
Use a well-aerated potting soil that holds water but still drains quickly.
Fiddle Leaf Fig plants, like all ficus plants, like being root-bound in small pots.
If a Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus Lyrata) gets too tall, gently remove it from its pot and trim the roots. Trimming the roots limits how tall the plant grows. Root-trimming a ficus plant can be done every few years during winter and fall. Cutting the stems back in the early spring encourages a ficus tree to become bushier.
Propagate using air- layering and stem cuttings.
Poisonous Plant Info
A Fiddle Leaf Fig is considered a poisonous houseplant with a level #1 toxicity. The sap of is especially irritating.
Leaves on a Fiddle Leaf ficus are smaller and further apart when the plant is not getting enough light. You may have to move your Fiddle Leaf Fif to different locations in your home as the seasons change so that it always has enough light.
Yes, you can move a Fiddle Leaf Fig outside for the summer as long as you keep it in the shade and transition it slowly when you decide to move it back inside your home. A Fiddle Leaf Fig , like other ficus trees, doesn’t do well when there are sudden changes in light or temperature.
Leaves fall off a Fiddle Leaf Fig tree when the plant is over-watered or the bottom leaves are not getting enough light. Sudden changes in temperature and light can also cause leaf drop.
The sap from a Fiddle Leaf Fig plant is a form of “latex.” It can irritate the skin and cause problems if ingested. If you are allergic to latex, always use rubber gloves when working with a Fiddle Leaf Fig.
Without seeing the brown spots on your Fiddle leaf Fig plant, there may be a few things that causing the problem. Over watering causes root rot and this can cause brown spots. If the humidity is high or the leaves are frequently wet, Leaf Spot Disease is a problem. If there is not enough light, you can get dry brown spots on the older growth. Remove the diseased leaves, try to keep water off of the healthy leaves, decrease your water, and increase the air circulation around the plant.
The leaves of a Ficus Lyrata, or as it’s commonly called a Fiddle Leaf Fig, usually turn yellow because of an insect infestation such as scale, spider mites, or Mealy Bugs. The plants pests suck the color from the leaves. If the Ficus Lyrata is getting too much sun the leaves may bleach out and take on a yellowish hue.
1. Overwatering is the most common cause of brown spots. If the roots stay wet and are not allowed to dry out a bit between waterings, brown spots develop (first on the older leaves). These leaves eventually drop off. The discoloration usually starts at the edges of the leaf. The cure for this problem is simple, cut back on your water. If your client is not sure how wet the soil is at the bottom of the pot, have her/him buy a water meter. 2. The brown spots may be the sign of a plant disease such as Leaf Spot Disease caused by a bacteria that has infected the plant. These spots are usually lighter in color and generally appear on the newer leaves. The leaves may turn yellow eventually fall off. As with all fungal and bacterial diseases, better air circulation, well-drained soil, dry leaves, bright indirect light, and less water help control bacterial diseases on plants. Never mist a plant if Leaf Spot Disease is suspected. You can use a commercial Fungicide or the homemade remedy of putting a tablespoon or two of baking soda and a teaspoon or two of mineral oil in a spray bottle of water. Shake the solution well and then spray all areas of the plant that are infected. Keep infected plants away from your other houseplants. 3. Under watering: Pale brown, dry looking spots that start at the edge of the leaf and leaves that become soft and start to curl up are a sign of under watering. In cases of severe under watering, you may have to set the plant in a deep saucer of water for 15 minutes so it can absorb the water through the drip holes in the bottom of the pot. 4. A Fiddle Leaf Fig will all get brown leaf edges when the humidity is very low, when it is getting too much fertilizer, and when there is too much salt in the water you are using. Never use water that has passed through a softener and always dilute your fertilizer to 1/2 the recommended strength to prevent brown edges on leaves.