All about plant fertilization

How and when to fertilize fiddle leaf fig plant


Fiddle leaf fig (Ficus Lyrata) is a perennial shrub whose origin comes from the central zone of the African continent. Its most notable feature is its large, dark green leaves. Although in its natural state it can reach several meters in height, cultivated as a houseplant it is easy to control its development. It is undoubtedly one of the most popular houseplants in recent years, and that is why you cannot miss an article about it on this blog. Here we will discuss everything about the use of fertilizer for fiddle leaf fig plant, how and when to apply it, and what type to use.

Curiosity: The fiddle leaf fig is what is known as an epiphytic plant. Which means it usually develops on the trunk of another tree. To then reach the ground with its roots and end up strangling the host tree. But don’t worry, if you have it in a pot at home, you won’t strangle anyone. 😉

1. NPK values – ​​What is its meaning?


If you ever had to go buy a fertilizer in a nursery, and you don’t have much experience, you may have been confused when choosing between one package or another. Perhaps the only notable variation that existed between one package and another was three numbers separated by a hyphen.

If you didn’t ask the seller what exactly those three numbers are, you may still have doubts. Well it’s your lucky day, here we will answer that question.

The three numbers on a fertilizer package are what are known as NPK values. The letter N is given by nitrogen, the P by phosphorus and the K by potassium, these three being the most necessary nutrients for plants.

Fertilizer for fiddle leaf fig
Image source: Wikipedia
  • N: represents nitrogen, which is the most important nutrient for leaf development, and is also the main chemical involved in photosynthesis.
  • P: represents phosphorus, being responsible for the development of roots, stems, flowers and fruits in a more vigorous plant.
  • K: this last letter represents potassium, nutrient responsible for giving more strength to the plant. Contributing to a better initial growth, giving greater resistance to diseases, reducing possible stress.

So these NPK numbers represent the percentage of the total of each nutrient. Explaining in one example, in a 1 kg fertilizer package of a 10-5-15 mix, 10% is nitrogen (i.e. 100 g of the total), 5% is occupied by phosphorus (50 g) and 15% potassium (150 g).

As you may have noticed, it is a fairly simple concept. With this already learned, we can continue with our article.

2. Growing fiddle leaf fig plant


We have already said that one of the reasons this plant is highly sought after to decorate interiors is for its beautiful leaves, but another reason is how easy it is to take care of it. It is a very resistant plant, but it also requires minimal care.

While this article is primarily about using fertilizer for fiddle leaf fig, from here we want your plant to grow as healthy and strong as possible. That is why we will first look at a list of the most important care that must be carried out.

  • Light: like many of the best houseplants, Ficus lyrata does not like direct rays. The best thing is that you receive lighting indirectly for several hours a day.
  • Irrigation: the water requirements of this plant are not great. It will be enough to water it twice a week in summer and a little less during autumn and winter. Be aware of the importance of watering not causing waterlogging in the soil as it can rot the roots. It is also essential that the pot have good holes for proper drainage. In very dry summers, the leaves can be sprayed to increase humidity.
  • Temperature: the fiddle leaf fig plant does not resist low temperatures. You should never take it outside during winter. Inside the house you can keep it in its ideal temperature range for a good development.
  • Pests: Although we have said that it is a fairly resistant and easy to care for plant, it can be attacked by various types of pests. Among the most common are; mealybug, spider mite, or fungus. The best way to combat them is regular monitoring, so you can treat any attack in time.
  • Pruning: it will be a good ally to control the growth of our plant. It is also essential to remove all those leaves in poor condition or in case of pests.
  • Fertilization: this point cannot be missing from the list. In the following sections we will deal with delving into the topic.

3. Best fertilizer for fiddle leaf fig plant


As it is a houseplant, we will always seek to make it as radiant as possible. In other words, that it develops with all its forces, generating large and good green leaves.

When Ficus Lyrata grows in the wild, nothing prevents it from collecting nutrients from the soil, if it doesn’t find them, it just has to further extend its roots. But being in a pot you cannot do it, so it will be you who will have to provide all the nutrients you need.

You will find many commercial fertilizers specially designed for your fiddle leaf fig. Among them, you can differentiate between those that slowly release their nutrients and those that release them quickly.

The most suitable formulas to apply are those that have an NPK 3-1-2 relationship. Although formulas like 16-5-11 and 9-18-9 are also very popular, they have very good results.

Obviously, there is always the option of applying homemade fertilizers, although since the composition of the nutrients is unknown, less precise fertilization will always be carried out.

If you are reading this post, you will probably be interested in learning about fertilizing these other plants.

3.1 Some more used home fertilizers

A recommended fertilization of your fiddle leaf fig plant is to combine organic and inorganic fertilizers. In this way you can control the nutrients with commercial fertilizers, and if you consider it necessary to add something else with some homemade organic fertilizer.

Among the most widely used homemade fertilizers we can mention the following:

  • Compost: without a doubt this is one of the most common and easiest to perform. Given its high degree of heterogeneity, it is very difficult to know its nutrient composition without carrying out an analysis.
  • Fish Tank Fertilizer: many of us love having fish tanks at home, did you know that you can take advantage of it to obtain fertilizers? You should save the water from the fish tank when cleaning and, after mixing it well, apply it to your plants with irrigation. Generalemte contributes a lot of nitrogen.
  • Manure: In case you have some farm animals, these give you an excellent opportunity to make homemade compost. Depending on what animal it is, and also on its diet, they will be the final components of the fertilizer. Rabbits generally produce one of the richest nitrogen fertilizers.
  • Milk fertilizer: who does not have milk in their refrigerator? If you mix it with water (90% water, 10% milk), it will generate a very good fertilizer. It is very common to apply it on indoor plants. Providing the three most important nutrients, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

These are four very common home fertilizers, we could list many more, but we would expand the article too much. 😉

4. How and when to fertilize your fiddle leaf fig plant


Depending on the type of fertilizer you select, the application method and how often you should fertilize your fiddle leaf fig plant will be different. Using a quick-release liquid fertilizer will not be the same as using a slow-release granular fertilizer. Of course, if you use the former, fertilization will need to be done much more often.

Start by getting a fertilizer with a proper NPK ratio (as seen in the previous section). Then follow the instructions on it to apply it correctly. Every good fertilizer has clear instructions, otherwise choose to buy another fertilizer.

There are slow release fertilizers whose action lasts 6 months, to use it, one or two applications per year will suffice. This will depend on how marked the winters are where you live. In areas with strong winters, fertilization in early spring is sufficient. While in areas with fairly warm winters, you can do a second application in late summer.

In case you choose to fertilize with a quick-release one (the most common are in liquid format), you can apply it with each irrigation. Obviously, and being repetitive, you must follow the instructions on the package.

Regardless of the type of fertilizer you are going to use, always keep in mind that in these cases less is more. By this I mean that it is better to fall short with fertilization than to overdo it. Be easier to solve low nutrient problems on your fiddle leaf fig than too much of them.

5. Fertilizing your fiddle leaf fig (video)


To end this article, we have selected a video (Let’s Talk About Plants channel)where you can see much more graphically some of the concepts discussed so far. I have no doubt that it will be more than useful. 🙂

If you are reading this post, you will probably be interested in learning about fertilizing these other plants.

And with this we finish the article. I hope you have no doubts and can properly care for and fertilize your fiddle leaf fig plant.

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