tips from a pro: how not to kill a fiddle leaf fig

After killing my last fiddle leaf fig, I swore I would never buy another real one again.  EVER.  I even pondered  buying a faux one a while back – I know, gasp! – because I was obsessed with them even though I couldn’t keep them alive (you can read that post here).  If you follow me on Instagram (@bungalowblue), however, you know that I ate my words and ended up buying another one last week!  I spotted this 7-footer on a jaunt to Home Depot and, after seeing the price tag ($55!), I just couldn’t pass it up, so I hauled it home, plopped it in my seagrass basket and I’ve been waiting with baited breath for the leaves to turn brown and fall off, ever since. 

Like many of you, this is not my first go ’round with a fiddle leaf.  The first one was a fat, three footer that lasted almost a year and a half.  Then, one day, I noticed brown spots on the leaves and no matter how much or how little water I gave it, they all fell off.  I honestly don’t know how many I’ve bought since then, but they’ve always been plant-size, not trees like this latest one, and I never paid more than $25 a piece (since they were ultimately going to commit suicide anyway).  Now that I have this ginormous, full and lush one, I’m even more determined to keep it alive, so I stopped into my local nursery over the weekend for some tips.  They’ve got an exceptional selection of indoor plants and any advice they’ve given in the past has always been spot on.  Here’s what they had to say about making fiddle leaf figs thrive (I have no idea why I didn’t think of this ten figs ago…):

THEY ARE SUPER FINICKY! Despite everything I’ve found online which says that they are easy to grow, success with these plants really depends on where you live!

THEY THRIVE IN HUMID CLIMATES.  Here in southern North Carolina, these plants would do amazingly well on a screened-in or covered porch in the summer months where their leaves are protected from the direct sunlight but where they still can enjoy the moisture.

THEY LOVE LIGHT. LOTS OF IT.  They grow best in front of a window with morning and early afternoon sun.  The more natural light, the happier they are.

WATER WELL.  Make sure your fig has good drainage; don’t let them sit in water for long periods of time.  During summer months or in climates with lots of humidity year round (or if it’s outdoors), give them half a gallon of water per week.  During colder months, give them a quart once a week. 

I hope this helps any of you who are trying to keep your fiddle leaf figs alive!  Do you have any other tips that have helped yours thrive in the past?  I’d love to know!

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I'm Kelly, interior designer, stylist, hostess with the mostest and editor of my blog, where I share pics of my work, my own home, décor projects, entertaining hacks, where to find the best decorating deals and all the beautiful things that are currently inspiring me!




  1. Danielle on January 13, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    Here in Chicago I am on my third. Two plant sized ones from Home Depot also committed suicide. I have a tree now also- maybe 6ft? And I think my last two trees I overwatered them and killed them with love. This one I only water when it tells me to- aka when the leaves start to droop. I got it in November and is still doing well (don't wanna say thriving because I don't want to jinx it, plus I think thriving would mean it is growing new leaves while this one still hasn't). After about a week of purchasing him some leaves started to drop and I started to panic- I can't be that bad at keeping them alive! So also after searching high and low for tips on keeping it happy in my not so humid climate I found a tip that they like liquid seaweed. Couldn't hurt to try so I bought a bottle from Amazon and add a capful to the water when I water it and he's been happy since then- no more leaf shedding. Fingers crossed this baby gets to be more lush and grows leaves come spring!

  2. Kelly Stivers on January 13, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    Danielle – thanks for the tip! I've never heard of liquid seaweed being helpful, but you can bet I'm going to head out and find some stat! I know the feeling of panic setting in when you see brown spots….I've been watching mine like a hawk since I brought it home last week. Thank you for the tip and good luck with your fig!

  3. Amy on January 14, 2015 at 2:20 am

    I didn't realize you were in southern NC. Hello from Atlanta. Thanks for these suggestions. I've killed two so maybe the third time's the charm. My ficus tree is thriving now that I mist it with water several times a week or whenever I think of it. When I get my next FLF, I might try misting it as well which would provide the humidity.

  4. Kisha on January 14, 2015 at 3:00 am

    I too am a fiddle leaf fig lover and currently have six, yes six – i know – i'm an addict, that are thriving and all sprouting new leaves at this moment (i actually just posted a pic on instagram 🙂 i think the key is sunlight and watering – if you get that right you're good to go. people have a lot of advice about how much to water and how often…i go by when the soil is dry and/or the leaves start to droop…depending on the time of year this could mean i'm watering weekly (at the height of summer) or every 2 weeks! i just watered all of them for the first time in 2015 – it's terrible cold here in toronto and the days are shorter so they aren't drying out as quickly as the would in July or August. When I water them I drench the soil until it comes through the holes on the bottom…once it starts to come through the bottom – i stop. i could probably write a few more things that have worked for me but this is long enough – so i'll stop here! best of luck with your fiddle leaf – it's a beauty!

  5. Kelly Stivers on January 14, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    Hi Amy! You shouldn't have any problem keeping a fiddle leaf alive in the summer months in Atlanta!

  6. Kelly Stivers on January 14, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    Thank you for the tips, Kisha! The finger/soil test was how I knew to water mine every week, as well! I must be more diligent this time around. 🙂 Can't believe you have SIX, that is amazing!

  7. Claire Akin on April 25, 2018 at 2:13 am

    Really great tips on how to properly care for a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree. Great job!

  8. Cassandra on July 24, 2018 at 6:14 pm

    Hey friend! So i just got my first fiddle leaf fig in May and it’s not doing well???? How’s yours doing??

  9. Kelly Stivers on July 25, 2018 at 5:27 pm

    Cassandra – mine lasted six months and then bit the dust. It took me about a year to figure out that it was too close to a floor vent and the heat that winter was killing it slowly. I haven't tried my hand at any more of these trees, lol! xx

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