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Gardening

How To Care For A Fiddle-Leaf Fig

This potted beauty will thank you when you keep these tips in mind

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Photography: @botanicalhouse and @dutchlivings on Instagram (Main Photos)

There's no denying that the fiddle-leaf fig has become the "it" plant for quite a few years now. It's practically everywhere—in malls, on magazine covers, even at your friend's place.

 

Fiddle-leaf fig, or Ficus lyrata, has broad leaves that look like a fiddle, hence the name. It commonly grows in western Africa, and is found in low-lying tropical rainforest. Thanks to our tropical climate, this ornamental tree can also be grown indoors. And with its imposing form, the fiddle leaf-fig is an easy way to add drama to any space. Know how to care for this popular plant so it will last you years.

Give it enought sunlight.

Since fiddle-leaf fig thrives in the tropical rainforest, keep yours in an area that best gets enough indirect sunlight, much like how it is in its natural habitat. Place it by the window or balcony door. Every once in a while, bring it outside for a few hours of direct morning sunlight, but avoid direct afternoon sun as it can be too hot for the plant.

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Observe proper watering.

As with most plants, the fiddle-leaf fig appreciates just enough water. Water thoroughly until water drains from the pot holes, then wait until the top soil is dry enough before giving it another drink. If you water it indoors, be wary of letting the water stand in the pot plate; get rid of the water in the plate as soon as the pot is drained. Letting the soil of your fiddle-leaf soak in standing water will only cause root rot, which will eventually kill your beautiful plant.

Remember that since fiddle-leaf fig is native to rainforests, you need to keep its roots moist but not soaking wet. If the leaves turn yellow and soggy, that means you're overwatering it; if they turn brown and brittle to the touch, your plant needs more water. Adjust your watering frequency depending on the season: if it's summer, water often as needed; if it's rainy season, hold off on that watering can.

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Avoid cold drafts.

While it's tempting to keep your air-conditioning unit at 16 degrees when it's really hot, remember that such cold temperatures may be harmful to the fiddle-leaf, as it is used to high humidity in the forest. But that doesn't mean you need to sacrifice comfort for the sake of your potted plant; just make sure it isn't directly exposed to the A/C, and you and your fiddle-leaf will be fine.

Keep pests away.

Common pests that pose a threat to fiddle-leaf are mealybugs, mites, and aphids. Regularly check the leaves for signs of infestation (sick-looking yellow leaves), and immediately get rid of the pests. Gently wipe down the leaves with a solution of a gallon of water mixed with half a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid (avoid the anti-bacterial variant as it may contain strong ingredients that may be harmful to plants). If you must, snip off heavily infested leaves to save the rest of the plant. Keep it away from other plants in the room to avoid spreading the infestation.

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Feed it.

Water-soluble fertilizers are best for the fiddle-leaf fig. But remember to fertilize the soil sparingly; overdoing it can kill the plant. Feeding it quarterly is a safe bet. If you're not into store-bought fertilizers, try using used coffee grounds: before watering, sprinkle a handful on the top soil.

 

Repot it.

Because this ornamental plant can grow tall, it's best to repot it once a year, especially when you see it outgrowing its current pot. Transfer it to a slightly bigger one to encourage further growth. Otherwise, it will only be stunted. Repotting also ensures the plant gets fresh soil, from which it can get fresh nutrients.

Give it some extra TLC.

The broad leaves of this plant can easily collect dust, hampering photosynthesis and making it appear dull. Gently wipe each leaf with a damp cloth once or twice a month to ensure it stays and looks healthy and happy.

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