One of the secrets to keeping a fiddle leaf fig happy and healthy is ensuring it’s planted in high-quality, well-draining soil. These beautiful plants are famous for being fussy and, in less-than-ideal conditions, they will make their displeasure known by refusing to grow or turning lackluster and listless.
Soil plays a big role in this, providing support for roots and storing the necessary nutrients your fiddle leaf fig needs to thrive.
But what exactly is the best soil for a fiddle leaf fig? In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into every aspect of what comprises the right soil mix for a Ficus lyrata.
What is the best soil for fiddle leaf figs?
The best soil for fiddle leaf figs is well-draining, rich in organic matter, and has a pH of 5.5 to 7. When mixing or purchasing soil for a fiddle leaf fig, your primary considerations are good aeration, moisture retention, drainage, optimal gaseous exchange, and nutrient storage.
The soil you select for your plants plays a huge role in their overall health. The root system of a fiddle leaf fig is its lifeline, and for this reason, it should be anchored in the best possible living conditions. While fiddle leaf figs can be difficult, choosing the right soil for them is one of the simpler steps when it comes to their care.
There are a few crucial aspects to look out for when choosing the right soil.
For one, your soil’s water retention and drainage will determine whether your fig is properly watered, thirsty, or drowning. Secondly, your soil’s pH levels determine how well the plant’s roots absorb nutrients.
Both water-intake and nutrient-intake directly impact how healthy and happy your fiddle leaf fig will be. If out of balance, your plant becomes far more susceptible to illness or infection. Overall, it just won’t be able to thrive.
In the sections that follow, we’ll take a closer look at how you can mix the perfect soil for your fiddle leaf fig. Getting this fundamental care aspect right from the get-go will make for a far easier journey with your plants going forward.
What’s the best fiddle leaf fig soil recipe?
The right soil recipe for a fiddle leaf contains a balance of both inorganic and organic components that aid with aeration, drainage, and water retention, while simultaneously ensuring an ideal pH level of 5.5 to 7. Furthermore, fiddle leaf fig soil should contain nutrient-rich organic matter.
While it sounds a bit contradictory, water retention and drainage are the two most important elements to consider when mixing the perfect soil for your fiddle leaf fig. If your soil is not aerated, it may become water-logged and clumpy. For this reason, it’s best to avoid pre-made potting mixes that might not suit your plant’s needs in favor of mixing your own soil that emulates a fiddle leaf’s natural environment.
To create your own soil mix, you want to find a balance of ingredients that aid in aeration, like vermiculite or perlite, but still feed your plant with nutrients, like coco coir or peat moss. When mixed with organic soil in the right ratios, you’ll balance out your soil’s pH levels to become suitable for your fiddle leaf’s health.
Vermiculite is a silicate mineral that is sterile and long-lasting with a pH of 7. It absorbs water and then releases it at a slow rate suitable for plants. Perlite works in much the same way. It is a light and porous material that improves aeration and prevents water-logging, also with a neutral pH level of 7 to 7.5.
Coco coir or peat moss can make up the organic component of your soil mixture, providing much-needed nutrients to your plant by breaking down naturally over time. Contrary to vermiculite and perlite, these substances retain water and moisture while fostering an ecosystem of beneficial microorganisms. Their lower pH levels help strike the perfect balance in your homemade soil mixture.
How do you mix fiddle leaf fig soil?
Mix fiddle leaf fig soil by combining one part of an aerating substance, like vermiculite or perlite, with one part of a nutrient-rich substance like peat moss or coco coir. Then, add two parts of good-quality organic potting soil. This should regulate water retention and keep your pH level optimal.
Mixing fiddle leaf fig soil at home is no more complicated than collecting the right ingredients and combining them in the right quantities. With any soil mixture, you want the majority of the composition to be a premium quality organic potting soil. To this, you add matter that fine-tunes your soil to suit your plant’s needs.
In the previous section, we discussed the benefits of adding perlite or vermiculite and peat moss or coco coir to your soil. When you do so, make sure to blend it through your potting soil thoroughly, using your hands or a small trowel.
Once combined, you’re ready to plant or replant your fiddle leaf fig. If you like, you can add some bark chips or a bit of horticultural charcoal. These improve drainage and help to prevent fiddle leaf fig tree diseases.
As a side note, avoid adding fertilizer to your soil mixes for the first 4 to 6 months. The soil is already rich in organic nutrients, and you don’t want to overdo it by adding extra food and risking fertilizer burn.
What fiddle leaf fig soil pH is best?
A fiddle leaf’s soil pH level is important because it determines its access to nutrients. Soil pH levels can range from 3 to 10, but a healthy pH range for a fiddle leaf is 5.5 to 7. This most closely emulates its natural environment. You can regulate soil pH by combining the right soil materials.
Fiddle leaf figs enjoy a pH level close to neutral, with neutral being 7. Anything less than 7 is considered acidic, while more than 7 is alkaline. Being native to Western Africa, these plants are accustomed to moist, humid conditions with ample rainfall that turns their soil slightly acidic.
At home, it’s relatively easy to recreate these conditions by combining the right ingredients in your soil mixture (as per the sections above). That being said, it’s not always possible to determine this yourself, especially if you purchase your fiddle leaf fig already potted.
Rather than opting to transplant your fiddle leaf, first test its soil with a pH meter to determine if there is an imbalance. It may be that your soil is perfectly adequate. If not, you can adjust your fiddle leaf fig’s pH levels by adding certain materials.
To raise your pH levels, add a measure of limestone. To lower them, you can add a bit of sulphur. If this feels a bit technical, try out a well-known home remedy by pouring diluted coffee directly onto the soil. Still no luck? Repot your fiddle leaf fig with a good soil mix or feed a nutrient-rich fertilizer to your fiddle leaf fig.
Do fiddle leaf figs need special soil?
Fiddle leaf figs require high-quality soil specially formulated for drainage and water retention. They also need plenty of organic matter from which to draw nutrients to grow. Specifically, look for good-quality potting soils prepared for indoor houseplants that contain a mix of peat and perlite.
You want to give your fiddle leaf fig its best chance at thriving by attending to its needs. If you’re not planning to mix your own soil, let’s explore some alternatives that can be bought ready-mixed.
Can I use cactus soil for fiddle leaf figs?
Cactus soil can be a good fit for a fiddle leaf fig in that it is usually very well-draining. This reduces the risk of your plant becoming water-logged or developing root rot. However, cactus soil may not contain the right measure of nutrients to satisfy your fiddle leaf’s hunger.
To combat this, you can feed your fiddle leaf fig with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer monthly after initially potting it. Keep an eye on your plant to make sure it doesn’t end up in a nutrient deficiency, and regularly test the soil’s pH levels.
Can I use succulent soil for fiddle leaf figs?
Succulent soil is very similar to cactus soil and will have much the same effect on a fiddle leaf fig. It’s great for drainage but may not hold all the nutrients fiddle leaf figs need to really thrive. The high sand content in succulent soil can also lead to dryer conditions than your plant desires.
This can be counter-balanced with regular feeding, although it’s best to opt for a more organically rich soil if you can.
Can I use orchid soil for fiddle leaf figs?
Orchid mix, while well-draining, is not considered a good choice for fiddle leaf figs as it is usually a bit too acidic, having quite a low pH level. On the upside, it is quite barky, which prevents waterlogging. If you’re planning to use orchid soil for your fiddle leaf fig, try to purchase a soil with a pH level closer to 6 or 6.5.
To test the pH level in your soil, you can purchase a pH testing kit from your local garden center or nursery.
Do fiddle leaf figs like moist soil?
Fiddle leaf figs enjoy quite a lot of moisture, but it’s best to allow their soil to dry out between watering sessions. This prevents them from standing in overly wet soil and contracting root rot. A consistent watering regiment paired with well-draining soil is the way to go with fiddle leaf figs.
Because of the size of their beautiful leaves, fiddle leaf figs need quite a lot of water to grow bigger and stay strong. However, they are very susceptible to root rot, once again highlighting the importance of making sure they’re planted in good-quality soil.
As a general rule of thumb, you should water your fiddle leaf every 7 to 10 days, making sure the water runs through to its drip tray. Empty the drip tray to prevent your plant from standing in pooled water and allow the top inch or so of soil to dry before your next watering session. A nifty trick in terms of quantity is to stick to one cup of water per two feet of plant height.
For a more precise indicator of how much moisture is stored in your fiddle leaf’s soil, you can use a moisture meter (available at most nurseries or garden centers).
Signs you’re using the wrong soil for your fiddle leaf fig
If you notice that the leaves of your Ficus are turning yellow, drooping, crinkling, falling, or developing brown spots, it may be an indication that you are using the wrong soil. These are signs that your plant may be suffering from a nutrient deficiency, overwatering, or underwatering with your fiddle leaf fig.
When fiddle leaf figs are unhappy, they’ll let you know. Let’s look at each of the signs that your plant may be rooted in the wrong soil in greater detail.
1. Yellowing leaves
Yellowing leaves on a fiddle leaf fig generally indicate that the plant is nutrient deficient. It may be that there is not enough organic matter in its soil or that it is receiving too little or too much water. You should also check the pH level of your soil to make sure it’s neither too acidic nor too alkaline.
2. Drooping, wilting, or crinkling
If you notice your fiddle leaf fig leaves drooping or crinkling, these are pretty reliable signs that your fiddle leaf fig is overwatered or underwatered. This relates to its soil in that it may be dense and saturated, or conversely, too dry.
Test moisture levels with a moisture meter or simply with your fingertip. Also, have a sniff for any foul odor that may indicate soggy, moldy soil.
You can find out more on how often to water a fiddle leaf fig in our article on this very question.
3. Brown spots and leaf drop
Brown spots on a fiddle leaf fig are never a good sign and can range in meaning from disease to pest infestations or bacterial infections. Most often, however, the cause is waterlogged soil causing root rot. Look at the spots, and if you notice they are dark brown and widespread, you may need to transplant and repot your fiddle leaf fig as a means to try and get rid of fungi growing in the soil.
(Check out our article on treating and preventing bacterial infections on your fiddle leaf fig to find out more.)
Your fiddle leaf fig’s leaves falling off, too, is a sign of deficiency or illness, which you may first notice if your fiddle leaf fig isn’t growing new leaves. Address this immediately by checking your soil for any sign of sogginess or mold.
Why does it matter whether you have the best soil for your fiddle leaf fig?
Good quality soil means the difference between a fiddle leaf fig that gets by and one that thrives. When planted in the right soil, fiddle leaf figs will grow exponentially as they receive appropriate amounts of water and nutrition. With incorrect soil, your plant will struggle to survive.
As plant parents, it’s not unusual to want to do the best by our greenery, and part of this is providing them with ideal conditions to grow – which includes doing our best to ensure that we’re giving the best soil for fiddle leaf figs as possible. While soil may seem like a standard part of gardening, it’s crucially important to your plants’ overall health and well-being.
Because they’re so fussy, fiddle leaf figs can be delicate about the soil they enjoy, and they’re quite prone to nutrient deficiencies if their needs are not met. To keep your fiddle leaf fig happy, healthy, and thriving, you want to provide them with excellent soil tailored to their specifications.