The best soil for fiddle-leaf figs is a well-draining and slightly acidic to neutral soil with excellent moisture retention properties. It’s also better if the soil is disease resistant.
We’ll provide a more detailed discussion about the ideal soil to use in this article, from the things to consider to the components of a good soil mix. We’ll also recommend good soil mix recipes for those who want to make their own.
Things to Consider When Choosing Soil for Fiddle-Leaf Fig
Drainage is a critical aspect of a fiddle-leaf fig’s soil. The plant doesn’t like extremely moist soil, as it’s prone to root rot.
Fiddle-leaf figs thrive on well-draining soil because it maintains a stable environment for their roots to absorb nutrients and water. It stops the water from accumulating around the roots and creating a suffocating environment.
That’s why it’s vital to incorporate materials that can improve the soil’s draining capacity and prevent compaction in the soil mix for a fiddle-leaf fig. The pot for the plant should also have adequate holes to allow excess water to escape.
Nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are crucial for the growth and development of fiddle-leaf figs. Hence, the soil should have a well-balanced nutrient supply to help the plant produce healthy leaves.
Nitrogen helps fiddle-leaf figs produce chlorophyll, which is important in performing photosynthesis. The fiddle-leaf fig will have difficulty growing healthy stems and leaves without sufficient nitrogen.
Phosphorus, on the other hand, is essential in root growth. With sufficient phosphorus, the roots will develop healthier, allowing the fiddle-leaf fig to absorb more nutrients.
Another essential nutrient is potassium, as it helps regulate the water movement in the plant and activates enzymes in the plant. These enzymes are necessary for fiddle-leaf figs’ growth and other physiological processes.
Most fertilizers contain these three nutrients, so just follow the application instructions in the bag.
While fiddle-leaf figs don’t like their soil to be excessively wet, they still need to have proper hydration around the roots to ensure healthy growth and development.
Adequate moisture around the roots ensures the plant can access water and the nutrients it needs. It also helps fiddle-leaf figs to adjust to their environment and accommodate temperature and humidity fluctuations.
It’s important that you find a balance between moisture retention and drainage in the soil to avoid both overwatering and drought.
pH level directly affects fiddle-leaf figs’ ability to absorb nutrients from the soil. If the pH level is too acidic or too alkaline for fiddle-leaf figs, they may not be able to uptake certain nutrients, regardless if there’s a huge amount of them in the soil.
Generally, fiddle-leaf figs thrive on soil with a pH of 6 to 7. Soil with a pH of 5 will usually not damage the plant and its roots, but going lower than that may be harmful.
Test the soil’s pH level at least yearly, as it can become too acidic when it has been used for a long time.
Fiddle-leaf fig roots need oxygen for cell respiration. Without it, the plant may suffocate and stop growing.
That’s why the soil should have exceptional aeration properties. This will allow oxygen to flow freely and reach both the roots and the beneficial microorganisms in the soil.
Proper aeration can also help improve the soil’s drainage capacity. Since there are more gaps in the soil, excess water is likely to drain away quickly.
Fiddle-leaf figs are susceptible to various diseases and pests, so it’s critical to incorporate disease-resistant materials in the soil. Some common diseases that plants may suffer from include insect infection, fungal disorders, and bacterial infection.
Adding soil microbes can help minimize the presence of pathogens like fungi and bacteria. Using sterile soil will also help reduce the chances of the plant contracting diseases.
Another way to make the soil more disease resistant is by adding active charcoal to the soil mix.
Components of a Fiddle Leaf Fig Soil
Potting mix will serve as the base for the soil mix. It should be of good quality, with the right pH level and balanced nutrient content.
Sterile potting mixes are advisable for fiddle-leaf figs, as they are pest-resistant and free from harmful toxins and chemicals.
It’s also better if the potting mix is inherently well-draining, like loam. Avoid using potting mixes with clay as much as possible, as they compact easily and don’t have the best draining capacity.
Perlites are volcanic glasses that are often used in container plants to improve soil’s aeration and drainage properties. They can loosen the soil and create small gaps where the water and oxygen can flow freely.
They’re also lightweight and can prevent soil from compacting easily. This helps roots penetrate the soil better and develop freely.
Perlites are also pH neutral. This means they won’t affect the soil’s pH level or the roots’ ability to absorb nutrients.
Coconut coir, or simply coco coir, is a fiber extracted from the husk of coconuts. It’s an eco-friendly material that can improve the soil’s moisture retention properties.
Its excellent water retention properties allow it to hold water for extended periods and release it slowly to the soil when the roots need more moisture. This helps reduce the risk of both overwatering and underwatering.
As it is pH neutral, we prefer using coco coir over peat moss for fiddle-leaf figs. Peat moss is acidic and may make the soil unsuitable for fiddle-leaf figs.
Coco coir is also less prone to compaction compared to peat moss. The soil mustn’t compact easily to promote better root development.
That said, if you only have peat moss at home, you can use it as an alternative. Just adjust the pH level to match the needs of fiddle-leaf figs.
Compost can contribute nutrients to the soil that are necessary for the soil’s fertility and the fiddle-leaf figs’ overall health. It contains a wide range of nutrients and introduces beneficial microorganisms to the soil.
When buying compost, make sure that it’s completely decomposed and free from harmful pathogens and contaminants. We don’t want to introduce harmful pathogens to the soil and increase the risk of diseases.
Additionally, you should not place too much compost in the soil mix, as it can cause a nutrient imbalance in the soil.
Horticultural charcoal can help control fungal growth, which is beneficial for fiddle-leaf figs that are vulnerable to pest attacks. It can also serve as an antibacterial agent and prevent diseases from afflicting the plant.
Horticultural charcoal is also helpful in preventing water from accumulating in the soil, as it creates small pockets where water can flow freely and escape.
Some areas may not have this, though, so you should opt for the alternative recipes and look out for any possible bacterial and fungal growth in the soil.
If there are some available in your area, make sure to add them in moderation. Too much charcoal can make the soil too alkaline, which can cause damage to the fiddle-leaf fig.
Soil Mix Recipes for Fiddle Leaf Fig
- 1 part potting mix
- 2 parts perlite
- 1 part compost
- ½ part horticultural charcoal
This soil mix recipe is ideal for fiddle-leaf figs, as it’s perfect for reducing the chances of the plant contracting diseases.
Horticultural charcoal will help the plant avoid fungal and bacterial infection, while the compost provides the plant with nutrients essential for its growth. Perlite also helps improve the potting mix’s draining capacity.
- 2 parts potting soil
- 1 part perlite
- 1 part coco coir
This is an alternative soil mix recipe for those who can find charcoal near them. This mix provides the fiddle-leaf fig a well-draining and nutrient-rich soil to grow.
Perlite is a draining agent that can help excess water escape the pot faster, while coco coir helps retain some moisture that the plant will need later on.
Potting soil and coco coir also provide the plant with a balanced amount of nutrients.
Common Problems of Fiddle Leaf Fig Caused by Wrong Soil Mix
Various things, including overwatering, underwatering, and bacterial or fungal infection, can cause brown spots in fiddle-leaf figs. Most of these reasons, though, can be prevented if you’re using a better soil mix.
A well-draining soil can reduce the chances of overwatering, while soil with excellent moisture retaining abilities can hold in the moisture that can support the plant during drought.
Additionally, well-draining soil is helpful in preventing bacterial and fungal growth in the soil. Bacteria and fungi thrive in an excessively moist environment, so well-draining soil isn’t ideal for them.
If the potting mix you used is also not sterilized and has some contaminants, it can increase the chances of diseases in the fiddle-leaf figs, causing the leaves to turn brown.
Drooping leaves are often caused by too much moisture around the roots. The excess water can suffocate the roots and stop them from functioning correctly, causing the leaves to droop.
Additionally, the plant will likely suffer from nutrient deficiency if the soil’s pH is way above or below the recommended pH for fiddle-leaf figs. This can cause the leaves to droop and turn yellow.
All of these can be avoided by ensuring the soil has excellent draining properties and the right pH level.
When the leaves of your fiddle-leaf fig start falling, it can be an indication that the soil is poorly-draining. It can also be a sign of root rot and nutrient deficiency.
When the roots start to rot, the plant cannot absorb nutrients or perform some physiological processes. With the lack of nutrients, some leaves are not receiving enough, causing them to die and fall.
Check if the soil is already compacted and if it needs replacing. If it’s not, try adding more perlite and see how the plant reacts.