Fiddle leaf figs are often grown for their stunning appearance, large foliage, and attractive stature. So it is only natural to be more than a little taken aback when your plant starts to look leggy.
The truth is no one wants to have a leggy fiddle leaf fig. Not only does it look less than pleasing, but it also signals that something is wrong with your plant.
Fortunately, most of the issues that cause this legginess are relatively easy to fix, as you’ll see!
Why is my fiddle leaf fig leggy?
Before you can fix what is causing the plant to become leggy, you will first need to figure out what is causing the problem. The truth is that there are several different things that can lead a plant to become leggy.
1. Inadequate light
When you are dealing with a leggy fiddle leaf fig, the number one issue is caused by inadequate light. When the plant doesn’t get the right amount of light, the fiddle leaf fig will begin to grow in an unstable manner, with a frail trunk and branches that are weak, tall, and leggy.
Find out more: What Are Your Fiddle Leaf Fig’s Light Needs?
2. Root bound
Another potential cause of a leggy fiddle leaf fig is the plant becoming root bound. What this means is that the plant’s roots have run out of room in its current container.
Along with a leggy plant, you may see other signs that indicate a root bound problem, including roots growing out of the bottom or top of the container.
3. Drastic temperature changes
The Ficus is native to Africa and thrive in warm climates, so your fiddle leaf fig needs a constant temperature that falls between 60 and 80 degrees. When they are placed in an area where the temperatures change drastically, they will start to get leggy and their health will suffer.
4. Improper fertilization
Plants need nutrients to stay healthy and happy, and they get these nutrients from the soil they are growing in. When the soil isn’t providing the much needed nutrients, the fiddle leaf fig will start to become weak and leggy.
Overwatering doesn’t just lead to fungal problems and root rot, it can also create a leggy fiddle leaf fig.
When a fiddle leaf fig is overwatered, it cannot get the proper nutrients that it needs to stay healthy and strong. Instead, what you end up with is a limp, weak, and leggy plant that is susceptible to insects and diseases.
How do you fix a leggy fiddle leaf fig?
If you find yourself with a leggy fiddle leaf fig, you will want to act quickly to get the plant back to its healthy self.
While no one wants their fiddle leaf fig to be leggy, the plant will typically recover if you provide it with the proper care and growing requirements.
1. Give the plant proper light
To keep your fiddle leaf fig from becoming leggy, you will need to provide the right amount of light. A healthy fiddle leaf fig requires an abundance of bright sunlight, and when they don’t get it, they can become leggy and unhealthy.
Keep in mind, however, that young fiddle leaf figs can’t handle the bright direct light like mature plants can. Because of this, it is best to keep young plants out of direct sunlight and instead provide them with filtered bright light, such as near a window with a sheer curtain.
2.Repot the plant in a larger container
While a root bound plant isn’t a good thing, it can usually be dealt with rather easily, though it will require repotting the fiddle leaf fig into a bigger container. In order to do this, you will first need to trim off any roots that are growing out of the bottom drainage holes.
Once the roots are trimmed, carefully slide the plant out of the pot and use your fingers to loosen the bound roots. Fill the bottom few inches of the new pot with fresh potting soil and place the fiddle leaf fig in the middle root side down. Fill the rest of the pot with potting soil and then water the plant deeply.
From there, you will just need to provide the plant with the proper care to ensure it doesn’t become root bound again and it recovers from the legginess it has experienced.
3. Prevent sudden temperature fluctuations
Sudden temperature fluctuations can cause a slew of problems, including turning your fiddle leaf fig leggy. The good news is that this is one of the easiest things you can fix since it only requires keeping the plant away from others where the temps can go up and down drastically.
Areas near exterior doors or heating and cooling vents are not the ideal location for fiddle leaf figs, since these locations can experience a wide array of temperature changes. This can cause your plant to become leggy and not as healthy as it could be.
Instead, keep your plant away from these areas where the temperature can fluctuate suddenly.
4. Provide the plant with proper fertilization
Fertilization is another important aspect to plant care that can leave you with a leggy fiddle leaf fig if you’re not careful.
The best course of action is to use a liquid fertilizer designed for tropical houseplants, and apply it to the fiddle leaf fig only during the plant’s active growing period. Avoid applying fertilizer in late fall or during the winter since this is when the plant is not growing.
Make sure to read and follow the application instructions found on the fertilizer bottle or packaging. Since each brand and type of fertilizer is different, following the specific directions for the one you are using will go a long way to preventing damage to the plant.
5. Don’t give your ficus too much water
Making sure you’re not overwatering the fiddle leaf fig will go a long way to preventing it from becoming leggy, while also reducing the chance of fungal problems.
The best way to prevent overwatering is by only watering the plant when the first two or so inches of soil feel dry.
Before watering the plant, insert your finger into the top two inches of soil. If the soil still feels moist, wait and check the soil moisture level again in a day or two. If the soil feels dry, go ahead and water the plant deeply.
Find out more: How Often Should You Water a Fiddle Leaf Fig?
How do I make my fiddle leaf fig bushier?
While proper care is key to preventing a leggy fiddle leaf fig, there are other methods that you can use to help encourage your plant to become bushier and fuller. These methods include pruning, notching, or pinching the fiddle leaf fig.
Keep in mind, however, that if the original issue that caused the legginess is not first addressed, the fiddle leaf fig will only continue to become leggier.
The actual method that you should use will depend on several factors, such as the current height of your fiddle leaf fig and how confident you are with pruning, notching, and pinching.
While pruning is by far the most used method for making a fiddle leaf fig bushier, it may not be the right choice for your needs. That is why it is important to take into consideration each method and select the one that is right for you.
No matter which method you use, care must be taken not to damage the fiddle leaf fig during the process. Take your time and plan how you will proceed before even beginning the process of making the plant bushier.
1. Prune the plant to encourage multiple stems
Pruning a fiddle leaf fig is the most common method to make the plant bushier. When you prune, you encourage the plant to develop multiple stems. While this is the most reliable method, it isn’t always the easiest.
To prune for a bushier plant, you will need to snip the fiddle leaf fig at the desired height where the new branches will form. Use a clean, sharp pair of pruning shears and cut the stem at an angle. When you snip off the cutting, you can either dispose of it or use it to propagate a new fiddle leaf fig.
This method works best if the plant is already taller than where you want the new branches to form. When you prune the fiddle leaf fig, it naturally kicks the dormant buds into active mode, resulting in new stem growth. If possible, choose an area above a cluster of leaves where you make the cuts.
2. Notch a leggy fiddle leaf fig
Another way to add stems and make a bushier plant is to use the notch method. This is ideal for when you don’t want to reduce the height of your leggy fiddle leaf fig. Unlike pruning, notching doesn’t require you to snip off branches to encourage new growth, and instead, you only need to make small cuts in the stem of the trunk of the plant.
When notching your fiddle leaf fig, either create diagonal cuts that measure 1/3rd of the depth of the stem or trunk, or create two small cuts that are close together, about 1 1/2mm apart. If you use the two small cuts, this creates a sliver that you can remove from the bark. No matter which notching method you use, make sure to do the cuts above a leaf node.
Notching is not without its downsides, however, and it is not uncommon to accidently cut into the fiddle leaf fig too deep or cut an entire branch off the plant. Furthermore, just because you make the notches doesn’t guarantee that a new branch will form. Because of this, most plant experts recommend creating a few notches in the fiddle leaf fig.
3. Use the pinch method
Pinching, like pruning, requires removing the top bud from the leggy fiddle leaf fig. While pinching is similar to pruning in many ways, you typically use your fingers to remove the bud and you don’t cut off pieces of the plant’s stems.
To begin the pinching method, simply locate the top bud that you want to remove and pierce it with your thumb and pointer finger. Pinch your two fingers together to break off the bud. If you meet resistance when trying to remove the bud, don’t hesitate to grab a pair of cutting shears to remove it.
If your leggy fiddle leaf fig is at the desired height, the pinching method may be the ideal solution for you since it doesn’t require removing large pieces of the plant’s stems.