15 Apr Fiddle Leaf Fig Under the Roof: We Finally Get the Internet’s Favorite Houseplant
Kind of hard to believe we haven’t talked about this yet. About…you now…the fig thing. Nah, not those figs. We’re talking about Ficus lyrata, the fiddle leaf fig, aka the fig that set the internet on fire.
After hitting the style blogs in a big way around 2013, this floor tree/house plant can be found all over Pinterest, its generous dinner-plate leaves rippling like jazz hands against backgrounds icily minimalist and bookishly maximalist alike. Gardenista editor Michelle Slatalla wrote a funny take on the ups and downs of onboarding one, comparing it to a newborn baby.
A spot in our living room was just crying out for one. This corner near a south-facing window was already occupied by a dracaena that, although not looking its best, I had an emotional attachment to because it was the first plant I ever purchased for my first tiny Los Angeles studio apartment eleven years ago, a dracaena that’s seen me through many moves and long days of writing on my laptop. Just writing about it I get misty-eyed!
After the dracaena continued to decline, we went in search of a Ficus lyrata to bring more green punch to our smallish indoor space. It had to be under eight feet tall with the leafy multiple branches starting right around hip height, and flaring out in a lush but manageable way. After searching for months at local nurseries and big box stores, we finally found one at Home Depot, and we placed it between our couch and bookshelf, below the three large metal balls that sway from the ceiling.
Okay: We can see what all the fuss is about. This is one figgin’ handsome houseplant. When you sit next to it, it actually feels kind of like a companion, a cocktail buddy, a thing that taps you on the shoulder when you’re reading or talking to your friends. Now that we’ve finally joined the F. lyrata club, here are some care tips we’ve learned for keeping it as a houseplant:
– Give it bright indirect light, ideally by a window. The light should be consistent and prolonged, and note the emphasis on consistent, so avoid moving the plant to new locations. It is okay to rotate the tree a quarter turn every couple of weeks.
– Plant in well-drained peaty soil, per SF Gate, which also has some excellent suggestions for repotting if things go sideways.
– Watering issues are often at the root (ahem) of F. lyrata problems, brown-spot and otherwise. Let the soil (top inch of it when you stick your finger in) dry out before you water it. Then water generously until water hits the tray below.
– And here’s a great watering tip from horticulturist Justin Hancock: Toss any water remaining in the tray after 45 minutes to prevent rot.
– Dust can block sunlight absorption, so wipe leaves with a soft, damp cloth.
– Fiddle leaf figs are native to lowland tropical rainforests. Cold air, dry air, overwatering and underwatering can cause dreaded “leaf drop.” Humidifiers can deliver the ambient moisture your tree needs, but it needs to be consistent.
Cue the world’s greenest, most crinkly violin. Wish us luck!