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September 27, 2019 3 min read

Ficus Lyrata, otherwise known as the Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree, is one of the most popular indoor plants. Its broad, glossy leaves are attention-grabbing and because of its unique look and texture, it has become a fixature in many American homes.

In its naturally occurring state, the Ficus Lyrata is an epiphyte tree, starting life high on another tree’s crown, then gradually sending its roots down below the earth. It originates from tropical West/Central Africa, and consequently prefers humid, warm climates, growing up to 40 ft in the wild and up to 6-7 ft indoors. When displaced from its natural tropical habitat and grown indoors, the ficus requires moderate amounts of sunlight for growth. Interestingly enough, the ficus can also be kept shaded areas, although its growth will be significantly slower and stunted. As a result, exposure to sunlight can be a useful tool in controlling the height and growth of fiddle leaf fig trees.

There are two polarizing opinions on this plant. One argues that the Ficus Lyrata is a delicate, sensitive plant that demands a lot of attention and care, while the other argues for the opposite. From our experience, both these opinions are valid- it just depends on how you want the tree to grow.

If you are an ambitious gardener with a desire to grow a phenomenal fiddle leaf fig tree, you will need to enlist dozens of items and methods on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. A few examples include:

  1. Select the Right Soil: Choose a high-quality potting compost with good drainage. Over time, some commercial potting composts may become compacted, hindering proper drainage.

  2. Fertilization: Apply a balanced, liquid fertilizer with a 3-2-1 NPK ratio once a month during the growing season (spring and summer). In fall and winter, reduce fertilization to every 6-8 weeks.

  3. Repot as Needed: As your tree grows, it will require repotting into a larger container. This allows it to have enough space for root development.

  4. Soil Monitoring: Regularly check the condition of the soil. It should be watered when the top 2 inches of the soil surface dries out.

  5. Pruning: Periodically prune old, damaged, or crossing leaves. This encourages new growth and maintains an attractive shape.

  6. Pest Management: Keep an eye out for common pests like mealybugs and spider mites. If you spot any infestations, use neem oil or insecticidal soap to treat the affected areas.

However, if you are more easygoing about your plant, with limited growing experience the fiddle leaf fig tree is also the right plant for you. Bi-weekly watering in the shade, or alternatively, 1-1.5 week watering intervals in the sunlight with an application of slow or smart release granular fertilizer every 4-6 months (excluding winter), are also viable care plans of a Ficus Lyrata. The ficus in the photo below is an example of this simple maintenance regimen, which has not yet received an additional application of fertilizer since having been repotted from Home Depot’s 2 months ago:

 

Additionally, if you are looking for more robust growth with no extra effort, consider incorporating soil microbial supplements into your regular care routine. Here's how these beneficial soil microbes can make a significant difference in nurturing your Ficus Lyrata:

  • Enhanced Soil Health: Soil microbial supplements introduce beneficial microorganisms to the root zone. These microbes create a harmonious ecosystem within the soil, improving its overall health. They help break down organic matter, making essential nutrients more accessible to your plant.

  • Improved Root Structure: The presence of beneficial microbes, such as Rhizobacteria and Arbuscular Mycorrhizal fungi, contributes to stronger, healthier root systems. They form symbiotic relationships with your Ficus Lyrata, enhancing nutrient uptake and water absorption.

  • Reduced Environmental Stress: These microbes act as natural protectors, reducing environmental stress on your plant. They help fend off harmful pathogens and enhance the plant's resilience, ensuring it can thrive even in less-than-ideal conditions.

  • Balanced Ecosystem: By introducing these microorganisms into the soil, you create a balanced and self-sustaining ecosystem. This means less dependence on synthetic fertilizers and a more stable environment for your Ficus Lyrata.

Using soil microbial supplements offers a well-rounded, effortless, and effective approach to Ficus Lyrata care, helping your tree thrive without the need for extensive attention. Plus, it's a sustainable choice that benefits both your plant and the environment in the long run.

Growing a Fiddle Leaf Fig tree, or Ficus Lyrata, can be a rewarding experience, regardless of your level of gardening expertise. By understanding your plant's needs and tailoring your care routine to your preferences, you can enjoy the beauty and elegance of this stunning indoor tree. Whether you choose an ambitious, easygoing, or soil microbial-aided approach, your Ficus Lyrata is sure to become a captivating centerpiece in your home. So, get ready to watch your Fiddle Leaf Fig flourish, adding a touch of nature's grace to your indoor space.


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