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Why is My Fiddle Leaf Fig Leggy? How to Make it Branch Again


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A fiddle-leaf fig (Ficus Lyrata) with leggy or unstable growth usually indicates inadequate light. A healthy and happy fiddle leaf fig requires a lot of light.  When the plant doesn’t get enough light, it starts becoming leggy. Other causes of legginess in fiddle leaf figs are improper fertilization, sudden temperature change, and being root-bound.

The fiddle leaf fig plant is a beautiful giant that can grow tall and voluminous thanks to its big green leaves.

The plant’s popularity has grown over a short period of time thanks to social media and its added aesthetic for interior design.

However, the fiddle leaf fig plant can be finicky and if these plants start getting leggy, they lose all their appeal. It’s also a sign that there is a problem.

What Does a Leggy Fiddle Leaf Fig Look Like?

When plant parents refer to their fiddle leaf fig trees as leggy, what does that mean?

This means that the entire fiddle leaf plant may grow tall and weak, with a frail, skinny trunk. Leaves tend to be spaced far apart on long branches. 

Your fiddle leaf tree can also look ‘naked’ because of leaf drop. Sometimes this may only happen to the lower branches if they are blocked from sunlight.

You need to keep the plant in the brightest area of your house and make sure it gets proper fertilizers, even temperature conditions, and pruning from time to time.

Here, we will diagnose why your fiddle leaf is leggy and ways to get your fiddle leaf fig to branch out again.

Fiddle Leaf Fig and Sunlight

In short, the fiddle leaf fig plant loves bright sunlight. Fiddle leaf figs are big plants that require a lot of energy.

When the fiddle leaf fig doesn’t get enough sunlight, it will grow long stems and it will sprout only a few leaves. Overall, the fiddle leaf fig will look weak and unhealthy.

As an outdoor plant, the fiddle leaf fig tree thrives in sunlight and should get about six to eight hours of sunlight throughout the day. As an indoor plant, you need to find a spot within your home that will allow for it to get the same number of hours of sunlight. Without enough sunlight, the fiddle leaf is sure to get leggy.

Fiddle Leaf Fig and Lack of Nutrients

When the fiddle leaf fig is out in its natural habitat, it has access to infinite amounts of nutrients from the soil with the help of its roots.

However, indoor fiddle leaf plants may struggle to get the sufficient amount of nutrients needed. Therefore, they need a lot of fertilizers that can provide them with the required nutrition.

While some fiddle leaf figs can grow pretty well without any added help from fertilizers, pot plant soil tends to lose its nutrients over time.

When the soil gets depleted of nutrients and has no added fertilizer, it can slowly make the fiddle leaf weak and leggy.

Another contributing factor to why your fiddle leaf plant is leggy is if you are not using a fertilizer with the correct ratio of nutrients.

To grow a tall fiddle leaf fig tree you’ll need to give your plant a quality fertilizer.


Change in Temperature

Fluctuating temperatures in the space that the fiddle leaf fig is located can contribute to your fiddle leaf fig plants’ lack of growth.

Fiddle leaf figs love consistency. These plants will thrive in the same place for years if the space that you have placed them in has an even temperature throughout the year.

An inconsistent rise or fall in the temperature can cause stress to your fiddle leaf fig plant. When the plant is stressed, this can lead to weakness and a leggy appearance.

However, it is just as important to make sure you’re not moving your fiddle leaf from indoors to outdoors or vice-versa. Changes this drastic, can also lead to the dropping of the lower leaves.

Root-Bound FLFs

When a fiddle leaf fig has outgrown its container and you haven’t made the transition to a bigger container, you run the risk of your fiddle leaf fig getting root bound.

This means that the plants’ roots are unable to properly absorb the nutrients and water from the soil. This eventually makes the plant weak and leggy.

However, a root-bound fiddle leaf is an easy fix by simply repotting your fiddle leaf fig.

All you need to do is repot your fiddle leaf fig tree in a larger container than the one it has outgrown. A fiddle leaf fig in a bigger pot with fresh soil will make for a healthy plant.

Pruning Fiddle Leaf Figs

Yes, pruning your fiddle leaf fig is essential in helping it flourish, contrary to what most plant parents believe. Pruning a fiddle leaf fig makes the plant tidy, trim, and pleasing to the eye.

Not only does pruning make for great aesthetics but it also helps stimulate the growth hormone, which results in better growth in the plant. By neglecting to prune your fiddle leaf tree your plant will grow to become leggy. 

Trimming vs. Pruning: What’s the Difference?

Understanding the difference is important, but most people use them interchangeably. However, when you are pruning, you are removing dead or infected stems or branches.

Trimming, on the other hand, occurs when you are cutting back overgrown plants. Both provide a healthier-looking plant and promotes new growth.

How to Make a Fiddle Leaf Fig Branch

As mentioned earlier, fiddle leaf fig plants can be tricky and intimidating to care for but in order to have a healthy fiddle leaf fig, you need to determine the problem.

Fix it speedily and take care of the plant so that the issues don’t come back again. It’s only if you continue to neglect your fiddle leaf fig or mistreat your plant, that it will not be able to get back to optimal health.

Now that you know some problems that can occur and make your fiddle leaf fig look leggy, here are some tips and tricks for you to try to get your fiddle leaf fig to branch out.

Notching your Fiddle Leaf Fig

The fiddle leaf fig tree notching method is making small cuts or notches along the trunk of the plant.

This method encourages your fiddle leaf figs’ leaves to branch without having to remove any height off the plant. Notching is also influential for encouraging your fiddle leaf figs’ new growth to form further down the plant.

Methods of Notching

There are two different methods of notching. The first is making diagonal slits around a third of the depth into the fiddle leaf figs’ trunk just above a leaf or node.

The second method is similar, but instead two slits are made, and a small section of the trunk is removed.

Notching can be tricky to get right without cutting too deep into the plant, or accidentally decapitating your fiddle leaf fig. For the inexperienced, this method can be intimidating, and some plant parents can get mixed results.

If you want to give it a try, use the first method mentioned to test on your fiddle leaf fig.

It is important to note that nothing is done best on a more mature, thick, or woody trunk. If your fiddle leaf fig tree is still green, hold out on doing the notching method until your tree has matured.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Brown Spot

Pinching Your Fiddle Leaf Fig

Another way to get your fiddle leaf fig to branch out is to do the pinching method. The pinching method is similar to pruning, except instead of removing a section of the fiddle leaf stem, you will pluck the top bud (also known as the growing tip) off the plant.

This method is great if your fiddle leaf fig tree plant has reached the height, you’d like it to start branching at.

For example, if your fiddle leaf fig tree is at a height of two feet, but you would like for your fiddle leaf to branch out at a height of three feet, wait until your plant reaches three feet before you start to pinch the top.

You will soon notice that your fiddle leaf fig has a brown-cased bud at the top. This is where new leaves grow.

Don’t worry, this is normal for the plant. When new leaves form and mature, the brown casings pull back and dry out. This is natural and they don’t need to be removed, but they may fall off when they’re ready.

This method, unlike the pruning of notching, does not require cutters or shears. When pinching your fiddle leaf fig, all you need to use is your thumb and pointer finger to break off the top growing tip. If it’s too hard to break off with fingers, you can opt to use a pair of cutters then.

Final Thoughts on Leggy Fiddle Leaf Figs

With fiddle leaf fig care, keep in mind all the points discussed above. Also, make sure you provide your fiddle leaf fig tree with sufficient light, proper fertilization, prune the plant from time to time, and not let it get root bound.

Also try to implement methods like pruning, pinching, and notching to encourage growing branches.

The current health of your fiddle leaf fig plant also plays a role in how your fiddle leaf fig is doing.

Don’t rush to start chopping at your fiddle leaf fig tree, get to learn and understand your plant and you’ll know how to better take care of it.