Over the past couple of weeks, my pair of fiddle leafs figs have made a few appearances via social media as I’ve been sharing behind the scenes updates of our renovation (including yesterday on Instagram), yielding several questions on Instagram and Snapchat about how I keep these guys looking so healthy and happy. I’ll openly admit that houseplants and I have a very complicated, mostly failed relationship. It drives me absolutely insane. My maternal grandmother had a prolific assortment of houseplants, the stuff magazines rave about these days, long before houseplants were in vogue again. So often I’ll see a great planter full of succulents, a beautifully blooming hibiscus or a big potted palm tree and get really really fiercely annoyed that I seem to kill everything. When I bought my first fiddle leaf fig tree, I decided a couple of things. (1) That I was not going to kill it and (2) that I was not permitted to buy another houseplant of any kind until I proved my ability to keep it alive. Now well over a year later, a few near-death scares and a whole lot of trial and error, I’m pretty sure I’ve got this situation worked out over here. Knock on wood. So if you have a sad looking fig, click through for my tips on how to care for a fiddle leaf fig tree! Maybe these tricks will prove to be as life changing for you as it they have been for me. Kidding. Only, not really.
Name Your Plants
Studies have shown that you are 85% less likely to kill a house plant if you name it properly. Also, that is a completely bogus statistic, as I’m sure you guessed, but I swear by this silly trick. My figs are named Finn and Phylona. We refer to them as such (“Hey, did you water Finn and Phylona?”) and they boast these names as surely as if they were pets. Absolutely there is a placebo effect here, but I promise you that if you give your plants names and personify them in that way, you’ll stand a better chance of keeping them alive. When is the last time you forgot to feed your cat or dog for weeks on end? Exactly.
If there is one tip you pay attention to here when caring for your fiddle leaf fig, let it be this one! Figs, I am finding through my own research and some handy internet sleuthing, are so easy to care for that they are finicky. Do not overthink it! Keep them on a schedule and be regimented about when and how you water them. We water ours only once a week at the same exact time. I have an alarm set on my iPhone that goes off at 8:00pm every Sunday evening (chosen because it’s a time when I am almost always home) reminding me to water the plants. I also measure their water. When your fig is small or recovering, I suggest starting with 1 cup per week, poured directly at point where the stem meets the soil, and working up gradually as your tree grows. Finn is my oldest fig so he now gets 2 cups per week. Phylona is still in the toddler stages, so she gets a cup and a quarter each week. (And again with the referring to them by their names. This is real life, friends. As sure as our kids, dog and Baby E’s extensive collection of stuffed animals, the plants go only by their first names.) If your fig is wilting, sagging or has leaves that are turning brown, crunchy and shriveling up, I can almost guarantee you that your watering situation, either too much or too little (I was in the overwatering camp at first), is to blame. Get it together.
Light is King
Both of my figs like a lot of light so I keep them in a room with ample natural light, located near a big window. At our old apartment that was in our dining room, and it’s looking like it may end up being the dining room again here at our new house, too. Once a month or so I make sure to dust the leaves, or more as needed, to make sure the leaves can adequately soak up the light. (Also, nobody likes a dusty plant, so there is that.) Otherwise, remember – a fig is so easy that it is finicky, so I don’t move them or mess with them basically ever. Every 2 to 3 weeks, I will rotate each of them about 180° so the other side can get some light. Beyond that, they stay stationary. I don’t move them from room to room or side to side. Maybe someday I’ll get brave enough to do so, but I’m not there yet.
Talk to Your Plants
I realize I’m nominating myself from some sort of crazy plant lady award when it comes to this one, but I swear talking to your plants will help your cause. It goes along with the whole naming nonsense. If you act as if your plant is a creature with feelings and emotions, you’re more likely to remember to dust those leaves and rotate them toward the light every so often. When we moved everyone knew to be careful with the plants because, you know, they’re not just plants. They’re really more like a physical manifestation of all of my hopes and dreams come to life. I think I’m about to get sassy and start buying house plants by the truckload. I’ll keep you posted!
So there you have it, friends. My slightly obsessive yet ultimately very simple arsenal of tricks for keeping houseplants alive. I swear these tips will help you out if you, like me, can’t figure out why this much sought after fiddle leaf fig tree of yours insists on looking 100% opposite of all the figs you’ve seen on Pinterest. Name her. Water her with care. She’ll come back to you! Promise.
[Photo by Cyd Converse | Taken on iPhone 6s + edited with A Color Story.]