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Caring for fiddle leaf fig plants in winter can be tricky, but this post will provide the information you need to keep the plants healthy and happy in the cold winter months.
The growth of fiddle leaf figs usually slows down in winter, so their need for water and nutrients decreases. During winter, fiddle leaf figs should be watered infrequently, and the plants should not receive fertilizer unless needed. When fiddle leaf fig plants are grown indoors in winter, they often need additional humidity and warmth to compensate for the low humidity and cooler temperatures.
Fiddle leaf fig (Ficus lyrata) is a popular tropical evergreen plant from West Africa. Fiddle leaf figs develop into large trees when grown in the ground outdoors, reaching an average height of between 25ft and 50ft (www.edis.ifas.ufl.edu). They are more widely grown as ornamental, potted houseplants.
Fiddle leaf fig plants can be tricky to maintain during the winter months. Let’s get into the details of how to care for Ficus lyrata plants in winter so that they remain healthy and beautiful.
Can Fiddle Leaf Fig Survive Winter?
Fiddle leaf fig can survive winter when grown indoors with relative ease. Fiddle leaf fig plants can also survive winter when grown outdoors in most temperate and subtropical regions. However, they might not survive the winter season in areas that experience frost and snow.
Ficus lyrata grows best in temperatures around 65F to 75F, though the plants tolerate a range of 50F and 86F (www.cabi.org). If temperatures routinely drop below 50F in winter, fiddle leaf figs won’t survive without intervention by the gardener.
How To Transition A Fiddle Leaf Fig To Indoors
In areas that experience freezing temperatures in winter, it is advisable to transition potted fiddle leaf fig plants indoors until the spring. Move fiddle leaf figs indoors before night-time temperatures drop below 50F.
Fiddle leaf figs are notoriously sensitive to being moved around. The trick is to transition fiddle leaf fig plants from outdoors to indoors is slowly and smoothly.
The first step is to move fiddle leaf figs to a location outdoors that has dappled or partial shade for one or two weeks. This will help the plants to get accustomed to the lower light levels they will receive once indoors.
After the fiddle leaf figs have gotten used to low light conditions, the next step before moving the plants inside is to check the plants for insect pests. It’s easy to bring pests inside with the plants, and the insects might proliferate in warm, protected conditions indoors.
If the fiddle leaf figs are pest-free, it is time to move them inside. Check the temperature difference between the outdoor and indoor growing environments. Aim to have the indoor temperature as close to the outdoor temperature as possible. The indoor space might need to be cooled beforehand.
Position the fiddle leaf fig in a spot that receives direct light or bright indirect light. Putting the plants in a location with high light levels helps them adapt to their new indoor growing environment.
Dealing With Lower Light During Winter
To deal with the challenge of lower light in winter, move the fiddle leaf fig plants near a window where they can receive direct sunlight.
In regions with weak, intermittent sunlight in winter, fiddle leaf figs might need artificial lighting. Artificial lighting may also be necessary during winter in indoor growing spaces that don’t have any exposure to direct sunlight.
LED grow lights and high-intensity fluorescent light bulbs are ideal for providing extra light for fiddle leaf figs when growing indoors during winter. The lights are highly effective, and are affordable to purchase and operate, so the investment is worth it.
Problems Of Fiddle Leaf In Winter
Due to their tropical origins, fiddle leaf fig plants can encounter several problems in winter. Knowing how to identify these problems early will help you address them before they get out of hand.
Over-watering is a common problem for fiddle leaf figs in winter. It is easy to over-water fiddle leaf figs during winter because their growth slows, so they usually need less water.
Cooler winter temperatures also reduce the rate of water evaporation from the soil, so it stays wetter for longer periods.
Signs of over-watered fiddle leaf fig plants include drooping stems and foliage. Over-watering also causes the leaves of fiddle leaf fig plants to turn yellow and brown. The presence of insect pests like fungus gnats hovering around the soil is another indication that the fiddle leaf plant has been over-watered.
Fiddle leaf fig plants require little to no fertilizer in winter because they aren’t in a state of rapid growth. This means that it’s easy to make the mistake of over-fertilizing fiddle leaf figs in winter.
If fiddle leaf figs receive more nutrients than they need or can process, their roots and leaves will be damaged, and the plants will become stressed and unhealthy
Signs that a fiddle leaf fig has been over-fertilized include brown, burned leaf tips, curling or claw-shaped leaves, weak stems, and the presence of insect pests.
Lack Of Light/Less Light During Winter
Lack of light is often a problem when growing fiddle leaf fig plants indoors during the winter. If fiddle leaf figs only receive dim indirect sunlight, they won’t be able to perform photosynthesis (www.mrec.ifas.ufl.edu). Fiddle leaf fig plants and aren’t exposed to bright indirect light, direct sunlight, or supplementary artificial lighting,
A sign of light deficiency in fiddle leaf fig plants is sparse growth with large gaps between branch nodes. Another indication that the plants aren’t getting enough light is when they lean dramatically towards the brightest light source. In severe cases of light deficiency, fiddle leaf fig plants start dropping their leaves.
Unless the temperature of the indoor growing space is well-controlled, fiddle leaf figs naturally grow slower in winter because of the decrease in the general ambient temperature.
Cooler winter weather reduces the rate of photosynthesis and respiration in fiddle leaf figs, decreasing the production of new growth.
The cooler temperatures of winter are accompanied by a drop in relative humidity, which further slows the growth rate of fiddle leaf figs by reducing plants’ respiration rate.
Leaves Dropping Due To Cold Weather
If temperatures decrease to below what fiddle leaf figs can tolerate, this can cause the plants to start losing their leaves. This problem, known as leaf-drop, is not a natural result of old, dead leaves dropping or winter dormancy.
When it’s too cold, the photosynthesis and respiration processes of fiddle leaf fig plants slow down significantly, so they don’t have enough energy to maintain their leaves.
By shedding some of their foliage the plants conserve energy and have a better chance of surviving the cold temperatures.
Leaf-drop is a serious problem in winter and indicates that fiddle leaf figs are under extreme cold stress. Immediate intervention is needed to increase the temperature of the growing environment to the optimum range for fiddle leaf fig plants.
Leggy growth is a frequent problem encountered by fiddle leaf figs during winter. The primary reason for leggy growth is a lack of light. Without sufficient light, the plants can’t derive the energy needed to produce new foliage, so they begin to look scraggly and sparse.
When grown indoors in winter, fiddle leaf fig leaves can start to droop when growing conditions are too dry and hot.
The use of artificial heating indoors during the winter causes the temperature to rise while decreasing the humidity levels in the air. This change in temperature and humidity can create excessively-dry air and soil conditions for fiddle leaf figs.
Under-watering during the winter months can also cause fiddle leaf fig leaves to droop. While fiddle leaf figs need less water during winter, they don’t like the soil to dry out completely. The evaporating effect of indoor heaters can make the under-watering problem worse.
How To Take Care Of Fiddle Leaf Fig In Winter
Now that I’ve covered the basic problems that fiddle leaf figs may encounter during winter, it’s time to look at how to prevent the problems in the first place. Here is how fiddle leaf figs should be cared for in winter.
Fiddle leaf figs must receive adequate light when grown indoors during winter. Due to the reduced light levels, fiddle leaf fig plants should be placed in a spot that gets direct sunlight during the winter months.
In many regions, bright indirect sunlight might not be sufficient to meet the plants’ needs in winter.
Artificial lighting may be necessary if the indoor growing space doesn’t have adequate exposure to direct sunlight during winter. In these cases, LED or high-intensity fluorescent lighting will provide fiddle leaf figs with the necessary light intensity and duration.
It is crucial to monitor fiddle leaf fig plants for signs of light deficiency through the winter months. If the plants start leaning and becoming leggy, you know they need more light.
Maintaining an appropriate temperature in the indoor growing area is another vital aspect of fiddle leaf fig care during winter. Aim to provide the plants with an ambient temperature between 65F and 75F.
If the temperature in the indoor environment feels comfortable to you, it is probably fine for the plants.
Fiddle leaf fig plants may need artificial heating to keep the growing space sufficiently warm in winter (though this will depend on the local climate). When using artificial heat sources, pay attention to the humidity levels because artificial heating tends to dry out the air and soil in indoor growing environments.
Fiddle leaf figs need sufficient relative humidity levels in the air to maintain their health and beauty during winter. Ensuring adequate humidity levels in indoor growing areas during winter can be tricky when using artificial heating.
If artificial heating is used to warm the indoor space in winter, mist the air around the plants regularly. Placing a tray filled with water and pebbles near fiddle leaf figs will also increase the humidity levels around the plants and prevent them from becoming dehydrated..
Water Fiddle Leaf Fig In Winter
Fiddle leaf fig plants need to be watered occasionally in winter. Their water requirements decrease dramatically at this time of year, so they should be given water less frequently than in the summer growing season.
In winter, fiddle leaf figs need the soil to be slightly moist. The soil in the container should start drying out before the next watering, but should not dry out completely. It is advisable to monitor the plants for signs of over-watering or under-watering during winter.
The specific amount of water that should be given to fiddle leaf fig plants during winter depends on the regional climate, the indoor growing environment, the size of the plants and containers. In most cases, when caring for fiddle leaf figs in winter, less water is usually better than more water.
Fertilizing Fiddle Leaf Fig In Winter
Fiddle leaf figs generally require little to no fertilizer in winter. If the plants are not producing new growth but are healthy and have vibrant, shining foliage during the winter months, then fertilizer is unnecessary.
When fiddle leaf figs show signs of nutrient deficiency, apply small amounts of dry or liquid fertilizer. Wait for a week and observe how the plants respond before considering applying more fertilizer.
Fiddle leaf figs might also need fertilizer in winter if conditions in the indoor growing environment are optimal, and the plants can continue producing new growth.
In these somewhat rare cases, apply small amounts of fertilizer to support the continued growth of the fiddle leaf fig plants.
Pruning Fiddle Leaf Fig In Winter
It is not advisable to prune fiddle leaf fig plants in winter. Pruning fiddle leaf figs are easily damaged if they are pruned while in their semi-dormant winter state.
Fiddle leaf figs won’t be damaged if dead and dying leaves are removed in winter, but do not remove any healthy leaves, stems, or branches.
Wait until spring or summer before pruning fiddle leaf fig plants. In the growing season, fiddle leaf figs will have the necessary energy to recover from the pruning process.
Repotting Fiddle Leaf Fig In Winter
Fiddle leaf figs generally prefer not to be repotted in winter (though it probably won’t cause damage to the plants if done correctly).
Repotting fiddle leaf figs is usually unnecessary in winter because their root systems aren’t expanding and don’t need the extra space of a larger container. Also, it is best to avoid re-potting fiddle leaf figs in winter because the plants are less tolerant of the stress of being transplanted into a new container.
However, if it is the wintertime and a fiddle leaf fig plant shows signs of stress and ill-health due to being root bound, re-pot the plant carefully into a container one to two inches wider than the original container.
If you have to repot a fiddle leaf fig in winter, try to use the same (or similar) type of soil mix in the new container as the previous container. Using the same soil mix will reduce the stress of being transplanted in winter and ease the fiddle leaf fig plant into its new home.
Cleaning Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves
Indoor environments can get dusty in winter so it is important to keep the leaves of fiddle leaf fig plants clean so the plants retain their health and their lustrous foliage.
When dust accumulates on fiddle leaf fig leaves, the plant’s ability to photosynthesize decreases, which can cause problems in the low light conditions of winter. In addition, dust particles also carry disease-causing pathogens.
To prevent these issues, wipe or spray fiddle leaf fig leaves weekly during winter. Use plain water or a mild solution of water and hydrogen peroxide.
Caring For Fiddle Leaf Fig In Winter: Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some quick answers to questions people frequently ask about caring for fiddle leaf fig plants in winter.
How Often Should You Water Fiddle Leaf Fig In Winter?
Fiddle leaf figs only need to be watered occasionally in winter because of the low temperatures and light levels. Giving fiddle leaf figs water once every week or two is generally adequate to meet their needs in winter.
Monitor the moisture levels in the soil during the winter months and only water the fiddle leaf figs once the soil is starting to dry out slightly. Checking the soil moisture before adding water is critical for ensuring that you don’t over-watering the plants or invite fungal diseases.
Do Fiddle Leaf Figs Lose Leaves In Winter?
Fiddle leaf figs don’t drop their leaves when grown in favorable conditions. However, fiddle leaf figs sometimes lose leaves in winter if the temperatures drop too low, or if the plants don’t receive enough light.
Fiddle leaf figs also lose some of their leaves if they receive too much or too little water in winter.
Can I Repot Fiddle Leaf Fig In Winter?
You can repot fiddle leaf fig in winter, though this is usually unnecessary unless the plants are root-bound. If possible, wait until spring to repot your fiddle leaf fig plants.
Can Fiddle Leaf Fig Survive Outside In Winter?
Fiddle leaf figs can’t survive outside in winter if they’re growing in areas that experience temperatures below 50F.
The plants will survive outside in winter if they are growing in a milder climate and are protected from cold gales, though they may still suffer damage and become stressed.