This Is Why Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves Are Pointing Up

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There are a few reasons why your Fiddle Leaf Fig leaves might be pointing up.

The most likely reason is that it isn’t getting enough light. It also might have become more upright due to increased turgor pressure, or it may just be young.

Don’t panic about your fiddle leaf fig tree’s leaves being too upright. It’s rarely caused a serious issue. Even if it’s not getting enough light, it’s *nearly* getting enough light, because if a fiddle leaf fig isn’t getting enough light it simply won’t grow.

It’s juvenile

Fiddle leaf fig tree leaves tend to be more upright when they first emerge, and then flatten out as they age.

Often when we buy a small fiddle leaf fig, it seems a bit too upright, because not only do the leaves point up, but they also tend to be pretty full-looking.

This is mostly likely because they’re raised in plant nurseries, and are provided with optimum light, food, and water.

Nurseries have plant care down to a fine art, because the better environment you provide for your plant, the faster they’ll grow. The faster they grow the faster they can be sold and another plant can take its place.

Here’s the fiddle leaf fig I bought a couple of weeks ago:

The internodal spacing is very small, because the plant has been grown quickly. It’s leaves are pointing up because they’ve only just unfurled.

There is also the possibility that the leaves are staying upright to get more sunlight, though it’s unlikely in such a bright spot.

As far as I’m aware, fiddle leaf figs don’t move up and down according to the light as prayer plants do, but it still has an effect on the way they grow.

It’s trying to get more light

Keeping the leaves upright as a way of stretching towards the light is an example of phototropism.

Whilst the leaves being upright isn’t a problem in itself, a fiddle leaf fig that isn’t getting enough light is due a leaf-dropping hissy fit any day.

Fiddle leaf figs trees hail from the tropical rainforests of Africa, so they like bright light. However, they’re not massive on direct sun in vast quantities.

Now, that doesn’t mean they can’t live in direct light. My fiddle leaf fig THRIVES in my south-facing window because the sun is nowhere near as strong in rural North Yorkshire as it is in Africa.

If you live somewhere warmer, like Florida, pull it a few feet away from the window.

But what about people that are seeing signs that their Fiddle leaf fig isn’t getting enough light? Well, there are a few things you can do:

Move it closer to a window

A bit obvious, but it works.

If you’re worried about burning, move it a couple of feet closer to the window every week or so. Fiddle leaf fig leaves are fairly thick and robust, so it shouldn’t burn.

You could also try moving it right into a bright window, but hanging a sheer curtain to diffuse the light.

Give it a grow light

Fiddle leaf fig trees aren’t the easiest plant to put under a grow light because they’re pretty big, but you could suspend something like this from the ceiling.

Clean the leaves

Sure, you may be worried that your Fiddle leaf fig leaves are standing upright BUT think of it like this: the more vertical the leaves are the less dust they can catch.

Dusty leaves can have a surprisingly detrimental affect on house plant leaves. Not only does the layer of dust block out the light reduce the amount of photosynthesising a plant can do, but the dust can also block the plant’s stomata that facilitate the gas exchanges responsible for photosynthesis.

Clean the leaves! I dust mine with a (dry) microfibre makeup remover cloth and it works like a charm BUT I see a lot of people raving about using microfibre dusting gloves.

Clean your windows

Manky windows can also block out a tonne of light, especially if you live on a main road with a lot of traffic.

I used to pay £10 every 6 weeks for a window cleaner (not sorted one out at this house yet) and it made quite the difference to light levels in the house.

Turgor pressure has increased

Turgor pressure is the water pressure in the plant. It kind of works like a hydraulic system in the plant. You know how plants droop when they need water? It’s because turgor pressure is low.

Fiddle leaf figs don’t tend to droop noticeably when they’re thirsty, because they have a fairly rigid structure.

They don’t tend to be like peace lilies and syngoniums, which are fine one minute and then collapsed the next. Fiddle leaf figs tend to droop a tiny bit every day, so you barely notice.

You may notice your fiddle leaf fig leaves looking more upright and perky immediately (or a few hours) after watering.

That’s because whilst you may not have noticed it drooping, the sudden increase in turgor pressure causes a more noticeable change than the slow deflation.

This is particularly noticeable if you’ve got a fiddle leaf fig that’s been underwatered for a while.

A lot of people like to give them a cup or so of water every week, rather than thoroughly watering them whenever the soil is dry.

I get it – FLFs can be tricky to get right when it comes to watering, especially if you’re new to plants (and a lot of flf owners aren’t really plant people, since they’re such a popular decor plant) so watering little and often can seem easier than watering it properly.

If you then thoroughly soak the soil, the plant may stand up taller than it previously did, because the turgor pressure has reached the maximum level.

Final thoughts

Don’t worry too much about upright fiddle leaf figs leaves. Try to maximise the light you give it, and don’t let it dry to the point that it droops if you can help it.

However, fiddle leaf figs that are truly having some kind of issue tend to show it by dropping leaves entirely, not just having them stand to attention.

Also…some fiddle leaf fig trees just grow like this, so if it seems otherwise healthy, and is kicking out new growth, it’s most likely totally fine.

Caroline Cocker

Caroline is the founder and writer (and plant keeper) of Planet Houseplant

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