House plants contribute to the look of a room like trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals and container plants dress the outdoors. Just as trees and larger plants are the foundation in outdoor design, sizable plants indoors can anchor a room. A Christmas tree can be a focal point in holiday decor, and the room takes on a different tone when it is removed.

House trees often compete with furniture and walkways for space indoors, especially in the lower six feet where humans interact. If an accent tree is added to a room, a slender one can be a positive.  

Fiddle Leaf fig (Ficus lyrata) is a semi-tropical woody plant that can be found in an area greenhouse such as Earl May in Sioux City, at about three or four feet tall. Burpee Seed Catalog is one of the many outlets. The fig has large, waxy, lyre or fiddle-shaped leaves with short stems off the central trunk that expand its width to about two feet. The fig can grow to the height of most ceilings indoors. In Sierra Leone or Cameroon western Africa, it grows to 40 feet tall in native conditions. Other shorter and more bush-like forms of this fig are “Suncoast” and “Compacta.”

While straight up and leaning over is one form of the single trunk plant, if it is pruned, lateral branches change its shape to an inverted triangle. It still adds height as an anchor to a room. A six-foot fig on one side balances with a potted fern on a plant stand opposite. The distinctive leaves of the fig contrast in size and shape with other plants in the room.

Fiddle Leaf fig adapts well to indoors on the Northern Plains where there is southern exposure, filtered light and it is placed away from cold drafts in winter. The plant is adaptable and easy care as a houseplant. When soil is dry, the plant is watered until water runs out the bottom of its container. About weekly watering is needed for the writer’s plant to be maintained in a slightly dry condition.

Overwatering symptom for this plant is leaf drop of lower leaves or under watering causes upper leaf drop. A little occasional time-release water soluble fertilizer and yearly fish emulsion fertilizer are additives needed for the plant to thrive. To keep the plant growing straight, it receives a quarter turn when watered. To easily move the plant, consider a base with wheels, such as from Menards.

The plant rate of growth is determined by its conditions. The writer’s plant needed re-potting to a slightly larger pot after a year due to three feet of growth.  Replacing the top of the soil annually is a way to discourage aphids, mites and white flies that can be a problem for houseplants. It may be put in a shower to clean dust from leaves or the leaves may be washed with three drops of dish detergent in a gallon of water.

Fiddle Leaf fig doesn’t typically flower or form fruit as an indoor plant. While propagation is said to be possible from stem cuttings, this writer did not get root growth from cuttings. Sometimes the plant may be found for sale with multiple trunks that may be cut apart with viable roots intact. Commercial growers typically clone the plant for vegetative reproduction. The Fiddle Leaf fig is one of many options to add décor with a houseplant.

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