A post by resident plant expert Claire Akin of the Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant Resource.
If you’ve had your plant for less than a year, you may not have needed to clean your fiddle leaf fig yet. But after a year, your fiddle leaf fig is likely suffocating with dirt and dust. To keep it alive and well, you’ll need to clean the leaves to remove any dust. But what is the best way to clean fiddle leaf fig leaves?
Why Do You Need to Clean Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves?
Photosynthesis, folks. Fiddle leaf fig trees consume light and carbon dioxide to live and when their leaves are covered in dust, they can’t get enough of either. The plant’s leaves act not only as its skin, but its lungs, so it’s critical that you keep them clean. Over time, if your tree is covered in dust, it will stop growing and eventually die.
Look how dirty this poor plant is after only 8 months since his last shower. You can see that the lower leaves are even dustier than the upper leaves.
What’s the Best Way to Clean Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves?
There are three common methods for cleaning your fiddle leaf fig tree leaves. The best method for you will depend on where you live, the size of your plant, and your access to the outdoors. Don’t use anything but water to clean your fiddle leaf fig plant because over time the residue can make it harder to keep clean and can clog your plant’s pores.
1. Take Your Plant Outside and Spray it Off with the Hose
My favorite method of cleaning a fiddle leaf fig tree is to take it outside and spray it off with the hose. You’ll want to really give it a good soak to get all of the dust and residue removed. Then, you can leave it outside for an hour or two to let it dry, just make sure you don’t leave it in direct sunlight or forget about it overnight. An added bonus is that soaking the root ball can help refresh the soil distribution and correct any problems with soil shrinking back from the container.
Challenges of this method: If your plant is very large or heavy, it might be impossible to get it outside safely. It’s helpful to keep a large fiddle leaf fig on a rolling stand so you can roll it outside. Of course, you may not have access to an outdoor area and hose. Or, you may live in a place that’s too cold for this method to make sense.
2. Put Your Plant in the Shower and Spray it Off
The second easiest method to clean your fiddle leaf fig is to put it in the shower and spray it off. First, you’ll want to remove any decorative containers. Be sure to use room temperature water; not too hot or too cold. Then, you may need to rotate your tree in the shower and slightly bend the plant sideways to reach the lowest leaves.
Once your plant is clean, you’ll want to allow it to drain for several hours. Be aware that your plant will be heavier after its shower since the soil will be well-soaked. You may need to wait until it dries out a bit to move it back to its home.
Cons of this method: If you have a water softener, you will want to avoid fully soaking your plant’s soil, since the salt from your softener can damage your plant. It may be tough to get your plant in and out of the shower, depending on the size of both. Finally, you’ll want to have a towel handy to wipe up any overspray after you shower your plant.
3. Wipe the Leaves with Water and a Soft Cloth
If your plant is too large to take outside or put in the shower, your best bet may be to spray the leaves and wipe them down with water and a soft cloth. It’s not good for your plant to put anything besides plain water on the leaves, so avoid the temptation to use any special ingredients or oils that can clog the plant’s pores.
If you have very hard water or a water softener, you may want to use a spray bottle of distilled water to avoid harming your plant. I use this small spray bottle from Amazon and a clean washcloth. Spray each one of the leaves, then gently wipe, then repeat until your plant is clean. You may need to do each leaf two or three times.
Downsides of this method: Wiping each leaf can cause trauma to your plant, so this is my least favorite method. It’s also impossible to get the undersides of your plant’s leaves clean and this method is time-consuming. Finally, I find it cumbersome and messy, since the dirty spray water will drip down around your plant. You may want to put a towel beneath your plant to protect your floor.
Take a look at your fiddle leaf fig plant’s leaves to see if it has gotten dusty or dirty over time. If it has, the spring is the perfect time to clean your plant so it can breathe easy and grow tall during the rest of the year! The size of your plant and access to the outdoors will affect the best method of cleaning for your fiddle leaf fig.
Claire Akin is a Fiddle Leaf Fig lover and created the Fiddle Leaf Fig Resource to share what she's learned about growing healthy and vibrant plants. She even created her own fertilizer specific to the needs of Fiddles! Learn all you'll ever need to know about these gorgeous plants at fiddleleaffigplant.com