You've seen them. They're everywhere. They're lush and sculptural and they make for excellent eye candy in photographs of some of the most beautiful apartments you see floating around the Internet. The fiddle leaf fig, or Ficus Lyrata, is this year's "it" plant. Maybe last year's, too.
I've seen enough photos of the plant to know that I like the look of it. But I wondered how hard it would be to keep one alive? If I could wrangle a space for it, for example, could I grow a fiddle leaf fig tree in a dimly lit Brooklyn apartment?
Most of all, I wanted to know if beyond being easy on the eyes, would a fiddle leaf fig be easy on my heart? Losing a plant is not a laughing matter. After nurturing, and tending, and maybe, if you're like me, reading it a few sonnets before bed, watching a plant wither and die can be traumatic. Even if you're not one to take the death of a plant to heart, there are the finances to consider. A fiddle leaf fig can be pricey, and that's before finding a handsome pot big enough to house it.
Before making an investment of my own, I set about on a little fact-finding mission. My tactic? I polled the Internet-folk whose beauties I'd been admiring. How are all of these beautiful fiddle leaf fig trees faring post-photo shoot? Here's what I learned.
Photo courtesy of Daniel Kanter via Manhattan Nest.
Plenty of light is the key to success for blogger Daniel Kanter's fiddle leaf fig, too. His fifth-floor apartment in Brooklyn is high enough to be filled with sunlight throughout the day. Like Anna, Daniel cautions against overwatering; "Ignore it! I water my fiddle probably every week (maybe a little less—I just check to see if the soil is dry or not), and I don't water it very much." Daniel also gives his leaves a good rubdown to make sure they're not stifled by dust.
Is your fiddle leaf fig tree ailing? See 7 Secrets to Saving a Dying Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree.
Photo courtesy of Anna Dorfman via Door Sixteen.
Above: Blogger Anna Dorfman's fiddle leaf fig plant lives in her home in the Hudson River Valley. Anna's tree enjoys filtered light from a south-facing window all day long. And even though she's a self-described plant killer, her charge is still alive and well. Anna's advice? Don't over-water. Anna lets the soil in her pot dry completely before giving her fiddle leaf a good shower. She also suggested that it's important that the pot that you choose not be too big.
Photo courtesy of Emma Reddington, The Marion House Book.
Above: Emma Reddington of The Marion House Book nurtured this fiddle leaf fig for eight long years, before finally laying it to rest just a few weeks ago. Emma, who still has one remaining fiddle leaf, found that the best light for her trees was in a west-facing window. The southern light in her house seemed to be too harsh for them. In the summertime, she'd move the trees into sheltered spot outdoors so they could soak up the humidity.
Photo courtesy of Eliza Blank, The Sill.
Finally, I asked houseplant expert Eliza Blank of The Sill for her take on the Fiddle Leaf. While The Sill, a house plant delivery service in New York, typically trades in slightly smaller houseplants, Eliza will fill special orders for larger trees like the fiddle leaf. Eliza confirms that fiddle leaf figs are better suited to a light-filled Soho loft than a dim apartment. Beyond good light, Eliza says the most important thing is a consistent environment. Airy offices with bright, consistent light are ideal spaces.
My conclusion? Sounds like I'll continue to admire fiddle leaf figs from a distance. As tempted as I am to jump on the design bandwagon, it doesn't sound like I have quite the right conditions to make for a thriving Fiddle Leaf in my tiny apartment. What about you? Do you have a fiddle leaf fig? In the comments section below, tell us your tips for keeping it alive.
Update: We just got our own fiddle leaf fig tree (couldn't resist). To see it, go to The Fig and I.
N.B.: This is an update of a post published May 14, 2013 as part of our Gold Coast week.