Happy 4th of July weekend everyone! Yesterday, I posted a picture of my beloved on Instagram and got a ton of questions…
That’s right, when I say beloved I mean Felicity the Fig. Sorry Husband….and precious baby girl.
We’ve had Felicity since January and almost lost her twice. Quite a few of her leaves were damaged and she was ‘sick’ when we got her, but she survived. Then, a few months later I almost killed her because I took that whole ‘don’t overwater a fig’ thing a little too far. That’s a serious problem with rule-followers, we tend to take things to the extreme.
Anyway, I started watering her more and she survived. Hallelujah! In the last few weeks she sprouted three new leaves and I almost died from excitement. Fiddle Leaf Figs (or Ficus Lyrata) are notoriously hard to keep alive, but they’re just too darn pretty to give up on. I’ve known people that have killed 3 or 4, but keep going back for more. It’s the chase, y’all, it’s the chase.
I get a ton of questions on how I keep Felicity healthy and where I got her, so I thought a Fig Care post was just what the doctor ordered. Oh, that sounds like a fun job – a Fiddle Leaf Fig Doctor. Sign me up…
Fiddle Leaf Fig Care
Drain, Baby Drain
Of course your fig will come in a pot, but please make sure it has drainage holes. If it doesn’t, replace immediately, as sitting in water is a death trap for figs. I took it one step further and chose a self-watering pot when I had to re-pot Felicity because she was root bound. This ensures that any extra water drains to the reservoir and doesn’t sit in her soil. Some people just put large rocks at the bottom of their pot and this works well too.
Water Minimally & Consistently
The general rule is to water figs when the top 1 inch of soil is dry, but that didn’t exactly work for Felicity. As I mentioned she was root bound in the beginning and I think that created a unique situation. If you’re constantly checking to see if they need water that could lead to an inconsistent watering schedule and that is death trap #2 (there are a lot of fig death traps, don’t let it get you down!).
After Felicity’s second brush with death (her leaves started turning yellow and dropping because I wasn’t watering her enough), I started watering once a week, no exceptions. She gets 3 1/4 cups every Wednesday. Yes, it’s precise, but it’s just once a week so still very low maintenance. I did recently increase the amount of water (from 2 1/2 cups) because of the new leaves and she’s responding well.
Just the Right Light
Figs prefer indirect, bright light. If you live in a warm climate I would suggest placing them in front north or south facing windows so they don’t get baked in the spring and summer. Felicity sits right in front of a north facing window and she seems to thrive there. If your fig’s leaves look burnt on the edges it most likely means they’re getting too much direct sunlight.
Change is Bad, Very Bad
When I started researching figs I found a lady who said she took this advice so far that she vacuumed around her fig and never moved it. EVER. That sounds pretty intense, but honestly Felicity doesn’t get moved that much either. Figs like their environment to stay consistent and they’re extremely sensitive to change. This applies to:
- Moving them (keep them in the same spot, but do rotate weekly so they get even sun)
- Pots (don’t repot often, leave them be until they grow quite a bit or start to get root bound. A 12-14 in. pot is as big as you want to go and small trees only need an 8-10 in. pot)
- Fertilizer (only feed them in the spring or summer, they freak out easily)
- Pruning/Removing Damaged Leaves (Pruning is not encouraged and most people say to leave damaged leaves alone until they fall off on their own)
Clean Leaves are Happy Leaves
Fig leaves can get huge (most of mine are bigger than my head) so they collect dust. Dust your leaves often and gently with a lint free rag. Some people rub a little water or even milk (no lie) on their rags before dusting, but any extra moisture around a fig makes me nervous so I abstain from that practice.
Those are my official tips for keeping your fig alive, but you better believe I have some superstitions too…
- Sing to it. I kid you not, I sing to Felicity a few times a week. I mean, I’m already singing the tune from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood in my head all day long anyway, I may as well give her a couple of lines right? I got this as a serious suggestion on Instagram from a botanist and because I’ll try anything, I did it.
- Name your fig. Just do it, you know want to.
- Be gentle. Throw a cell phone or a cupcake at your kid if it looks like they’re even heading in your fig’s direction (to distract them, not to hit them…geez, I’m not that crazy). Under no circumstances should they (or you) be tugging on its leaves or knocking it around. In all seriousness though, I know it can be hard to keep kids away from plants, but our 2 year old doesn’t touch Felicity because she gets to ‘water’ her once a week, too (mini watering-can, no water) and knows to only water the soil. She helps me take care of all of our plants (inside and out) and it’s really improved her understanding of how we should treat them.
Where to Buy
My husband found Felicity at Home Depot in January. We saw quite a few shipments during the winter and spring months, but I haven’t seen one since summer began. If you don’t catch a shipment in-store, try ordering online. Figs are listed on their website under Ficus Lyrata and cost $29.99. I’ve heard they arrive small, but very healthy (which is sometimes not the case in-store).
Here in Texas, Calloway’s also sells them, but they are little more expensive. I’ve also heard that IKEA has sporadic availability and you can get them for a steal ($20).
Well, that’s all the fig wisdom I have folks. I’m certainly no expert, but Felicity has been alive in my care for almost 6 months now and since I expected her to die within a week I consider that a win. Good luck and happy fig lovin’!