05/07/2012 08:54 am ET | Updated Oct 11, 2012

Sprout Home Q&A of the Week: 'My Ficus Tree Is Looking Funny'

Q: I bought a fiddle leaf fig ficus tree and my friends keep giving me "help" and "good advice" concerning them. It all seems a little contradictory can you help me with a few basic care tips and tricks so it doesn't meet its doom at the hands of wrong information.

A: Sure! The basics to a fiddle leaf fig are easy. They like bright light to part sun and like to be evenly watered but the soil does like to go dry to the touch in between watering. Your fig will tell you what it needs. If it's beginning to drop its interior leaves then it's not getting enough light. If it's starting to have bleached spots or having patches of yellow, then it's getting too much. Watch for browning on the leaves which can indicate not enough water or not thorough enough watering or yellowing that can indicate too much water. They will grow slowly, but you can expect them to reach 12 feet if kept happy!

Flickr photo by The Greenery Nursery

Q: Someone told me that my fig is prone to bugs and disease. I don't do bugs or disease, is it still the plant for me? How would I take care of it if something happened. Is there such thing as a plant ER?

A: Although there's no plant ER, we're here to help! Fiddle leaf figs are most commonly susceptible to scale and spider mites. It isn't pretty and will require a fight. but the good news is that keeping your plant healthy will be your best defense. Not letting it go through a drought or over watering will help keep its soil and leaves spic and span. You can use aseptic spray to clean the leaves and the soil to help the onset of any problems. If scale does find a home on your Ficus it will require picking off the adult bugs first and letting the insecticidal spray tackle the young ones. It's not the end of the world, but most plants will be open to some form of creepy crawly at some point in time. We think it's worth the battle.

Q: Is there anywhere in my house a fiddle leaf fig shouldn't go? As long as it's by a window it's ok right?

A: Wrong! Fiddle leafs do well in most home environments, but the one thing they aren't big fans of are heat. In most cases, this comes from your vents. It's ok to move them with the change in the season to keep them happy, but keeping them away from large drafts or copious amounts of heat will have them sitting pretty.

Q: Someone told me they put their fig tree in the shower? Is that necessary or do they have some kinky plant thing I don't want to know about?

A: Figs can be easy to move about because of their nimble trunks. Before they get super large, one of the easiest ways to clean dust and debris off the large leaves which can collect a surprising amount of dirt is the shower. Using a soft spray with a handheld shower head, you can easily clean and wipe down each leaf without too much fuss. They will need to remain in the shower until they've finished draining and it's not a habit you'll want to do every time, but a few times a year won't hurt it!

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