If you’re looking to add some greenery to your living area, but you’re a little low on space, the dwarf fiddle leaf fig may be just the plant for you. These beauties possess all the splendor of their larger counterparts but in a more manageable size, making them the perfect choice for the contemporary plant parent.
Of course, we know fiddle leaf figs have a reputation for being tricky to care for, and the dwarf variety is no exception. However, the good news is that with the right formula, you’ll see your Ficus thriving in no time. Their care can be simple if you have the right fundamentals in place from the start.
In this post, I’ll take you through everything you need to know about the dwarf fiddle leaf fig, from how to identify one through to its care and pruning requirements.
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Is there a dwarf fiddle leaf fig?
The dwarf fiddle leaf fig, also referred to as a bambino fiddle leaf, is a smaller, more compact version of the standard Ficus lyrata. Like its full-sized cousin, the dwarf fiddle leaf fig has striking dark green leaves, although they tend to be slightly rounder and grow closer together.
Investing in fiddle leaf figs can be daunting, but the dwarf variety is a great indoor option. While they don’t size up very quickly, for many, their smaller stature is their actual appeal. They work beautifully as feature plants on shelves or tables, and you don’t run the risk of having them outgrow your space.
FYI: While the bambino is the most commonly-known dwarf fiddle leaf variety, there is also a second cultivar known as the fiddle leaf compacta, although it is far rarer. It’s important to distinguish between the bambino and the compacta due to significant differences in appearance, which I’ll detail below.
For ease of reference, the bambino is almost always the cultivar plant enthusiasts refer to when discussing dwarf fiddle leaf fig trees. It looks just like a regular fiddle leaf fig but is shorter and leafier.
How do you care for a dwarf fiddle leaf fig?
Dwarf fiddle leaf figs like plenty of indirect sunlight and medium to high humidity. They don’t need as much light as standard-sized figs, but do prefer at least 6 to 7 hours per day. Fiddle leaf figs require nutrient-rich, well-draining soil. Regular feeding with nitrogen fertilizer will keep them healthy and happy.
The care requirements for a dwarf fiddle leaf fig differ slightly from their larger cousins in terms of how much light and water they require. Because they grow much more slowly, they don’t need as much hydration or access to sunlight. They do, however, require regular feeding to thrive, so make sure even your dwarf fiddle leaf fig is getting the right fertilizer.
So often, I hear plant owners complaining that their fiddle leaf figs just don’t seem happy. There can be numerous reasons for this, but it often comes down to their growing environments.
It’s also good to keep in mind that both standard and dwarf fiddle leaf figs don’t enjoy change. Once you’ve found a spot in your home to place your bambino, it’s best to avoid moving it. Similarly, repotting your fiddle leaf fig, even for dwarf versions, should always be done with care too.
When should I water my dwarf fiddle leaf fig?
You should water your dwarf fiddle leaf fig every seven to 10 days. They don’t need as much hydration as standard fiddle leaf figs due to being smaller and are prone to contracting root rot, so be careful. A good rule of thumb is to water them once the top inch of their soil is dry.
It’s best to avoid them developing “wet feet” from standing in pooled water, as owning a fiddle leaf fig with root rot isn’t a great place to find yourself. This is why checking the top inch of soil can be a simple way to avoid bigger problems with your bambino fiddle leaf fig.
In terms of how often to water a fiddle leaf fig in winter, you may want to water them more sparingly during the colder months. Test the moisture level of your soil with a fingertip or a moisture meter. When your soil starts to feel waterlogged or dense, or you notice brown spots on your fiddle leaf fig’s leaves, reduce hydration.
How fast does a dwarf fiddle leaf fig grow?
Dwarf fiddle leaf figs grow slowly, and even in ideal conditions, will only produce a new leaf every few weeks or months. While their growth does depend largely on their environment and overall well-being, they are famously slow to produce and are bred to retain a small stature for life.
In good news, just because your bambino is slow to grow, it doesn’t mean it’s unhealthy. This is just a normal part of dwarf fiddle leaf fig care – ensuring your plant has everything it needs so that it can grow in its own time. This includes a regular light pruning regime to make way for new growth. While cutting back your hard-earned growth might sting, it is better for your plant in the long run.
Knowing when and how to prune a fiddle leaf fig is also a necessary part of retaining the shape and volume of your dwarf fiddle leaf.
How do you prune a dwarf fiddle leaf fig?
How you prune your bambino fiddle leaf fig depends on whether you are pruning to shape or trying to encourage new growth. To shape, either trim off the top tip of your plant’s stem or remove its lower leaves for a taller reach. To encourage new leaves, cut just above the node.
The Ficus lyrata bambino responds well to a regular pruning regime. That being said, be mindful of lopping away more than 30% of your plant at any given time, even if it appears unhealthy. You should prune your fiddle leaf during its growing season, in the spring and summer, so that it has plenty of energy for new growth.
When pruning, always make sure your tools are clean and sterilized. You can encourage bushier growth by snipping off the tip of your fiddle leaf’s stem, thereby forcing it to grow new lateral branches, which can be a good solution if your dwarf fiddle leaf fig isn’t growing new leaves or is growing too slowly. Conversely, if you want a taller, leaner plant, remove its lower leaves. Pinching off new buds and making light notches above existing nodes is a good way to create new growth pathways.
To find out more about this, check out our article on how to notch a fiddle leaf fig for branching.
How big do dwarf fiddle leaf figs grow?
As their name suggests, a dwarf fiddle leaf fig’s size is substantially smaller than its standard-sized cousins. While they can live for up to ten years, they are unlikely to reach heights greater than 3 feet (1 meter), even with excellent care.
The beautiful bambino is small in size, which is why it’s so beloved as a houseplant. With its big, elegant green leaves, it’s a lovely addition to any living space, without the risk of it turning into a full-on tree. Depending on your pruning regime, a bambino can get quite bushy, but in terms of height, they stay quite short for the duration of their lives.
How do I know if I have a dwarf fiddle leaf fig?
Dwarf fiddle leaf figs can be distinguished from standard fiddle leaf figs by the size and shape of their leaves. While the difference is not significant, the leaves of a bambino are slightly rounder and smaller than the leaves of a regular Ficus. They are also often bushier.
In commercial garden centers and nurseries, it can be nearly impossible to tell the difference sometimes between a dwarf fiddle leaf fig vs. fiddle leaf fig in general. This is because they are often marked and marketed incorrectly, falling under the blanket term Ficus lyrata. The same mistake is also often made with other types of Ficus, including the variegated fiddle leaf fig.
To distinguish if your fiddle leaf is a dwarf variety, look closely at its leaves and overall shape. Rounder leaves and a more compact form usually indicate that you’ve purchased a bambino.
Are there 2 types of fiddle leaf figs?
While the Ficus lyrata constitutes one plant species, various cultivars are available. The most common fiddle leaf figs are the standard and dwarf varieties, but there are also more specialized varieties, such as the variegated fiddle leaf and the compacta hybrid.
Let’s look at some different types of fiddle leaf figs in greater detail.
What’s the difference between a fiddle leaf fig compacta vs bambino?
The main difference between the fiddle leaf fig compacta and the bambino is that the compacta has more upright growth and small, tight clusters of leaves. On the other hand, the bambino looks more like a dwarf version of a standard lyrata.
The bambino is also the more common hybrid compared to the rare and specialized hybrid Ficus, so you’re more likely to find a bambino in a garden center.
What’s the difference between a fiddle leaf fig bambino vs lyrata?
In appearance, a bambino or dwarf fiddle leaf looks just like a standard Ficus lyrata. However, there are small differences between the two. The standard grows to be a much larger plant and has more elongated leaves, whereas the bambino stays small, grows slowly, and has rounder leaves, more clustered around the stem.