The Fiddle Leaf Fig, or Ficus Lyrata plant, really is an outstanding-looking plant. It’s famous for its strong-looking leaves – but as they are super-curvy, and as this plant is also famously sensitive, it’s worth taking extra care. Do you know how to clean Fiddle Leaf Fig leaves, for example?
In this guide, I’ll take you through how to clean your Ficus leaves and why it’s so important. Even if your leaves don’t look particularly dusty or mottled, it’s always wise to keep them looking at their best.
Why should I clean Fiddle Leaf Fig leaves?
You’ll likely want to clean your Fiddle Leaf Fig leaves because:
- It helps them look great
- It’ll deter pests
- It’ll help with their airflow
Let’s dig deeper.
Cleaning for aesthetic reasons
Fiddle Leaf Fig leaves simply look better with a shine and a shimmer rather than accumulating dust! These statuesque plants look stunning all year round – especially at their best when they’ve been shaped well by careful pruning.
Uncared for plants with dirty leaves cannot thrive nor look their best. You’ll want to show off your green-fingered skills with a clean, presentable plant! This east-facing plant deserves to look its best – and cleaning it up really isn’t an ordeal.
Cleaning to deter pests
Dirty leaves attract pests and sometimes even mold. Spores, however, can slip off clean, smooth surfaces more easily. On rougher surfaces, they can get a grip and then spread!
When dust accumulates, the potential risk for disease multiplies. Whether or not you can actually see this dust from afar, a clean plant is a healthy plant.
Cleaning for better airflow
Cleaning and misting leaves helps your Fiddle Leaf Fig use its leaves for what nature intended – photosynthesis!
Dirt and dust block their pores, and when unable to photosynthesize, dirty plants will eventually die. Cleaning the membranes on their leaves means your Fiddle Leaf Figs are more receptive to transport molecules from the air to their roots and remove toxins.
Cleaning Fiddle Leaf Fig leaves – what you’ll need
Before we start cleaning those leaves, let’s tool up. I typically use a combination of the list below, but your needs may vary.
- Depending on the height of your plant, you may need a ladder or stepping stool! These beauties can reach a height of 10 feet indoors!
- A pair of scissors and/or a pruner to trim off any diseased or damaged leaves
- Some dechlorinated water in two cups (one to water, the other to clean with)
- A cloth or paper towel to dab and wipe leaves
- A trash can with a lid, or a plastic bag to dispose of dirty cloths, spent leaves, and any pests you capture
- A small, clean sponge
- A soft bristle paint brush to brush away webs, pests, etc.
- A piece of card to hold under any leaves you wish to brush anything larger than dust onto
- A plastic sheet for underneath your plant and container
Where do I start cleaning my Fiddle Leaf Fig leaves?
Ideally, you should begin to clean from the top of the plant and work your way down. If any dust or debris tumbles down, you will collect it at the next level.
Don’t forget to clean the buds, too! Sometimes mold spores are so tiny, they are almost invisible to the naked eye. Even when buds are still quite tightly wrapped, it’s a good idea to gently wipe down their outer cone-shaped form.
Do also take care of damaged or dying leaves. If a leaf is turning brown, has sustained some injury that has torn it, or appears dead, it’s time to bid it farewell.
It is best to remove these leaves rather than allow them to fall off and possibly contaminate others as they fall, or rot on the surface of the container. Removing them can prompt new growth, too.
How do I clean the surfaces of healthy leaves?
It is important to clean both sides of your Fiddle Leaf Fig’s leaves. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to get the healthy specimens cleaned up and looking great.
A word of caution! Always use water at room temperature to clean down your plant’s leaves. Too cold or too hot, and your plant may go into shock!
- Clean the uppermost surface of the leaf first and then the underside. Refrain from being tempted to clean all the leaves’ upper surfaces and then all the undersides afterward. It is easy to forget which individual leaves you have cleaned!
- Also, by tapping a leaf, the debris from its underside may fall onto the topside of a leaf below. Take care!
- Simply use your soft brush to move larger debris, including leaf fragments, pests, their eggs and/or any webbing, then use a damp cloth to dab and/or wipe away dust gently. A wet paper towel is ideal.
- Use slow, tender sweeps – your Ficus’ leaves are thin and tender. Avoid dragging leaves so they move with the motion of wiping too far. They will inevitably be flexible and give way under pressure.
- You may need to place the fingertips of one hand under a leaf as you wipe the other side using your other hand. It’s a careful process!
- Now for pest checks. Slowly and carefully, systematically look at each area of your Fig’s leaves bit by bit. It is better to be slow and sure than to make a swift sweep over the plant and risk spreading problems further.
- Consider using a little bit of plant-safe insecticide to remove any sign of invasive bugs. You can create your own home concoction, too. Lace bugs, whiteflies, and mealybugs can all be removed with dilutions of soapy water on damp tissue or cloth.
- For larger infestations, try slowly sliding them away with a little oil on tissue or cloth. Once removed, use a clean, damp tissue or cloth to wipe the leaves down a second time.
- Consider using a magnifying glass, too, to check for minute problems you may have missed. Sometimes spores in clusters are easy to see, whereas other finer clumps can be almost transparent.
- Remove every bit you can and dispose of the material immediately by wrapping it up so spores cannot re-enter by being carried in the air or falling onto other plants.
And that’s it! If you don’t have the time to follow this exact process, you can also gently spray down your Fiddle Leaf Fig with a shower head or a hosepipe if you want to take it out into the yard.
Always make sure you test the water temperature before spraying, and don’t blast your plant at the highest setting – it’ll get stressed out!
I recommend using the sensitive and careful approach wherever possible. Fiddle Leaf Fig plants are notoriously sensitive, and anything close to a blast of cold water may send your own greenery shriveling up into a quivering wreck. If you’re really unsure, use the softer approach.
Fiddle Leaf Fig leaves are amazing to look at, but they serve a pretty important purpose. If they get clogged up with dirt and dust, they not only look bad, they can prevent plants from getting the nutrients they need.
Follow my quick guide above and take the time to carefully wipe down your leaves occasionally. Once every couple of weeks should be enough, or if you spot a problem or two. Too often, and this sensitive specimen will react poorly to your kindness!