The fiddle-leaf fig or banjo fig (botanical name; Ficus lyrata) is a popular upright, evergreen, broad-leaf ornamental tree, commonly grown as a houseplant. The tree looks spectacular in living areas, hallways, hotels, offices, and other indoor settings. It is native to the tropical regions of western and central Africa.
The fiddle-leaf fig tree belongs to the family Moraceae (of about 40 genera). Its genus name “Ficus” is derived from the Latin word meaning “edible fig” and the species name “lyrata” refers to the shape of its leaf (lyre or fiddle-shaped). 
The fiddle-leaf fig tree is a slow-growing indoor plant, requiring sufficient care and relatively low maintenance practices. It is easy to grow and flourishes well in containers (up to 10 feet tall) in the presence of partial shade and an adequate water supply.
The fiddle-leaf fig (Ficus lyrata) tree is named after its fiddle-shaped leaves. This small, evergreen, tropical, woody tree was previously known as Ficus pandurata.
F. lyrata tree grows upright, comprising brown-colored, single, lean stem. In the natural habitat, it can grow around 25 – 50 feet tall. However, in containers or as a houseplant, the tree can grow 2 – 10 feet tall.
The tree contains toxic white milky sap that can cause oral irritation, vomiting, excessive drooling, burning of mouth, tongue, or lip, and swallowing difficulty if ingested. [2, 3]
Keep this plant away from children and pets.
The fiddle-leaf fig tree naturally grows in warm and wet areas. The tree is native to the rainforest of western Africa. The tropical tree was later introduced as an outdoor and indoor plant (in temperate areas).
The plant container can be placed on a sheltered deck during the summer season. It is advised to bring the container inside when the temperature drops during fall.
The leaves of fiddle-leaf trees are large, dark green, leathery, lyre-shaped, undulate with entire margins, and have prominent veins. The plant needed to be protected from wind due to its fairly large size leaves (approximately 18” long and 12” wide). 
The fiddle-leaf tree rarely blooms or produces fruits outside its natural habitat (or as a houseplant). In their native habitat, inconspicuous, unisexual, green flowers appear during the spring or summer season.
The fruit is (about 1/2 inch in size) round, green (turns red after ripening), fleshy fig with white dots that appear solitary or in pairs. 
Types of fiddle-leaf Fig
Ficus lyrata is a popular ornamental tree and is itself cultivated as an indoor plant. However, its different cultivars are also available commercially. Some of them are;
Ficus lyrata ‘Compacta’ – F. lyrata ‘Compacta’ different from other cultivars due to its closely spaced smaller leaves with short petioles. The tree grows up to 5 feet tall.
Ficus lyrata ‘Bambino’ – F. lyrata ‘Bambino’ is a dwarf variety of fiddle-leaf fig, that grows only a few feet tall (about 3 to 6 feet) have comparatively smaller, round leaves.
Ficus lyrata ‘Variegata’ – F. lyrata ‘Variegata’ is a less common type of fiddle-leaf fig tree. It is distinguished from other cultivars due to its showy variegated leaves (green from the center and creamy from the edges). 
Fiddle-Leaf Fig Tree Facts
|Fiddle-leaf fig, banjo fig
|Ficus lyrata, previously known as F. pandurata
|Tropical Western Africa
|About 2 to 10 tall as an indoor plant
|Woody, evergreen, Broadleaf
|Insignificant, rarely blooms indoor
|Up to 18 inches long and 12 inches wide
|Toxic to cats, dogs and horses
Care for fiddle-leaf Fig
For the ideal growth of a fiddle-leaf fig tree, sufficient water supply, warm surroundings, and bright indirect sunlight are the necessary ingredients.
It may seem tricky to maintain the warm conditions for the optimum growth of the tree but you can do it simply by placing the plant container outside in the summer. Remember to take your fiddle-leaf fig tree inside when the temperature begins to drop.
The plant may need some care but you can grow it as your houseplant without any worries.
Tip: After every few days, mist your fiddle-leaf fig leaves with water and clean them with a soft damp cloth to remove the dust. It gives the tree a striking look and ensures the optimum exposure to sunlight for the ideal growing conditions.
In the following section, I have given an illustrated guide of necessary measures to grow and care for the fiddle-leaf fig tree (Ficus lyrata).
The fiddle-leaf fig tree requires bright indirect sunlight or part shade. Allocate the tree to a well-lit spot in your home for optimal growth. The tree appreciates the morning sunlight whereas direct sunlight can cause leaf burn.
Dark surroundings can affect the growth of your plant and give them a leggy or spindly appearance. 
Tip: Protect your fiddle-leaf fig tree from the afternoon sun to avoid sunburn.
The fiddle-leaf fig tree thrives well in the wet and warm conditions. According to the reports, the native temperature of this tropical rainforest tree ranges between 68 °F in January to 86 °F in July. Shift the tree inside when the temperature drops to 55 °F. 
Tip: The fiddle-leaf fig tree does not like sudden temperature changes. Do not place the plant pot near heating or air conditioning sources.
The fiddle-leaf fig tree performs best at above-average relative humidity but can also flourish well in medium humidity. The lack of humidity can deteriorate tree health and ultimately cause browning of leaf margins.
Tip: You can increase the humidity of plant surroundings, by placing a group of plants together, by daily application of water spray, or by using a humidifier in your room.
The fiddle-leaf fig can be planted outdoors as an ornamental plant in USDA plant hardiness zones 10 to 12. As an indoor tree, it can be easily grown in a soil-based potting mix. The tree relishes loamy, acidic, moist and well-drained soil. 
Tip: The fiddle-leaf fig trees do not like overly wet or too-dried soils and drafts as they affect plant growth.
The fiddle-leaf fig tree needs a moderate amount of water for ideal plant growth. Keep the soil moist but try to avoid overwatering. Remove the drained water under the pot.
Excessive supply of water causes the premature dropping of leaves or root rot which is lethal for the tree. Whereas insufficient supply of water results in yellowing or browning of leaves or premature falling off leaves.
Tip: To avoid overwatering, wait for the top 2 inches of the soil surface to dry during the growing season (spring to fall). Cut down the water supply in winter.
Use the general houseplant fertilizer twice a year (spring and summer) to fertilize your fiddle-leaf fig tree. Follow the directions and apply the recommended strength of fertilizer. 
Tip: Excessive application of fertilizer can burn the leaf margins
Fiddle-Leaf Fig Growers Guide
|Bright indirect sunlight or part shade
|60 to 85 °F is the ideal temperature, should not be less than 55 °F
|Moist soil, water after the top layer of soil dries
|Loamy, sandy, well-drained
|Medium or above average relative humidity
|Normal houseplant liquid fertilizer
|Seed and vegetative propagation
|Annually during the spring season
How to Grow Fiddle-leaf Fig at Home?
With a little care and handling, you can grow a fiddle-leaf tree as an indoor plant. It is perfect for the light-exposed areas of bedrooms, hallways, living rooms, or doorways.
The Ficus sp. well-suited plant to grow in nurseries, greenhouses and conservatories. In warm and wet areas (tropical and subtropical regions) the tree can be grown as an outdoor ornamental tree.
The young plant starts resembling a tree in 3 to 4 years. It may take fiddle-leaf fig 10 to 15 years to become fully mature depending upon the environmental mental conditions and handling practices.
Generally, the fiddle-leaf fig tree can grow a foot or two each year as an indoor plant. The healthy tree displays a fair growth of new leaves, has a thick trunk, and grows 1-2 ft each year.
Step-by-Step Propagation of Fiddle-leaf Fig
The fiddle-leaf fig plant can be propagated through seed or vegetative propagation. It is easy to grow F. lyrata plant through the vegetative propagation method rather than seed propagation.
In vegetative propagation, the stem-cutting technique is commonly used to produce new plants. Spring is the most favorable season to propagate new plants. Follow these steps to propagate a new plant
- First, you need to prepare a fair-sized container to place the stem cutting and then take chlorine-free water or distilled water in it.
- Cut about 6 inches of stem tip (comprising 1 to 2 leaves) with the help of a clean, sharp cutter.
- Immediately, place the stem cutting in the water and put it in warm surroundings under bright indirect sunlight to develop the root.
- Check the water every few days, and replace it with chlorine-free water if it turns cloudy.
Wait for a few weeks until the root emerges from it. It usually takes a month for the root to develop. When you see the root, allow it to grow for another week (until it grows 1 to 2 inches) before replanting.
- Transfer the young plant into the potting soil and keep the soil moist for 2 months (do not overwater) to encourage plant growth.
Air layering is another method used by the gardener to propagate new plants.
Tip: For ideal results, you can also dip the stem cutting in the houseplant root promoter hormone before transferring it to the water container.
Potting and Repotting of Fiddle-leaf fig
Repot the fiddle-leaf fig plant every during the spring season. Once your plant grows larger in size, take a few inches (1 – 2”) larger pot for repotting.
Carefully, take the plant out of the older pot after loosening the soil. Place the plant into the larger pot and fill the spaces with the soil mix.
Repeat the process until the plant fully matures. When the plant matures, it is recommended to replace the few inches of topsoil with fresh annually (during the spring season) instead of repotting.
Pruning and Maintenance of Fiddle-leaf Fig
Pruning of the fiddle-leaf fig tree should be done in late winter. Otherwise, the tree will lose the leaves that the plant needs during the winter months.
Prune the damaged leaves and remove the new outgrowths to give the plant a thicker and bushier look.
Remove the brown leaf margins (if present) by cutting them with the scissors.
Regularly inspect your plant to avoid pest attacks or any plant disease.
Try to use gloves to avoid direct contact with the toxic sap that oozes out of tree cuts.
Common Problems of Fiddle-leaf Fig
The Ficus sp. flourishes perfectly fine in the presence of the right surroundings and an adequate water supply. The problem begins when you overwater or underwater your fiddle-leaf fig tree. The plant does not show any abnormality if sufficient sunlight is given with medium relative humidity.
Here are some common plant problems of fiddle-leaf figs and their probable reasons;
Brown Edges and Brown Spots
Brown edges on the leaves appear in case of low humidity or insufficient water supply. Abrupt changes in room temperature by heating or cooling can cause brown spots on leaves. Brown spots may develop due to root rot. The condition occurs when you overwater the plant.
Remove the damaged parts of the plant, repot it in case of root rot, and provide the right surroundings to deal with the problem.
Leaf scorch or leaf burn can be seen in case of excessive exposure to direct sunlight. Cut the damaged leaves and protect the plant from direct sunlight.
Dropping of leaves
Leaves of fiddle-leaf fig begin to fall off in excessive or insufficient water supply. The condition may also seen if the plant is exposed to sudden temperature changes (cold drafts or heating) or due to low humidity.
Carefully monitor the plant condition and surroundings to eliminate the potential factor.
Pests and Plant Diseases
Generally, growers do not face any serious problem in growing a fiddle-leaf fig tree. However, there are some potential pests and diseases that you need to look for.
The fiddle-leaf fig tree attracts pests like aphids, thrips, scale, mealy bugs, and spider mites. The plant can also be infected by fungal or bacterial diseases. The presence of dark spots, leaf yellowing, or small bugs on leaves may indicate the presence of fungal or bacterial infection. 
To tackle the problem, you can use insecticides, fungicides, or other pesticides by following the instruction label on them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is it named a fiddle-leaf fig?
The plant is named after the violin-like shape of the leaves. Its botanical name – Ficus lyrata is also given due to the lyre-shaped leaves of the plant.
What pot size for my fiddle-leaf fig?
The pot should be one-third the size of the plant. If your plant is 10 inches tall then take a 5 inches tall pot for a total 15 inches plant. Increase the size of the pot annually by about 2 inches to repot it.
When to prune a fiddle-leaf fig tree?
Prune your fiddle-leaf fig tree in the late winter. Pruning in winter or after the growing season may cause your plant to lose leaves for a long time.
The Fiddle-leaf fig (Ficus lyrata) is a perennial, broadleaf, single-stemmed ornamental tree. It is well-suited, and easy to grow as an indoor and outdoor plant. For the ideal growth of your houseplant, bright indirect sunlight, moist, loamy soil, moderate humidity, and adequate water supply are the necessary ingredients.
Do not overwater or underwater your plant to eliminate the potential plant issues. The fiddle-leaf fig does not like sudden extreme changes in temperature and thrives well in warm surroundings. It can easily be propagated through stem cutting technique. You may need to repot the plant annually every growing season.
Overall, it’s a great deal, if you are thinking of growing the fiddle-leaf fig tree as an indoor plant.
- Datiles, M. J. and Acevedo-Rodrigue, P. Ficus lyrata (fiddle-leaf fig), CABI Compendium, Digital Library.
- Ficus lyrata, North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox, NC State.
- Gilman, E. F., Watson, D. G., Klein, R. W.…. 2019. Ficus lyrata; Fiddle-leaf fig. University of Florida, IFAS Extension.
- Phibbs, S. J. 2019. Fiddle Leaf Fig Houseplant – Proper Care, The Coastal Gardener.
- Starr, F. Starr, K. and Loope, L. 2003. Ficus lyrata – Fiddle leaf fig, Biological Resources Division, United States Geological Survey
Nadia Saleh is a dedicated Botanist, accomplished researcher, and skilled content writer. She holds a Master’s degree in Botany, earned in 2017 from Lahore College for Women University, Pakistan. Nadia has worked as a botanical researcher at the University of Punjab and as a science teacher.