Fiddle Leaf Fig Care Guide What is the best soil to use

Fiddle Leaf Fig Care Guide: What is the best soil to use?

Fiddle leaf figs have earned the nickname “fickle leaf fig” from some plant parents because of how tricky they are to take care of. But with the right care and the best soil mix, you can enjoy the beauty of these green giants for as long as you want.

The best soil mixes to use for fiddle leaf figs are well-draining, well-aerated, and rich in organic matter. They’re also likely to grow healthy when the soil pH is maintained around the 5.5 to 7.0 range.

In this guide, we’ll dive more into what you should consider when choosing soil for your fiddle leaf fig, the ingredients to look for, and the best homemade soil recipes you can follow.

Things to Consider When Choosing Soil for a Fiddle Leaf Fig



Fiddle leaf figs are susceptible to root rot if their roots sit in waterlogged soil for too long. Hence, it’s important to choose a soil mix with excellent drainage to prevent the water from pooling at the bottom of the pot and drowning the roots.

Excellent drainage will also help flush out excess salts that accumulate in the root zone when fertilizing the plant.

Clay soils typically have poor drainage, so it’s best to avoid them. Look for a soil mix that uses loam soil and has materials like perlite, pumice, coarse sand, or bark chips. 



Oxygen plays a crucial role in keeping the roots of fiddle leaf figs healthy. Without it, fiddle leaf figs won’t be able to perform metabolic processes, which can have an adverse effect on the plant’s overall health.

That’s why it’s essential to choose or make soil mixes that have air pockets where air can pass. It shouldn’t compact easily as this can suffocate the roots.

Generally, well-draining soil mixes are also well-aerated. Materials that contribute to good drainage in soil mixes often also contribute to good aeration, so well-aerated soil mixes also have perlite, pumice, or coarse sand.

Organic Matter Content

Organic Matter Content

Like most plants, fiddle leaf figs need nutrients to perform normal metabolic processes and stay healthy. Soil mixes with organic content typically have a good supply of nutrients that will be beneficial for your fiddle leaf fig’s growth.

Aside from supplying nutrients to the plant, organic matter also helps improve both the drainage and moisture retention capacity of the soil. It absorbs and retains moisture but also makes the soil more crumbly, allowing excess water to drain.

Organic matter refers to any decomposed plant or animal materials, such as compost, peat moss, and worm casting. 

pH level

pH level

Although it’s often overlooked when choosing soil mixes for plants, pH level is actually very important if you want to have a thriving plant, like fiddle leaf fig. It influences nutrient availability in the soil, so it also affects the plant’s health.

Some nutrients are more or less available to plants in certain pH ranges. For example, iron and zinc are more available in acidic conditions, while phosphorus and magnesium are more available in alkaline soils.

For fiddle leaf figs, a slightly acidic pH, about 5.5 to 7.0, is ideal. You can amend the soil with coffee grounds if the pH is too high or limestone if it’s too low.

Moisture Retention

Moisture Retention

Fiddle leaf figs are native to tropical rainforests in West Africa, so they’re accustomed to humid and moist growing medium. Although they don’t like soggy conditions, they thrive when the soil retains enough moisture and doesn’t dry completely.

If the soil doesn’t hold moisture and dries excessively between waterings, your fiddle leaf fig may experience drought stress. This can affect the health of your fiddle leaf fig and may result in browning leaves, falling leaves, or stunted growth.

Soil mixes that have coco coir or peat moss typically have good moisture retention, so they can work for your fiddle leaf fig.

Pot Type

Pot Type

When choosing soil for your fiddle leaf fig, you don’t only consider the ingredients in the mix, but also the type of pot you’re using since it can affect the quality of the soil mix you’ll need.

Terracotta pots are porous by nature, so they’re great at draining excess water and letting oxygen in. Regular well-draining mix in the market would typically be enough for these pots.

If you’re using plastic pots, you’ll typically need to amend the regular potting mix by adding more perlite or bark chips. Plastic pots aren’t porous and retain more moisture than terracotta pots, so the potting mix should have excellent drainage.

Components of a Fiddle Leaf Fig Soil

Organic Potting Soil

Organic potting soil is a nutrient-rich growing medium made of organic matter like compost, well-rotted manure, worm castings, and composted tree bark. It doesn’t contain synthetic chemicals and pesticides that can harm fiddle leaf figs.

It’s high in organic matter, which is particularly important for fiddle leaf figs. With it in the soil mix, you won’t need to add compost anymore compared to using loam, sand, or clay.

Although it can serve as a good growing medium for fiddle leaf figs by itself, it’s still better to amend it with other materials to improve its drainage.


Perlite is one of the best ingredients to add to soil mixes when you want to improve their drainage and aeration. It has quite a large particle size, helping it create air pockets in the soil mix, allowing water to drain effectively and air to pass freely.

While it’s not organic, it’s sterile and doesn’t react chemically to other components in the soil, so it’s still safe to use for plants. 

Perlite is also lightweight, which is important for fiddle leaf figs, which can grow really tall and heavy. It doesn’t add much to the weight of the soil, so it won’t make it harder for you to move your plant.

Pine Bark

Similar to perlite, pine bark is an excellent ingredient for improving drainage and aeration. It has a coarse texture that creates gaps in the soil, allowing for better oxygen exchange and preventing compaction.

In addition to good drainage, pine bark helps hold some moisture without making the soil soggy.

Pine bark typically comes in three different grades: fine, medium, and coarse. Medium to coarse-grade ones are typically the best for the soil mix recipes we will recommend in this guide since they’re better at improving drainage and aeration than fine-grade ones.

Peat Moss

Peat moss is an organic matter made of decomposing sphagnum moss that’s harvested from peat bogs. It’s one of the go-to soil amendments of many gardeners when they want to improve their soil’s water-holding capacity.

It can absorb water about 20 to 30 times, so it can be helpful when you want to provide a consistent water supply to your plant or you’re using sandy soil, which drains extremely fast. Don’t let it dry out, though, as it might not be able to reabsorb anymore.

There are some environmental concerns over the use of peat moss since it takes hundreds of years to form in nature. If you have access to coco coir, you can use it since it provides almost the same benefits as peat moss and is more sustainable.

Horticultural Charcoal

Horticultural charcoal is a type of charcoal that’s processed to be specifically used in gardening. It’s often used as a soil amendment, especially for soils in pots that don’t have drainage holes, since it helps absorb excess water.

While it doesn’t provide many nutrients to the soil, it can help retain essential nutrients in the soil and prevent them from leaching away with excess water. It absorbs fertilizers and slowly releases them to the plant, helping it have consistent access to nutrients.

Horticultural charcoal also helps absorb impurities in the soil, such as bacteria, viruses, and chemicals. Although it doesn’t completely eliminate the possibility of bacterial or fungal growth in the soil, it helps minimize it, which is still beneficial for fiddle leaf figs.

Soil Mix Recipes for Fiddle Leaf Fig

Soil Mix Recipes for Fiddle Leaf Fig

Recipe 1

  • 2 parts organic potting soil
  • 1 part perlite
  • 1 part peat moss

This recipe is a nutrient-rich, well-draining soil mix that can retain sufficient amounts of water to support fiddle leaf figs.

Organic potting soil acts as the main growing medium for the fiddle leaf fig, and it’s rich in nutrients, providing the plant with enough access to nutrients for its growth. The added peat moss adds more organic matter to the soil and improves moisture retention.

On the other hand, perlite ensures the soil doesn’t get waterlogged by enhancing its drainage.

Recipe 2

  • 4 parts organic potting mix
  • 1 part pine bark
  • 1 part horticultural charcoal

Similar to the first recipe, this recipe uses organic potting mix as a base for the soil mix. Since it’s rich in organic matter, it can provide the essential nutrients that fiddle leaf figs need to grow.

Organic potting mix might retain too much moisture or compact easily, so adding pine bark helps prevent these. Pine bark makes the soil mix chunky, allowing water and air to move more freely around the soil, preventing waterlogged conditions.

Horticultural charcoal also helps improve drainage while making sure the nutrients from the organic potting mix and the fertilizer you’ll later add won’t be flushed out by water.

Signs That Fiddle Leaf Fig Is in the Wrong Soil

Wilting Leaves

Wilting leaves in fiddle leaf figs are often caused by soil that retains too much water or drains too fast.

Soil mix that retains a lot of water for too long can lead to waterlogged conditions and root suffocation. When the roots don’t receive enough oxygen, the plant gets stressed and may respond by wilting or drooping.

Similarly, if the soil drains too fast and doesn’t provide adequate moisture to the roots, the plant will suffer from drought stress and droop its leaves.

Falling Leaves

Falling leaves are another sign that the soil retains an excessive amount of water, leading to soggy and waterlogged soil. This, in turn, can cause root suffocation and contribute to root rot.

Once the roots start decaying, they also start to lose their ability to take up water, oxygen, and nutrients, forcing the fiddle leaf fig to conserve the few resources it has. It’ll eventually have to sacrifice some of its older leaves, leading to leaf drop.

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