Ficus lyrata ‘Fiddle Leaf Fig’

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Updated: July 18, 2016

Ficus lyrata ‘Fiddle Leaf Fig’ – Words: Emily Cloke – For Landscape Contractor Magazine –  Images: Green Folk

Some would say this is  the indoor plant of the 21st century. The ‘Fiddle Leaf Fig’ is the on-trend foliage-addition and is highly sought after, with most nurseries and boutique plant vendors carrying an ever-growing list of people waiting for their next dispatch to land. Even the box stores report selling out of large quantities of new stock “on the day they arrive”.

Why are they such a sensation and what is their appeal?

Gardeners, landscapers, interior designers and homeowners may each reflect on these attributes in unique ways, but the elephant in the room is undoubtedly their large, glossy leaf shape and tree-like habit.

These humble foliage plants aren’t showy and colourfully definitive like a flower; they are quite simply blessed for the sheer richness of their lush and shapely green hue. They are a direct representation of what is keenly beautiful and aesthetically pleasing about even the plainest of plant species.

‘Fiddle Leaf Fig’ are alive, green, growing and as such, magnificent. So named for their ‘fiddle’ or violin-like leaf shape, the rounded leaf edges soothe the senses, while their multi-branching, tree-like habit lends itself to a balanced bushed display not unlike that of a rainforest species one might stumble across on a tropical foray.

‘Fiddle Leaf Fig’ are alive, green, growing and as such, magnificent.

Native to the tropics of Africa, in their wild surroundings they might flourish to a grand tree of up to 40ft or more, whereas interior plant specimens will balance out at around 6ft or so. A beautiful ornamental tree for subtropical and tropical gardens, their indoor requirements favour a brightly lit position. Decidedly adaptable, they will tolerate less than perfect and become accustomed to filtered light and shaded locations, though will always grow faster and thicker with better light exposure. Water applied in a consistent manner is highly beneficial and for those plants kept indoors, a regular rain wash or gentle hose down of the foliage to remove dust from the leaves is an ideal tip to maintaining plant health. Feeding with slow release or liquid foliage feed will boost growth and maintain vigour, however sporadic applications may be tolerated.

Discerning buyers will seek multi-planted specimens, with up to four or five stems in one pot. These plants will mature with a fuller, more impressive look that blossoms and flourishes in visual splendour as it grows. Whilst singularly planted ‘Fiddles’ seem to extend upwards in a lonely journey of upright growth that appears somewhat bereft and lacking in density and shape.

Simultaneously, the ‘Fiddle Leaf Figs’ rise in popularity has gone hand in hand with a wave of new options for vessels in which to display, house and grow plants for interior and patio locations, including hessian baskets, vintage metal tubs, cane baskets from the ’80s, copper pots, tin buckets, hand-made concrete and hypertufa tubs. It’s anything goes with container plantings today, and with the upcycling movement well under way, we’re seeing a myriad of repurposing with old household materials turning to innovative plant holders of all sizes, shapes and descriptions.

Indoor plants are now enjoying a huge surge in popularity, and it’s the bolder, larger, thicker, lusher plant species that seem to be heading the pack. The trend towards a minimalist, contemporary look to our interiors seems perfectly coupled with these statement-style plants that burst forth with life and rich green colour. As the boundaries of what defines a garden continue to be blurred, expanded and built on, in every respect, it’s exciting times for plant lovers, landscapers, growers and distributers of all green kinds as we ride the wave of change into botanical prosperity.