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Fiddle leaf figs like a stable environment and don’t like change. Even repotting a fiddle leaf fig too often or at the wrong time can cause shock and leave these plants feeling a bit unsettled. 

This is why knowing how and when to repot your fiddle leaf fig and how to reduce the symptoms of shock is an important part of caring for your plant.

After all, this houseplant is prized for its large, showy leaves in the shape of a violin, earning it the word “fiddle” in its name. But a poorly timed fiddle leaf fig repotting can lead to these leaves starting to look droopy, damaged and, ultimately, to drop off. Given that one of the best parts of this plant is just how striking it is to look at, it’s normal to want to do everything to avoid that.

Keep reading to find out just how to avoid fiddle leaf fig repotting shock so that your plant can continue looking its best – even in its shiny, new container!

someone following the guidance on when to repot a fiddle leaf fig

When to repot a fiddle leaf fig

You should generally repot a fiddle leaf fig every one to two years. As they tend to be a bit persnickety about change and repotting them is considered a major change, it is best to avoid repotting your fiddle leaf fig unless it is absolutely necessary. 

Fortunately, the best planter for a fiddle leaf fig is one in which their roots fit nice and snugly in the pot, meaning they don’t need to be repotted often.

How do you know when to repot a fiddle leaf fig?

You should repot a fiddle leaf fig plant only when it has outgrown its current pot. This plant likes to be quite snug, so you’ll only need to repot it when the plant becomes root bound and needs more room for its roots to expand and grow.

Some signs your fiddle leaf fig is root bound and has outgrown its pot include:

  • When roots are on the surface of the soil. If the roots of your fiddle leaf fig are showing on the surface of the soil, especially if they are growing in a circle inside the rim of the pot, it is a sign that your fiddle leaf fig is root-bound. You may also notice thick lumpy roots around the base of the plant.
  • When roots protrude through the bottom of the pot. When your fiddle leaf fig is root bound, the roots run out of places to grow. That means they may start growing out through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. If you see roots protruding from the bottom of the pot you can be sure your fiddle leaf fig is root bound and needs to be repotted.
  • When it has compacted soil. Dry, compacted soil that pulls away from the sides of the plant pot can also be a sign that your fiddle leaf fig’s roots are taking up more room in the soil than they should. This means the roots absorb moisture from the soil quickly causing the soil to dry out too fast. Compacted or severely dry soil compromises the health of your plant as it cannot get the moisture and nutrients it needs to thrive.
  • If its growth is stunted. When roots run out of room to grow and overfill the pot, they can’t supply the nutrients your plant needs to thrive. If your otherwise flourishing fiddle leaf fig suddenly begins to show slow or stunted growth, it may be root bound. That said, slowed growth is normal during the fall and winter when your fiddle leaf fig rests after a summer of active growth.

Why is my fiddle leaf drooping after repotting?

It’s normal for your fiddle leaf fig to have drooping leaves after repotting. This is because fiddle leaf figs are prone to shock when they experience change andIt often reacts to the stress with transplant or root shock. That can result in drooping leaves and even some turning yellow and dropping from the plant, although this is only temporary.

Note: If your plant experienced extreme leaf drop, to the point that you now have a fiddle leaf fig with no leaves, take a look at our article on this topic to make sure the problem is addressed ASAP.

Repotting your fiddle leaf fig is a major change for the plant. In practical terms, this means your plant doesn’t like to have its roots disturbed and reacts by producing drooping leaves. Don’t worry though, once it has a few weeks to settle into its new pot, it will soon recover.

yellow leaf on fiddle leaf fig with repotting shock

How do you care for a fiddle leaf fig after repotting?

There are several things you can do to reduce the effects of root shock in your fiddle leaf fig.

1. Supply adequate drainage

Soil that does not drain well can also cause dropping leaves and stress to your plant. Make sure the new pot has drainage holes to allow excess water to drain from the soil.

It is also important that the new soil drains well. Always use a quality soil mix when you repot your fiddle leaf fig. Take a look at our tips for the best soil for your fiddle leaf fig for some guidance on what to use here.

2. Place your fiddle leaf fig in its normal location

Now isn’t the time to move your fiddle leaf fig to a new location. Keep it in the same place it has been growing in so that it receives the same light and humidity it is accustomed to.

Moving it to a new location after repotting it will just cause your fiddle leaf fig more stress. If you want to move your plant to a new location, wait a month or two after repotting it to give your plant plenty of time to recover.

3. Remove dead leaves from the plant

If your fiddle leaf fig’s drooping leaves turn yellow and die, as they sometimes will, removing them from the plant will help it recover. This encourages the plant to spend energy in producing healthy, new growth.

Can I repot my fiddle leaf in winter?

Repotting is best done when your fiddle leaf fig is actively growing. That means repotting a fiddle leaf fig in winter is not a good idea unless you absolutely need to repot it.

During the winter your fiddle leaf fig is busy resting from a season of active growth. New growth typically slows down from fall until spring.

Despite that, some reasons you may need to repot your fiddle leaf fig in the winter include:

Can I repot my fiddle leaf in summer?

Spring and summer are ideal times to repot your fiddle leaf fig. It will experience less root shock and will recover quicker, producing healthy new growth.

Most plants, including the fiddle leaf fig, experience vigorous growth during the summer. This is the time when they are most active and are best able to adjust to changes, including repotting.

repotting a fiddle leaf fig

How to repot a fiddle leaf fig with root rot

Root rot is a disease that causes the roots of plants to become mushy and die. It is caused by fungi that thrive in wet or soggy soil. When this disease strikes your fiddle leaf fig, the roots will begin to decay and turn to mush, threatening the life of the plant.

When caught early, root rot can be stopped in its tracks, but you need to remove the infected soil and repot the plant. Here’s how.

  1. Cover your working area. Use a newspaper or an old cloth to protect your floor or work area.
  2. Remove the plant from the pot. This may take two people if your plant is large.
  3. Remove as much soil as possible with your hands. Take care not to damage healthy roots.
  4. Rinse away any remaining soil with the sprayer at your sink, if workable. This allows you to use tepid water and reduces further shock to the roots. Otherwise, take your plant outside and use the garden hose to clean off the roots.
  5. Examine the roots for discoloration or other damage. Healthy roots are white or light brown and feel firm and pliable. If roots are soft and mushy, have turned black, or otherwise appear unhealthy they will need to be removed.
  6. Use sterilized clippers or a sharp knife to cut away any diseased roots. Be sure to sterilize the clippers when you are finished to avoid infecting other plants.
  7. Fill a new plant pot with soil. Aim to fill it one third to halfway with fresh potting mixture.
  8. Position your fiddle leaf fig into the soil and spread the roots out over the soil. Your plant should rest at its original planting depth, so the crown is at the soil level when you are finished.
  9. Add fresh soil to fill in the area around the roots and secure the plant in place. Pat the soil down with your hands to remove air pockets and fit it snugly around the roots to stabilize the plant.
  10. Water the soil. The aim here is to moisten it but avoid saturating the soil.
  11. Return your fiddle leaf fig to its original location.
  12. Let the soil in the plant pot dry out before you water your plant again.

What is fiddle leaf fig repotting shock?

Repotting shock in your fiddle leaf fig is a natural reaction to disturbing the roots of the plant. You may notice some drooping of the leaves. Some leaves may even turn yellow and drop from the plant, but your fiddle leaf fig should recover in a few days.

Avoid making environmental changes, such as moving the plant to a new location or changing the temperature and humidity levels around your fiddle leaf fig at this time. Your plant needs time to adjust to being repotted.

This may even result in your fiddle leaf fig not growing new leaves for a little while but don’t worry, this will soon pass as well.

How to avoid fiddle leaf fig repotting shock

Your fiddle leaf fig will likely experience some repotting shock, but it should be short-lived. To reduce the effects of repotting shock your fiddle leaf fig can use a little help from you.

  1. Place the plant in the same location it was growing in. Now is not the time to make any other changes and your fiddle leaf fig will adjust to the effects of being repotted quicker if other environmental conditions remain consistent.
  2. Check that the plant has good drainage. Make sure the new pot has adequate drainage holes and that saucers and catch basins under the pot have been emptied.
  3. Trim off any yellowed leaves. If your fiddle leaf fig has yellow leaves, pruning them helps to prevent your plant from expending unnecessary energy on dead or dying foliage and sends energy into new root formation.

Is it bad to repot a fiddle leaf fig?

While repotting your fiddle leaf fig should be done only when necessary, repotting them isn’t a bad thing. In fact, some repotting is necessary to the health of your plant. 

Consider these common reasons your fiddle leaf fig should be repotted:

  • To refresh the soil. The soil in your plant pot can get depleted of nutrients and may need refreshing to provide your plants with healthy soil. Typically, repotting to refresh the soil is necessary every 2 to 4 years.
  • To give roots room to grow. Fiddle leaf figs can become root bound and outgrow their pots. When this happens, repotting is necessary. Choose a pot 1 to 2 inches larger than the existing pot to give roots room to grow.
  • To treat diseases. When your fiddle leaf fig gets a bacterial infection or fungal diseases like root rot, the plant needs to be repotted to remove the offending soil and to trim away dead or diseased roots.

Should I water my fiddle leaf fig after repotting?

Fiddle leaf figs need evenly moist soil to thrive. That means you should moisten the soil when you repot them. Let the soil dry slightly so that it feels dry 1 to 2 inches below the surface before watering the plant again.

And from there, make sure you pay attention to how often you should water a fiddle leaf fig, to avoid any accidental overwatering of your fiddle leaf fig.

When should I fertilize my fiddle leaf fig after repotting?

To avoid damaging the roots and reduce the symptoms of repotting shock it is best to let your fiddle leaf fig plant rest for a month or two after repotting before giving it fertilizer.

The roots of your Ficus are particularly sensitive right after repotting. Fertilizing your fiddle leaf fig too soon can burn or damage the new roots making it more difficult for your plant to recover from root shock.

Final thoughts on repotting a fiddle leaf fig

Many fiddle leaf fig owners are leery of repotting these plants because they fear their houseplant will not react favorably. While they are prone to experiencing stress from repotting straight after it happens, that doesn’t mean you should avoid it forever.

Sometimes repotting your fiddle leaf fig is all that is needed to boost growth and improve the health of your plant. Remember, unnecessary repotting should be avoided, but you can’t avoid repotting your fiddle leaf fig forever, especially if it’s growing like it should.

Sure, it may not be thrilled about it at first. But give your plant the space it needs to get used to its new home and, in just a few weeks, you’ll see it recover back to its normal, thriving self.