I can’t remember ever having a plant that’s caused me more stress than the fiddle leaf fig I bought on a whim at Costco last July. But it’s not the plants fault it’s a bit of a diva. I’m asking a rainforest plant accustomed to humidity to suck it up in a midwestern climate marked by dry furnace heat in winter and cold air conditioner breezes in the summer. Not exactly the environment these guys crave. It’s my fault for having jumped on the bandwagon with other fiddle fanatics. But I’m glad I did because, for now, I think I have this thing licked. Fiddles are everywhere these last several years. From print to TV, they appear in most staged room designs and people have to have them. Including me.
Bringing it home reminded me of the day my husband and I brought our first daughter home from the hospital. We set her on the bed, looked at each other with a good amount of uncertainty and asked each other “What do we do now?” Except this was a small tree with a hefty reputation and I found myself wondering the same thing as I introduced it to the south-facing windows of our bedroom. I’d more or less accepted the fact that this plants stay may be a short one and I was ok with that. At least for now, I had a shiny little fiddle leaf fig and we were getting along just fine.
Having read all the warnings about imminent death once it gets home, I resigned myself to the fact that this $25 may have been better spent on a sure thing, like a philodendron, but been there and done that and who doesn’t like a challenge from time to time? At least now I can pat myself on the back. My fiddle has survived for almost one year. Now that’s something to be proud of!
Fiddle Fear Sets In
I bought the fiddle just as you see it, roots surfacing and looking for more accommodating digs. Having done my homework on these guys, I knew better than to attempt to repot it this late. Better to wait until early spring to upgrade to a larger pot. I feared too much change for this delicate diva may spell death, so we waited and carried on.
The months passed and leaves entered various stages of decline as I struggled to get the watering thing just right. I never put so much thought and concern into keeping something alive, unless you count my children. Too much water/too little water? Finding that middle ground took a while, especially when the furnace kicked in and the dry air was more conducive to nose bleeds than tropical plants. Sunday’s watering day and approximately one cup of water does the trick through the winter. I withheld fertilizer during the winter months while the tree was in it’s dormant stage (I do this with all my houseplants) and reintroduced it after repotting.
It’s May now and we’ve made it this far. I’ve known from day one that I’d have to repot this guy so I found a terracotta pot about an inch wider than the black nursery pot. The only drawback…repotting to a larger pot next time. It’s going to be hell getting this thing out once it’s established roots throughout the flared portion of the pot. But that’s something to worry about next year when I may, or may not, have to upgrade once again.
It’s been a few weeks since my fiddle leaf was repotted and all is well. Buds are swelling and a few new leaves have emerged. So far so good, I’d say. Leaves get a dusting once a month and we’ve fallen into a bit of a routine, the kind where I accept the fact my fiddle may decide to kick it for reasons unknown to me. In which case, I’ll chuck him in the compost and buy another philodendron. How’s that for fickle?
Interested in some cinch-to-grow houseplants? I have a few suggestions that don’t require a whole lot of thought to keep alive.