Native to the rainforests of western and central Africa, the fiddle leaf fig tree (Ficus lyrata) appreciates a warm, humid environment; a fair amount of water and plenty of light. If you’re unsure about your lighting conditions, placing the tree directly next to the window is the safest bet. We also have a guide for how to measure light in your space.

Choose a location away from air vents and drafts where the tree will get at least four hours of southern or eastern exposure. If placed in a full-sun location (over 6 hours of direct light), a humid environment will keep your fiddle-leaf looking its best. They will not thrive in low-light locations.

Your new fiddle leaf fig tree may look slightly bent on unpacking, but don’t worry. It’s just reaching for the light. In fact, you will notice the leaves will constantly arch towards the windows where they are receiving the most sunshine.

If the leaves begin to acquire brown spots and falling from the tree, make sure it’s in a bright enough location. See our lighting guide for more details.

PRO TIP: Rotate your tree once a month to keep it standing straight and tall. Fiddle leaf figs in particular like to reach towards the light, so if you don’t rotate you’ll notice them bending over time.

The common name for this plant, Fiddle Leaf Fig, comes from the fact that the leaves are the size and shape of a fiddle.

Routine Maintenance

You will need to water your plant when you first receive it, but it is important to not give too much or too little water. One liter is usually a good place to start for a first watering, but watch your tree closely for the first week to check for signs of thirst.

Fiddle leaf fig trees like to dry out between waterings, and one of the most common mistakes made with these plants is overwatering. Typically, you don’t want to water your tree more than once a week. The fiddle leaf’s soil should never be damp for extended periods, so do not water if the top two inches of soil are still moist from the previous watering.

An easy to notice indicator of this plant’s hydration is that fiddle leaf figs are very expressive when they are thirsty. The top leaves are typically erect and pointed skyward. If the leaves begin to droop and become floppy, it probably means the plant requires water. See the picture in the FAQ section below.

Remember each plant is a unique living thing and may have varying needs, especially in their individual locations. Pay attention to the condition of your fiddle-leaf fig and its water needs and you will have a long and happy relationship.

PRO TIP: Every three months, rinse your plant’s leaves with room temperature water in the shower. This helps remove any dust that’s accumulated, ensuring they’re able to absorb sunlight more efficiently through photosynthesis, as well as fully re-hydrating the soil.

Standard Planter Instructions

Water requirements depend on the tree’s size. To test the moisture of the soil, stick a finger down a couple of inches. If the top inch or two of the soil is still moist then there is no need to water. Wait a few days and check again, when the top few inches are dry, give your plant a drink.

Your fiddle-leaf fig tree’s watering routine will depend on how dry the air is and how much sunlight it receives. Typically fiddle leaf fig trees require water no more than once a week. We recommend checking moisture levels regularly until you establish a routine with your new plant.

Self Watering Container Instructions

The self-watering planters require a good, solid drenching of the topsoil after they are first placed. This is important, because the roots of the plants need to grow into the reservoir in order to drink from it. Water once a week until the topsoil is moist. TEST: After two weeks, fill the reservoir to the MAX line, and keep an eye on the indicator. If the indicator goes down, it means the plant is ready for reservoir servicing. If not, be sure to water weekly until it does.

RESERVOIR SERVICING: Once the indicator goes down, do not refill the reservoir right away. Similar to how humans need a breath of air between gulps of water, almost all plants require a drying out period. Ficuses need to dry out between waterings, so once the reservoir is empty wait 4-7 days before you refill.

From here on out, you should NEVER topwater the plant. If you water from the top, it can drown the plant. In the Self Watering Container, the top layer of soil will eventually become extremely dry and hard, and may even pull away from the edges of the pot. This is not a cause for concern, but simply because the plant is drinking directly from its roots in the water reservoir.

Step 1: Top water for two weeks. The indicator will look empty, like the picture above.

Step 2: Fill the reservoir until the red indicator reaches the MAX line.

Step 3: Watch the indicator over the next day or two. If it goes down on its own, it means the roots of the plant have grown into the reservoir. From here on out, ONLY water in the reservoir.

Frequently Asked Questions

Help! My new fiddle leaf dropped a leaf!

  • Ficuses are sensitive to environmental change, and being placed in air conditioning can be a shock to their system. The dry, cold air is a big shift from the warm humidity of the greenhouse, and ficuses will temporarily go into shock and drop leaves. Don’t worry: this is a temporary state. It will take a couple of weeks for your tree to normalize and it might drop a couple of leaves in the process. However, if the leaves keep dropping it could be a sign of improper lighting conditions or overwatering.

My fiddle leaf has brown spots and the leaves are dropping. What do I do?

  • The number one mistake most people make in taking care of their plants is overwatering. Fiddle leaf fig trees prefer to dry out completely between waterings, and while they take a good deal of water to keep healthy, consistent moisture will drown the plant. If your leaves start to brown and fall and the soil is moist, let the plant dry out until the soil becomes completely dry.
  • The second biggest mistake people make is not enough light. Fiddle leafs need a lot of light to thrive and will start shedding their leaves if they’re not absorbing enough energy. If you’re unsure about where to put your fiddle leaf, it’s best to place it by a window. For more information visit our lighting guide.

My fiddle leaf fig is developing small brown spots on the leaves.

  • All living things have blemishes. Small brown spots on the underside of the leaves or little patches of dryness on the top of the leaves are perfectly normal and acceptable.

How do I tell when my fiddle leaf fig tree needs water?

  • Fiddle leaf fig trees come from an area of the world that gets very dry between rain. They prefer to drink from the roots, as they would be absorbing ground water in their natural habitat. They are also very sensitive to overwatering, and don’t seem to like their top layer of soil being moist for extended periods. The easiest way to tell if your fiddle leaf needs water is to look at the leaves. If the leaves are not rigid and upright, and they start to look floppy, they’re telling you they need water.

LEFT: A fiddle leaf fig tree thirsty and in need of water. RIGHT: The leaves perk back up and become rigid after watering.

How much light is too much light?

  • Fiddle leaf figs will generally do fine if placed right in front of a window in NYC. However, they can’t take full sun (being placed outside on a sunny day). In extremely bright apartments (i.e. floor to ceiling windows) they may get sunburned, but for the most part your safest bet is putting them in front of the window with a sheer curtain. Do not block the light with a partial shade like a solar shade as they will block out the full spectrum of the sun’s radiation.

Sunburn on the leaf of a fiddle leaf fig.

How do I water my self-watering container?

  • Do not fill the reservoir when you first receive the tree. Water on top, in the soil for the first two weeks, then fill the reservoir. If the red reservoir indicator goes down on its own over the next couple of days, it means your plant’s roots have grown into the reservoir and will begin drinking from it. If the red indicator doesn’t go down on its own, continue top watering for another week and try again. Once the indicator starts going down on its own, it is important to NEVER water from the top. It can drown your tree. Eventually the soil will become completely dry and hard, and this is totally fine. Only refill the reservoir.

Can I put my fiddle leaf ficus next to the AC / heater?

  • Fiddle leaf ficus trees are tropical plants that appreciate a humid environment. If conditions are too dry they will drop their leaves. While fiddle leafs will thrive in an air conditioned apartment, always avoid putting them in the direct line of fire for either AC or heating units. If their leaves are wagging from the air, it’s best to find another spot.

How often should I fertilize my fiddle leaf fig?

  • We recommend not fertilizing for the first year, as the organic soil we use is full of nutrients. The real determinants for growth in the first year are adequate water and lighting. After that you can use a low grade organic fertilizer in the spring and summer months, every six weeks or so.

Additional Care Guides