Fiddle leaf figs are lovely indoor plants, capable of livening up any space. They’re sensitive though, and if you need to repot them, you have to do it gently and with care.
With their large green leaves and Insta-worthy aesthetic, fiddle leaf figs have become very popular over the last few years.
The tropical plants, also known as ficus lyrata, come from Western Africa and are used to humid natural conditions. This makes their care a little fiddly, but well worth it.
I’ve put together a step by step guide to repotting a fiddle leaf fig (FLF). We’ll also have a look at why and when you’ll repot, and what to have on hand.
As well as what to do if you don’t want to move to a larger pot and a larger plant. Here’s everything you need to know before repotting.
When to Repot a Fiddle Leaf Fig
If you get your fiddle leaf in a nursery container, it’s best to repot it into a proper, large-enough pot after about a month. Plants don’t do well for a long time in those temporary pots, and since the FLF is sensitive, it’s best to do it early.
However, it takes some time for the fiddle leaf to adapt to its new home, so you don’t want to overwhelm it.
Alternatively, you may have had your fiddle leaf for a few years now, and you find that it’s growing a bit too big for its boots. Fiddle leaf trees can start out as a desk plant, and end up as – you guessed it – a tree.
Particularly when it’s well cared for and its somewhat finicky demands are all met.
These gorgeous plants need to be repotted every 1.5 – 3 years. It’s important to repot before the roots get too constrained in their pot, as the plant will start to falter.
Thankfully, it’s easy to tell when it needs to be repotted. You’ll see the roots popping out from the bottom of the pot or circling the top.
The Best Season for Repotting
While you may want to move your fiddle leaf to a larger pot as soon as possible, it’s best to repot in spring or summer.
Plants have a natural growth pattern, and like many others, the FLF does most of its growth in the warmer months.
In winter they conserve energy, sitting in a kind of dormant state. So to move them at this time can lead to shock.
Repotting should never run the risk of actually damaging your plant, so try not to repot at a time when the weather alone can lead to damage.
What do You Need to Repot Your Fiddle Leaf Fig?
Before you jump into the nitty-gritty of repotting, you’ll need to take a few things into consideration.
If you’ve already got your soil, pot, and other supplies sorted, you can skip this section! If not, let’s get into what you’ll need to have a happy and healthy plant for the next few years.
Choose Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Planter
It’s not all about aesthetics. When repotting your fiddle leaf fig tree, you’ll want to choose a pot just 2-3 inches bigger than the size of the root ball.
You may be thinking ‘why not just get a much bigger pot, and then I won’t have to repot for years’. Unfortunately, this has been proven to be a pretty bad idea.
Fiddle leaves like to be quite snug in their pots and can drown a bit if the pot is much bigger.
Having a smaller pot will also avoid issues with the soil retaining more water than your plant can use. FLFs are finicky and don’t like to be too dry or too wet, so you don’t want them to be sitting in water at any point.
Focus on Drainage
Before you move on from the pot-picking, have a look at drainage. It’s important that your pot has good drainage, and imperative that it has a drainage hole. This is not a plant that deals well with sitting in its water.
If this is your first FLF, a good option is to choose a self-watering planter that takes all the guesswork out of watering and drainage.
Get Rich Potting Soil
Fiddle leaf fig soil needs to provide good nutrition, easy drainage, and proper aeration for your plant. Thankfully, most good quality soil serves perfectly for this.
So while you can’t go and find some dirt and throw it in a pot, you also don’t have to search the city for the correct potting soil. Just find a nice organic indoor potting soil, and you’ll be sorted.
Step-by-Step Guide to Repotting Your Fiddle Leaf
Ready to repot your lovely fiddle leaf fig? Follow these steps, and you’ll have it thriving and growing in no time.
Step One: Add Soil to Your New Pot
So, you’ve picked out your new pot and made sure it’s around 2-3 inches larger than the current one or the root ball. Now you’ll add a layer of soil to your pot. This should be more than 2 inches of soil and under ⅓ of the pot.
Step Two: Lift Out Your Plant
Now, you’ll gently lift your plant out of its current pot. If it’s a new FLF, still in a plastic planter, you can take a pair of scissors and cut the pot open. This ensures that your plant will come out nicely. Just be careful not to cut the roots.
If you’re repotting from a solid planter, don’t worry. If it’s ready to be repotted, a gentle tug at the base of the plant will pull it up.
You may need to snip the roots that have started to come out from the bottom of the pot, but it’s not a problem.
Note: It’s best to do this outside. It can get quite messy and you’ll definitely drop soil around the pot. If your apartment doesn’t include outside space, no worries. You can use the bath or shower, and vacuum up once it’s dried.
Step Three: Trim the Outer Roots
This is a good time to trim your plant’s roots a bit. After all, you won’t be pulling out your fiddle leaf just to cut their roots.
The large outer roots are used for stabilisation, while the small roots gather nutrients to feed itself. So try not to cut any of the small roots – the larger ones are fair game. This is just a bit of neatening, and not a necessary step for a successful repotting.
Step Four: Position the Plant in the New Pot
Place the plant in the centre of the new pot. Make sure that you have 2-3 inches of space around the root ball for it to grow into. Hopefully, you will have made sure of this before repotting.
Step Five: Fill With Fresh Soil and Press Down
Now you can fill the rest of the pot up with the remainder of the new soil. Make sure you’re not leaving any unfilled spaces, and press down firmly.
Step Six: Water the Plant
Opinions differ when it comes to watering your fiddle leaf after repotting. You can wait for an hour or two and allow it to settle first.
Or, you can water immediately so that it can get used to its new home like this. Keep in mind, you may need to add a bit more soil once you’ve given it it’s first watering. This will depend on how compact you managed to get it.
Step Seven: Prune and Clean Leaves
Before calling it a day, take this time of plant care to prune yellow leaves. If your plant is healthy, these will just be the little leaves at the bottom of the plant, if any at all.
It’s also a good time to clean your leaves. You can use a gentle damp cloth for the best results, and just get all the dust that has gathered off.
This way, your newly repotted plant is in the best state to thrive. It’ll also look as good as new! Perhaps it’s time to snap a quick photo of your perfectly potted fiddle leaf fig.
What if You Don’t Want to Repot?
If your fiddle leaf has grown as large as your space can afford, repotting may not be the best option for you.
After all, the great thing about house plants is that you don’t need a big house to have a garden. An alternative to repotting into a larger planter – tricky to get right but very successful – is to trim the roots.
When you tug your plant out of its soil you’ll find that the roots have formed a kind of ball. You can trim up to 20% of this root system without doing permanent damage.
Then, return it to its pot with some fresh soil. Your tree will still grow new leaves but only a few, and it will stay its current size. At least, until the roots have regrown and it’s time to trim again.
Repotting a Fiddle Leaf Fig – Additional Fiddle Leaf Care Tips
Once you’ve repotted your fiddle leaf, don’t panic if a few leaves discolour. These tropical trees are sensitive to environmental changes, so it may need a little time to adjust.
Rotate your tree every month to keep it nice and straight. Like many other plants, the fiddle leaf likes to reach towards the sunlight, so if that’s through a window, rotation is important.
If you live somewhere chilly (like I do), find a spot in the apartment where your plant can get a few hours of direct sunlight. Fiddle leafs respond well to warmth and light and will thrive in these conditions.
If, however, the sunlight you get is quite harsh, it can be best to avoid direct sunlight altogether. Your tree will tell you if the sun it’s getting is too much – just look out for brown spots.
Wipe your tree’s leaves when they get dusty. You’ll be doing this while you replant, but it’s good to do every few months. This will help them to grow through better photosynthesis because there’s more surface area exposed.
Water your plant thoroughly once the top 2 inches of soil are dry – eventually, you’ll get into a comfortable routine, and checking the soil won’t be necessary. But until then, checking the topsoil is the best way to ensure that you don’t under- or over-water.
Don’t overwater your fiddle leaf. This is one of the main mistakes people make because tropical plants need a lot of water.
But the FLF does not respond well to sitting in water – either within the pot or in the tray. Let the soil dry completely before watering again, and watch as you water so that it isn’t too much.
These pretty plants like a lot of heat (and humidity), so it will respond well to having the A/C on. However, make sure your leaves aren’t moving at all in the breeze – they shouldn’t be directly hit by the air conditioning.
If you want your plant to grow quickly, fertilise once a month. It doesn’t technically need to be fertilised more than two or three times a year, but growth needs food.
Final Thoughts on How to Repot Fiddle Leaf Figs
So, now you know just how to repot your favourite house plant. It’s a simple process, and the perfect way to spend a sunny spring morning.
After all, it’s been well established that time spent gardening and caring for your plants is great for your mental wellbeing.
Whether you’d prefer to simply cut down your root ball and keep the size small, or to repot and have it slowly grow into a tall tree, repotting is an important part of plant care.
Check your fiddle leaf every year in spring or summer. Now that you know what to look for, it’ll tell you when it’s ready to be repotted!
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