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CONTRIBUTED PHOTO FROM LEE ROUSE, LSU AgCENTER -- The fiddle leaf fig is the 'it' plant for growing indoors.

Like fashion, houseplants come in and out of vogue.

In the 1970s and '80s, the snake plant was king of the hill. It was pushed aside by the ZZ plant. Now, we have fiddle leaf fig, also commonly called the fiddle leaf ficus.

The fiddle leaf fig, known scientifically as ficus lyrata, has begun to make its way into the American home. As the name implies, the foliage of the fiddle leaf fig is indeed shaped like a fiddle or lyre, hence the origin of the species name, lyrata.

It's native to the tropical jungles of the West African region near Sierra Leon, where it can reach 40 feet tall with foliage growing up to 15 inches. Growing such a massive plant indoors may seem to be a challenge. Here are a few ways to help successfully grow fiddle leaf fig indoors:

  • Place the fiddle leaf fig next to a window to give it as much natural bright light as possible. 
  • Be sure the tree is in an area of the house that does not receive direct air flow from air-conditioning vents. The constant cool, dry air blowing on the tree will dry out the foliage and soil more rapidly than normal.
  • Once you find a the perfect spot in your house, leave the fiddle leaf fig in place as much as you can, only rotating every few months as the tree begins to lean toward the window. Many people like to bring houseplants outside to water or allow them to receive warmer air, but consistency of conditions is key when growing this fig.
  • As with most potted indoor plants, watering is crucial. But how you water makes all the difference. Before adding watering to the fiddle leaf fig, be sure to let the soil dry out to the point that it is dry to the touch. Once the plant is in need of water, water thoroughly until the water begins to trickle out of the bottom of the pot.
  • Because you are leaving the fiddle leaf fig in place, make sure there's a saucer under the pot to catch excess water from watering. To ensure you don’t add so much water that it runs out the bottom of the pot, add 1 cup at a time, keeping count until the water begins to trickle out of the bottom. The next time you need to water, you will be able to fill up a single container with the appropriate amount to water thoroughly.

Following these few simple tips will help ensure the success of your fiddle leaf fig and other houseplants.

The fiddle leaf fig didn’t become the “it’ plant because it was difficult to grow. Developing a base understanding of the plant and plan of action will help you triumphantly bring the tropics indoors.


Got a question?

Email gardennews@agcenter.lsu.edu.