The Fiddle Leaf Fig – or Ficus Lyrata – is a popular indoor plant with large vibrant green leaves, hailing from the steamy rainforests of Africa.
Fiddle Leaf Figs are fairly large plants in general; they grow up to 15-30 metres in the wild and can easily reach between 6 and 10 feet high indoors. If this sounds a bit daunting to you, don’t worry. Smaller ‘Ficus Lyrata Bambino’ varieties are also available.
These splendid plants will look striking in a home or commercial space. But they definitely need a bit of careful love to really thrive. Fiddle Leaf Figs may have developed a reputation for being fussy, yet they’re actually quite resilient if you can get the conditions right.
Here’s how to grow and care for your Fiddle Leaf Fig indoors.
Potting your Fiddle Leaf Fig
You should pick a larger-than-average pot for Fiddle Leaf Figs, because this plant grows quickly. Don’t choose a pot that’s too much larger than your plant though, or the soil may take on more water than the plant needs, potentially leading to root rot.
Root rot and leaf-dropping are very common issues with these plants. Try to select a pot with good drainage to prevent the roots from becoming soggy and waterlogged. A good rule of thumb when potting is to look for a pot that is slightly larger than the ball of the root.
To keep your Fiddle Leaf healthy and happy, you should re-pot it every couple of years or so into a slightly larger pot. You will likely need to repot this plant every Spring while it is young, as the growth can be quite rapid. But be careful if you decide to repot it in winter, because exposure to cold temperatures (10-15 degrees Celsius or lower) may stress out or kill this plant.
Repotting will become fairly difficult once your Fiddle Leaf Fig matures into a large plant. When repotting is no longer possible, it may still help to replace the top layer of soil (down to about 5-10cm or so) every Spring.
The key to watering your Fiddle Leaf Fig is moderation. Overwatering is probably the most common cause of death for these plants, so don’t go overboard. Water your fiddle leaf regularly from Spring through to Autumn, around once every 7-14 days. In Winter this plant will need much less water – as little as once a month, even.
The roots of the Fiddle Leaf are very susceptible to rotting when they get waterlogged, so if you see your leaves starting to drop off, take a break. It’s also important not to under water either. You’ll know it’s not getting enough water if the plant starts wilting, losing its colour or generally starting to look sad and unkempt.
A good rule of thumb is to stick your finger a few centimetres into the soil first. If it’s completely dry, then you’re good to go. If it’s still moist, you should wait until the soil drains completely.
It’s also a good idea to ‘leach’ or flush out your pot every few weeks (or months) with a thorough watering, to stop salt or other mineral deposits from building up in the soil. You can read more about watering your indoor plants here.
The other essential ingredient to caring for your plant is making sure it’s getting enough sunlight. This is another area where you’ll need to find the sweet spot – direct sunlight will burn this plant, but low light conditions may stunt its growth. Partial Sun and Shade are ideal. You can check out our guide to Plants and Sunlight to get a better idea of what this looks like.
Aim for plenty of filtered morning light, as your Fiddle Leaf should do well in these conditions. Try placing your plant near a window where it’s going to get long, steady exposure in the mornings. Unfortunately, the afternoon sun in most Australian cities is likely to be too hot and harsh for this plant, so try and avoid west-facing windows, especially in the warmer months.
You may also want to rotate your plant regularly to ensure that it’s getting enough sunlight all the way around. This will help it grow more evenly and give it a better chance at a healthy life. Don’t constantly move it around your home though – the shock might be too much for your fiddle leaf. Consistency is key with these plants.
As we mentioned, this fig originates from the rainforests of Western Africa, where it enjoys a steamy, tropical climate all year round. If you’re growing your fiddle leaf fig outside, a tropical climate is where it will do best. Yet Fiddle Leaf Figs are probably most popular as indoor plants, and there’s a reason for that.
While these plants do prefer a warmer environment, they will generally be quite hardy as long as the temperature is consistent and not freezing cold. The steady, mild temperatures of an indoor environment will actually be good for this plant, provided you don’t place it near an air-conditioner, a heater or your front door.
The other thing that these plants need is a good amount of humidity in the air. We think that around 40-50% is the sweet spot, but slightly lower or higher should still be okay. Your home or apartment is unlikely to reach that level of humidity very often, but placing a humidifier in the room can help a lot.
Another good solution is to mist your plant daily or regularly wipe down the leaves with a damp cloth. This should keep your Fiddle Leaf happy and help it soak up some extra sun too.
One popular humidity-raising technique is to place your pot on a tray of pebbles or stones with a layer of water beneath the stones – just make sure the water isn’t touching the pot.
Soil and Fertiliser
Most high-quality potting mixes should be okay for a Fiddle Leaf Fig. These plants aren’t too fussy about soil, and any good quality potting mix is likely to do the trick. Yet there are a couple of important things to look for when you’re choosing a soil.
One is acidity: Look for a range between 6-7ph for optimal results. The other thing is drainage, which is very important for this plant. Always pick a soil that drains well to help your plant avoid that dreaded root rot.
As for fertiliser, use a controlled-release fertiliser when you first pot this plant. Then use a high-nitrogen, water-soluble fertiliser throughout the Spring-Summer growing season, roughly around once a month. The nitrogen helps to give the leaves their signature deep green colour.
A little bit of pruning will be good for your Fiddle Leaf Fig. If you see any leaves that look as if they are yellowing, crusty or generally sad, then give them the snip. For best results, don’t cut too close to the trunk, and try not to cut off new buds.
You can also use pruning to help ensure an even, visually appealing growth. If you feel that one part of your fiddle leaf is becoming a bit too dense and layered, don’t be afraid to cut it back. It’s likely to help the overall health of your plant, too.
It is possible to propagate your Fiddle Leaf Fig with a little bit of patience. Propagating from a seed will be too difficult for most DIY gardeners, but propagating from a cutting is easy enough. Take a good, long stem cutting (around 30-50cm) and place it upright in a container filled with water.
Keep this somewhere with a warm room temperature and a mix of bright, filtered sunlight and partial shade. To help replicate the right conditions in a colder environment, placing an empty plastic bottle over the top of your cutting can help intensify the sunlight, humidity and heat that your plant is receiving.
Replace your water every couple of weeks or so, once it begins to look dirty or misty. Over a period of about 2 months, you will start seeing roots begin to grow from your cutting. Once these roots start to look longer and thicker, it’s time to transfer your cutting to a small pot. Keep this soil slightly moister than you would for a mature fiddle leaf, whilst still taking care not to overwater it.
Common Problems with Fiddle Leaf Figs.
As we mentioned earlier, the most common problem that these plants experience is rotting roots from overwatering. Checking the top layer of soil has completely dried before watering again is still the best way to avoid this problem.
Thankfully, the Fiddle Leaf Fig is not as prone to disease as many other indoor plants. Yet you will still need to watch out for common plant problems like bacterial diseases, fungal growth and tiny pests like scale insects, aphids, fungal gnats and mites.
As with other issues, blemished or sad-looking leaves are the biggest indicator that your fiddle leaf is dealing with one or more of these issues. Using a good quality pesticide or fungal solution should usually be enough to help your plant bounce back, but you can check out our guide to dealing with indoor pests for more tips.
Many of these issues stem from an overly damp environment, so as with avoiding root rot, making sure your plant isn’t overwatered or soggy is the most important thing to look out for.
One final thing to note is that this plant can be toxic to cats and dogs, so it may not be a good choice of indoor plant for pet owners. Otherwise, though, the Fiddle Leaf Fig is a fantastic indoor plant that is resilient, easy to care for and can bring a lot of joy to your home.
Growing your own vegetables can be so rewarding. We’ve collated our top tips to share with you.
Choose a Sunny Location
Most veggies do best in full sunlight. Find a location that gets at least 6 hours a day if possible! To provide the most sun exposure to all your plants, place the tallest ones, such as corn or tomatoes on the north or west side of the gardening space so that they don’t shade the smaller plants.
Use Soil rich in Organic Matter
Vegetables like lots of organic matter and compost in their soil. Aim to add enough organic material to the soil so that it is neither sandy nor compacted. When the mix is right, it will bind together when you squeeze it but break apart easily if disturbed. If you are using a garden bed, you can round the soil in the bed, creating a small arc. This expands the planting area.
Water the right amount!
Most vegetables don’t require a massive amount of water so 2-3cm a week is adequate. The best time to water your veggie garden is first thing in the morning. Be sure to check the moisture in the soil before watering – overwatering is worse than underwatering!
Mulch your veggies
Add a 5-8cm layer of organic mulch around your vegetables. This will insulate the soil keeping it cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Mulching helps with water retention, suppressing weeds and diseases, not to mention it looks great. Be careful with your mulch selection, some mulches can contain unacceptable amounts of harmful chemicals.
Pests are usually inevitable at some stage of your gardening career. If you must resort to pesticides, please apply responsibly! Never apply pesticides in the morning as this is when other beneficial insects are most active. Generally, it’s best not to use chemicals in a food garden so try to avoid these.
Instead of fertiliser, use organic matter or compost to feed your soil so it can provide the nutrients your veggies need. Up to 20% of your soil can be made up of compost or organic matter.
Planting your vegetables in succession allows you to grow more than one crop in a given space throughout the season. That way, many gardeners can harvest three or four different crops from a single area.
Capitalise on Space
No matter the size of your vegetable garden, you can expand it by growing vertically! Grow space-taking vine crops such as tomatoes, beans, melons or squash on trellises, fences or stakes to increase space.
Another way to maximise space in your vegetable garden is to look into compatible combinations. A classic example is corn, beans and squash. The corn stalks support the beans while the squash grows on the ground below, making the most of the space!
Other great resources
In 2014-15 in Australia, just 7% of adults and 5% of children ate their recommended daily intake of vegetables. Fruit and vegetables are vital for our health, and vegetables are also easy to grow in your garden so there’s really no excuse not to eat the recommended amount. If you’re thinking about starting your own vegetable garden, then we’re to help. Get off-the-grid and create better sustainability for yourself and loved ones by learning how to grow a vegetable garden. Use this guide to get started!
Why Grow Vegetables?
As we’ve already seen, most people in Australia don’t eat enough vegetables. A diet high in fruit and vegetables provides a range of health benefits, including protecting you against cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Growing your own vegetables means you’re likely to eat far more vegetables than you would have done otherwise.
Growing your own vegetables can also save you money. A packet of seeds can cost you as little as $3 and can provide you with a large crop. In these uncertain times, a single head of cauliflower has been selling for as much as $14.99; for the same price, you could buy almost five packets of seeds and grow plenty of your own cauliflowers. Even without food shortages, growing your own vegetables is a great way to save money. Not only that, but gardening in itself offers plenty of health benefits.
How to Grow a Vegetable Garden
If you’re thinking about growing a vegetable garden, it’s not too hard to get started. Read on as we take a look at some of the steps you’ll need to take.
Before You Start
Before you get cracking, you’re going to need the right equipment. Ideally, you should have:
- a spade for digging
- a fork for turning the soil
- a rake for clearing debris
- a hoe for weeding
- a trowel for weeding and transplanting
- a watering can for watering your plot
- gardening gloves to protect your hands
- a kneeling pad to protect your knees
This shouldn’t set you back too much at all. You can add further items of equipment as and when you need them.
Choose the Best Location
Once you have your equipment, you need to decide where to have your vegetable garden. You’ll want to choose somewhere that gets plenty of sun. Ideally, it should be fairly sheltered from the wind. For your own sake, it’s best to choose somewhere that’s fairly near a water source, too.
You’ll also want somewhere that has good soil. If you really want to get serious you can take some soil samples and test their pH. This could also help influence what you decide to grow.
Decide on a Plot Size
When you’ve settled on an area, you need to decide how big to make your plot. We would definitely recommend starting small to begin with. It’s much better to have a small, well-tended vegetable garden than a large one that’s too much for you to handle. You can always extend your vegetable garden when you feel more confident, or your need space for more vegetables.
Choose the Vegetables You Want to Grow
Your next decision should be what vegetables you want to grow.
You’ll need to consider how much room each type of vegetable will need as well as what kind of conditions they need to grow well. Don’t forget to factor in your personal tastes; there’s no point growing hundreds of cabbages if you don’t really like cabbage.
If you’re looking for fairly easy vegetables to grow at first, consider carrots, capsicum, cucumbers, and lettuce.
Plan Your Layout
Before you start planting, you need to consider how you’re going to lay out your vegetable garden.
You need to take into consideration how much space your vegetables will need, as well as their requirements for sunlight and how tall they will grow. Work out where you’re going to plant each of your different vegetables making sure they all have adequate room.
Remember there’s nothing that says you have to plant in straight rows; feel free to get creative with your layout.
Plant your seeds
If you’re planting seedlings, it’s best to do this on a fairly cloud day to reduce the shock of transplantation. If you can’t wait for a cloudy day, then do this early in the morning instead.
If you’re planting seeds, be sure to follow the instructions on the packet. Remember to use the spacing you worked out when you planned your layout. Firm down the soil where you’ve planted and lightly water.
Stake out the borders of what will be your vegetable garden. Now it’s time to dig.
Use a spade to divide the area into small sections, then use your fork to lift the sod one section at a time. Shake out any loose soil and discard the sod.
Once you’ve covered the whole area, dig down about 12 inches for each section and turn the soil over to aerate it. Remove any stones or other debris you find as you go along. When you’ve covered the entire area, rake the soil to make it level and ready for planting.
Once your vegetables are planted, the next phase is to take care of them as they grow. This is particularly important in the early days when seedlings are at their most fragile.
Use a watering can, or a hose with a rain shower setting. When seedlings are small, try to water the soil around the seedlings, rather than directly onto them.
Let the soil inform you when it comes to watering. If the soil sticks into a ball and stays together, then it’s moist enough. If it crumbles and won’t hold together, then it needs more water.
Try to water first thing in the morning. This will ensure that your vegetables have plenty of water throughout the day. Watering in the evening can also mean that the foliage stays wet overnight which can cause problems with disease.
Different vegetables require different amounts of water, so do your research and be sure that each type is getting the amount of water it needs. You’ll need to water less during cooler spring or autumn months.
Weeding is something that should be done regularly if you want your vegetable garden to be a success.
You can pull up weeds either by hand or using a hoe. Be sure that you’re getting the roots as well as the leaves, or they’ll be back before you know it.
Adding a layer of mulch is also a good way to keep weeds at bay. Mulch blocks out the light from the soil, stopping weed seeds from germinating. It also covers the soil meaning that weed seeds are unable to land and take root.
Vegetables need plenty of nutrients to grow so that they can provide them to you in turn when you eat them. Using fertiliser can help provide your vegetables with the food they need.
Fertilisation is something you can do all year round, but how often you do it and the type of fertiliser you use will depend on what you’re growing. Spring crops such as lettuce and cabbage don’t require much fertilisation. In comparison, summer vegetables such as tomatoes require topping up with quick-release fertiliser every three or four weeks.
You don’t necessarily have to buy fertiliser; you can make excellent compost from your kitchen scraps.
Reaping the Rewards
The final stage in growing a vegetable garden is by far the most rewarding. You finally get to reap what you have sown.
It’s always best to pick your vegetables when they are young and tender, but don’t pick them until you plan to use them. Going to your vegetable garden to pick some vegetables to cook with straight away is a true joy.
For root crops, pull them up when they have reached the size you would usually eat them. Leafy crops such as lettuce should be cut two inches from the ground. In this way, you should be able to get a second harvest from the roots.
Once you’ve harvested your vegetables, clean out their beds, and you’re ready to start the process all over again.
Are You Ready to Start Growing Your Own Vegetables?
Now you know how to grow a vegetable garden, all you need is the right equipment and something to plant.
We can help you with both of those. We have a wide range of fruit trees and edibles available for you to plant, including carrots, capsicum, spring onions, and zucchini. We also have a large selection of seeds including cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, radish and eggplant.
We also stock garden essentials including watering cans and fertiliser. If you’re not sure what you need, get in touch and one of our staff will be able to help.