Fiddle Leaf Figs are the popular but demanding divas of the houseplant world. Many people complain about how hard they are to care for and how they overreact to even minor changes. For that reason, you may feel intimidated if it is time to repot your Fiddle Leaf Fig into a larger container. There are several factors to consider before you repot, but one of the most important is what kind of soil to use.
Fiddle Leaf Figs need soil that drains well as they’re susceptible to root rot when their soil doesn’t dry out between waterings. We recommend a blend of 40% coconut coir, 25% orchid bark, 25% perlite, and 10% vermicompost, or a well-draining store-bought option.
Soil for Fiddle Leaf Figs is not particularly tricky to figure out compared to some other aspects of their care, but it is still important to understand what to look for and what to avoid. The sections below will give you some guidance on how to choose the right potting mix for your Fiddle Leaf Fig or if you prefer the DIY approach, how to mix it yourself.
Important Factors In Choosing Soil for Fiddle Leaf Figs
Many people aren’t aware of just how vital the potting medium is to keeping a Fiddle Leaf Fig healthy and growing well. The soil you choose directly affects the plant’s root health. Fiddle Leaf Figs are sensitive to overwatering, which is one reason why many people struggle to keep a Fiddle Leaf Fig alive. That’s why it’s imperative to choose a soil that drains well.
Drainage simply means how much water is absorbed into the potting soil compared with the amount that flows out. You may have noticed that potting mixes can be more or less dense depending on the type. Succulent and cactus mixes usually have plenty of non-absorbent ingredients like pumice or perlite that keep the soil light and allow water to drain quickly.
Fiddle Leaf Figs require air circulation around their roots to keep them from getting soggy or developing root-rot. That’s why a peat-based potting mix that doesn’t hold too much moisture is the best choice for your Fiddle Leaf Fig.
What about soil pH? You may have heard about some people using coffee grounds or other amendments to change the pH levels. However, this isn’t necessary for Fiddle Leaf Figs because they prefer pH levels of around 6.5 to 7. Most potting mixes that you can purchase or make will already fall into this range as 7 is considered neutral.
Purchasing Potting Soil for Fiddle Leaf Figs
Plenty of excellent potting soils are available that should be great for keeping your Fiddle Leaf Fig happy. Remembering that Fiddle Leaf Figs can easily be overwatered, you might want to look at your own habits and the conditions in your home that could determine what kind of soil suits your situation best.
Have you overwatered plants in the past? Do you tend to care a little too much? If so, you may want to go with a potting mix that will dry out quickly. On the other hand, if you’re someone who forgets to water their plants for a couple of weeks at a time, a traditional all-purpose soil would probably work fine.
Then, think about your home environment and where your Fiddle Leaf Fig lives. Water will evaporate from soil more quickly in sunny, dry, and warm conditions. If you’re unsure how humid your home is, you might invest in a humidity gauge that can help you determine which parts of the house have more or less moisture in the air. This will change throughout the year with fluctuations in temperature and use of heating and cooling systems.
If you think you have a tendency toward overwatering or you live in a cool and damp climate, I would recommend mixing a high-quality free-draining option like this one with a standard potting mix like this.
If you might have a tendency to under-water or you live in a dry climate, an all-purpose potting mix should work well for your Fiddle Leaf Figs, though I recommend adding in something chunky like orchid bark.
How to Mix Your Own Soil for Fiddle Leaf Figs
Not everyone likes to mix their own potting soil, but I like to control the ratio of ingredients and choose sustainable options. Sometimes when you purchase potting soil at a store, it’s not clear exactly what’s in it. Preparing your own is more work and takes some space and planning than purchasing pre-made soil, but you’ll never have to guess at the ingredients.
In general, potting mixes are made up of three types of ingredients.
- A base, usually peat moss, coco coir, or wood
- Compost to provide nutrients
- Something to increase drainage, often bark, perlite, vermiculite, or sand
Another great option if you already have some regular potting mix and want to use it for your Fiddle Leaf Figs is just to add in an ingredient that increases drainage. I have found that 2 parts of commercial potting soil and 1 part orchid bark makes a great free-draining soil for Fiddle Leaf Figs, and I could use the products I already had to make it.
To mix the soil, you don’t need to do anything special. Just put your ingredients into a large container and stir until thoroughly mixed together. The nice thing about DIY soil is that you can mix up as much or as little as you need, but you’ll still have the components if you need a different type of mix for another plant in the future.
A Note on Containers
Aside from the potting medium you choose for your Fiddle Leaf Fig, the container used for repotting is the next most important thing. Some people make the mistake of moving their Fiddle Leaf Fig into a much bigger container in hopes that it will speed up their growth if the roots have a lot of room to spread out. Unfortunately, the opposite usually happens in those cases.
You already know that drainage is super important for Fiddle Leaf Figs because if their soil stays too wet, it can cause root rot and kill off the plant before you’ve even realized what happened. But the choice of pot can also lead to accidental overwatering. There are two things to consider when aiming to avoid overwatering.
The first is the drainage hole in the bottom of the container. All Fiddle Leaf Figs need to be potted in a container with at least one drainage hole, though more are better. This gives the water you pour into your plant some place to escape from and keeps moisture from backing up in the soil.
The second is the size of your container. It’s always best to choose a pot that is just one size larger (approximately 2-4” in diameter) than the previous container. Giving your Fig too much space will drastically increase the amount of time it takes for the soil to dry out between waterings and can result in soggy soil and eventually root rot.
In terms of materials for your container, many people grow Fiddle Leaf Figs in a plastic nursery pot inside a decorative container. In truth, Fiddle Leaf Figs can grow in terra cotta, ceramic, or plastic containers, as long as they have sufficient drainage and are the right size. Plastic tends to be convenient for larger Fiddle Leaf Figs because they need bigger containers that would be pretty heavy in a ceramic or terracotta version. But that’s just a matter of personal preference, as Fiddle Leaf Figs aren’t picky about container material.
Transplant Shock in Fiddle Leaf Figs
You may have heard horror stories of Fiddle Leaf Figs that suddenly wilt or even lose all their leaves after a change in the environment, such as being repotted. This is called transplant shock or root shock and can be very alarming even to experienced houseplant owners. A Fiddle Leaf Fig experiencing transplant shock certainly looks like it is dying or dead, but that’s not necessarily the case.
It’s important not to overreact and do a bunch of new things to fix your Fiddle Leaf Fig in this situation-that is likely to make things worse instead of better. Remember that your Fiddle Leaf Fig just needs time to adjust to its new circumstances.
Keep it in the exact same location, ideally getting plenty of bright, indirect light and away from drafts and cold temperatures. You want the conditions to be as close to ideal as possible while your Fiddle Leaf Fig recovers. In most cases, a Fiddle Leaf Fig will perk up within a couple of weeks.
Fiddle Leaf Figs are not too demanding when it comes to their soil needs, but they do need to have proper drainage. Drainage is influenced not only by the composition of the soil but also by the container size and the number of drainage holes.
The environment in your home and your watering habits will also determine what kind of soil provides ideal drainage for your Fiddle Leaf Fig. If you’re able to pay attention to the various factors that contribute to the moisture in the potting soil, you’ll be well on your way to raising an impressive Fiddle Leaf Fig.