Ask a Question forum: Ficus lyrata foliage

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Laguna
Nov 19, 2016 5:33 AM CST
Hi,
I bought a small Fiddle Leaf Fig plant in January. I repotted it and in ten months it has grown double it's height with about a dozen new leaves and three more on the way. But the leaves though are all tiny (less than a quarter of the size of the leaves of another F. lyrata plant I've just purchased), and do not fully open from the stem.

I have kept it on my balcony and it gets some morning and full afternoon sun, and watered regularly and fed with organic matter (tea/coffee grounds, banana peels, crushed egg shells etc). Why won't the leaves grow outward and as large as they should? Any ideas on what I need to do to achieve this? Thanks.

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[Last edited by Laguna - Nov 19, 2016 9:33 AM (+)]
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Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
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porkpal
Nov 19, 2016 3:28 PM CST
I really have no answer for you, but that type of vertical growth often is an attempt to reach the light - however it sounds as if yours has plenty of light...? I hope someone has a better idea.
Porkpal

Laguna
Dec 8, 2016 10:09 AM CST
Thanks porkpal, it does get more than sufficient light was hoping someone would know why the plant is doing this. My recent addition was left out for two days and a night on the balcony last month and two of the upper leaves responded in the same manner - closed themselves up against the stem. I don't know if it's to do with the day /night temperature difference (65F /48F)?
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Dec 8, 2016 10:57 AM CST
Did it have a cultivar name when you bought it? There are lyratas that grow compactly and columnar, this Google search using the keywords ficus lyrata compacta brought up these images:

https://www.google.ca/search?q...

Are the banana peels, egg shells, coffee grounds etc. composted or fresh? If not composted they aren't likely to work very well, especially if the plant is growing in soilless mix. But looking at the pictures of columnar Ficus lyrata I'm thinking the difference between that and your other one is more likely to do with being two different cultivars.
Name: Lin
Southeast Florida (Zone 10a)

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plantladylin
Dec 8, 2016 11:12 AM CST
Hi Laguna, I'm not sure what would cause the leaves to grow upright without opening in the normal manner of a Fiddle-leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata) I wonder if it could be a nutrient deficiency of some sort? @drdawg grows and sells Ficus lyrata and he is pretty knowledgeable and may be able to offer advice.

It appears that your plant is a single rooted stem that has not formed branches. You can cut the top part of the branch off and remove the lower most leaves and pot it up for an additional plant.

~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot! ~


Name: Lin
Southeast Florida (Zone 10a)

Region: United States of America Deer Region: Florida Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Dec 8, 2016 11:14 AM CST
I must have been typing when @sooby answered. I didn't realize there were different types but your tall, more upright plant could very well be a different cultivar!
~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot! ~


Name: Ken Ramsey
Vero Beach, FL (Zone 10a)
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drdawg
Dec 8, 2016 11:43 AM CST
@Laguna, I agree with Lin and Sue that you appear to have a sub-variety of the lyrata. I don't know whether cutting the top will produce branching and surely don't know whether you would ever get that top-cut stem to root. I have never grown anything but the typical Ficus lyrata and the 'Suncoast' is the name of the seedlings that I now purchase. In my hands, rooting cuttings of the fiddle leaf are not so easy to do.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
http://www.tropicalplantsandmo...
I don't have gray hair, I have wisdom-highlights. I must be very wise.

Laguna
Dec 9, 2016 10:49 AM CST
Thank you all for your input. I don't know what variety they are - both plants came labelled as simply 'ficus lyrata'.

I don't compost the coffee grounds, banana peels etc anymore as I moved to an apartment with no garden or compost bins...so it's all fresh, but the plants are grown in store-bought potting soil, which probably has goodness knows what added in (but I don't usually subscribe to adding additional chemicals to plants). Maybe it is deficient in some minerals. I will have a look at possibly using a plant food and see if it helps.

Fiddle leaf 1 is too young and not tall enough to have his top lopped off I think. I just want the leaves to open out and look how I expected it to but a you say, it just might never happen due to the cultivar.


Name: Ken Ramsey
Vero Beach, FL (Zone 10a)
Tropical Plants & More
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
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drdawg
Dec 9, 2016 11:05 AM CST
@Laguna, fertilization won't change the growth habit of those leaves or cause plants to branch. Genetics controls all this.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
http://www.tropicalplantsandmo...
I don't have gray hair, I have wisdom-highlights. I must be very wise.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
Dec 9, 2016 11:51 AM CST
Laguna, have you considered vermicomposting? It would be better than adding fresh organic materials to potting mix where they have to be broken down by microorganisms (if present) before the nutrients are in forms available to the plant. The microorganisms can, at least initially, out-compete the plant for nutrients although they release them again when they die. Fresh coffee grounds can also have allelopathic effects on some plants. Not that any of this will change the natural architecture of the plant but just as an aside.

Laguna
Dec 9, 2016 3:54 PM CST
Sooby, I think you have solved my mystery! It's the coffee grounds! 1000% it is the culprit. I never know of the allelopathic effect. I was so exasperated for the past 11 months on why the plants I spent a small fortune on since I moved house and country were such disappointments this past year. I put it down to the different climate, possibly poor soil or quality of plants and maybe to my formerly green thumb suddenly turning black. I always composted before. This is a lightbulb moment for me. Thank you.

Laguna
Dec 9, 2016 4:00 PM CST
Drdawg, yes I know fertilising won't change the growth habit. But the fiddle leaf never really looked right even if it's a different cultivar. I think Sooby has got to the core of the problem. The uncomposted coffee grounds messed up the growth of the fiddle leaf fig as well as most of the other plants I bought this year.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Vero Beach, FL (Zone 10a)
Tropical Plants & More
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Dec 9, 2016 4:46 PM CST
I hope your plants improve, @Laguna, but I am not so sure about the coffee grounds being the problem, unless you are using an awful lot of it. I mix in coffee grounds with my potting soils all the time and have never noticed a problem doing so. But I am not using all that much, perhaps a half gallon of grounds to 3-4 cu. ft. of potting media. We may not be comparing apples to apples though, since I custom make all my media, from orchid media to houseplant media.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
http://www.tropicalplantsandmo...
I don't have gray hair, I have wisdom-highlights. I must be very wise.

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