How To Grow a Fiddle Leaf Fig from Bush to Tree

A Complete guide!

Ever since I wrote the post Growing and Pruning Your Fiddle Leaf Fig, the biggest question people have had is about how to grow a Fiddle Leaf Fig from bush to tree form! This post will go into more detail on the subject and hopefully answer any questions you have.

Firstly, I’m not an expert on the Ficus Lyrata but spent a lot of time on plant forums, learning from experts about the subject! I guess that’s what happens when you are interested in a topic. I’ll also post some useful links to some forums that are helpful.

Can I grow my FLF bush into a tree? The answer is yes! There are a few factors involved in making sure your FLF ends up looking like a tree. But be patient – it takes time for a tree to grow! I think the main reason why most people buy a smaller bush-form FLF over the larger tree form is price. Younger (and therefore smaller) plants are cheaper and less of a risk to buy if you’re not sure how well you’ll be able to look after it – its less expense if it doesn’t last in your home. Once you are able to keep a FLF alive and healthy you might have the confidence to go bigger!

The three main components of a tree-form Fiddle Leaf Fig over a bush form are height, the single bare trunk and the branches. So lets look at each one individually:

Height

Fiddle Leaf Figs aren’t the fastest growing plants but you can speed up their growth by providing the right conditions for them. Growth depends on three factors: light, soil and water. It may take a little while to understand what your FLF needs. Keep an eye on it and see what it responds to in terms of how much water and light it needs. FLFs need a well draining soil with a good fertiliser to get maximum growth. If your FLF isn’t responding well to what you’re doing – change something! It may take a little trial and error to figure out. For more general tips, see my post on growing and pruning your Fiddle Leaf Fig.

Branches

Once your FLF is at a height where you would like it to branch, prune or pinch out the tip or give notching a try to encourage branching. Pruning the tip gives the plant the idea that the main growth tip has been hindered and it needs to send out other shoots to survive. Notching has a similar affect and you may want to use this method if you have a precise idea of where you would like a branch to grow.

Similarly, you can prune any unwanted branches, but just be aware of the affect it will have on the plant – don’t leave your plant too bare.

Trunk

While the bush-form generally have the trunk covered in leaves, the internet is full of whimsical pictures of the tree-form FLF with a bare waif-like trunk. After many years the lower leaves may eventually drop off by themselves. If you can’t wait that long, the easiest way to get a bare trunk is to pull the bottom leaves off, BUT – they will not grow back. Make sure you are ready to prune these leaves as a last resort. (the trunk should be tended to last out of these three components). The lower leaves provide support for the trunk and help it to grow strong, which is important for a tree-form as they are top-heavy and more prone to bending or tipping. Be careful of removing too many leaves at once and leaving your FLF too bare. If there’s not enough leaves, your plant will not be able to get the nutrients it needs from sunlight and heightens its chances of being unhealthy or dying.

Multiple trunks: If your FLF seems to have more than one trunk in its pot, it is possible that it is actually more than one plant! See if you can tell if they are attached (a low fork) or separate trunks. If they are separate or even if you’re not quite sure, you should be able to separate them when repotting. Carefully separate the roots and replant them in multiple pots.

 

Keep in mind that any work you do on a FLF (including repotting, pruning and fertilising) should be done in its natural growth time of Spring and Summer to allow the plant to adjust to the changes and react in the best possible way. Houzz forums are a great resource for any questions you have, including more specific info on training your FLF to a tree from.

Do you have any other questions about how to grow a Fiddle Leaf Fig from Bush to Tree? Let me know in the comments if this was helpful or if you have anything else you’d like to know!

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Grow a Ficus Lyrata from bush to Tree Form

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19 Comments
  1. Hi, thanks for the info. Maybe you can help me, my FLF is doing great, the only thing, it’s getting really tall and starting to lean pretty bad. I’ve staked it awhile ago, but as it continues to grow , it leans more and more. I guess I could stake it with a taller stake……… any other suggestions?

    Thanks

    1. Hi there, FLFs are renowned for their thin trunks and are therefore prone to leaning! You can prune the top to remove some of the weight higher up, otherwise you can stake it higher – this will help stabilize it but may not help the trunk grow thicker. Try pruning or notching to create branches that might help balance the weight. All the best ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Hi,

    Thank you for this post! I’m still not sure what I should do about my bush Fiddle leaf tree…
    There’s two branches growing down at the dirt level. It is one plant though, not 2 or 3. Will I ever be able to achieve the tree shape? I’m afraid the trunk won’t be strong enough if I cut them.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Eve! It sounds like your FLF has a double trunk, you could still achieve the tree-shape letting both the trunks grow, it would be a unique FLF! In my opinion the attribute that makes the FLF appear most like a tree is the removal of the lower leaves when it gets big enough. You could remove the less dominant trunk, but this may be a little risky and there may always be that ‘kink’ in the spot where it was removed. Remember its always best to prune with the tree’s natural shape in mind! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I found this post while searching for an answer for my leaning branches. I have a three branch fiddle that quickly found it’s happy spot in my house. It’s grown about a foot since I bought it with at least 15 leaves since last August. Even grew in Oregon winter! Weird! I think the branches are forked just under the soil, but I will try the stakes as you suggested to another commenter.

    1. Hi Shannon, that is a lot of growth, sounds like you are doing something right! Thanks for your comments, hope the info helps ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Hi. Thank you for your post it is very helpful foe me coz my FLF has 2 branches and it gives me an idea to see if its 2. But Im not really good in planting and no green thumb as well, just trying my plants to stay long. For the soil, what kind of soil would you suggest if I repot it? Thanks.

    1. Hi Lerry, when repotting it is best to use soil that allows the plant to drain water easily – so go for a chunky mix or add in some small bark pieces. This creates room for excess water to drain. Your local nursery should be able to help with specifics! Hope that helps ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hey Nathan, that’s what I originally thought too! Just gotta have patience for these ones to grow. There is a smaller variety called bambino, but the leaves are so teeny tiny you would know if that’s the variety you had ๐Ÿ˜Š

  5. Hi Emily,
    I have a FLF and it was doing well until I took it outside to give it a shower. Then before I could move it back inside two leaves got direct sun and turned brown. The new growth above them is fine.
    Can I trim off these two large leaves just below the new growth?
    I know I can trim off the brown on the edges, but these leaves are mostly brown.

    1. Hi Anne, unfortunately if you trim the edges of the leaves, they won’t grow back! You can do this if you are ok with the trimmed leaf staying that way. My dog took a bite out of a lower leaf on my FLF and the teeth marks are still there! If it looks like the leaves are dead and aren’t recovering, you could remove them completely to keep your tree looking green.

  6. Hi, I’ve done a lot of search but can’t seem to find the answer I need. My question is- where exactly do I cut the top off in order to branch? Should it be just above a bud, just below one or doe it not matter? Hopefully you can help with this. Cheers

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