Ask a Question forum: Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves Burned

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Larchmont, NY
Jun 16, 2017 3:42 PM CST
Hoping to get some input on how to do this right as I seem to mess up somehow every year. I've had my FLF tree for about 3 years. It's in a southern facing window and grows fine, just very slooooowly.

Every summer I bring it outside, I try to acclimate it a few hours at a time, but even so, the leaves get burned, turn all brown and fall off. Last year, I cut the branches back, stuck it outside and hoped for the best. Thankfully the tree bounced back and grew marvelously.

This year, I started to put it outside, facing south, for 2 hours in the morning sun, but it got burned badly after just the second day. So, today I ended up pruning it back and sticking it outside and hoping for the best again.

What is the best way of encouraging growth without going through this process of burning the leaves and it losing its leaves? I know it thrives being outside because it grows tons of new big leaves just during the summer when outside, when normally all year long it may grow only one or two.

Should I just leave it inside even during the summer and accept that it's a slow grower?

I live in Westchester County, NY

Thanks in advance for your input!
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Jun 16, 2017 3:47 PM CST

You are transitioning too fast. Even a south facing window is shadier than the shadiest spot outside. Move it from your south facing window to a covered patio or another outdoor spot that gets shade all day long. Every few days, move it to a little less shade and a little more sun. This process could take two weeks.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Larchmont, NY
Jun 16, 2017 4:05 PM CST
Thanks for your advice and for the welcome banner :)) !! That's very helpful input. I thought about putting it in shade before but I thought since it's normal home is a bright sunny south facing window, it may not appreciate a shaded spot outside... but I think that's what I have to do to acclimate it. I feel terrible as these beautiful big green leaves are all burned now :(. Hopefully it'll bounce back again.
Name: Will Creed
Professional indoor plant consultan
Jun 17, 2017 6:21 AM CST
Daisy is right. Outdoor sunlight is many more times intense than the indoor light you get even in a south window. FLF's are slow growers that often go many months without producing new growth when grown indoors. They do grow more rapidly when outdoors, but then you end up having to prune back every year.

I know folks like the satisfaction of seeing the flourish of new growth when plants are moved outside for the summer. However, forcing a plant to acclimate twice per year to major changes in light is not always such a good thing. In general, leaves are acclimated to the light they receive at the time they first emerge. Meanwhile, older leaves struggle to adapt and when the light intensity changes subsequently, the leaves struggle to adjust again.

You have a good sunny indoor location for your FLF, so I recommend that you leave it there year round. I care for many indoor FLF's and they thrive in good indoor light. It may take a bit longer to produce as much new growth, but at least the new growth will not be stressed by the bi-annual change in light. If you still want to move it outside, then keep it in shade at all times and don't try to increase the light beyond that. Be patient!
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Larchmont, NY
Jun 17, 2017 7:07 AM CST
Thank you Will for your post. This info is very helpful. I always read to take it outside when it's warm enough but I really don't have a shaded area outside around the house so it sounds like inside is the way to go for my little guys.

Thank You!

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