The Moraceae family is chock full of great trees and shrubs, not the least of which is the fiddle leaf fig (Ficus lyrata). This native of West Africa has large, fiddle-shaped leaves that can measure up to 18” inches long and 12” inches wide.
What is the best lighting for Fiddle Leaf Ficus when caring for them indoors? What temperatures are best? Read on to learn more.
Cold tolerant down to 50° degrees Fahrenheit, this popular ornamental is more commonly grown as a houseplant, where it grows to a much smaller size and rarely blooms.
However, as popular as it is, the fiddle leaf fig (Ficus Lyrata) suffers from a bit of a temper, not the least of which is a strong dislike for being moved.
As a result, finding an ideal spot for this plant is essential so it can enjoy the view as it provides you with one of its own.
Fiddle Leaf Fig Light Requirements
Lighting is perhaps the toughest problem when growing this plant indoors, and it can be frustrating to find a spot where the light remains adequate year-round.
Here’s what you need to know about providing your fiddle leaf fig with enough light and the signs it might not be getting enough.
General Light Requirements
As a general rule, your fiddle leaf Lyrata needs at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day.
However, it doesn’t like intense light and can scorch in harsher climates.
The best place to plant a fiddle leaf fig outdoors in a temperate climate is a southeast or southwest position where it can get morning or evening sun as well as a bit at midday.
This will help ensure it still gets enough sunlight during spring and fall.
Subtropical climates like those in Florida or Texas may be too harsh at midday so you will want an eastern or western exposure with midday shade.
Despite reaching up to 49’ feet in its native rainforests, you’ll likely end up with a much smaller plant outside a more tropical location such as Florida.
Use this to your advantage by positioning it so taller trees on the property will provide filtered light in southern settings.
Growing a fiddle leaf fig indoors poses its own interesting mix of pros and cons, not the least of which is the sun’s habit of moving throughout the year.
This can be solved in cooler climates by placing your Ficus directly in front of a south-facing window.
For harsher climates, you can place the plant in an eastern or western window, although you will need to ensure it still gets enough light throughout the year.
An alternative is to place it in a southern window and use a sheer curtain to shelter it on especially sunny summer afternoons.
If your tree needs more light, you can augment the natural light with grow lamps.
Alternatively, if the Ficus is showing signs of sunburn, try moving it a few feet away from the window or providing a sheer curtain.
Signs Of Sunburn
Despite its love of sunlight, sunburn is uncommon if it is too harsh.
This will usually manifest as bleached out or light brown spots forming near the tops of leaves facing the sun, while leaves facing away from the sun will be unaffected.
In some instances, the spots may take on a red or yellow tinge.
To treat the sunburn, you need to shift your Ficus to a better position.
Don’t be alarmed if you see a bit of leaf drop occurring in protest.
Using sharp, sterile shears, prune away the damaged leaves so they’re not using more energy than they provide.
Signs Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Needs More Light
On the flip side of the proverbial coin, it’s easy for your Ficus to have insufficient lighting.
There is a wide range of symptoms that can occur as a result of having too much shade.
Plants don’t just have one type of chloroplast. They have as many as seven, with each type able to absorb a different amount of light.
This is why variegated plants change colors depending on the amount of light provided.
Likewise, your fiddle leaf fig will change colors if it’s not getting enough light, although the effect will be far more subtle.
Light-deprived leaves will develop dull, round greyish spots ranging in size from a dime to as big as a baseball.
These spots are more visible on older leaves but are still often only noticeable close-up.
Moving the plant to better lighting is usually enough to restore the leaves to their former glory.
When there’s a good light source just out of reach, plants will often lean into it.
For many plants, simply occasionally rotating will remedy this problem.
However, if your fiddle leaf fig has this issue, it’s best to find a spot with better overall lighting.
Plants like the fiddle leaf fig tend to have a more compact growth habit when given adequate lighting.
However, when there’s not enough light, plants will attempt to stretch out to catch as much light as possible.
This can result in the plant looking leggy and sparse.
Moving the plant to a better spot will only be half the battle here, as you’ll need to prune the leggy growth back to restore your ficus’s original shape.
Just be careful not to remove too much at once, or you’ll stress the tree even further.
Slow Growth Rate
Fiddle leaf figs are fast growers, so when it stops growing, that’s a sure sign something’s wrong.
If you’ve eliminated the possibility of pests or disease and the fig’s roots are healthy, this is most likely a case of poor lighting.
The plant should resume its natural growth rate once you’ve moved it or otherwise augmented the lighting.
Stunted New Growth
Let’s say your Ficus is still growing, but the new leaves are a lot smaller than they should be.
This is yet another sure sign of something’s wrong, and poor lighting is the most common culprit.
Without enough light, the fiddle leaf fig cannot create enough energy to go around, sending the lion’s share to mature leaves since they have a better chance of photosynthesizing due to their larger surface area.
Of course, the result is that new leaves will be much smaller.
Moving the plant into better lighting will solve the problem, although the affected leaves may or may not reach full mature height.
There are many potential reasons for your ficus’s leaves turning yellow, but when the lower leaves are affected, you can narrow the culprits down to watering, root rot, or light.
If you’re already using the soak and dry method and the roots are healthy, it’s definitely a lighting problem.
Providing better light should remedy the situation, but you may also need to do a little pruning if the upper leaves are blocking light from getting to the lower ones.