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Ficus lyrata

This is a charming yet rather imposing indoor tree, with large and curious fiddle-shaped leaves. They are thick, leathery and varnished, very dark green, with a prominent central vein and a wavy margin. They can measure up to 40 cm (16 in) in length and 30 cm (12 in) in diameter. Its upright but somewhat crooked brown trunk becomes thick and woody over time and can reach 12 m (40 ft) in height in the wild. Indoors, on the other hand, it rarely exceeds 3 m (10 ft) and can be pruned if necessary to further reduce its size.
 
Left on its own, the fiddle-leaf fig rarely branches. To encourage it to fill out, occasionally pinch or cut off the uppermost leaf bud. This slows the tree’s upward growth and forces it to produce branches. This plant almost never flowers indoors.

Light

The fiddle-leaf fig prefers intense light with several hours of sunshine per day. However, it will tolerate medium light quite readily. In very shady spots, it grows weakly and can lose leaves. Make sure to give it a quarter turn once or twice a month so that all sides are exposed to the sun; otherwise it will tend to lean towards the light source.

Watering

The fiddle-leaf fig prefers that its potting soil dry out slightly between waterings, so water when the potting soil is dry to the touch, moistening the whole root ball thoroughly.

Fertilization

Apply an all-purpose or foliage plant fertilizer during the main growth period in spring and summer, according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Temperature

This tropical fig tree is well adapted to normal indoor temperatures. Minimum: 10 °C (50 °F). It can be placed outdoors for the summer.

Humidity

It tolerates dry air, but that can lead to leaf loss. An atmospheric humidity of 50% is preferable at all times.

Repotting

Every two years for young plants; every 4 or 5 years for large specimens, preferably in spring. Any houseplant potting mix would be quite acceptable.

Propagation

It’s possible to multiply this tree by stem cuttings, but the success rate is fairly low. Air layering is the preferred method.

Toxicity

Its milky white sap is irritating and makes the fiddle-leaf fig slightly toxic to humans, dogs and cats.

Further Information

The large leaves may become covered in dust over time. Clean them by wiping them gently with a damp, soapy cloth or by placing the plant outside in light rain during the summer.