Fiddle Leaf Figs are some of the most popular houseplants, but they are more than just a passing fad. If you’ve decided to take the plunge and get your own Fiddle Leaf Fig, it can be nerve-wracking. These plants aren’t cheap, after all. So where should you buy it? What size should you get? How can you tell if a Fiddle Leaf Fig is healthy or not?
A healthy Fiddle Leaf Fig will have strong, shiny leaves, a firm trunk, and evidence of new growth. Avoid purchasing a Fiddle Leaf Fig with discolored, wilting leaves or showing signs of pest infestation. After purchasing a healthy Fig, give it ideal conditions as it adjusts to the new environment in your home.
Health isn’t the only consideration when purchasing a Fiddle Leaf Fig; most people also think about price, size, and appearance when choosing which plant to buy. But those other factors are much less important than choosing a healthy specimen, as it is much more difficult to treat a damaged Fiddle Leaf Fig than it is to maintain a healthy one.
What Does a Healthy Fiddle Leaf Fig Look Like?
You can tell a healthy Fiddle Leaf Fig from an unhealthy one by checking out its leaves. There should be evidence of new growth, and new leaves should be larger than the older ones. Leaves should be firm and shiny.
The trunk should be firm and brown or green colored. Fiddle Leaf Figs naturally have quite thin, delicate-looking trunks compared to their dramatic leaves. This plant can be tall and thin, with all the growth concentrated at the top, or more bushy and full with leaves down to the base of the trunk. This is just a matter of appearance, and both types can be completely healthy.
Fiddle Leaf Fig leaves can sometimes point downward naturally, especially those that are lower down on the trunk. Don’t mistake this for wilting without checking out the rest of the plant. It may just be the normal growth for the plant. Take a look at some photos online before you go shopping to get a sense of what a healthy Fiddle Leaf Fig looks like.
Consider What Size Works Best
Fiddle Leaf Figs are trees, and they can definitely be purchased at full size if that’s what you’re looking for. But did you know this plant also comes in a compact version? Ficus lyrata bambino (Dwarf Fiddle Leaf Fig) is a cultivar that was specifically bred to stay small. If a normal Fiddle Leaf Fig can reach six feet indoors, you can expect a bambino to stop growing at three or four feet high. Both types can be gorgeous and dramatic, so the choice will simply depend on what space you have available.
You’ll also consider whether you want to purchase a mature Fiddle Leaf Fig or if you’re willing to wait for it to grow to full size. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. First, naturally, a fully-grown Fiddle Leaf Fig will cost more than a small one. However, your Fiddle Leaf Fig may take a while to reach the ultimate size you want. This plant can grow one to two feet per year in ideal conditions, but many people find that their specimen is slower than this.
You may have heard that this plant dislikes changes in its environment, and it definitely deserves this reputation. Fiddle Leaf Figs can sometimes wilt dramatically or even drop all their leaves when they’re moved to a new location. If you purchase a younger plant, it will have time to acclimate to the environment in your home. That’s why I usually prefer to purchase a young Fiddle Leaf Fig and let it grow. But if you want a fully-grown tree in your home right away, there are plenty of those available for sale as well.
Make Sure It Is Healthy
Making sure your Fiddle Leaf Fig is healthy mainly means checking for any visible signs of problems. Here are a few of the indicators that something may be wrong:
- Leaf discoloration. Try to avoid purchasing a Fiddle Leaf Fig with brown or yellow spots.
- Leaf size and condition. A healthy Fiddle Leaf Fig will have large leaves that are vibrant and shiny. New growth should be larger than older leaves. There shouldn’t be any leaves that are wilting or curling.
- Pests. Check the section below for information about how to inspect a Fiddle Leaf Fig for pests.
I also like to check the potting soil of any plant I’m considering purchasing. If the soil is way too dry or too wet, that’s probably an indicator that the plant hasn’t been getting the best care, which is most likely stressing the plant even if it isn’t showing any symptoms yet. It is best to go to a nursery where staff is knowledgeable about houseplant care and stand behind the quality of the plants they sell. This type of retailer is much more likely to sell you a healthy Fiddle Leaf Fig than a hardware or grocery store that doesn’t specialize in plants.
Checking a Fiddle Leaf Fig For Pests
Before you purchase a Fiddle Leaf Fig, it is important to check it carefully to ensure that it doesn’t have any insect pests or diseases. While it can be difficult to identify them at the store, you will be glad that you made the effort to do so if you can avoid buying a plant that is harboring pests.
Most houseplant owners will have to deal with insect pests at some time or another. Unfortunately, that’s just part of the experience of having plants in your home. But they can be incredibly difficult to get rid of, and they are likely to spread to other houseplants.
Most of the pests that could be attracted to a Fiddle Leaf Fig are those that feed on plant tissues. This category includes scale insects, spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs. Fungus gnats can also be found in moist soil. Inspect the Fiddle Leaf Fig carefully while you’re in the store before making your purchase. Check the undersides of the leaves, especially newer, tender leaves. Also, look at the base of the leaves and in nooks and crannies where insects can hideaway. The list below explains what to look for.
- Scale insects: Mature scale looks like an immobile brown dome on the plant’s leaf. Since it is not easily identified as an insect, it can be difficult to miss scale when it blends in with natural imperfections on the plant.
- Spider mites: Leaves may feel gritty, especially on the underside. The most obvious sign of these mites is webbing like fine spider webs in the space between branches and at the bases of leaves.
- Aphids: These insects can be a variety of colors, including green, orange, yellow, or black. They tend to cluster together on the backsides of leaves or on stems.
- Mealybugs: These insects are notable for their white, fuzzy appearance. They can vary in size quite a bit but are easy to identify once you’ve seen them.
- Fungus gnats: These insects feed on the decaying organic matter in the soil, instead of the plant itself. While they are less harmful to your Fiddle Leaf Fig than the other pests on this list, they can still be annoying. Their presence may also indicate that the plant has been overwatered since they thrive in moisture.
If you can see the insects on a Fiddle Leaf Fig, it is wise to move on and purchase your plant elsewhere. The first four insects on this list can also cause leaf damage where they have fed on the plant. This damage usually includes yellowing or spotted leaves, dropping leaves, or a generally unhealthy appearance.
What To Do When You Bring Your New Fiddle Leaf Fig Home
Fiddle Leaf Figs dislike changes in their environment and sometimes react by wilting or dropping all of their leaves. Remember that they’re given almost ideal conditions in the greenhouse before they’re sold, so try to replicate those conditions as closely as possible while the plant adapts to its new environment.
A Fiddle Leaf Fig should be given plenty of bright, indirect light, high humidity, and be kept away from drafts and cold temperatures. While these conditions can be difficult to replicate exactly, consider using a humidifier and placing it in a warm and bright location, but out of direct sun. Once your plant has adjusted to being in your home, you can gradually make other changes as needed. Avoiding sudden change is the key to preventing your Fiddle Leaf Fig from experiencing shock.