fiddle leaf fig dining room

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I could have called this post “Fit as a Fiddle” or made some other kind of pun per the usual. I even considered playing on some kind of funny Adam & Eve thing about fig leaves and how much this plant seems to enjoy summer showers. But all of that would still tell you one thing:

fiddle leaf fig reveal

I’m Sarah, a home improvement/design blogger. And I have a fiddle leaf fig tree.

I never heard about these plants before I saw them on Emily Henderson’s blog (who has killer design taste btw). But at first, I kind of dismissed them. Sure, they are beautiful, but I can kill just about anything with one good stink eye. So this wasn’t going to be something I would have in my home without killing within the first week.

via Style By Emily Henderson

And then, I saw other blogs with them too. It seemed to be in every reveal post I came across. And I was jealous. I envied their green things. I wanted some of my own (at least, the kind that aren’t overtaking my yard), and my home was very much plantless (not the same as pantless, which yeah – living alone and working from home – actually happens quite a bit in this house).

fiddle leaf fig family room
via Gardenista

Other than a plant I had received as a housewarming gift four years ago, there aren’t any plants in my home. Which, through it all, even my realizing that the plant was not actually fake (took me a few months and then saw the leaves dropping off before the lightbulb went off), it still managed to hang on and come back after weeks or months of neglect.

Still, the main deterrent for me was the cost. On average, I saw people saying they got an “awesome deal” on fiddle leaf fig trees at price tags I wouldn’t pay for a plant. It’s not that plants aren’t worth it (actually, I still think they’re expensive, but that only adds to my belief that they are a waste of money because I kill green things). But I knew I’d be throwing money away if I spent $30-50 on something that would live only a week or two (sidenote: yes, I know that when plants die, some stores offer replacement guarantees, but I’m bad enough as it is for forgetting to return a set of electric box extenders I don’t need, let alone something that’s dead and taking up space in my house – I’d likely wind up throwing it in the trash before putting it back in my car).

via House*Tweaking

So, I sat behind my computer and found myself liking this big, leafy plant more and more. And at a certain point, it seemed like maybe I wasn’t meant to, because now it was on every blog I’d read. I would be just another blogger with a fiddle leaf fig if I got one. And no one likes to feel like a cliché.

fiddle leaf fig little green notebook
via Little Green Notebook

But then I started reading that they weren’t as high maintenance like I thought. It likes filtered light, which was perfect for my house – between the tower of pine trees shading both the front and back of the house, my windows usually never saw direct beams of sunlight pouring in. And if it only needed water every ten days or so, I could manage that. I’d even read that they really like being stuck in the shower every once in a while (thus the whole shower joke). No wonder all of these great blogs were snatching them up. Still, even at $30, it would be hard to justify the purchase.

And then, earlier this year, I flew out to Arizona to do another season of Homestretch (I’m sorry for still not writing those recap posts… they are just so long and have so many images that it’s harder to find time to get to them, but I will do it! Soon!). And I found myself in the mecca of inexpensive home goods: Ikea. I was there to pick up things like picture frames, shelving brackets, and the hundred other items that it takes to put an entire room together in two days with a $2,000 budget. But as I was leaving the shopping area and heading for checkout, I saw dirt on the warehouse floor near the plant section. And it dawned on me:

I am really, really dense when it comes to plants.

No, that wasn’t the realization. Ok, actually yes, I did come to that conclusion, but I also realized that Ikea doesn’t just sell fake plants. The whole time in these last few years of shopping there, I had always walked right past the plant section because I assumed that the plants were fake. I know that makes me sound really dumb, my logic was actually not that bad:

  1. They are in what amounts to a basement-like environment, which I’m sure living plants aren’t big fans of
  2. They are crammed together like vases on a shelf, which made me think fake
  3. All of their display plants that I’ve touched were fake, so when I saw these same plants for sale, I just assumed they were all guilty by association.

But anyway, the realization: I could find really inexpensive plants at Ikea for about half the price I would pay at a home improvement store (which is usually my cheap source, since nurseries are typically pricier than that). Including…

Yep! Bought one for the homeowners’ makeover (along with a couple of other indoor plants).

I also made a mental note to pick one up myself when I got home. At $12.99, I figured I could take a gamble and try it out and see if I could keep it alive. I told myself I wasn’t going to share it on the blog until it had been in my house, alive and well, for at least a few months. And that’s how this little darling wound up in my dining room paint reveal post. I think it’s going to look great once I start layering in all of the decor.

fiddle leaf fig dining room

I’m still just as forgetful and neglectful at times, but never enough to kill it. It bounces right back if it starts to get a little thirsty (the leaves will droop a little). I just stick a finger about an inch into the soil to see if it’s dry (I’m trying to be careful not to overwater it, which has been just as much of an issue for me as forgetting to water it at all). And a couple of times when a rain cloud moves over the house, I brought it outside to get some direct shower treatment. I’ve moved it to either side of the dining room window (where it’s entirely filtered light), but I haven’t repotted it yet. I heard they can be cozy for a few months before moving… repotting too soon shocks them and they don’t like oversized containers, so I’m just letting it be for a bit in its original container. I dressed it up by placing it inside a larger one.

So, there you have it. I’m officially a blogger cliché. And I’m alright with it, since now I have a beautiful plant to brighten up the house a little. And it’s giving me the courage to consider buying a couple more when the time is right (I’m in no rush with all of the DIY projects to finish and the potential move when they’re all crossed off the to-do list). How about you? Do you have one of these plants of your own (or any tips on plants you’ve found easy to grow)? Have you ever smacked yourself on the forehead for realizing your mistake, could’ve had a V8 style?

P.S. I’ll be doing my first-ever radio appearance this evening at 7PM EST on The Stark Group LIVE! Talking Real Estate, based in Cleveland, OH. You can watch live online as well here. I’m nervous, wish me luck!

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  1. I just jumped on the fiddle leaf fig tree bandwagon too when I found some for a steal at Home Depot recently! I got a large one and a small one, so let’s just hope my black thumb can keep these things alive! I really love the way they look.

  2. They are beautiful and, of course, good for air quality! No bandwagon! They’re a really great house plant! That makes you smart! Sadly, I have no room for live plants in my home…well, there is a violet passed off on me lurking in the living room :)

  3. I’ve never had great luck keeping plants alive before, either. Last night I picked up a few cacti at IKEA (It was also the first time I realized they sold live plants, seriously, they need to tell us!). I figure I can handle plants that only need to be watered every month or so. Right?

    Your fig looks gorgeous. Great job keeping it alive!

  4. You’re not alone in recently discovering the live plants at IKEA! Next time I go to one, I must buy plants!

  5. I love it! And it looks great next to your gorgeous wall color! I might have to get me one of these… Such a rich green. Reminds of me of Hawaiian foliage!

  6. I was watching a Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire movie (The Gay Divorcee) recently and there was a fiddle leaf fig in Ginger Rogers’ room! The movie was shot in 1934, so maybe it’s not a cliche, but m ore of a classic?

  7. I’m a black thumb too, but I love house plants so I’ve tried a lot over the years! Funnily enough I don’t have a fiddle leaf yet but I’ll snatch one up at the first (reasonably priced) opportunity.

    I tend to prefer plants that are architectural (as well as hard to kill) so I’ve got an assortment of schefflera, sanseveria, peace lilies, spider plants, ZZ plants (zamioculcas) yucca and pepperomia. All of those are pretty much un-killable, although I have to say that my pepperomias tend to have a finite life span… they’ll last me a year or two and then keel over and die. Not sure why but I figure that 2 years out of a cheap DIY store plant is good enough.

    Top tips I got from a green-fingered friend. Always keep houseplants in a pot with drainage holes and put them in bigger decorative pots with some materials at the bottom (like rocks) to ensure good drainage. That said right now I have a couple spider plants and 2 yuccas growing in water… yes, water only, no soil at all. And they’ve been happy and growing (leaves and roots) for months. Same friend told me that most plants are happy to be watered by being plunged in a sink full of cool water until the soil stops bubbling, then left to drain on the sink’s sideboard for a bit (like 5 minutes) and popped right back in their decorative pot. I try to do this once a week in the summer, less in the winter, and try is the operative word here, it doesn’t always happen. Not hard to do though, I usually get them done at dinner-time since I’m in the kitchen anyway.

    I try to re-pot every spring, but there again… doesn’t always happen. Apart from the odd diva, they cope well enough if I forget.

    I left a yucca outside one winter (I get some freezing weather but mostly average around 5°C), it died back leaving nothing but the trunks standing tall, plastic pot frozen to my deck and occasionally snow covered too. I was sure it was a goner so I cut the trunks back hard in preparation to throwing it out but loo and behold early summer it was sending loads of new leaves from the base…. Amazing!

  8. I have to have that plant! Haha, very cool though. My house is like an an old folks home for plants, so these little trees probably wouldn’t work out. There’s this one spot near the bathroom window that plants thrive in. Everywhere else? Instant death.

    Sweet antlers, by the way.