Watering plants properly is one of the biggest reasons many plant parents struggle to keep their plants thriving, and overwatering (usually watering too often) is the biggest challenge.
This is understandable if you’re new to growing plants, which is why keeping to a fiddle leaf fig watering schedule is an excellent way to maintain the health and liveliness of your fiddle leaf fig plant.
Then you can keep track of how often the fiddle leaf is being watered and adjust your watering habits as needed. 🌿
Intro to Fiddle Leaf Figs
Fiddle leaf figs, also known as ficus lyrata, are a stunning indoor plant featured in several home décor magazines and on home décor websites. Fiddle leaf figs have lush green foliage and grow up to a great height, with enormous leaves that can bring the feel of nature into any room.
Like most plants, they have a standard set of requirements––light, air, and water. However, the trick is supplying those things at the right levels for your fiddle leaf fig to thrive.
They require a lot of light and are best suited to placings directly in front of a window. They need direct sunlight at some point in the day, either in the morning or the afternoon. However, keep in mind that when they stay in light all day long, this inevitably increases their water requirements as well.
Photo by Sarahc
Watering Needs of a Fiddle Leaf Fig
Fiddle leaf figs are native to tropical environments with rainforest-like weather. They are used to having ample water, with some dry spells in between. To keep fiddle leaf figs healthy in an urban home, you’ll need to mimic their natural environment.
That means you’ll need to provide them with enough water so that the soil is all but dripping and also allow them to dry out a little in between watering sessions. The amount of water a fiddle leaf fig needs depends on the size of its roots. For an average-sized plant, you’ll need to water it thoroughly once a week.
How to Water Your Fig Leaf Properly
To achieve the goal of saturating the soil with water, you have two options. For the first option, you can take the plant outside, water it, and then let it drip for a couple of hours before bringing it back to its indoor place.
The second option is to set up a pot with drainage and a saucer for your fiddle leaf fig inside the house. The main concern is to ensure that the roots don’t sit in the water for too long, otherwise, they will rot. Some root rot fiddle leaf fig signs include roots that are dark and mushy, fiddle leaf fig brown spots, brown leaves, and dropping leaves.
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Know When to Water
Several days after watering, it’s common for the topsoil to become dry, while the soil underneath is still moist. Knowing when to water is crucial in maintaining the health of your plant. A good way of gauging the moistness in the soil is to insert a finger 2 to 3 inches into the soil; if it's dry, it’s time to water the plant. If it's still moist, you can wait a bit longer. This method is also one way of checking if there are any pests hiding in the soil. The most likely culprit that hides under the soil would have to be gnats.
Best Way to Water
The most important thing is to water slowly and in a circular motion around the plant. This will ensure all the soil is getting water, and the slow stream will allow the soil enough time to absorb the water and let it reach down to the bottom without overflowing it.
Additionally, if you’re using a pot with a drainage hole, you’ll need to water until it starts coming out of the drain. If you follow this method, make sure to clear out the drip tray instead of letting it sit with water in it. Letting it sit can cause root rot in the plant as the excess moisture at the bottom of the soil becomes an ideal breeding ground for fungus and bacteria.
Always make sure to also use room temperature water for fiddle leaf figs, as well as any other tropical plants you might have. This is because using hot or cold water can shock the plant and have the same result as if the plant was exposed to hot or cold climates. For best results, try breaking up the soil and poking holes in it to promote aeration before watering; this will ensure better water absorption in the soil.
Check Moisture Content
To keep an eye on the moisture level of the soil, you don’t need to literally keep an eye on it all the time. You can use moisture gauges for this purpose. Some varieties of moisture gauges need to be inserted into the soil.
Soil probes that check the moisture content at root level also make a good stick to poke holes in the soil for aeration. It’s always a good idea to use tools like these as fiddle leaf figs––as well as other plants––may have different water needs during different seasons of the year.
People think that overwatering refers to the amount of water being applied, but it’s really related to how often you’re watering a plant. If you’re consistently watering the soil, that means your soil isn’t going to get any time to become even a little dry. The constant moisture, especially around the roots, can lead to fungal infections and root rot.
Just remember, plants in larger pots don’t need to be watered as often as plants in smaller pots because the inner layers of soil retain moisture for a longer time.
Standing water in the soil creates a suitable environment for pathogens to come to life and thrive. These pathogens can then attack the roots to get nutrients for survival.
Root rot is a disease that causes the roots to turn mushy and brown. Healthy roots are always crisp and white. This root damage can impact your plant’s health because fiddle leaf figs get nutrients through their root system. Root rot can also lead to brown spots on the leaves, leaf death, and eventually plant death.
Overwatering can also be a result of poor drainage in the plant. If the soil isn’t properly aerated, if the pot doesn’t have a good drainage system, or if for any other reason the water doesn’t have a way to drain out of the pot, you’ll have over-saturated soil. This over-saturated soil will cause root rot and damage to the plant.
Ensuring proper drainage and allowing the soil to dry out between watering sessions starves the pathogens and saves the fiddle leaf fig roots from rot and damage.
Photo by Maria
On the flip side, if the soil is allowed to dry out from top to bottom, it can also cause damage to the plant and cause severe dehydration, resulting in brown spots and leaf loss.
The most apparent symptom of an underwatered and dehydrated fiddle leaf fig is brown spots appearing on the edges of the leaves. This occurs on all the leaves of the plant, be they on top or at the bottom.
The browning can eventually cover the whole leaf before it falls off, all dry and curled at the edges. Additionally, if the leaves are droopy and dull, instead of lushly colored and upright, this is also a classic symptom of dehydration.
Tips for a Healthy Fiddle Leaf Fig
Watering is not the only plant care step for a healthy fiddle leaf fig. Here are other factors that contribute to a healthy house plant:
Fiddle leaf figs require a lot of light to survive and flourish. If the plant isn’t getting enough light, it is not getting enough energy to sustain itself. As a consequence, it will start shedding leaves to lower its energy requirements. Make sure to place your fiddle leaf fig in front of a window so it receives direct sunlight.
Proper Humidity Levels
Remember, fiddle leaf figs love a rainforest-like environment. That means they need a high humidity content in their surroundings. In extreme cold and hot weather, humidity levels can drop down in many areas around the world. If that’s your situation, try using an artificial humidifier.
Proper aeration is key not just for the roots but also for the rest of the plant. Your plant needs access to fresh air every day. Make sure it’s getting plenty of time in fresh air daily and always aerate the soil before watering.
Proper drainage is also crucial in maintaining the health of your fiddle leaf fig. You can use moisture-absorbent materials at the bottom of the pot to leech out any excess moisture from the soil. Also, be sure to get a pot with a drainage hole, along with a drip tray to make cleanup easier on yourself.
Proper Soil Mix
Fresh soil doesn't always guarantee healthy plants. For a fiddle leaf fig plant, the soil should have good drainage and with a pH balance of 5.5 to 7.0. To achieve this, mix two parts organic soil, one part perlite, and one part peat moss or coco coir. For added nourishment, you can also mix in some plant food. Before you combine it with the soil, make sure to read the package instructions first so you don't end up killing your fiddle leaf fig plant.
Fiddle leaf fig watering is certainly not an exact science. After all, it’s a living thing, and many things can impact a plant’s life. However, by creating a regular watering schedule and watering your fig leaf carefully and appropriately, you can help give it every opportunity to thrive.
Watering isn’t the only step to take care of your plant, there’s also fiddle leaf fig pruning. The point is before you even learn how to propagate a fiddle leaf fig plant, you should know how to properly care for it first. 🍃🍃🍃