The Fiddle Leaf Fig, or Ficus lyrata, is a species of fig tree native to western Africa that is most at home in lowland tropical rainforests. In its native habitat, the Ficus lyrata can grow over 40 feet tall – and produce green figs! Even though indoor fiddles are significantly smaller, grow slower, and do not produce fruit – they make for majestic houseplants.
The leaves of a Fiddle Leaf Fig can vary in shape, but are often broad, and leathery in texture, with prominent veins and a vibrant green hue. Their silhouette usually resembles that of a fiddle – hence their common name.
Whether you’re a plant lover or not – chances are, you’ve been seeing fiddles everywhere recently. “Fiddle Fever” seems to coincide with the popularity of online social platforms, like Pinterest and Tumblr, and the rise of home and design blogging. Our hunch is the trend was sparked via aspirational image sharing on the web.
A little background: Pinterest soft-launched around 2010-2011, but it really didn’t take off as a popular social platform till 2012. Its peak as a trending search on Google was in February of 2012. This coincides with the sudden appearance of fiddle leaf fig trees, and a handful of other popular plants like miniature succulents and cacti, on just about every design-focused blog.
From 2012 to 2013, designers, bloggers, DIY-ers… everyone had fiddle fever! Since then, the fiddle leaf fig has only become more and more popular – and more accessible, which has directly contributed to the growth of its popularity even more so. For example, IKEA has been selling the Ficus lyrata since around 2010, but they saw an influx of fiddles sales within the past three years.
It is the aspirational images of stunning 6+ foot fiddles in homes in the glossy pages of magazines like ELLE Decor, that made their way to Pinterest – and arguably jumped started the fiddle movement, as we know it today.
Some of these iconic images include: the dramatic fiddle in the living room of Laurie and Adam Herz’s Hollywood Hills home by interior decorator Peter Dunham (in Elle Décor*); the two statuesque fiddles flanking the paintings in Claiborne Swanson Frank’s Manhattan apartment’s dining room (in Elle Décor*); a large, wild fiddle in front of the fireplace in Anna Burke’s West Village apartment (in Lonny Magazine*); and the matching large fiddles in bright orange planters in Jonathan Adler’s dining area in his NY apartment (in Elle Décor France*). *Click the links to see the original photos.
And thanks to technology – those images really started to circulate. Bloggers started to share these aspirational images, and show how they recreated something similar in their own space…
If you’re lucky enough to have the space and the sunlight, then a fiddle leaf fig can make for a wonderful houseplant. It is one of the easier ficus plants to care for – making it an excellent choice, even for beginners. To keep it happiest – think of its native environment. It is going to want to be in a spot that receives bright, indirect light, including some sun and warm air (don’t let the temperature drop below 65 degrees). The more direct sunlight, the better. If it is not receiving enough natural light, then it will start to drop leaves. This makes sense, as light equals food, and each leaf has hungry cells that need to be supported! Remember that this plant is native to the tropics near the equator, and loves to bathe in sunlight.
Be aware that fiddle leaf figs can be finicky when placed in a brand new environment. When stressed, their leaves tend to brown and drop off. Make sure to give it time to acclimate to its new home before sounding the alarm. Keep it far away from drafts or heat sources, as it likes its environment to stay consistent in temperature and humidity. And note, it can be toxic if ingested.
- Leaf crinkling, loss, and rot —> Sign of overwatering
- Surface burns, leaf loss —> Sign of extreme heat or too much direct sun
- Leaves overly soft and flexible —> Sign of underwatering
- Brown disc-shaped spots under leaves —> Sign of scale/pests