How To Train Fiddle Leaf Fig Into Tree

The most frequent inquiry I have from readers is how to transform a fiddle leaf fig from bush to tree form ever since I published the article Growing and Pruning Your Fiddle Leaf Fig. This article will cover the topic in more detail and, hopefully, provide all the information you need.

I’ve studied and read about fiddle leaf figs for years, as well as grown and experimented with my own. I’m pleased to impart what I’ve discovered, especially given the prevalence of false information.

Will my FLF bush develop into a tree? Yes, it is the answer. FLFs are so adaptable that they can grow to be bushy or be trained to resemble a tree. Making sure that your FLF turns out to look like a tree depends on a few different aspects. First of all, have patience—growing a tree takes time! You might have discovered a smaller, bushier FLF to bring home. Younger, smaller plants are less expensive and less risky to purchase if you’re unsure of your ability to care for them. If it doesn’t stay in your house, the risk is reduced. I occasionally like to bring home smaller plants because you can then explore and mould the plant to your preferences.

Fiddle Leaf Figs have three primary characteristics that distinguish them from bushes: height, one naked trunk, and branches. So let’s examine each one separately:


Fiddle Leaf Figs don’t develop as quickly as other plants, but you can hasten their growth by giving them the correct environment. Three things affect growth: light, soil, and water. It could take some time before you fully comprehend what your FLF wants. Keep a watch on it to see how it reacts to changes in the amount of water and light that it requires. For maximum growth, FLFs require well-draining soil and a decent fertilizer (this one is ideal for FLFs). If you’ve never used fertilizer before, read these suggestions first. Change anything if your FLF isn’t responding well to what you’re doing. To get it right, a little trial and error might be necessary. See my post on growing and trimming your Fiddle Leaf Fig for additional general advice.


When your FLF reaches the height at which you would like it to branch, you can trim, pinch out, or try notching the tip to promote branching. The plant is informed by pruning the tip that its primary growth tip has been impeded and that it must produce additional shoots in order to survive. If you have a clear concept of where you want a branch to develop, you might want to employ notching, which has a similar effect.

It might seem intimidating to notch a fiddle leaf fig, but it shouldn’t be. If your FLF has a thinner trunk, use a pair of clean, sharp cutters or a razor. Cut the trunk at an angle, about 1/3 deep and halfway across. Above a leaf node, carry out this. Some milky white sap will drip if you’ve done it correctly. Go over the same area once more if the bud below shows no signs of change within a week.

Similar to trimming undesired branches, only be mindful of the impact it will have on the plant and avoid leaving it too bare.


The internet is replete of amusing images of the tree-form FLF with a naked, waif-like trunk, in contrast to the bush-form FLF, which typically has its trunk covered in leaves. The lower leaves may naturally fall off after a few years. If you can’t wait that long, pulling off the lower leaves will give you a bare trunk faster, but they won’t grow back. As a final resort, be prepared to prune these leaves. (Of these three parts, the trunk should receive the most attention.)

Because trees are top-heavy and more prone to bending or toppling, the lower leaves support the trunk and aid in its strength development. Be careful to avoid stripping your FLF of too many leaves at once. Your plant’s chances of being unwell or dying increase if there aren’t enough leaves for it to absorb the nutrients it requires from sunshine. To learn how to strengthen a weak or leaning trunk, read my complete advice here.

Multiple trunks: It’s possible that your FLF is actually more than one plant if it appears to have more than one trunk in its container. Try to determine whether they are connected (via a low fork) or if they are independent trunks. When repotting, you should be able to tell if they are distinct or even if you’re not sure. Replant the roots after carefully separating them in several pots.

By following the above instructions, your FLF should eventually start to resemble a tree. Being able to handle this process on your own is enjoyable and really rewarding! Additionally, I’ve discovered that it has given me more information on how to care for them, and I now feel certain that I could get FLF of any size and shape surviving!

Repotting, trimming, and fertilizing should all be done during a FLF’s natural growth seasons of spring and summer to give the plant the most chance to adapt to the changes and respond in a positive way. For more information on fiddle leaf figs, see these posts.

Do you still have concerns about growing a fiddle leaf fig from a bush to a tree? If this was useful or if you have any other questions, please let me know in the comments!

How can you grow a tree out of a fiddle leaf fig?

When notching, a precise cut is made above a node as opposed to clipping the top sprout. Only if you don’t want to lower the height of your fiddle leaf would I advise employing notching over pruning, which is a sophisticated method.

Another way that notching functions is by obstructing the hormones that control growth—again, auxin. The impact is gone as the wound calluses over, and hormones will start to flow once more.

How to notch your fiddle leaf fig

First, some dexterity is needed for notching. If the incision is made too deeply, you run the danger of amputating the limb. (But hey, even if you accidently cut off the head of your ficus, there will still be branching.) If you make the cut too shallow, it might not heal.

It doesn’t yield reliable outcomes like pruning. Though it can result in less-than-ideal gaps in your fiddle leaf branches, think about cutting a few more notches than you desire branches. (Again, pruning doesn’t have a problem here because it works best on the nodes closest to the incision.)

It works better on a woody stem than on more recent, softer green growth.

This is how you do it:

Make an incision above a node using a clean, sharp blade. I applied a brand-new X-Acto knife blade’s tip edge. (The kind where the old blades can be removed with a snap.) I was able to secure the internode because of this. If using pruners makes you more comfortable, do so.

Make an incision that goes 1/3 of the way around the stem and no deeper than 1/3 of the stem just ABOVE the node. There will be some latex sap, which you should brush away in case any children or animals decide to taste it because it does like milk.

Making the incision above the node as opposed to below it prevents auxin, a hormone that controls growth, from functioning properly. By switching the flow of carbohydrates from vegetative development to reproductive growth when a node is cut just below it, blooming and fruiting are encouraged (flowers & fruit).

Leave it alone to recover, and maybe after a few weeks you’ll have buds that develop into branches. As with pruning, your chances of success will increase if you attempt this during your fiddle leaf’s prime growing season, which is in the spring or early summer.

One last piece of advice: wait to remove leaves from the trunk of your fiddle leaf until the new branches have begun to grow. Your plant should be as robust as possible because those leaves aid in the development of the new lateral buds.

So that’s pretty much it. Your single-stalk fiddle leaf can easily be transformed into a full, tree-like canopy. Waiting for those branches to appear after you’ve finished your trimming or notching just requires patience.

How do you feel? Do you favor single-stalked fiddle leafs grown singly, in clusters, or as a single-trunked tree?

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Amount of Sun

Eight to twelve hours of sunlight per day are necessary for fiddle leaf fig trees to thrive. It prefers bright filtered light but will tolerate some shade.

Your ficus plant will naturally grow toward the light, so rotating it will help it receive an even distribution of sunlight. A strong, filtered light is desirable, but just make sure it’s not searing sunlight.

Your plant should be placed next to an east-facing window for the best results. The plant would receive sufficient light during the afternoon hours as well as the early but less powerful morning rays.

To reduce the chance of scorching, some individuals advise keeping ficus plants away from south-facing windows. The issue of inadequate light is one that fig tree owners encounter much more frequently than the issue of burnt plants, according to our research. The risk of scorching is often less when a fiddle leaf fig is indoors because it is already receiving filtered light.

Watering Frequency

Your particular setup will determine how frequently you need water your ficus tree. The best guideline is to water your fiddle leaf tree as soon as the ground becomes dry. This could happen as rarely as once per week or as frequently as once every few days.

In warm weather, fiddle leaf fig trees that are cultivated in pots require a moderate amount of water. When the temperature drops, they use substantially less water.

How to Water Your Tree

Make sure to water your ficus lyrata until you notice a small amount of water dripping from the drainage holes in the bottom of your container. By doing this, you’ll enable the water to penetrate the root zone deeply and enable the plant to absorb the water it requires.

Fertilizer Ratio

The best fertilizer for fiddle leaf figs has an NPK ratio of 3:1:2 and contains the elements nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Thus, it has a nitrogen content of three parts, a phosphorous content of one, and a potassium content of two.

When you take care of your fiddle leaf fig tree using fertilizer that has this NPK ratio, your tree will repay you with strong, lush growth.

How to Prevent Root Rot

When too much water or moisture builds up in the plant’s container, the roots can rot. It is simple to identify because either the leaves will begin to show signs of brown spots or they will fall off the ficus tree.

It is more difficult to care for your plant in a way that will get rid of root rot once it has already set in. Precaution is essential.

The simplest way to avoid root is to ensure that the container your fiddle leaf fig plant is planted in has drainage holes at the bottom so that the roots are not always sitting in soggy soil.

When planting your ficus lyrata for the first time, use an excellent, quick-draining soil mixture to avoid rot. It is strongly advised to grow ficus plants in a growing medium that is composed of half houseplant soil and half cactus plant soil. It has a quick drainage system and is light enough to let plant roots breathe and draw in nutrients.

Having said that, it is normally challenging to overwater your fig tree. The plant is quite resistant to being exposed to a lot of water because of the humid environment it is typically found in.

Root rot shouldn’t be an issue if you have a pot with drainage holes. In fact, underwatering a fiddle leaf fig plant is the most typical error made by new owners.

There are more causes for your plant’s failure to thrive or the appearance of brown spots.

How Fast Do They Grow?

Approximately one foot of fiddle leaf figs grow each year. The tree’s growth rate will be moderate for the first two to three years. After three years, the tree will resemble an ornamental tree, and it will take it 10 to 15 years to reach its full height of 8 feet when it is fully grown.


Your fiddle leaf fig needs a new pot.

  • Lay newspaper or an old sheet down to prepare the workspace.
  • Make sure the new pot is about two inches larger than the old one and includes drainage holes.
  • To avoid obstruction, place a few stones or clean, unused coffee filters over the drainage hole(s).
  • Make a depression in the middle of the dirt and fill the remaining one-third of the container with fresh potting soil.
  • Take your plant out of the previous container.
  • Put the tree’s root ball in the new container’s soil.
  • If you can, carefully separate some of the outside roots so they can grow broader.
  • Up till two or three inches below the surface of the earth, add more soil around the root ball.
  • To settle the soil and get rid of any air pockets, give the fiddle leaf fig plant a vigorous soaking.
  • If desired, scatter decorative stone or glass pebbles around the plant to cover the soil’s surface; this helps retain moisture and keeps the soil from becoming messy when watered. If there is any uncertainty, it is simple to verify if the plant needs watering by pushing a finger or water meter through the stones.
  • Once the ficus plant reaches its full height and size, you should refresh the soil every spring by taking out a few inches of the old soil from the area around the top of the container and replacing it with new potting soil. This will guarantee the ficus lyrata in your home’s long-term health.

Cleaning the Leaves

Simply washing the fig tree’s leaves with lukewarm water is the best approach to maintain and clean them. Wipe the upper and lower surfaces of the leaves using a clean, soft cloth that has been dampened. Without harming your plant, water will wash away dust and make your leaves sparkle.

There are many specialized cleaning agents for leaves on the market. There are other homemade recipes that use mayonnaise and other things to clean leaves. Yes, they may give the appearance that the leaves are shiny, but they also draw larger dust particles that eventually plug the pores and stomata of the leaves. Your ficus tree’s health may be harmed by this. On the leaves, never apply furniture polish!

You will be able to raise a ficus plant that is healthy by using these straightforward methods! I wish you had fun reading this ficus lyrata indoor plant care article.