How Often to Repot a Fiddle Leaf Fig: A Complete Guide

Would you like your fiddle leaf fig to grow from small to jumbo? They’ll be happy staying in a small pot, but if you want them to reach their full size, you will need to move them to a bigger planter so they can spread out and fill out.

My fiddle leaf turned out this way, and I’ve written down every step you need to take along with the “why” behind each one. In time, your own fiddle leaf will start to show results through new growth and lovely glossy green leaves if you do the same.

Before we start, here are a few reasonably priced options if you need your first fiddle leaf fig (Ficus lyrata) or want to put together a group of FLFs in a big planter (I love them potted in groups of three):

SHOP THE LOOK Thorsens Greenhouse Fiddle Leaf Fig, Amazon Costa Farms Fiddle Leaf Fig, Amazon Fiddle Leaf Fig, Amazon

Fiddle leaf figs are popular houseplants known for their large dramatic leaves. But their finicky nature means repotting must be done carefully and deliberately to keep them healthy. This guide covers everything about how often fiddle leaf figs need repotting.

Why Repotting is Necessary

Repotting serves several crucial functions for fiddle leaf figs:

  • Provides more room for root growth as the plant matures
  • Refreshes old, depleted soil with new nutrients
  • Corrects drainage issues in old pots
  • Allows inspection and trimming of root ball

Without periodic repotting, plants become root bound, leading to stunted growth and declined health

How Often Should Fiddle Leaf Figs Be Repotted?

On average, plan to repot your fiddle leaf fig about every 2-3 years. Some signs it’s time include:

  • Roots growing out the drainage holes
  • Soil pulling away from the edges of the pot
  • Slowed growth

Younger plants may need repotting more frequently, while mature plants can sometimes go longer between repotting.

Step-By-Step Guide to Repotting a Fiddle Leaf Fig

Follow these steps when it’s time to repot your fiddle leaf fig:

Choose a New Container

Select a pot that is 2-4 inches larger than the current size. Make sure it has drainage holes. Clay or plastic pots work well.

Remove From Current Pot

Turn the plant upside down and gently slide it out. Loosen roots carefully with your hands if needed.

Trim the Roots

Trim any circled or tangled roots with sterilized scissors or shears. This encourages new growth.

Add Drainage Material

Place a 1-2 inch layer of gravel, stones, or pebbles at the bottom for drainage.

Add New Potting Mix

Use a high quality, well-draining potting mix specific for fiddle leaf figs.

Place Plant in New Pot

Sit the root ball on top of the drainage material. Begin filling in with potting mix around the roots.

Check Depth & Water Thoroughly

Leave about 2 inches between the soil and the pot rim. Water well until it drains from the holes.

Tips for Minimizing Transplant Shock

  • Repot in spring or summer during active growth period
  • Keep plant out of direct sun for a week after repotting
  • Mist leaves daily for humidity
  • Avoid fertilizing for 3-4 weeks to prevent root burn

With proper technique and aftercare, your fiddle leaf fig will quickly bounce back from repotting shock. Avoid overwatering, monitor for signs of stress, and get your plant back to its routine.

When to Avoid Repotting a Fiddle Leaf Fig

Repotting is stressful, so avoid it when plants are already struggling or conditions are unfavorable:

  • In peak winter when plant is dormant
  • If plant is damaged or weakened by pests/disease
  • When temperatures are extremely high or low
  • During budding or flowering periods
  • Right after moving plant to a new location

Sometimes the risks of disturbing the roots outweigh the benefits of a larger pot. Monitor carefully and wait for ideal conditions before repotting vulnerable plants.

Troubleshooting Common Issues After Repotting

  • Drooping leaves – Provide bright indirect light and consistent watering
  • Leaf drop – Allow plant to recover over several weeks
  • Few new leaves – Fertilize every 2-3 months during growing season
  • Yellowing leaves – Check for root rot and overwatering issues
  • Stunted growth – May need more light or larger pot, prune tangled roots

With attentive care, your fiddle leaf fig should recover well and resume thriving in its new home.

FAQs About Repotting Fiddle Leaf Figs

Can I skip a year of repotting my fiddle leaf fig?

It’s okay to wait an extra year between repotting if your plant seems healthy and there are no signs of being root bound. But don’t exceed 3-4 years without repotting.

How long does it take a fiddle leaf fig to recover from repotting?

Expect some transplant shock for 2-6 weeks after repotting a fiddle leaf fig. Monitor moisture, light, and pest issues closely during recovery.

Should I trim the roots when repotting my fiddle leaf fig?

Yes, gently trim any circled or tangled roots to stimulate new growth and prevent the plant from becoming root bound again too quickly.

Can I repot a fiddle leaf fig by itself without help?

Repotting a large fiddle leaf fig alone can be challenging. Get a friend to assist with removing the plant from the old pot and positioning it into the new container.

Is it better to repot in clay or plastic pots?

Both clay and plastic pots work well for fiddle leaf figs. Choose based on your watering habits, as plastic retains moisture better than porous clay.

Repotting on a regular cycle is crucial to keeping your fiddle leaf fig healthy and promoting lush growth. Time it carefully, use the right techniques, and help your plant recover, and it will thrive for years to come.

Choosing the right container size

One of the most common questions when repotting any plant is what size planter to use. When I interned in a botanical conservatory, the strategy was to repot so the plant didn’t need to be transplanted again for at least 2 years. Predicting two years growth though isn’t easy, especially if you aren’t a botany PhD.

Most of the time, I see that the pot should only be 1-2 inches bigger than its current size, or 2-3 inches bigger for bigger pots. This isn’t good because it doesn’t take into account the plant’s size and only barely takes into account its current pot size. It’s more of a one-size-fits-all approach vs. a “sizing up the current plant situation” approach, so to speak.

how often to repot fiddle leaf fig

Case in point – my fiddle leaf fig. It badly needed transplanting. My fiddle leaf, which I affectionately call Mrs. Because she grew so quickly, Figg (Harry Potter reference) was in a pot that was too small for her. If I had only raised her two or three inches, it wouldn’t have helped much.

In the more than year I had her, she had grown very quickly. The 8-inch pot was always drying out, and the tree would sometimes fall over because it was too heavy at the top.

how often to repot fiddle leaf fig

My fiddle leaf fig had more than doubled in size in about 16 months. This was how it looked even after pruning 16” to propagate it. It dried out quickly and would sometimes fall over.

Use a well-draining potting soil

Once you’ve settled on a container for your fiddle leaf’s new home, it’s time for soil.

Fiddle leaf figs need well draining potting media that’s high in organic matter. A peat-based soil with some perlite works great. This is standard fare for most indoor potting mixes with good reason.

A basic recipe would be about 2/3 peat to 1/3 perlite. There are many other more elaborate recipes though that would work well. I just want to give you a general guideline for sufficient drainage here.

1/3 perlite soil amendment

how often to repot fiddle leaf fig

For reference, the 15 gallon container for repotting my FLF took an entire 1. 5 cubic-feet bag of soil to fill.

Let’s talk about drainage for a moment. I don’t mean the drainage in your soil, but the drainage in the pot.

I want to discuss drainage because I need to dispel some bad information I keep seeing. Specifically, the idea of placing gravel or rocks in the bottom of the pot to “increase drainage. ”.

Let me be crystal clear: this is INCORRECT INFORMATION. Placing gravel or rocks in the bottom of your pot only RAISES the level of water saturation (a. k. a. perched water table).

The thought process behind this is reasonable enough. It’s true that water easily runs through large aggregates like gravel or rocks. Here’s the issue though:

  • If you use the same potting mix, the saturated zone will always be the same height (3 inches, for example), no matter what size or volume of container you use. That means the soil in a pot will be wet for 3 inches no matter where it is. (A made-up height; the real height of the perched water table depends on the soil mix.) ).
  • Soil sitting above any gravel is finer than the gravel. Because of this, the soil holds on to the water better than the gravel can pull it out of the soil. (This has more to do with physics and soil chemistry, but we’ll leave it at that.) ).

As a result, the perched water table stays where it is rather than running down through the gravel. The soil is higher in the pot than it would be without the gravel, so the saturation zone is higher there. This is where more roots are likely to be.

So please DON’T ADD GRAVEL or rocks to the bottom of your pots. Your fiddle leaf (and any other plant you repot) will thank you for it.

how often to repot fiddle leaf fig

A common myth is that adding gravel to the bottom of a container promotes drainage when it actually does the opposite. The finer soil above the gravel holds the water more strongly than the gravel ‘s ability to pull the water out of that soil to drain it. Graphic | Greenhouse Studio, adapted from ENH 120, UC Davis Dept. of Environmental Horticulture

Check out container soils and how to pick pots for a deeper dive into all of this. It’s not an easy read, but if you can slog through it, you’ll learn a lot. (Pretty sure this post is the reason I have so many education-site referral links!).

If you want, you can put a broken pot piece or a screen over the pot’s drainage hole. This can help prevent roots from growing into the hole and possibly blocking it. (My regular fruiting fig did that and it was as good as a plug!).

Yes your pot MUST have drainage for optimal growing. For more on this, check out my post on selecting pots based on how you like to water.

how often to repot fiddle leaf fig

Step 2: Fill the pot with enough soil so that the plant’s crown (where the stem and roots meet) is a couple of inches below the lip of the pot. This will give you room to water the plant.

Mound the soil a bit higher in the middle so the roots are encouraged to fan out.

how often to repot fiddle leaf fig

Mound the soil up in the center to help fan out the roots. Not only that, but this media has more perlite than I’d use for transplanting. It’s more of a propagation mix, but I thought it would help you see.

STEP 3 – Pull your fiddle leaf out of it’s pot. It’s easiest to do if the soil is dry. If it won’t pop out, try massaging the base of the pot if it’s plastic or tapping it. You can also insert a knife down the sides to loosen the roots.

Once it’s out, use your fingers to “rough up” the roots. If some of the roots are going around and around, use pruners to cut the sides straight up in three equal distances. Watch the video below for a demonstration.

If you want your fiddle leaf to stop growing like it does in its “little pot,” you need to help it fill out its new, bigger pot. People often leave their plants to grow in the same tight direction they did in the planter if they don’t cut and spread out the roots.

how often to repot fiddle leaf fig

My fiddle leaf was trying to tell me that the 8” pot wasn’t cutting it. Note the circling roots are so bad it’s happening outside the pot, never mind the inside. Circling roots are what underpotted plants do when they have no where to go. They need to be cut and told to spread out when they are moved so they don’t keep growing in a circle, even in a bigger pot. (See video below for a demo. ).

STEP 4 – Place your fiddle leaf into the container centered on top of the soil mound. Fan the roots out to the sides. Then scoop additional soil around the sides and on top until it’s full.

Firmly but gently press down on the soil around the edges to pack it down. This will help your fiddle leaf fig stay put. Add more soil to fill in the gaps. Then water it. Watering it collapses the air gaps so you’ll need to add more soil again. Repeat until your soil level is stable and uniform.

how often to repot fiddle leaf fig

Compact the soil around the edges of the container with your fingers. It will help stabilize your fiddle leaf fig. Add more soil, then add water, then repeat until the soil level is stabilized.

Tip: Make sure that the crown of your fiddle leaf plant is slightly higher than the soil level. The crown is where the stem and roots meet and the plant starts to spread out. It will help prevent crown-rot.

how often to repot fiddle leaf fig

To keep crown rot from happening, the crown of your fiddle leaf (where the roots and stem meet) should be a little higher than the soil.

Watch the Repotting Fiddle Leaf Figs video:

How Often Should You Repot Your Fiddle Leaf Fig (to make it grow!)

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