How to not kill your fiddle leaf plant

January 17, 2017

Hey there! Hope you had a lovely weekend, and perhaps a long one for some of you! 

I get asked about two things more than anything on the blog and social media -- the first is what's that paint color? (You can find all of our paint colors here.) The second is one I would never expect -- how do you keep your fiddle leaf plants alive? 

It seems many have struggled keeping these beauties from dying. The fiddle leaf fig has become incredibly popular over the past few years because of their big green leaves and pretty shape. I think they are the easiest plant to grow but I know many have had problems with them. If you have or are considering one of these, read on! 

I'll share some of our fiddles first, and then some tips. We have nine fiddles in our home and I've kept them all alive over the years. Most are thriving so I consider myself to be a fiddle leaf fig expert at this point. :) 

Some are doing better than others. My favorite, giant one was a killer find at our local nursery. This is how it looked shortly after we got it: 
healthy fiddle leaf plant

It was a $130 plant that I got for $30 because they said it was in such bad shape. At first I didn't see that at all, but then the leaves really started to fall. This is what it looks like now: 
fiddle leaf losing leaves

It's still doing well because a.) the leaves are now a beautiful, healthy, dark green and b.) it's still growing and sprouting like mad. It's grown nearly a foot (I moved that top line of art up years back so it's not a good indicator) and most of the leaves on it are very healthy. 

There's plenty of new growth on the bottom and at the top, but it's not done so well in the middle. I'll explain why it's especially bare right now at the end of the post. 

When I added the fiddle to our new loft space in the early fall last year it was much fuller: 
loft craft room and office

It's been growing well and the leaves are getting huge, but it lost quite a few leaves at first: 
How to fix brown or yellow leaves on fiddle leaf

I'll go into more detail on that one too. :)

But most, and theses are the ones I ignore the most (remember that!), are doing incredibly well! Our master bedroom fiddle is a slow grower but has healthy leaves that are a lovely green:
how to keep fiddle leaf plant alive

So pretty! This one is in our master as well and has grown at least a foot in just a year!:
fiddle leaf plant tips

I should have turned it (and need to) so you could see the size of the leaves on that one. It leans that way to get to the direct sun coming in through our bathroom window. 

My pride and joy is our master bathroom -- it was just a little guy a little over a year ago:
how to not kill the fiddle leaf plant

Isn't that crazy? It's HUGE. 

Our family room fig started out as a little bitty baby (right side of pic):
dark gray fireplace

Now look at him! 😍
tips on how to grow fiddle leaf

(See the end of the post for why the leaves turn yellow.) 

I found this small leaf fiddle at a big discount at the nursery as well: 
small leaf fiddle fig

They said he was doing bad and again, I didn't see it at first. 

He did struggle a little but now has grown quite a bit and is filling in a ton: 
small leaf fiddle plant

So here is my advice for some common issues with fiddles: 

BROWN LEAVES:  I think this is the most common problem I hear! These are tricky because most people think brown crusty leaves mean the plant needs water. Nine times out of ten it's the opposite -- brown leaves are a sign of too much water: 
brown leaves on fiddle leaf

Most of my plants have leaves like this -- usually from overwatering at the place I purchased them. Sometimes if the overwatering stops they will just stay like that for a very long time so I usually break off the brown parts (just don't tear the green part of the leaf) so the plant looks a little better. If the watering continues the leaves will fall off. I think this is the number one reason why so many die.

WATERING:  I only water our fiddles once every two weeks. You just need to watch the plant -- if it's really droopy you know it needs water, but it's very, very rare that mine ever get to that point. 

Keep in mind, if your pot is smaller you will need to water more often. If you have a lot of brown leaves, consider repotting to a larger pot and watering less. 

BARE BRANCHES:  If leaves fall off the branches they will look dead...they're probably not. Just leave it alone and new growth will appear again: 
empty branches on fiddle leaf

I will say, once mine lose leaves at the bottom and middle, it's very rare that they bloom new leaves again there. 

Our huge plant is getting some new growth at the bottom: 
cats peeing in plants
But again, for my taller plants that's rare. Side note -- Nerf bullets. I told you I find them everywhere. Secondly, if you have cats that occasionally pee in plants, rocks work wonders. They don't like stepping on them. You can find them at the dollar store. (Yes she has clean litter, yes she is healthy, yes sometimes she's just a butt and wants to pee in plants.)

LIGHT IS EVERYTHING:  I hear from so many that growing these plants is hard -- but I've found them to be the easiest plant by far. This is because they really need very little -- water every week or two and really great light. That's it! I promise. 

My best plants are in full, direct sunlight from half of the day to all day: 
healthy fiddle leaf care

The ones that struggle more don't get direct light. They will love you forever and be so happy if you put them in full sun. They LOVE it. If you're plant is not growing, it needs more sun. 

Also, if you have yellow leaves (you can see a couple on the plant by our back door), it means that leaf specifically isn't getting enough sun. Often I see this on the lower leaves because the upper ones block them. Sometimes there's not much you can do about that and that can lead to the more sparse branches. 

Now I do my best to turn our fiddles every month so they get full sun throughout. 

REPLANTING OR NOT:  When I bring a fiddle home, most of the time I don't replant it. I keep it in it's original planter and put a plastic water tray at the bottom. If the plant isn't doing well I may put it in a bigger pot, but some of mine that are absolutely thriving have been in the same planter they came in for years. 

You don't have to replant them, but if you are getting brown leaves and want to water less, go ahead and put them in something bigger. Once they get huge, you'll want to replant to something bigger. 

DON'T GIVE UP:  With full sun and little water, these babies thrive. I don't fertilize them, I don't prune them. I don't drag them outside or to the shower to water them (some do and have great success!). I forget about them for the most part and they seem to love that. 

Keep in mind they will go dormant during the winter. So they look their worst right now. Even so, ours are still growing new leaves, just not as fast as usual: 

fiddle leaf new growth

You'll need to be patient with them during these months as they pull back and slow down. :) 

WHERE TO BUY:  I get asked this a lot! Your local nursery will most likely have them. When I say nursery I mean a location with just plants -- if they carry indoor plants. I find they are the most expensive there though. If you find them, keep an eye out for one with damaged leaves and offer to take it off their hands for a discount. 

I used to find them at IKEA but it's been a couple years since I've seen them there. Now the best place I've found is Home Depot -- they usually have them in stock when I stop in. I've also heard Lowe's has started carrying them. I've purchased most of mine at Home Depot for $9 and that's a great deal for their size! 

I've heard some have had luck buying on Amazon, but the one I got there came and was ridiculously small. I mean, barely one tiny leaf so it was just annoying for the price. AND it died within a couple weeks. 

Have you had luck with these beauties? They are by far my favorite house plant, I adore them. They're awesome in decor because of their large leaves and fuller shape. 

If you have any additional questions I'll do my best to answer them!   

Here's an image to pin for later: 
Easy tips for growing fiddle leaf plants

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  1. Because of YOU, I purchased my first fiddle last year :-) I almost killed it due to lack of sunlight (I closed my shutters to keep out the hot sun), then put it on my patio for the summer. Now it's in my master, and I pull my blinds up every day to let more light in. It's happy! :-)

  2. The fiddle looks so good! Now I want to get one, AND I have a guide right here of how to take care of one. Thank you!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  3. I got a fiddle at Home Depot. If you don't find one in stock, you can order online and pick up at the store. Their prices are very reasonable, too.

  4. One of my cats was peeing in ours. So I have to Saran wrap the base. I love the rock tip! Sadly, the one she always peed in is doing the best so maybe I should just let it go...HA!

  5. I found out by accident that fiddles do really well if they are cut back periodically. I put mine out during spring one year and all the leaves got sun damaged. I didn't think I had anything to lose since it looked awful so I cut the plant down at the main trunk. This caused the plant to branch out. Since then I have cut it back twice more and each time it comes back even better. I fertilize it every other week or so with a very diluted orchid fertilizer. The leaves are green and glossy and it is thriving.

  6. I have been begging for a fiddle leaf fig tree for about 3 years, and my husband finally got me one from Amazon for Christmas this year. they are SUPER TINY. It had 3 little leaves on it. The stalk is *maybe* 18" long. He's super cute, but he already has some brown on a leaf. The card that came with it said to water just once a week, which I have been doing (I even set an alarm on my phone!) But this gives me confidence to lengthen the time between watering a bit more! I am encouraged by how quickly yours seem to be growing, though! Thanks!

  7. FLF's hate to have their 'feet' wet. Water every 2 wks, but do leave it standing in water. has excellent advice. I purchased from Ken Ramsey who is Certified Mississippi Master Gardner and he sent me exact instructions and my FLF is doing beautifully. It is amazing to watch one leaf come out because it grows so fast. After seeing your plants Sarah, I couldn't wait to get one of my own, so thank you for always sharing.

  8. I live in Kentucky and have never had luck finding a fiddle at any of our local nurseries or Lowes/ Home Depot. I finally ended up ordering one online from Home Depot. I have had it for 3 months and it is doing great! My husband and I are doing an experiment right now and are attempting to grow our own fiddle's from clippings of our current one. Fingers crossed it works!

  9. I live in Canada and it is very, very hard to find a fiddle leaf here. A local nursery brought some in, but they were $300 and up. Not any where close to my price range. I have heard that IKEA occasionally has some, but they go fast and it's a once a year shipment. I would love to have one, every time I head to the nursery, home improvement or IKEA, I always look in the plant section. One day. One day.

  10. I never found them anywhere, I live in the Midwest. I happened to be in a florist shop just killing some time and got talking to the owner. Long story short, she ordered me a fiddle leaf fig. I got a really nice tree type for $ 50. Lilac Love, maybe this would work for you? Can't hurt to ask.

    1. Thank you for the idea, there is a florist in my local mall. I will check with her.

  11. Do you worry about having to water an indoor plant when it sits on your wood floors? I know your planters are either plastic lined or have a plastic tray but still things happen. I may be extra sensitive after having my refrigerator leak and ruin an entire house of wood flooring. I am concerned about the wood as well as my master with carpet. Let me know your thoughts.

    1. Just following along because this is my question too.

    2. I have a Fiddle leaf Fig after seeing them on this blog and we also have wood floors. I keep the plant in a plastic pot and have a liner around the bottom. I also keep old towels below that and then it's set in a basket. I think the few layers have helped ease my fear that too much water would get to the floors.

  12. When I visited my mother last month I saw that the Home Depot in Brenham had a bunch of these at a very reasonable price - I need to check the HD near me. I want to place a couple of them in the house. No more kitty here means no more worry about my plants getting eaten!

  13. I really appreciate your tips! I have bought so many and have had so many die after doing well, or so I thought. Now I know I've probably been over watering mine since they had so many brown leaves. I'm going to try them again using your tips!

  14. I live in Canada too, and I have 3 fiddle leaf figs I also learned about them from your blog and kept my eye out for a long time for one. Then one day I was in Home Depot saw those leaves from afar in the plant section. I sprinted over and grabbed the one and only fiddle leaf. I was grinning like a fool at the checkout. It was a steal at $10. It has grown so much in the year I have had it and has only dropped 2leaves this winter and I think that was because I moved it when it got too tall for the table it was on. My second was also from Home Depot and my latest is just a wee plantlet from Canadian Tire. All are positioned by windows and I water about once a week, more in the summer,but our climate is very dry. I would also recommend a zz plant as it can tolerate less light, but still is a nice glossy green and grows into an attractive shape. It is not finicky about being watered on schedule.

    1. I never would have thought Canadian Tire, I am going to keep my eye out the next time I am there. Thanks for the tip. I hope one day to be surprised at my local Home Depot as well. ;-)


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