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Ficus lyrata, or fiddle-leaf figs, come from the rainforests of Africa. With their enormous, dark green leaves, they bring a tropical ambiance to whatever space they inhabit.
Under the right conditions, a fiddle leaf can grow quite large indoors – around 10 feet tall! They outgrow many people’s homes, and when this happens, the tree either needs to be pruned back or moved outside where it has more space.
Fiddle leaf figs can grow outside, but only in warm climates (zones 10 to 12). Potted fiddle leaf figs will happily grow on a patio as long as they get enough water and are protected from harsh, direct sunlight and wind. Grown in the ground, fiddle leaf figs can reach up to 50 feet tall.
A large fiddle leaf fig casts beautifully dense shade and makes a wonderful statement in a larger garden.
In a small garden, however, they can cause some trouble. Here, we discuss how to grow a fiddle leaf fig outside as a tree or in a container as a shrub – the conditions they need and what you should consider.
Can You Keep A Fiddle Leaf Fig Outside?
Fiddle leaf figs are tropical rainforest plants. They are adapted to growing in hot, humid environments. Therefore, one can only grow a fiddle leaf fig outside if you live in a region with a warm climate.
In places like southern California and the Florida coast, fiddle leaf figs can be grown outdoors in the ground all year round. In more temperate places, it is better to grow a fiddle leaf in a container and only keep it outside during warmer months of the year.
Fiddle leaf figs grow very large outside, so it is important to carefully consider where you plant them. They can quickly shade an entire small garden, making it difficult to grow any other plants around them.
When Is The Best Time To Put Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Outside?
Summer is the best time to put a potted fiddle leaf fig outside. At the beginning of summer, when temperatures consistently stay above 50°F, you can gradually transition your fiddle leaf fig from indoors to outside.
Near the end of summer, as the fall chill begins to set in, you need to move the fiddle leaf fig back indoors. If it gets cold-stressed, it will drop leaves, and the tree can die.
Things To Consider When Moving Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Outside
Grown indoors, fiddle leaf figs are finicky plants. They are no different outdoors. Fiddle leaf figs require specific conditions to grow happily outside.
Before you move your indoor fiddle leaf outside, temporarily or full-time, consider the following factors:
Fiddle leaf figs’ watering requirements can change quite drastically when you move them outdoors, and their needs during summer are different to those in winter. It is important to adapt your watering routine when you transition your fiddle leaf outside.
How Often Should You Water A Fiddle Leaf Fig In Winter?
Because fiddle leaf figs come from warm, tropical regions, they are not used to cold winters. When temperatures drop, they enter a state of dormancy. Their growth slows down drastically, and they require less water and nutrients.
Therefore, it’s crucial to water a fiddle leaf fig less frequently during winter than the rest of the year. If you water your fiddle leaf once every 10 days during summer, you may only need to water it once a month during winter.
How frequently your fiddle leaf fig needs water has a lot to do with its growing conditions (which change throughout the year). It is better not to water your fiddle leaf according to a schedule but rather when the plant needs it.
Check the soil moisture using a simple soil probe regularly, and only water your fiddle leaf fig when the soil has dried out almost completely.
How Often Should I Water My Fiddle Leaf Fig Outside?
If you live in a place warm enough that your fiddle leaf can stay outside all year round, you will need to keep it well-watered. Fiddle leaf figs are thirsty plants, especially when grown outdoors.
During the summer, an outdoor fiddle leaf fig may need to be watered multiple times a week. In winter, how frequently you water your fiddle leaf fig depends on how much rainfall there is.
Check the moisture of your fiddle leaf’s soil every two weeks during winter and give it some water if the top few inches of soil are dry. Potted fiddle leaf figs generally need to be watered more often than ones growing in the soil.
Outdoors, temperatures fluctuate a lot more than inside our homes. Before you move your fiddle leaf fig outside, it is important to make sure that it is warm enough, both during the day and at night.
What Temperature Can Fiddle Leaf Figs Tolerate?
Fiddle leaf figs cannot tolerate temperatures below 50°F, and they cannot survive frost. You should only start transitioning a fiddle leaf fig outdoors when the temperature is consistently above 60°F.
In terms of heat, fiddle leaf figs are quite hardy. At temperatures above 95°F, they begin to show signs of heat stress. Their leaves droop, turn yellow or brown and drop off.
Can Fiddle Leaf Figs Survive Winter Outside?
Fiddle leaf figs are at their happiest in temperatures between 65 and 85°F. At a push, they can handle temperatures down to 60°F outside.
If winters in your region are cooler than this, then a fiddle leaf fig will not make it through the winter outside.
Only large, mature fiddle leaf figs that have been established in the ground for a long time can survive outside winter temperatures between 15 and 20°F.
As a rainforest species, fiddle leaf figs are adapted to growing under the dappled shade of larger trees. They make such good houseplants because they are tolerant of lower light levels. However, they thrive in full sun to partial shade.
Moving a fiddle leaf fig that has been growing indoors directly outdoors into full sun is not a good idea. A sudden change in light levels can shock the plant.
When moving your fiddle leaf fig outdoors, you need to consider how much light your patio or garden get during the day.
Do Fig Trees Need Direct Sunlight?
Fiddle leaf figs love growing in very bright, indirect sunlight. They can grow happily in full sun if they are protected from harsh afternoon sunlight. Intense, direct sunlight can burn the foliage.
Fiddle leaf figs growing outdoors do not need direct sunlight, but some direct morning sunlight is very beneficial for them. They need about 5 to 6 hours of bright, indirect light each day.
You need to think carefully about where you place your fiddle leaf fig. Once you move it, it is best to leave it alone for a while. These plants do not like to be moved around often.
Where Should You Put Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Outside
When searching for a spot to place your fiddle leaf fig outside, look for the following:
- An area sheltered from the wind. Fiddle leaf figs enjoy humid conditions, and a breeze may dry them out too much. Their branches are also easily damaged by strong winds.
- Dappled or partial sun, to full sun. They need bright light to grow well.
- Protection from the hot midday sun. Intense, direct sun can damage the plant.
A sunny patio or entryway is a great place to keep a potted fiddle leaf fig.
Fiddle leaf figs are fast-growing plants. As they grow more and more leaves, their roots grow too. If they become root bound, their growth will slow down, and they may develop issues.
Repotting a fiddle leaf fig from time to time is important to keep them from becoming root-bound.
How Often Should You Repot A Fiddle Leaf Fig Grown Outside?
Fiddle leaf figs outside grow faster than ones growing inside because they get more light. Therefore, they need to be repotted more frequently.
Outdoor fiddle leaf figs should be repotted annually. They should be moved into a slightly bigger pot – no more than 2 inches wider than the old pot.
It is important to prune an outdoor fiddle leaf fig to keep it the size and shape that you want it. Fiddle leaf figs growing outdoors need to be pruned more often than indoor ones because they grow faster.
Pruning keeps your fiddle leaf fig looking good, and it encourages new growth. You can cut off old, dead leaves, and if you cut off the main growing tip, the plant grows more branches and bushes out.
How To Prune An Outdoor Fiddle Leaf Fig?
It is best to prune a fiddle leaf fig in the spring. Use a sharp, sterilized pair of pruning shears on your fiddle leaf fig. Wear some gardening gloves so that you don’t get the fig’s latex all over your hands (it itches!).
To give your fiddle leaf fig a more tree-like shape:
- Snip off its lower leaves
- Cut the leaves off close to the stem at a 45-degree angle. Fiddle leaf figs can go into shock if you cut off more than 5 to 10 leaves in one go, so keep this in mind!
- To keep your fiddle leaf fig from growing too tall, cut off the top of the main growing shoot. To cause new top growth to branch out, snip off the top bud.
How To Move Indoor Fiddle Leaf Figs Outdoors?
If you move your indoor fiddle leaf fig directly outside, the plant will get a lethal shock from the abrupt change in growing conditions. It is important to approach the transition from inside the house to outside very gradually.
Start by placing your indoor fiddle leaf fig outside for a while every day. Put it in a shady area for a few hours and bring it back indoors before the heat of the midday sun.
Gradually increase the time that your fiddle leaf stays outside during the day until you are only bringing it back in at dusk. Start with 3 or 4 hours and work up to 12 hours outside over the course of a week.
In week 2, place your fiddle leaf fig outside in direct sun for a couple of hours in the morning and evening. Place it in the shade for the rest of the day, and don’t bring it in at night.
After 2 weeks, if your fiddle leaf fig is looking happy, you can keep it outside full time. For the first few weeks outside, keep a close eye on your fiddle leaf and bring it inside on stormy days.
When To Bring Fiddle Leaf Figs Inside?
Fiddle leaf figs can live outdoors during the latter half of spring, summer, and early fall, but after that, the temperatures will start getting a bit cold.
Don’t wait until winter arrives to bring your fiddle leaf fig inside. Take careful note of the minimum temperatures from the middle of fall.
When the mercury begins to drop below 55°F, it’s time to bring your fiddle leaf back indoors.
Frequently Asked Questions About Fiddle Leaf Fig
Here, we answer some questions that people often ask about moving fiddle leaf figs from inside the house to the garden.
Can Fiddle Leaf Fig Take Full Sun?
Fiddle leaf figs cannot tolerate full sun immediately after they have been growing inside your house. It takes time for them to adapt to higher light levels. It is important to gradually move your fiddle leaf into full sun.
Fiddle leaf figs can tolerate growing in full sun, but as rainforest plants, they prefer growing in bright, indirect sunlight.
Can I Put My Fiddle Leaf Fig Outside In Summer?
Your fiddle leaf fig will benefit from being moved outside during summer. They can live outside during spring, summer, and early fall, but it is important to bring them indoors before winter if you live in a temperate region.
Do Outdoor Fiddle Leaf Figs Need Fertilizer?
To make sure that your outdoor fiddle leaf has all the nutrients it needs to grow, you should feed it during spring and summer. Avoid fertilizing your outdoor fiddle leaf fig during the fall and winter.
If your garden’s soil is rich and fertile, or you apply compost once a year, you do not need to feed your fiddle leaf, but it will grow faster and bigger if you do.
The best fertilizer to use for fiddle leaf figs is an organic liquid plant food. Look for a product with an NPK ratio of 3:1:2.
Fiddle leaf figs make fantastic indoor and outdoor plants. If you grow it in a pot, your fiddle leaf fig can spend most of the year outside on your patio and just come indoors for winter.
You could also keep it as a houseplant for most of the year and only take it outside for summer.
If your indoor fiddle leaf fig has outgrown your house, you can plant it out into your garden in zones 10 to 12.
These tropical plants need warmth and humidity to survive, so you cannot keep them outside all year in more temperate regions.