It was inevitable that I’d grow up to love plants. When I was a kid, my mom was constantly planting roses, peonies, and other flowers around the perimeter of the house. My dad also would spend whole days working on his garden, growing veggies, killing weeds, getting sun burned and engaging in epic battles against hungry bunnies. I suppose it influenced me a little? So it’s no wonder that despite living in a small apartment in the midst of much concrete, I must still find ways to garden (I mean, even a neighborhood called “Forest Hills” has much less green than what I grew up with in the suburbs.) My latest addition to my windowsill garden is my new fiddle leaf fig tree!
I’ve been obsessed with these trees for quite some time now. Their large expressive leaves just have so much character! And the many times they’ve been featured in design blogs only serves to reinforce my love.
Here’s my little guy when I bought it back in April. It was tiny and arrived with only four leaves.
This was my first time growing a fiddle leaf fig, so I made sure to do my homework. They prefer bright morning light, so it would have been happy on an east facing window, but I have limited options when it comes to windows. I ended up putting it on a south window (slightly south east, but mostly south), and it’s been quite happy there.
I also read that they are supposedly slow growing and do not tend to branch indoors unless pruned back. So if you don’t just want one tall column of leaves, you have to cut it back to give it that full tree-like shape. After reading this, I assumed I would not need to prune back until next growing season in a year. However, this plant is NOT slow growing. In a matter of two months it tripled in size!
At this rate, I felt like I should prune sooner than later to encourage branching. So 1.5 months ago, I chopped off the top bit which included two leaves. And why settle for one plant when you can have two?
I decided to use this cutting to propagate a new tree. Cloning can be SO FUN! Propagated plants also make great affordable gifts. You just have to make sure you have a clean sterile cut, then dip the open wound into some rooting powder like this product.
The instructions on the container say the next step is to stick the cut end into some soil. I’ve never had luck this way and prefer to start my roots in water and transfer to soil later.
Then you just have to be patient and wait. Don’t be discouraged! It will look like nothing is happening for about a month. Just make sure that the water never dries up from the cup. In about a month, you could see the buds of new roots!
I forgot to take pictures, but two weeks after the roots started (as of yesterday), the roots had all grown to a length of one to two inches. I felt that it was ready to be transferred to soil. (**see below for updated progress on the propagated plant!)
Oh, and the mama plant is doing great too! The pruning really did work, and it is now growing two new branches! Hopefully it will eventually get big enough that I can display it on the floor, rather than up on the windowsill.
They don’t like dry heat. The soil should be dry to touch between watering. Occasionally clean the dust off the leaves for maximum sun absorption. Fertilize from spring to autumn. But on the whole, its been a really easy plant to take care of.
On a side note, I’ve been obsessed with this book. It has very whimsical descriptions of the personalities of various house plants, and describes the care and needs of those plants in a way that is easy to understand. The photos are also very inspiring.
And for your enjoyment, more great photos of fiddle leaf figs from around the blogosphere.
**EDIT (7/22/13): I checked on the propagated plant again a couple days ago, and the roots are really growing rapidly. You can see how they are starting to fill the cup. I’m sure I’ll have to transplant it in no time. Hopefully once the roots are established, it will start to grow some new leaves.
**UPDATE (9/4/13):The main plant is getting huge now! Both new branches have grown substantially and the whole thing has gotten much taller. I picked off some of the lower leaves to give it a more tree-like shape. I think I may need to prune again soon for more branching, but I’ll probably wait until the spring during growing season. I gave the little cutting away to a friend last month. I didn’t take any pictures, but when I gave it away it has a thriving, established root system, and it had grown three or four new leaves.
For more updates on the growth of my fiddle leaf fig, check out Part 2.