Ficus lyrata (FY-kus ly-RAY-tuh) is an attractive tropical perennial shrub that is very popular as a houseplant. This striking member of the Moraceae family of plants hails from central and western Africa.
The plant’s genus name, “Ficus,” is Latin and means “edible fig.” The specific epithet, lyrata, is also Latin and refers to the shape of the leaves. It means “lyre-shaped.” A lyre is a stringed musical instrument.
Its common names are:
- Fiddle-leaved Fig Tree
- Lyre-leaved Fig Tree
- Lyre Leaf Fig Tree
- Fiddle Leaf Fig
- Banjo Fig
You may occasionally see the plant referred to by its former botanical name, Ficus pandurata.
- Ficus Lyrata Care
- How To Propagate Ficus Lyrata
- Ficus Lyrata Main Pest Or Diseases
- Suggested Ficus Lyrata Uses
In this article, we’ll share information on Fiddle leaf fig care to ensure your plant is thriving.
Ficus Lyrata Care
Size and Growth
In its natural habitat in Africa, the Banjo Fig can grow up to a hundred feet high.
When kept as a houseplant, it may attain a height as great as 10’ feet, but it will likely stay much smaller.
Keeping the plant around the 2-foot mark is possible with careful potting and pruning.
Ficus lyrata’s coarse, leathery leaves are very attractive. Unlike some of its cousins, this plant does not have glossy leaves. Instead, the leaf surfaces are a bit rough.
The broad, violin-shaped leaves are dull green on top and light green on the underside.
The green leaves are deeply veined and may reach 18″ inches long. Some may reach about 15″ inches long and 5″ inches wide.
Flowering and Fragrance
When grown outdoors in a hot, tropical setting, Fiddle Leaf Fig trees produce small, inconspicuous flowers that transition into edible figs.
When kept as a houseplant, blooming is rare.
Light and Temperature
These African jungle dwellers like lots of bright, indirect sunlight. This tropical plant enjoys about 12 to 14 hours of bright, indirect light daily.
In an outdoor setting, partial shade is preferred. Be sure your plant gets ample light, but protect it from very harsh, direct sunlight.
An east-facing window is also an excellent choice, especially when grown indoors. This will provide enough bright light for the plant without damaging its leaves.
However, you can supplement with a grow light if you don’t have access to natural light.
As a houseplant, your Fiddle Leaf Fig tree will be comfortable if you are comfortable. Take care not to allow the temperature to drop below 55° degrees Fahrenheit.
Ficus lyrata can be planted in the landscape in USDA hardiness zones 10-12.
Watering and Feeding
Like all tropical plants, your Fiddle Leaf Figs prefer lukewarm or room temperature water. Using this will prevent running the risk of shock.
Employ soak-and-dry watering to water thoroughly and then wait until the top inches or so of soil are dry before watering again.
You want to keep the soil just slightly moist but never soggy. Remember, overwatering can lead to brown spots and other fungal diseases on your outdoor plant.
Likewise, underwatering will also cause a problem. A telltale sign of lack of water is seeing drooling foliage, leaf discoloration, and dry, wrinkled spots on the leaves edges.
One way to tell if your plant needs water is to check its moisture level.
Moreover, ensure that the water flows thoroughly out of the drainage holes to maintain a healthy root system.
Your Fig tree will thrive in humid conditions, so it’s best to provide frequent mistings with a spray bottle on its leaves to keep them long and luscious.
Maintain moderate humidity levels through the use of a pebble tray or humidifier.
This tropical perennial produces the most growth in the spring and summer, but it also grows at a slower rate in the fall and winter.
Fertilize lightly with a balanced houseplant fertilizer on a seasonal basis (i.e., once every three months).
Soil and Transplanting
Indoors or outdoors, Ficus lyrata likes well-draining, loamy, slightly acidic, consistently moist soil.
Remember, never let your fiddle leaf fig plant sit in soggy soil.
When transplanting or repotting your Lyre-leaved Fig Tree, choose a substantial pot just a bit bigger than its current pot. It should naturally have plenty of drainage holes.
A basket or decorative container will do just fine.
Be sure to provide a good light foundation and an airy substrate under the plant. Tamp the soil down lightly.
Gently loosen the tree’s root ball before placing it on the soil foundation. Make sure the surface of the soil surrounding the tree is two or three inches below the top of the pot.
Fill in gently around the root ball with the soil. Provide a deep watering and allow excess water to drain off completely.
Don’t be surprised if your Ficus shows some signs of shock after transplanting. Just place it in a warm, bright, protected setting and allow it to settle in. With good care, it will soon recover.
How to Repot a Fiddle-Leaf Fig
Grooming and Maintenance
Prune your tree as needed to remove damaged or dead leaves. Regular pruning will help control the plants’ growth while maintaining an attractive shape.
Dust the leaves occasionally with a soft, dry cloth or a soft brush.
If your plant becomes droopy during winter, you can give it a hard pruning at the start of spring and then transition it to a warm, bright, sheltered outdoor setting. It will soon produce fresh new shoots.
Moreover, keep your ficus tree away from heating vents, drafty windows, or air conditioning.
How To Propagate Ficus Lyrata
Fiddle-leaved Fig Trees can be propagated by stem cuttings, leaf cuttings, air layering, or grown from seed.
Propagating with stem cuttings is the easiest and most reliable method of these four methods.
When you prune your plant, save stem cuttings with several leaves and about 3″ inches of stem.
Dip the stem into rooting hormone and place it in a container of filtered or rainwater in a consistently warm area that receives plenty of bright, indirect sunlight.
Change the water every couple of days. Within a month or so, you should see roots start to form.
When the roots are about an inch long, you can transplant your new little plant to its own container of rich, airy, well-draining potting mix.
Give it a good watering and return it to its warm, well-lit setting. Keep the soil evenly moist, just as you would for an established plant. Your fast-growing Lyre Leaf Fig Tree should promptly reward you with happy, healthy growth.
Ficus Lyrata Main Pest Or Diseases
In its native environment or other suitable outdoor settings, Banjo Fig is practically trouble-free.
The main thing to watch out for is broken branches caused by high winds. Avoid this by positioning outdoor Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees in a sheltered setting.
It is susceptible to root rot and other fungal diseases often caused by overwatering or cold temperatures when kept as a houseplant. A sign of root rot is mushy brown roots.
Both overwatering and underwatering may also lead to leaf drop. So the soil should be kept evenly moist.
Sudden temperature changes can cause brown spots on the plant’s leaves, so protect the plant against sudden hot or cold drafts.
In an indoor setting, these plants are subject to infestation by common houseplant pests, including fungus gnats, spider mites, scale, thrips, mealybugs, and aphids, as any other houseplant.
Good care, correct lighting, temperature, and watering methods will prevent pest infestation.
Is the plant considered toxic or poisonous to people, kids, and pets?
The woody stems of the Banjo Fig contain white, sticky sap that can cause skin irritation. Be sure to wear gloves and eye protection when pruning this indoor plant.
All parts of the plant contain insoluble calcium oxalates. Consuming Fiddle leaf figs causes difficulty swallowing, irritation to the mouth, drooling, and vomiting, so keep it out of the reach of kids, pets, and livestock.
Is the plant considered invasive?
Ficus lyrata spreads through rambling roots, cuttings, and seeds, but to produce viable seeds, the fig wasp must be present to pollinate the flowers.
This plant can naturalize easily in a conducive setting, and it is considered invasive in Australia.
If you live in a tropical setting, it is best to plant so that the roots cannot spread.
Suggested Ficus Lyrata Uses
In tropical settings, Fiddle Leaf Fig trees can be used as fruit-producing shade trees. They also do well in settings such as highway medians and along public sidewalks as shade trees.
Note that when planted outdoors in a conducive setting, Ficus lyrata may cause a significant litter problem if the tree produces fruit.
The large leaves can also be annoying when falling, but they don’t fall very often if the tree is healthy.
In non-tropical settings, these attractive trees make lovely container plants. The Banjo Fig is an excellent choice if you have a large, airy, well-lighted indoor space.
Let your plant enjoy the warmest months of the year outdoors on a sheltered porch or patio, but be sure to bring your fiddle leaf figs in before temperatures drop below 55° degrees Fahrenheit.