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Yes! Fiddle leaf figs actually grow pretty well in LECA, and it can be a great option for people that can’t get to grips with their watering requirements.
Is it easier to grow Fiddle leaf figs in LECA?
It’s easier in some ways, and more difficult in others.
For example, fiddle leaf figs notoriously don’t like change, so the transition from soil to leca is likely to cause some issues – it’s not unheard of for them to drop all their leaves. Which is not, it’s safe to say, a particularly desirable outcome.
So if you have a big, beautiful fiddle leaf fig that’s your pride and joy…maybe don’t switch it to leca.
I switched my fiddle leaf fig to leca when it was, not to put too fine a point on it, dying.
As a natural underwaterer, we were NOT getting along well, and all of the leaves had dropped off. It was a last-ditch attempt to keep the thing alive, and it worked. A load of leaves grew back and it was thriving.
Did it eventually get thrips and die? Sure! But it recovered super well in LECA! And that’s what’s relevant here!
The watering schedule of a fiddle leaf fig can be somewhat erratic, because the rate at which they consume water varies according to some ancient lore that they will not share with us. Therefore, keeping it in leca is great for both parties. You don’t need to worry about it randomly needing watering three days in a row in the middle of December (???), and it can keep whatever whacky schedule it likes.
A LOT of people that keep fiddle leaf figs in leca prefer to use the shower method but I kept a reservoir in mine and it did great. The roots did grow into the reservoir quickly, but they didn’t rot or anything.
I kept mine in a glass jar, and it was WILD how much water it could get through.
Do Fiddle Leaf Figs do well in leca?
Yes. There’s a bit of a pervasive myth that plants in leca (and especially big ones, like fiddle leave and Monstera) can’t grow as big as they would if they were in soil, but there is 0 reason why this would be the case (if they’re cared for properly).
That being said, it can be a bit of a pain keeping big plants upright in leca, but a heavy cachepot and rocks on top of the leca can help this a lot.
It’s just more difficult keeping large plants in leca than it is small ones. It doesn’t surprise me that a lot of people switch back to soil once a plant gets a certain size, because things like flushing are more of a pain to do in a plant that’s too heavy to lift.
I also think they appreciate the nutrient solution. Plants in leca tend to be better fertilised than plants in soil because it’s part of the whole flushing routine.
I don’t know if fiddle leaf figs are heavy or light feeders (google it and you’ll get a dozen different answers, ranging from ‘super heavy feeders’ to ‘don’t need fertilising at all, ever’.
Overall, I think it’s the consistency of leca that suits fiddle leaf fig trees so well. They LOVE to be watered at exactly the right time, and keeping them in leca kind of overrides that, whilst keeping the water to the roots consistent.
How to transfer your Fiddle leaf fig to leca
I honestly wouldn’t bother if you have a really happy, healthy fiddle leaf fig. I wouldn’t feel right recommending you do anything other than keep doing what you’re doing.
However, when I transitioned my VERY sad-looking leaf-less trunk, I just rinsed the roots under the tap and stuck it in a jar with leca.
I did the shower method for the first two weeks (I just added water when the leca pebbles looked dry and then tipped it out) because the roots were super fine and stringy and I knew that if I cleaned them thoroughly they’d most likely all fall off.
Also, I don’t like cleaning roots.
Doing the shower method just ensure maximum oxygen gets to the roots. As soon as I noticed new root growth, I put a reservoir in, making sure it didn’t *quite* come up to where the plant’s roots started.
By the way, fiddle leaf figs, in my experience drop a TONNE of soil roots. Every time I dumped out the water from the jar it was FULL of roots. To be fair, they’re dramatic in every other aspect of their lives, why not this one?
Despite the profuse root-shedding, I noticed new leaf buds after a little while (say, a month??) and she was off!
She grew about four different growth points. If I’d been able to save her from the thrips she would have looked SPECTACULAR now.
Benefits of growing fiddle leaf figs in leca
- more consistent watering
- more consistent nutrients
Those are really the main two. Some of the other benefits of keeping plants in leca, such as making it easier to treat for bugs don’t really count when you’re dealing with a big tree – they’re always gonna be a pain to move around.
I saw a LOT less edema in my leca fiddle leaf fig that I saw when I kept it in soil. Fiddle leaf figs get edema very easily due to their sporadic water uptake, so it’s not surprising that it is reduced when they have constant access to water.
That being said, edema in fiddle leaf figs is often an annoyance, rather than an actual issue (even people with nigh-on perfect watering schedules can end up with the dreaded red spots), so I don’t think it’s worth switching just to stop the edema. If the plant is otherwise fine (i.e. it’s growing well) then the edema isn’t worth worrying about.
Problems with growing fiddle leaf figs in leca
- They HATE the transition – don’t do it unless it’s necessary/you’ve said your goodbyes to the leaves
- The huge ones can be unstable unless you take precautions (the aforementioned heavy pot and rocks)
- Flushing is a pain in large plants, especially heavy ones like fiddle leaf figs.