Fiddle Leaf Fig Bush vs. Tree

Written by Luxia Le
Updated: June 20, 2023
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Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree vs. Bush: Full Comparison

While it might be disappointing to hear, there are actually not too many differences between the Fiddle leaf fig tree and the fiddle leaf fig bush. These plants are genetically similar; their only real difference is their mature shape and size. However, there are also some differences in the care and propagation of the plant, so that’s what we’ll cover here.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree vs. Bush: What’s the Difference?

Fiddle leaf fig trees and fiddle leaf fig bushes are the same plants, genetically speaking. Both are of the genus Ficus and the species Ficus lyrata. That’s right, they are basically the same plant, and you can even propagate one of these bushes into a tree or vice versa! The only functional difference between these two is the shape and size to which they will grow when left to their own devices.

Frame right, fiddle leaf tree leaves on isolate white background. The leaves are large and green with a main vertical red/brown vein rung the length of the leaves,  from their stems to their tips, with auxiliary veins slanting out from the center of the leaves toward the edges.

Fiddle leaf fig trees and fiddle leaf fig bushes are the same plants, genetically speaking.

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Propagating a Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant from a Stem Clipping

Propagating a fiddle leaf fig plant from a simple stem or leaf cutting is fairly straightforward. First, you’ll want to prepare a container with preconditioned water free of chlorine. Though there are commercial products that remove chlorine from water, leaving the water sitting out overnight can produce the same effect.

When choosing your cutting, choose a stem with two or three leaves, but no more. Too many leaves will deplete the plant’s energy stores, the energy that the cutting needs for developing roots. The leaves help the plant propagate by giving it plenty of nutrients from the sun. Cut the stem two to three inches below the first leaf and place the clipping in your rooting container. Ensure that the stem is set in the water of the rooting container, or it will die.

Propagating a fiddle leaf fig plant from a simple stem or leaf cutting is fairly straightforward.

©Irina Zharkova31/Shutterstock.com

Using a rooting hormone will prompt the plant to quickly grow new roots. Houseplant Propagation Promoter is an excellent and easy-to-use rooting hormone. Simply follow the instructions, dipping the step into the rooting hormone before placing it into water or soil.

Place the rooting plant in a sunny place where it will get plenty of nutrients to grow and propagate. Ensure that the plant doesn’t get direct sunlight, which may burn the leaves. Check on it daily to ensure the plant has enough water. When additional water is needed, replace it with preconditioned chlorine-free water.

It will take about one month for your cutting’s roots to develop and mature. Once the roots have developed, it’s time to place the cutting in a pot that contains high-quality potting soil for the best results. Keeping the soil evenly moist for the first two months of the plant’s life will promote root growth, anchoring the plant in the soil.

a light skinned hand, frame right, is holding  clear glass bottle, center frame,  with water and cutting with two leaves of ficus lyrata with white roots isolate white backgtround.

Place the rooting plant in a sunny place where it will get plenty of nutrients to grow.

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Caring for Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant

Once your fiddle leaf fig plant has taken hold in the soil, you’ll want to maintain your plant and keep it healthy. Fiddle leaf figs are not exceptionally picky, but they require some knowledge and care.

Do not overwater your plant! Wait until the soil is on the dry side. Fiddle leaf figs are prone to root rot if their soil is too wet. Keeping it evenly moist but not wet while allowing the soil to dry out a bit between waterings can keep this fungal infection at bay. Dusting the plant’s leaves with a soft cloth keeps them thick and shiny.

Fiddle leaf figs like bright, indirect light. Placing it in direct sunlight may result in burning the plant’s leaves.

Woman hand wiping dust off green leaves of fiddle leaf fig, ficus lyrata

Dusting the plant’s leaves with a soft cloth keeps them thick and shiny.

©Damian Lugowski/Shutterstock.com

How to Prune a Fiddle Leaf Fig into a Tree or a Bush

Growing a fiddle leaf fig as a tree or a bush simply requires time and patience.

Growing a little fiddle leaf fig bush into a towering tree might seem impossible, but it’s easy to do! Encourage your fiddle leaf fig bush to grow into a tree by pinching of its axillary stems, which are shoots growing from the main stem or trunk. However, if you prefer a busier fiddle leaf plant, top it! Topping the plant, cutting off the plant’s main stem. Topping will cease vertical growth, allowing the plant to grow laterally.

To pinch off the stems, you want to use your fingers to pinch the buds at the top of the tree. This technique encourages less branching growth off the main trunk. In addition, you can use this technique to give your plant a little bit more fullness to the top of the tree. Pinching is an excellent technique if you don’t want to reduce the height of your plant much. You’ll also want to prune the plant in between the nodes. Nodes are spots on the stem where leaves and branches can grow. When you prune your plant, you want to ensure that you don’t cut into the nodes but instead cut the internode between the nodes. Cutting the nodes themselves can damage the plant, but cutting near the nodes encourages the plant to grow new branches from the nodes.

Fiddle leaf figs are excellent plants. Whether propagated as a bush or a tree, these lovely plants will surely provide years of beauty to your home or garden. Fiddle leaf figs can be grown outdoors in Zones 9-11.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Fascinadora/Shutterstock.com


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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are fiddle leaf figs hard to care for?

Fiddle leaf figs are not beginner plants but aren’t exceptionally hard to care for either.

How do I propagate a fiddle leaf fig?

You can propagate a fiddle leaf fig by putting a clipping in chlorine-free water with a little bit of rooting hormone.

Are there varieties of fiddle leaf figs that don’t grow tall?

Yes, Suncoast and Compacta fiddle leaf figs will grow short and bushy if left to their own devices.

How tall do fiddle leaf fig trees grow?

Fiddle leaf fig trees can grow to be six feet or taller.

Are fiddle leaf fig bushes and trees the same plant?

Yes, these two plants are the same plant grown in different shapes.

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Sources
  1. Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ficus_lyrata
  2. Mertz Library, Available here: https://libguides.nybg.org/fiddleleaffig
  3. Humboldt & Del Norte Master Gardeners Newsletter, Available here: https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=46029