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  /  Lifestyle   /  I’ve Finally Worked out how to keep a Fiddle Leaf Fig Alive
how to keep a fiddle leaf fig alive

I’ve Finally Worked out how to keep a Fiddle Leaf Fig Alive

I’ve Finally Worked out how to keep a Fiddle Leaf Fig Alive

In this recent post I detailed my issues with the bastard fiddle leaf fig that has been ruining my life since I bought it. If you haven’t read the article yet, I highly suggest you do, because I outlined all the wacky solutions you gave me to keep a fiddle leaf fig alive, and they are insanely hilarious.

The article is a cack mostly because the solutions offered contradict each other in almost every circumstance. And mostly because one of you suggested using milk on the leaves. Someone recommended I put cinnamon in the soil. And then someone else warned me against moving the plant because it’ll get anxiety. They are just three of many questionable solutions.

So a few months have gone by now, and while it’s been a rough winter for my waistline (seriously, I’ve become an eating machine), the same cannot be said for that fiddle leaf fig. The little bugger is thriving. And I’ve finally found out why.

The secret is almost too delicious to share. I want to keep it to myself. I’ve spent months working on this solution and it feels like I’m giving away precious intellectual property free of charge. I hope you appreciate me being so raw, so open, and so transparent here. Not all stylists and bloggers throw around this wisdom for nothing. I almost want an award.

fiddle leaf fig in grey pit from bunnings in dining room with horse art from urban road

I’m Now a Plant Expert, Clearly.

So, dear readers, the solution is this: neglect. Pure, unadulterated, call-DOCs-on-me-immediately style neglect. And it’s worked an absolute treat.

After the plant started to wither and the leaves turned brown within weeks of purchase, I told my partner to throw it away (like it was fruit you buy at the start of the week with the best of intentions but never actually consume). I was done with it. I have two cats that take up more of my time than anticipated, so I had no intention of taking on a third child. Especially one that doesn’t sit on my lap and keep me warm in winter.

The sole reason I got one of these plants was to green-up my Instagram photos. I even bought an awesome belly basket to store the plant in (because pots like these are almost as important as the greener itself!).

I had already mapped out numerous photoshoots in my home (with multiple filters and editing applied, of course) featuring this fig. It would be the pop of green my Insta feed needed, and I had definitely anticipated the likes and comments rolling my way like that giant rock does toward Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

But alas, it almost wasn’t to be. Until I started hating on the fig.

fiddle leaf fig in rattan belly basket with dying leaves on ground

Giving the Fig the ‘Eff You’

Not a week went by where I didn’t plead with my partner to let me throw the thing out. “It looks gross,” I’d exclaim one week, and “It’s making that corner look disgusting” the next. But my partner refused to get rid of it. So I turned my back on it and begged it to die to the point of no return. It just needs to wither a little more, I thought, then he’ll agree to kick it to the kerb like fed up women used to do on The Ricki Lake Show.

So in the corner it sat. Days became weeks, weeks became months. I didn’t want a bar of it, and all my partner did was water it with a cup of water once a week. No milk, no cinnamon, no taking it into the shower or caressing it to a Barry White album. One cup of water once a week and hating its rotten guts, and the plant is on the return.

Not that my affection for the fiddle leaf fig has been fully realised just yet. Like a couple on Doctor Phil, we’re going to have to ‘workshop’ some issues. But we’re nearly there. I reckon within a month I might even feature it in an Instagram photo again. If it plays its card right.

cockatoo art from urban road and fiddle leaf fig in belly basket

What’s Worked for you?

So how you do keep a fiddle leaf fig alive? I’d love to know if pure hatred worked for you too, because it’s doing wonders for me. Are we kindred spirits in the world of plant neglect? And has putting your fig in the cone of silence worked? Let me know in the comments below.

The hero image in this post is via House of Home and I’m insanely jealous of the lushness of their fig. They also detail other solutions on how to keep a fiddle leaf fig alive if pure neglect doesn’t work for you.

Outside of writing the TLC Interiors blog, Chris is an interior stylist and author. You can also catch him on your TV screens as a designer on Channel 10's Changing Rooms. If you'd like to book a design consult with Chris, you can find out more here

Comments (15)

  • Kerry

    I love this article!!! Especially given I’ve recommended this gorgeous plant (when it behaves) to a friend of mine to spruce up his interiors and refresh his home! I’m forwarding him this article so that when his plant does indeed start to get antsy, he’ll know what to try!! Thanks Chris!

    • Gavin Thomas

      Don’t forget to point out to your friend the small but important point that Chris’ partner (me) waters the plant once a week. Chris may be neglecting it, but in reality I’m tending to the poor thing after Chris’ ministrations nearly destroyed it.

  • Linda

    Chris, you and your bastard fiddle leaf are an inspiration. My Mr Fiddle leaf is so sick – I even had the gardener try and resurrect it but to no avail. I’ll post a pic on my insta – you will laugh. He now lives outside – he’s banished from my home as I hate his guts at the minute – ARGH!!!

    • Gavin Thomas

      Don’t let Chris’ black thumb turn you off figs! I’m nursing ours back to health.

  • Jo Fay

    Too funny, I am a plant slayer but in saying that I have managed to keep my fiddle leaf plant alive by watering once a week only if needed and keeping in a place where it gets only filtered light not direct sunlight, and now I find out that this plant is yesterday’s news tell me it isn’t so

    • Gavin Thomas

      That’s how I’ve kept ours going too, despite Chris’ constant attempts to rip off leaves that look slightly off, or to throw the poor thing out.

  • Leanne

    Ive been lucky as Ive had no problems with this plant. Its grown like a charm, although slow, since I got it. I water every 2nd weekend and as a comment above it sits in front of a window with light but no sun.

    • Gavin Thomas

      I water ours about every week. I usually stick a finger in the soil and if the top inch or so is dry I’ll give it some more water. It sprouts new leaves every so often, so I’m happy now.

  • Jess

    I’m so pleased to hear tour FLF is now thriving. I’ve added cinnamon to mine and watered it in (plus water once per week) and I’ve got new growth too!

  • Leanne

    Don’t forget to feed it. I know you want to ignore it but if you quickly throw some slow release fertiliser ( I use osmocote for indoor plants) while its not looking it will never know.

  • Melissa

    I need to know. Did the FLF live??!?

  • Vicky T

    You’re absolutely right. Once a week, water and be sure to only admire from a distance. That works for me! I also make sure it has filtered sun (never moving it more than an inch or two per quarter) and afternoon full sun if possible. It loves that. You have to name it BTW… they seem to like being called by name 😉

  • Shelley

    I might just boast a little here. My FLF stands over 2 metres tall. I initially had it indoors before moving it to my back porch. I think I’ve found the perfect spot. No direct sunlight and I water it weekly in the summer (leaves and all) and cooler months every couple of weeks. It continues to grow even though Im pretty sure it is root bound 😉


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