Caring For Ficus Lyrata; Fiddle Leaf Fig
Dwarf Fiddle Leaf
Column Fiddle Leaf
Background of Ficus Lyrata, or Fiddle Leaf Fig
Ficus Lyrata, a member of the ficus family, is a Large leaved fig variety, it's leaves resemble the shape of a violin head giving it the common name of Fiddle Leaf Fig.
Lyrata's large lettuce like leaves are sure to catch attention in an interior setting.Found in tree form and columnar shapes it is great plant for filling in both tall and wide interior spaces. Dwarf trees can also be found and are typically used as small home or office floor plants. Lyratas distinctive bold leaves have made them an especially popular fit for contemporary designs. In an atrium Lyrata can provide density, lush foliage, intrigue, and height filling in an interior plant collage nicely.
In order to keep a Lyrata looking its best in the long run there are some particulars specific to this variety that play a major role in its long term health & appearance.
Native Habitat Western Africa
Selecting a space
Lyrata should typically be placed in a spot where light is able to reach all sides of the plant. placement next to a wall is typically not recommended.
There are of course some designs that incorporate a Lyrata as visual balance along a blank wall, most often column style Fiddle Leaves are used in this way. if placed next to a wall or in a windowless corner expect that the Fiddle Leaf will have significant leaf loss on the side of the plant next to the wall.
Lyratas Leaves are thick and brittle. The leaves will break & scar easily if they are exposed to bumping & general foot traffic abuse. It is best to place this plant in a spot where it will avoid accidents & handling.
Being a temperature reactive plant Lyrata should never be placed in a doorway, or any other spot that exposes it to extreme cold or heat from the outside. This is a plant best kept in a temperature range from 62 to 90 degrees, with temperatures lower or higher than this there is great risk of defoliation & death.
Lyrata is a plant that does best in moderate light conditions, it should have the ability for light to reach it's foliage on all sides to some degree.
High light also works for Lyrata, in high light it is very common for this plant to develop nutrient issues that can cause yellowing & brown speckles on the leaves. Regular, appropriate fertilizing is critical for a Lyrata in high light.
Low light is not an option for this plant. Low light conditions will quickly cause this plant to loose all of it's leaves and die. Basements & rooms with no windows are generally poor choices for a Fiddle Leaf.
Natural light, or sunlight is the optimal for this plant. Fluorescent & some other artificial fixtures can provide some beneficial light for Lyrata, and would be fine if used to supplement light for the plant, however the percentage of usable light provided by artificial light sources is low in comparison to sunlight so it would be difficult to fully sustain a healthy Lyrata with artificial lighting and is therefore not recommended.
Watering a Fiddle Leaf is simple as long as you keep a good bead on how moist the soil is staying between watering's.
Lyrata tend to have more difficulty tolerating excess moisture in the soil than some of the other Ficus varieties and will develop more lasting effects as their large lettuce like leaves will brown severely at the tips, and since Lyrata is slow to reproduce those hulking leaves the plant will remain stuck with large tip damaged leaves for a very long time.
It is best to check the plants soil for moisture once a week. Stick your finger in the soil, or for better judgement get a soil probe, and check to see if the soil is dry to moderately moist, if you find this to be the case water the plant until water begins to seep out the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot, applying water evenly across the soils surface. Once this is done check the plant again the following week to see if the plant has used enough of the water it was given for the soil to again be moderately moist to dry, if so water again, if not do not water until the moisture level decreases. Do make sure that your Lyrata is planted in a pot with drainage holes, the plant will need air to get to the roots as well as water, this also prevents the roots from sitting in standing water for prolonged periods.
Under watering a Lyrata will cause the leaves to droop initially, followed by the possibility of solid yellow leaves and leaf loss. The initial drooping effect can sometimes remain permanent after the moisture issue has been corrected, so it is equally important not to allow your Lyrata to become overly dry for an extended amount of time. checking the plant at least once a week should help to make sure that under watering is avoided.
Lyrata has dense Roots
Pests Common to Lyrata
The most common houseplant pest found on a Fiddle Leaf is Hard Scale. Scale can often be found on the backs of leaves, & stems of an infected plant. Indicators of scale are: sticky splattered residue on the leaves, surrounding area, and pot; Oval shaped hard brown bumps clustered on the backs of the leaves and stems.
Treating Scale on a Lyrata can be difficult due to the brittle easy to damage leaves. The best external method for treating Scale is to wipe all of the bugs off (the bugs are hard brown bumps), wiping the leaves on a Lyrata may cause scarring and breaking of the leaves so great care will need to be taken in order to clean the Scale off. An application of systemic pesticide is going to be the most effective method to eradicate Scale from the Lyrata, however the existing bugs will still need to be removed as much as possible so that eggs do not lie dormant only to allow the infestation to re-emerge overtime.
It is a good idea to clean your plant with a light solution of insecticidal soap whether or not it shows symptoms of Scale. The soap, such as Dr. Bronners or plain dish soap will both clean away any potential pests, and leave a slight protective barrier in the case that some pop up.
Less common but occasionally found on Lyrata are Mealy bugs. Mealy bugs will appear to be a white linty looking substance most commonly in the joints of the leaves & stems. In a case of mealy bug the same treatments recommended for Scale apply.
Other Notable Issues Specific to Fiddle Leaf Fig
Fiddle Leaf are prone to Chlorosis, especially those placed in high light. To avoid having your plant turn a sickly faded greenish yellow be sure to fertilize it as according to instructions.
On rare occasions some Lyrata will produce fruit - figs. For some people this feature may be a point of interest, for others nothing more than a messy nuisance especially in an interior setting. For a Lyrata that is producing fruit there is no way to stop it from doing so. If your tree produces fruit you will have to deal with it or start over.
It is perfectly okay to prune a Lyrata, in fact it is recommended in order to maintain the plants shape overtime and keep the foliage dense. When pruning Lyrata always cut just after a leaf on the stem, at the desired length. Keep in mind that future growth of the pruned stem will grow out in the direction of the leaf you clip the stem at, so if you would like your plant to fill in in a certain area or grow in a particular way cut accordingly.
It is not uncommon for the leaves of a Lyrata to develop brown spots with age, there is no way to get rid of this once it appears. It is caused by a build up of soluble salts in the soil, prevention is the best method to avoid this try adding potting soil regularly to help maintain the ph balance of the soil and disperse nutrients evenly.