Ficus lyrata, colloquially referred to as the fiddle leaf fig or lyre leaf tree, is a trendy house plant that’s native to the tropical forests of West Africa. Some gardeners refer to the plant as the banjo fig, and it’s primarily grown for its beautiful foliage. And although the fiddle leaf fig is a hardy plant that can survive in non-tropical regions, it usually requires a little help and some care to ensure it thrives as it would in the wild.
You should stake your fiddle leaf fig if the plant shows signs of trunk weakness. To decide if you should stake, check if the plant is too tall or growing too fast, if it’s top-heavy or growing unevenly, if the plant is leaning, and if the fiddle leaf fig isn’t getting strong winds.
The main aim of staking is to support plants—whether they’re indoors or in an outdoor garden—and ensure they grow tall, proud, and luscious shoots. In this article, I’ll explain how you can decide if your fiddle leaf fig needs support and provide vital tips to ensure you grow healthy and beautiful fiddle leaf figs. Let’s get into it!
Assess the Overall Height
The fiddle leaf fig typically grows to reach heights of 45 to 50 feet (13.7 to 15.2 meters) in the wild. However, due to potting restrictions and environmental conditions, most indoor fiddle leaf fig plants usually max out at 15 to 20 feet (4.5 to 6 meters). And while these heights are standard, in rare cases, you may have a fiddle leaf fig houseplant that grows beyond 25 feet (7.6 meters).
In cases like this, the plant might droop—and the trunk might fray, bend, lean, or become top-heavy. I recommend you stake the plant if it becomes too tall. The stake will ensure it gets enough support and doesn’t tip over or get damaged.
You might need to stake for a few months till the plant is fully erect or longer if the plant keeps growing. I advise you to repot the plant if the fiddle leaf fig continues to grow but ensure you use a suitable pot to accommodate the bigger plant’s needs.
To learn more about repotting fiddle leaf figs, you can refer to my other article: Should You Immediately Repot a Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant?
Evaluate the Growth Rate and Trunk Strength
While the fiddle leaf fig is relatively fast-growing, it’s still a perennial plant. Therefore, it takes quite some time for the plant to fully mature. Fiddle leaf fig plants take about a decade to reach maximum height.
And they generally grow at a rate of a foot a year—although some may grow as fast as two feet every year. So, it’ll typically take 10 to 15 years for a normal-sized indoor fiddle leaf fig plant to reach a maximum height of 10 to 15 feet (0.3 to 4.5 meters).
However, you might have a plant growing much faster than these rates—up to 4 feet per year. And while these rates might not hurt your plant’s overall health, they might affect its shape and compromise the integrity of its trunk.
So, you’ll need to correctly stake the plant to ensure it grows appropriately, even if it’s growing too fast. If you notice accelerated growth, you should stake the plant immediately and leave the support on for at least a year. You can leave the stake for longer or until the plant’s growth rate slows.
However, ensure you inspect the plant more often since accelerated growth might affect the fiddle leaf fig’s needs.
Look for Signs of Top-Heaviness
Fiddle leaf fig plants grow luscious foliage that can cause the plant to become top-heavy. And while all healthy fiddle leaf fig plants will grow full, green leaves if you care for them correctly, some may become so full they become dangerous.
Top-heavy plants can tip over and fall—hurting themselves and others. And although pruning may help control top-heaviness, you may need to stake the plant in many cases. I recommend you stake if the plant stays top-heavy after pruning, but ensure you don’t prune so much it affects the fiddle leaf fig’s aesthetics.
You need to stake your plant if the pot is tipping over or if it wobbles when you move the pot. I recommend you also inspect the plant’s trunk, as top heaviness can cause the fiddle leaf fig to snap, fray, or bend.
I advise you to stake the top-heavy plant for three months and inspect it afterward to see if it requires additional support. Most fiddle leaf fig plants should have developed more robust trunks to support the foliage. However, ensure you thoroughly inspect the plant before removing the support.
Remember to move top-heavy plants from elevated positions, so they don’t get seriously damaged if they fall. You can also swap the planter for a heavier one to counteract the top-heavy plant.
Consider If Your Fiddle Leaf Is Growing Unevenly
A fiddle leaf fig that’s growing unevenly can present similar problems as a top-heavy plant. The plant could tip over and cause serious problems. However, you must be careful if your fiddle leaf is growing unevenly.
It might signify bad watering practices, insufficient light, or even fertilizer deficiency. Whatever the reason, ensure you determine and fix the cause of the problem before you stake the plant.
For example, you might need to reposition a plant growing unevenly in the shade to get more sunlight. However, ensure you stake it so the sparse part will get more sunlight. You can also rotate the plant often so that the entire fiddle leaf fig gets sufficient sunlight.
You can do the same for fiddle leaf fig plants growing unevenly due to bad watering practices and stake as appropriate.
You should stake for a few months and then check to see if there’s an improvement.
Observe Any Signs of Leaning or Instability
An excellent way to decide if you should stake your fiddle leaf fig is to check if the plant is leaning. Your plant might be leaning because it’s growing towards the light or because the pot isn’t well-suited to its needs. It might also be caused by mechanical damage, like if you accidentally pulled on the plant.
Regardless of what caused the plant to lean, I recommend you stake the fiddle leaf fig to straighten it and correct its growth. You can stake in the opposite direction of leaning and leave the support there for at least three months. Afterward, check if the development has been corrected and remove the stake if the plant looks better.
A leaning fiddle leaf fig might not be a problem, but it can affect the plant’s aesthetics and put it in danger of tipping.
Determine If Your Plant Is Lacking Strong Winds
As I’ve mentioned, fiddle leaf fig plants are typically outdoor plants. They’re native to the tropical forests of West Africa and are suited to grow and thrive in such conditions. So, it’s no surprise that the plant needs the strong winds typical of West African tropical areas to enable it to grow strong trunks.
Outdoor winds will cause the entire plant to sway back and forth, improving its rigidity and eliminating the need for staking. However, indoor fiddle leaf figs need the stakes to ensure they get all the support they need to mature.
However, you can also simulate these movements by shaking the plant at least once daily. This method is particularly effective if you have indoor plants and don’t live in an area that gets a lot of wind.
That said, staking is equally effective—and you won’t have to worry about forgetting to shake the fiddle leaf fig plant.
Fiddle leaf figs are ideal indoor house plants in most parts of the world, and the plant needs little maintenance to ensure it thrives. However, you should stake it if it shows signs of trunk weakness to ensure it flourishes and develops as usual.
This article highlights everything you need to look out for when deciding to stake a fiddle leaf fig, and it’s a great guide to follow if you own the plant.