Fiddle leaf fig plants look their most beautiful when they have lots of big leaves and a fuller shape, but somethings can cause them to grow long, leafless stems and have a stretched out shape. Here’s how to fix a leggy fiddle leaf fig plant!
Fiddle leaf fig plants make a beautiful addition to your home decor, but they can be notoriously fussy and a bit hard to care for from time to time. Sometimes, there’s nothing you can do to save your plant if it’s been unhappy for too long, but if your plant is just looking a little tall and spindly, there are definitely things you can do to make it healthy and beautiful again. I had a fiddle leaf fig plant that had been growing really well, with no signs of distress, but then suddenly starting getting really tall, really quickly, with small-ish leaves that were a little more spaced out on the stem than I’d like them to be, so I thought I’d walk you through what to do about that, just in case you have a fiddle leaf fig that’s doing the same thing. Here’s how to fix a leggy fiddle leaf fig.
What Causes a Leggy Fiddle Leaf Fig?
If your fiddle leaf fig is looking like mine, the root of the problem is almost always a lack of light. Fiddle leaf figs need a lot of light. Tons of it. Mine was sitting right in a window that I consider to be one of the brightest in our house. As soon as the big old maple tree outside the window got its full summer leaves though, my fiddle leaf fig started to react to the reduction in sunlight. When a plant reaches to the light by growing tall and skinny very quickly, it’s displaying a natural process called etiolation. You see this in forests all the time when trees compete for sunlight by reaching for the forest canopy. It’s a healthy process for ensuring that your plant has the light it needs to stay alive, it just doesn’t necessarily make for the prettiest houseplants. 🙂
Ideally, you want lots of bright, indirect (or filtered) sunlight for your fiddle leaf fig. You may need to play around with where to put it in your house. Direct sunlight can actually burn the leaves, so if you move your plant to sunnier spot, keep an eye on it and make sure it’s not too sunny for too many hours during the day.
How to Fix a Leggy Fiddle Leaf Fig
The first thing, of course, is to fix what caused the problem in the first place and move your fiddle leaf fig to a brighter spot. If you’re moving your plant from a very dark spot to a very bright window, try shielding the plant from the sun and then gradually exposing it to more and more light over the course of a few days to allow it to transition without shock. The plant will not automatically shrink in height and become fuller with more light, so you’ll need to prune your fiddle leaf fig back and allow it to regrow in a more full-looking way.
Use sharp pruning shears to make a clean cut. You can also save the portion that you cut off for propagation if it’s big enough! Read more here about that process: How to Propagate a Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant
You may only need to prune the very tips of your plants top and branches, or you may find that you need to prune it back more significantly. You can prune your plant back by about 1/3 – 1/2 without worry. You should see new, healthy growth start to happen in about three-four weeks and the little new leaf sprouts forming at the top of the plant should look quite a bit bigger than the new growth was before pruning and re-adjusting the light.
Other Factors to Consider
You may find that you need to move your plant around to different spots in your house for different seasons depending on how light conditions change so that you can maintain consistent, bright lighter. Your plant nutrition and plant watering schedule can also affect your plant’s growing patterns, of course, as well as your plant’s overall health. Most fiddle leaf figs need water about once a week if they’re in optimal lighting conditions, and any more than that is usually a bit too much. If you think your plant feeding routine isn’t going as well as it could be, consider trying a fiddle leaf fig-specific plant food instead of an all-purpose plant food.
Whatever changes you make, try to make them slowly, a little at a time, so your plant has time to adjust to the new routine.
Have you had this happen to your fiddle leaf fig plants before? What did you do?
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Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.