Ficus lyrata: Fiddle leaf fig

Family: Moraceae
Common name: Fiddle leaf fig, Banjo leaf, Banyan fig tree, Fiddle-leaf fig

A very popular houseplant that’s trending on Pinterest, home design, and interiors magazines, Fiddle leaf fig plants grew in popularity in the past 10 years. Every interior design magazine has at least one picture of a beautiful living room or patio lifted to a new ambiance with these beautiful plants.

Fiddle leaf fig plants can grow up to 18 meters, but most houseplants only grow 8-10 meters. Their broad, leathery, dark green leaves are the main attraction since they bring a forest-like ambiance to your garden or living room.

The leaves are about 40-45 cms long, 30-35cms wide, and shaped like a fiddle giving the tree its name Fiddle leaf fig. The edges of the leaves are wavy, almost folded in, with prominent veins especially on the lower surface.

The tree produces green fruits which are 2-3 cms in diameter, but this is not very common in houseplants. So they are mostly grown as ornamental plants and not for their flowering or fruit-bearing capabilities.

Fiddle leaf figs are native to the tropical rainforests in Western Africa and thrive best in a warm humid atmosphere. They do not like to be moved and are considered to be very finicky and emotional, by plant growers. These plants should be watered regularly, but not overwatered since that would lead to root rot.

Fiddle leaf fig trees do not like bright sunlight, which might burn the leaves. Filtered or indirect sunlight is required, nor they do not like complete shade. Indoor plants should be kept near sunny windows and rotated once a week to prevent uneven growth.

Once they are established in soil, they can be pruned well to maintain a bushy appearance. Misting the leaves, and wiping them with a wet cloth can help keep the leaves glossy and healthy.

These trees belong to the Figs and Mulberry family of Moraceae, along with over 1000 species of plants. 3 common variants of the Fiddle leaf fig are Ficus lyrata Bambino, a shorter variant that only grows a few feet tall; Ficus lyrata Compacta which also grows only about 5 feet and Ficus lyrata Variegata which is quite rare with green and cream-colored variegated leaves.

If the plants are well-cared for, they can live for over 10 years. But moving the plant from one place to another, or from one pot to another has to be done carefully, without hurting the roots too much. Watch out for leaves dropping, yellowing or browning; or signs of pest infection on the leaves.

Propagation is through seeds and stem cuttings.