Readers’ Choice Design Challenge: The Fidgety Fiddle Leaf Fig














Welcome to our first Readers’ Choice Design Challenge segment that focused on the woes of raising the design community’s favorite plant, the Fiddle Leaf Fig. We asked Claire Akin, a premier expert on how to grow a gorgeous fiddle leaf fig plant without stressing, to answer your questions for this challenge. She is the founder behind, and the author of The Fiddle Leaf Fig Expert, and extremely passionate about helping others enjoy houseplants—even the varieties that often have difficult reputations—by teaching them simple tricks necessary to understand what their plants need. You can learn more about your Fiddle Leaf Fig by following Claire on Instagram @fiddleleaffigplantresource.


Question verbaveritas: Is there any plant food that you recommend for keeping your Fiddle Leaf Fig happy?

Answer: When I started caring for my fiddle leaf fig plants, I was frustrated that there wasn’t a ready-made fertilizer with the specific formulation they need (3-1-2). That’s why I created Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant Food (available on Amazon) to meet their specific requirements. It’s formulated to be gentle enough to use every time you water and designed to support healthy roots, leaves, and new growth. You can purchase a one-year supply on Amazon here.

Question finntastic_finnie: My tree is very lopsided due to one branch growing faster than the others. Can they be pruned/ shaped?

Answer: Yes, fiddle leaf figs love to be pruned and you can even propagate the cuttings into new plants. To keep your plant evenly balanced, it’s best to rotate it every time you water so it gets even sunlight exposure and growth. If you find yourself with a lopsided plant, simply prune the areas you’d like to remove with clean, sharp pruning shears. Here’s a guide to pruning your fiddle leaf fig.


Question: I have gotten some brown spots on leaves that seem to have radiated out and become larger but I see no signs of pests. Do you know what causes this?

Answer: The most likely cause is root rot due to overwatering. This condition can be made worse with a pot that is too big for your plant and lack of sunlight.Root rot typically starts as brown spots on the leaves that begin spreading, before the leaves drop. Root rot is a serious problem in fiddle leaf figs that will kill the plant if it’s not treated quickly, so it’s important to act fast before your plant has suffered too much damage. 

To treat root rot, be sure that your plant has plenty of drainage and resist the urge to overwater. Give it as much indirect sunlight as you can and let your plant dry out for two weeks or so. If the damage is severe, you may need to repot your plant. In the future, be careful to only water when the top 3 inches of soil is dry. It’s safer to let your fiddle leaf fig’s roots get too dry than too wet. To learn more about treating root rot, read this guide.


Question camillacody: I have new growth buds on the stem of my standard (in training) Fiddle Leaf Fig, below the crown of existing trunk leaves. Would these be branch buds rather than leaf buds? I’ve finally just removed the remaining lower leaves (after letting them be to thicken the trunk) and am hoping I’m getting some branches.

Answer: It’s too early to tell, but they are likely leaf buds. You can give them a few weeks to see if they develop into branch buds. If not, you can remove to keep the tree-like shape of your plant. 


Question: How do I know when it’s time to repot my Fiddle Leaf Fig?

Answer: If you’ve just purchased your fiddle leaf fig and it’s still in the black plastic grower’s pot, it’s best to repot as soon as you get it home. This will help give your plant more consistent moisture, drainage, and room to grow. If you haven’t repotted your plant in some time, there are some clues to look for. The first is lack of new growth. The second is roots that are coming out the bottom or top of the container. Generally, fiddle leaf figs should be repotted every 2-3 years. If your plant is too large to repot, you can top dress instead of repotting by removing the top 4 inches of soil and replacing with fresh soil. Here’s how to repot your fiddle leaf fig plant.


Question: What’s the best way to learn more about Fiddle Leaf Fig care?

Answer: For more information about fiddle leaf figs, join the Fiddle Leaf Fig Club and watch our Fiddle Leaf Fig Care 101 Webinar online now!



To become an expert, get a copy of The Fiddle Leaf Fig Expertbook, your complete guide to growing healthy fiddle leaf fig plants. The book is available in full-color paperbackor Kindle editionon Amazon now! To grow the movement, join our community on Facebook here: Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant Resource Group.




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