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Fiddle Leaf Fig Update

Other posts in this series: Part 1, Part 3

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of requests for updates to last year’s fiddle leaf fig tree post.  So I’m happy to say, the tree is still doing quite well!

To sum up, here’s a quick look at the growth from last year.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Update - >> <<

It was extremely gratifying to see it thrive under my care!

So what has happened since then? Not a whole lot actually, but there are still some fun things to share about.

September marked the last of the growth for 2013. Pretty much as soon as Fall arrived, it had entered into Winter dormancy.  At this point I already felt that it had outgrown its pot, but decided to wait until the next growing season to subject it to the trauma of re-potting.

When March rolled around, the days were getting longer, and the growing season was fast upon us.  I decided this was the perfect timing for re-potting.  As you can see from the photo below, my little tree had not changed at all since September.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Update - >> <<

So how did I know it needed to be re-potted?  Honestly, I would have re-potted it whether it needed it or not, but there were a few possible clues.  First, proportionately the plant just seemed way too big for the pot. Secondly, whenever I watered it, very little water seemed to absorb into the soil and tended to drain right through into the dish.  That was a clue that there might not be much soil left – most of it was probably taken over by roots.  This hunch was supported when I took a peek at the bottom of the pot.  Tons of roots were growing through the bottom of the drainage hole.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Update - >> <<

Anyway, I went ahead with the re-potting. The root situation that I saw confirmed that it had become root-bound.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Update - >> <<

Look at all those roots!  I think if I had left it much longer, it would have choked itself to death.  When re-potting, its important to loosen up the roots a bit before transferring to the new pot.  Even with more space, it will continue the habit of growing in this tight knot and choke itself.  Loosening up the ball a bit will help it to grow outward again.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Update - >> <<

Also, a note on the new pot I used.  I bought this gold metallic glazed terracotta pot from Anthropologie. Unfortunately it didn’t come with a drainage hole which is a big problem for fiddle leaf figs (they don’t like soggy roots.)  So I simply used my power drill with a masonry bit to drill a hole into the bottom.  Worked like a charm!

Fiddle Leaf Fig Update - >> <<

Less than a month after repotting, rapid leaf growth began again. It may have already started in earlier in March, but the buds were covered by flaky brown husks so I didn’t notice.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Update - >> <<

I let it grow happily for about a month longer, but decided to do some pruning again in late April – once again, in order to encourage branching.  Here’s a photo of the poor thing after I chopped its head off.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Update - >> <<

I decided to propagate the severed top again.  This time I gave it a longer stem than I did in my last post so I was able to fill the rooting cup with more water. This is way better because I don’t have to check on it and refill the water quite as often.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Update - >> <<

Today it’s been about a half a month since I pruned.  The cutting still does not have any roots, but that always takes at least a whole month.  The main plant is doing great though!  It already has 3 new leaf buds! One growing from the main stalk, and two growing out of leaf armpits which will eventually grow into two new branches! Hmm, I’m sure there must be a more technical term than “leaf armpits”…

Fiddle Leaf Fig Update - >> <<

Fiddle Leaf Fig Update - >> <<

Keep checking in for more updates!  I plan to keep adding photos to this post throughout the summer =)


58 comments to Fiddle Leaf Fig Update

  • AML

    Thanks for the update! Mine has been growing rapidly for the last few weeks, I’m hoping to reach a height where I’m comfortable pruning before the growing season is over!

  • Holly

    You sure do have a green thumb!
    I live in Australia, have had my FLF for going on a year now.
    Unfortunately took him outside and hosed him down, then left him there for a few hrs to get a bit of sun ( mild Autumn day )
    He looked fabulous….. Until a week later and brown patches appeared, and even fadeing ( almost white leaves)
    We are coming in to winter now, so the pause button has been pushed.
    Hopefully my guy bounces back coming into Spring!

  • Ellen

    Great progress!

    How did you encourage branching? I have a twin stem two-footer and would love to create some branching so it’s not totally vertical! Any tips would be very appreciated!!

  • Katy

    Thanks for these posts! You clearly know how to work with a Fiddle Fig! I’m now convinced I need to repot mine. Can you share what sort of soil you use? Also, I know you mentioned that you let the soil dry out between waterings, but about how often do you water? Once a week?

  • Katy

    And, Thanks!

  • I love how you’re chronicling the life of your Fiddle! I have one that’s also doing great, but I think it’s time to prune. Where do you “chop it’s head off”? Mine always has a new leaf bud on it, do you cut that off, too? – I’m so scared!

  • cheryl

    Ellen, as I mentioned in this post and my last post ( just do some pruning, which means chop off the top! New branches will sprout out of the base of the leaves right around where you made your cut.

  • cheryl

    hi Katy!! For soil, I just use any standard multi-purpose potting soil from Home depot. It seems to work fine for me.

    In terms of watering, I tend to water about once a week (every Saturday morning) and once every other week during dormant season in the winter. However, I noticed that the new pot I used for re-potting drains more slowly and has been causing my plant some root stress as the roots have been soaking in water longer. You can tell there is root stress if the leaves start developing tiny rust-colored spots/speckles. So I ended up having to drill some additional holes into the pot, including some small vents in the side (which I will blog about later.) I think its ideal if you use a porous pot with good drainage (like terracotta with a nice big hole in the bottom) so that the soil is able to totally dry out in a weeks time. My plant was happiest when it had those conditions. It is possible that it may be slightly different for you depending on what type of environment you live in. I’m in NYC where the summers are very humid. A dry climate might allow for faster drying.

  • cheryl

    Alicia, don’t be afraid!! you can “chop its head off” anywhere you want!! I usually count 3-4 leaves from the top and just cut right there so that I have a large enough section propagate a new plant. But you could chop off less too. And you are right, the very top will usually have a new leaf bud – cut that right off with everything else. That’s what encourages branching. My guess is that the plant realizes that it has lost its new growth and is forced to re-start growing new leaves elsewhere. You can also decide on where to make you cut by where you want to see new branches grow. I’m no expert on the terminology, but new branches will always grow out of the “armpits” or base of the two or three leaves right below the cut. This will allow you to “sculpt” the shape of your tree exactly how you want it.

  • Janina

    It looks great! I’m feeling a bit inspired to try to grow one of these plants for our new house, but we are in a dark apartment right now (only 1 wall of windows and it’s west-facing). Maybe next spring! And maybe I’ll look for that Houseplant book you mentioned in Part I. Thanks for sharing!

  • sarah

    Hi I just got a new fiddle leaf and its about 4 inches tall right now (ive had it for a week) and i was wondering about how tall yours is now so I can estimate about how tall it will grow in a year!! I love these trees so much I finally broke down and got one! (: (: Thanks!

  • Sarah

    Hi I was wondering about how tall your tree has grown in the past year? I finally broke down and had to get one because I love them and mine is 4 inches tall! (just a baby) I wanted to know what to estimate the growth of a year. I live in California and its sunny most the year here and doesn’t usually go under 55 degrees in the winter. Do you know if that will that effect the growth of it? Thanks

  • Alex Kinzer

    This is a great blog! I just bought a fiddle-leaf fig from Home Depot yesterday. I ordered it online and it arrived looking very healthy. As it turns out, there are two stems in the pot! Do you know anyone or have you read anything when you were researching about them about separating them? Also, this is exactly the kind of blog I’ve been looking for, one that shows the progress of growth rather than just the excitement of the initial purchase. Pleae keep updating, I’m listening!

  • cheryl

    Hi Sarah! To answer your question, my fiddle is about 20 inches tall right now. Keep in mind that I pruned it twice so I imagine it would be quite a bit taller if I hadn’t.

    As for your location, I’m not sure is that will make a difference. Mine stays indoors and the temp never drops below 55 so I don’t think that should be a factor. The sun I’m not sure. I know they like it sunny, but not too much direct sun

  • cheryl

    Alex, I’ve never tried separating fiddle leaf figs, but I imagine you can just gently work them apart at the roots. I don’t think breaking a few will cause that much damage. They will probably just react as they would when being repotted. I’d imagine it would be best to do this during the active growing season so it recovers more easily. Like I said, I never tried it, but this is my best guess from what I know about them.

    Definitely stay tuned for more updates. I’ll definitely be writing more!

  • Nick

    Hi. I just got a fiddle fig from home depot also and it has 2 trees in it. The roots are starting to come out of the top an the bottom drain holes of the pot. When would be a good time to depot without freaking the plan out? I got it 4 days ago. Also when you water yours how much water do you use? And do you take it outside or place in a shower so the water can tun through it? Mine is about 3 feet tall if that makes any difference.
    Thank you.

  • cheryl

    hi!! I think it would be fine to re-pot it right now. there’s plenty of growing season left for it to recover.

    As for watering, I usually water till I see a little water running out from the bottom hole of the pot. That usually means that the soil is fully saturated. There’s no need to take it outside or put it in the shower. This plant doesnt need tons of water and its better if its not soaking wet so that the soil dries off faster. I think this is true regardless of the size, at least in my experience so far.

  • Roo

    Hi Katy, Thanks for this helpful information! A question — do you think your plant could be a “Little Fiddle” (fiscus lyrata compacta) as opposed to a regular fiscus lyrata? I have both types, and (based on my very limited experience) yours looks to be the former. I find the little Fiddle is much faster growing and also more tolerant (i.e., less of a diva). The Little Fiddle has smaller, darker, stiffer leaves. Let us know what you think! Thanks 🙂

  • Ivy

    Hi Cheryl, you are an expert with plants! Do you have any experience with corn plants? I bought a 6′ corn plant about 4 days ago at Ikea. When it was at the store, there were 3 or 4 leaves with brown spots. I brought it home anyway but alas, one fourth of the leaves have the same issue now! Some leaves have brown tips, some have brown spots on the side of the leaves, but they each has a yellow ring around the brown spot. The soil has good moisture so I have yet to water it. What issue could it be? The plant is at the corner of my living room – I have west-facing floor-to-ceiling window in my living room but I kept the blinds down (made of paper-like material so the room is still bright during the day)most of the time only leaving it about 3 feet from the floor. This is the first large-size plant I ever got and I really want it to live!

    Thank you.

  • cheryl

    Hi Ivy! I wish I could help! I have no experience with corn plants =(

    my only guesses would be possibly over watering causing root stress, or improper amount of light. I’m not sure though!

  • vetta

    I have a FLF with two branches from pot both are about 7 to 8 ft tall. You said to just chop off the top, when you do that is that where it will start branching out. I was just wondering how far down I should chop? I will get some rooting hormone and try to start another one. I live in Florida and it is on my back porch.


  • cheryl

    hi!! yes, the new branches (usually 2 new branches, but I’ve gotten 3 new ones before too) will appear right below where you make your cut. They will grow out of the leaf “arm pits” of the two leaves right next to the cut. So you can be some what strategic about where you place your cut if you want to sort of “sculpt” the shape of the tree.

  • Jen Choi

    Hi Cheryl,

    I just pruned my one of my FLFs and only one branch successfully grew. I read somewhere that the tree will no longer grow vertically from the point where I cut the main stem but your tree seems to have gotten taller with each pruning. Is that right? Has your tree gained height by growing a new bud vertically or did it grow from the main stem that you had pruned? Thanks!


  • cheryl

    hi Jen! Perhaps what they mean is that no branch will grow directly out of the middle of the cut portion. Both times I pruned off the top of the main center stalk, 2-3 new branches would grow out of the “armpits” of the top most leaves – off of the side of the main stem. Usually the new branch closest to the top would straighten out and grow vertically, becoming the new center column. So yes, my tree has continued to get taller and taller even though the new branches have grown off the sides of the old center column. I hope that makes sense?

  • Mia

    I got my FLF in April, and your blog was the first thing I found about them. (hope you will have updates soon). But about a month ago, I broke off a leaf and since it was so green I couldn’t just trash it. I put it in water with some other cuttings until it wilted, but today noticed roots!! Off a leaf! All your info about care I think helped me keep it alive and thriving so far. Winter will be the true test. Thanks

  • Mickey

    Hi Cheryl! You are amazing! Your fig is obviously very happy! I have done quite a bit of research online about care and troubleshooting for FLF. I love them and I’ve been committed to growing them big and beautiful. The problem is, no matter WHAT I’ve tried or how I’ve cared for them, they go downhill pretty quickly.. I have other plants that seem fairly happy, but I have totally failed at the FLFs! So I ask you, PLEEEASE! Help me! To be honest, I’m desperate. The last two I bought together, about 4 feet tall each, were lush, beautiful and healthy, with big glossy leaves. I brought them home sprayed them down with that organic miticide (diluted with water) and repotted and watered.. Ever since, they have steadily declined, with leaves continuously dropping, one at a time. And before they drop, each leaf begins to develop a faint brown spot that grows bigger and darker til it drops. Now they are each 2 naked stalks with only 2-3 pathetic dying leaves on them. I don’t overwater. Made sure there was drainage. They are in the brightest filtered sun spots in the house. What am I doing wrong? Another older FLF I have has begun to have a few new leaves growing, maybe 4″ long, and I’ve just noticed that a couple of these new leaves are WILTING! As in, completely limp. I have never seen this before. Any ideas? I bought 2 new beauties today, and I am going to try drilling a few more drainage holes in the new pots. It seems that maybe FLFs are extremely sensitive to being waterlogged….? Also, I just read about mixing little lava pebbles into the soil when repotting, to help with drainage, and to keep the soil from becoming compacted and choking the roots. Does this sound like a good idea to you? Im determined to help these green girls to thrive.
    Thank you so much, in advance.

  • Louis

    Can we pleaaaaase have an update?! Love this blog so much it’s the most detailed fiddle leaf post I can find! 🙂

  • cheryl

    Hi Mickey! I’m no expert, and I have been learning through experience, but hopefully I can still help. I read the brown spots are usually the result of root stress. It can be stress from either over watering or under watering. If I ever get around to updating, I’ll write about the brown spots I recently developed on my tree. I realized it was taking too long for the water to evaporate from the soil, so I ended up drilling some extra holes into the planter and have not seen any new brown spots since! For my own FLF, I found that it was the happiest when, after getting a good full watering, the soil became bone dry by the next week. so yes, you are right, they are very sensitive to being water logged. I think mixing in rocks would definitely help. The entire bottom third of my planter is filled with river stones to help with drainage. in my experience, root stress seems to be the main cause.

  • cheryl

    i’ll try to update soon!! its been a crazy summer. so good to hear people like my posts though! =)

  • Sarah

    Do you remove the plant to drill additional holes?? I have the rust colored spots!

  • Sue Rutsen

    I’d like to grow my flu into a tree shaped plant with a bare stalk. Do I just cut off the leaves I don’t want to see? I wish I could attach the photo of what I am working with….

  • Sue Rutsen

    My computer “corrected” my f.l.f. To flu. Sorry.

  • cheryl

    when my FLF still had more lower leaves than I wanted, I just pulled them off by hand. but as the tree grows bigger, it will naturally shed some of the lower leaves on its own

  • Jill

    Hi. My fiddle leaf tree is approximately 11 years old and 11 ft. tall. I have been searching for advice on pruning, not to entice growth but to shorten the plant. It is growing horizontally now and I have it tied to a pole to help it stand. I do not have a green thumb and can’t believe how long this plant has been thriving. Any suggestions on how to shorten the height and strengthen it to stand up straight would be very appreciated.

  • […] read they can be hard to look after I figured I’d see how I go with one first. Also I saw this article on the on how to propagate Fiddle Leaf Figs so I may try that later […]

  • Denise

    A full year is coming up soon! Will there be an update? Looking forward to the status of both. Did the first one get roots? Did you plant it yet? Hope you post an update soon! 😀

  • cheryl

    I did update a couple months ago! ( I’m waiting for growing season to start up so that I actually have something to write about.

  • Denise

    Thank you for the links and the updates! I hope to use what I’ve learned on my fiddle! 😀

  • I love the fiddle leaf. Please put me on your list.

  • Larisa

    Hi All FLF lovers!
    I would like to know if any of you have used a lava rocks in the soil mix for the FLF?And what is the best mix for this plant?
    Thanks a bunch;)

  • Lily

    Thanks for your blog posts on the fiddle leaf plants! I’m considering getting some, so these posts were really educational. Question: when you pruned the tree to make it branch out, where did you cut at exactly? Does cutting it from the top limit the height of the plant?

  • charlene

    This is sooooooooooooooooo helpful. After purchasing my fiddle leaf fig last year where I went from about 20 leaves (give or take a few) to 7…and finally….FINALLY!!!…I see a new leaf growing. It was so beautiful when I received it by online order from Home Depot. I did my research…trying to find this plant after 2 unsuccessful tries… it was in such high demand I couldn’t find it for the life of me. My first purchase was from Ikea…it was my first time seeing this plant type…MUST HAVE!!! it was doing well until the winter came and then it was dying and I blame myself. the 2nd purchase was from the street so you know it was doomed…but it was $15 for a tree as tall as me … if not taller and I’m 5′ 4.5″ tall… then after putting myself on the “let me know when this is back in stock” list for Home Depot…they finally sent me an email months later and I purchased it about July or August (along with my rubber tree plant that is doing very well). So as I stated…it arrived absolutely lovely…so many had positive feedback for the packing job that kept the plant in good/great tact….and I can confirm that they do a great job on packing up the plant to keep it from getting damaged as much as possible.
    Anywho…today June 2nd…I see a new leaf and I am VERY EXCITED!!! I feel like I have finally gotten over the hump of killing this plant…looking at your pics showed me that what I am seeing is a good thing. I will say that my plant has not grown any taller from its original height from when I purchased it last year but I am going to see how this goes…I feel this level of anxiety to do right by this plant since I killed it two other times….

    Again…thank you for this GREAT POSTING….you have told/taught me so much in this story/pics vs all the research and videos that I have watched….
    Please please please….keep up the GREAT stories/work…it is GREATLY APPRECIATED!!!

  • Linda.

    Is it possible that if you cut off just the bud when it’s forming, instead of a whole section of tree, that this might make the tree branch ?

  • elaine coffey

    In looking online for a faux fiddle leaf leaf plant I found your wonderful site with
    helpful hints and pictures. You have convinced me to buy a REAL fiddle leaf plant and
    grow my own tree!

    I’m soooo glad that I found your site as I will be visiting it again and again.

    Thank you.

  • Annette

    I love Fiddle Leaf Figs! My tree was doing great and growing, but I decided to put coconut oil on my leaves to polish/dust as I read as a recommendation on another blog. The next day the leaves were droopy, then got really crispy with white spots, and then most of them fell off. There are so many “empty pockets” on my tree where old leaves used to be and it looks so sad. Any advice? Will leaves only grow from the top or where the old leaves used to be to fill in the empty spaces?

  • Rene

    I brought home my first FLF this past May and have watched it slowly lose its leaves – finally slowing about a month ago and I don’t see any new brown spots. I think it is going to be ok. It currently stands about 6’5″ proudly displaying its 17 leaves. : ) I kept hoping to see new growth but now understand that it may not happen until spring. I had to write to tell you that you have now given me hope!! Thank you so much for sharing what you know about these beautiful plants. Your blog is so informative and the pictures are great! I can’t wait until spring!

  • christine

    I bought mine in September and haven’t seen any change, it looks the same other than it dropping about 3 leaves..I have repotted and do not over water… does growing began in the spring?

  • Chelsea

    Hi Cheryl,

    Could you tell me about notching?
    Also, how do I thicken and strengthen my FLF trunk? Will lopping off the top help with that?

    Thank you,

  • Katie

    Hi there! I just bought a FLF and as soon as I brought it home one of the leaves wilted and some leaves started turning brown! In a matter of a couple hours! I live in Colorado so it is very dry here but I wanted to give it a try to keep it alive! What do you think? Thanks for your advice!!

  • Cindy

    Hopefully you still read this 🙂
    I have my first Fiddle leaf plants! I bought 2 of them and the moment I gpurchased t them i repotted right away and they died within 3 weeks! Ugh. Fail. So i got 2 more. This time they are staying in their pots. One big one and one small one. Can you please tell me what exact soil you use? And its August already can I still prune? And please give me any tips. I hear this plant can get finicky!

    Thanks! Hope your fiddle leaf plants are doing well!

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