How to Grow Ficus Lyrata Trees

Written by alex bramwell
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How to Grow Ficus Lyrata Trees
Ficus lyrata is a good houseplant if placed in a bright place. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Ficus lyrata, commonly known as the fiddleleaf fig, is a 50-foot tree with large, dark green leaves up to 15 inches long and 10 inches across. The leaves are shaped like the body of a fiddle. Ficus lyrata is native to tropical Africa and can be grown outdoors in USDA Zones 10b and above. It is often grown as a houseplant and needs bright light and regular watering to prevent it from losing leaves.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Place a potted Ficus lyrata plant in a bright spot close to a south or west facing window. Some direct sun is beneficial; low light levels will slow down growth. Rotate the plant regularly to encourage even growth.

  2. 2

    Water your Ficus lyrata generously as soon as the top inch of the soil gets dry. Allow all excess water to drain away. Reduce the frequency of watering to about once a week during the winter. Never allow the soil in a Ficus lyrata pot to dry out completely or your plant will shed its bottom leaves.

  3. 3

    Fertilise your plant every week during the warm months of the year using a liquid feed formulated for houseplants. Fertilise once a month during the winter.

  4. 4

    Prune your Ficus lyrata by cutting the top off its main stem once it has reached the desired height. This stops the plant from getting any taller and encourages branching. Remove any unsightly aerial roots with secateurs or a sharp knife as soon as they appear.

  5. 5

    Repot your Ficus lyrata when its roots start to circle the pot or it becomes top-heavy. Repot in a container slightly larger than the original and use standard potting compost mixed with some perlite or sand to aid drainage.

  6. 6

    Monitor your Ficus lyrata for signs of scale insect or red spider mites. Scale insects are small, brown bumps on the leaves and stems while spider mites cause irregular discolouration on leaf undersides. Spider mites also leave fine webbing on the leaves. Treat scale insects with a systemic insecticide and red spider mites with regular misting (at least twice a day) of a miticide spray.

Tips and warnings

  • Place your Ficus lyrata outdoors during the warmer months in a bright spot in the garden or on a terrace. Make the transition gradually to prevent leaf burn. Move the plant back indoors in the fall in stages.
  • Prune Ficus lyrata in the spring to give it a whole growing season to develop.

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