The fiddle leaf fig does not like to be rootbound. A rootbound fiddle leaf fig has limited space for its roots to grow. This results in the fig plant getting insufficient water and nutrients to survive.
Also, it is very comfortable for fiddle leaf figs to remain rooted in a pot that makes them feel secure. However, the roots of these plants grow quickly. Once they are root bound the roots will come out of the drainage holes.
The roots that are growing out of the drainage holes will block the water flow within the pot. As a result, root rot occurs. In this case, you should re-pot the fiddle leaf fig immediately.
Also, repotting is necessary if you want to keep your plant healthy. Ideally, fiddle leaf fig plant should be repotted every 2-3 years.
If you don’t re-pot the fiddle leaf fig in time, it will slow down its growth, and it may develop other problems. Problems such as stunt growth and droopy fiddle leaf fig leaves.
So, if you are facing root bound problem, then you will find a solution here. Learn how you can save your fiddle leaf fig from root rot in this article.
Why fiddle leaf figs don’t like to be root-bound
First, let’s understand why fiddle leaf figs dislike rootbound. So, when fiddles are root-bound, they run into issues due to the tight space in their pots.
The roots don’t soak up water and nutrients as the soil is compacted. Additionally, they are unable to absorb moisture because they cannot stretch.
In this situation, both overwatering and underwatering can occur because the root ball is unable to absorb water effectively, and then it is unable to drain and hold onto water for long periods of time.
Hence, it is important to know how often to water fiddle leaf fig plants.
Additionally, some roots may receive too much fertilizer while roots deeper in the pot receive too little because of nutrient deficiency and overfertilization. Fiddle roots that are too tight can also stunt their growth.
The best way to avoid rootbound issues is to repot your fiddle leaf fig every 2-3 years.
However, the question is, how do you know if your fiddle leaf fig is root bound? For this, you should look for rootbound signs. The following are the sure signs that your fiddle leaf fig is root bound.
What are the signs that a fiddle leaf fig is a root bound?
Sign #1: The roots are on the surface of the soil
You can tell if your fiddle leaf fig is root-bound if its roots are visible on the surface of the soil. Moreover, inside the pot’s rim, the roots grow in a circle. Also, you may notice thick lumpy roots at the base of the plant.
Sign #2: Roots extending through pot bottom
A fiddle leaf fig that is root-bound runs out of places to grow roots. Therefore, they may grow through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot.
If you see roots growing from the bottom of the pot, your fiddle leaf fig is root bound and needs to be repotted.
Sign #3: The soil is compacted
If the soil in your fiddle leaf fig pot pulls away from the sides, the roots may be taking up too much space in the soil.
In this case, the roots are able to absorb moisture from the soil quickly, which causes the soil to dry out too quickly.
Additionally, it is difficult for your plant to thrive in compacted or severely dry soil since it cannot get the moisture and nutrients it needs.
Sign #4: Slow growth
Your plant can’t thrive when its roots run out of room to grow and overfill the pot. Thus, root-bound fiddle leaf figs suddenly show slower or stunted growth.
Nevertheless, slowed growth during the fall and winter is normal after a summer of active growth.
As soon as you confirm that the fiddle leaf fig is rootbound, the next step is to fix it immediately. Repotting is the best thing you can do. So, in the next section, I will walk you through repotting fiddle leaf figs.
What is the best way to fix a root-bound fiddle leaf fig?
The best way to fix a root-bound fiddle leaf fig is to repot the plant. The following steps will show you how to re-pot a fiddle leaf fig:
Step 1: Choose a pot that is 2-3 inches larger than the existing pot
In general, you should choose a pot 2-3 inches larger than the current pot.
Also, make sure your new pot has adequate drainage holes to let the excess water drain away.
If you don’t have drainage holes, the soil will become wet, causing root rot due to too much water sitting in the roots.
Moreover, too large a pot can cause shock or overwatering, which causes root rot. Hence, avoid using too large pots for repotting.
Step 2: Choose the best soil for fiddle leaf fig
Fiddle leaf plants require fast-draining and well-draining soil to prevent root rot.
The fiddle fig prefers an arid, sandy setting with a potting mixture that retains moisture and contains plenty of organic matter. Also, the soil should be loose enough so that air can circulate freely and roots can grow unhindered.
Also, there are ready-mixed soils designed specifically for fiddle leaf figs that you can purchase. This pre-mixed soil can be found online and in nurseries everywhere.
However, when selecting a fiddle leaf potting mix, consider these essential elements:
- Drainage that works well
- Property of retaining moisture
- Flow of air
- Prevention of disease
Step 3: Wash away the remaining soil from the pot
To loosen the soil and roots of your plant, gently squeeze the plastic container.
Grasp the roots of the fiddle leaf fig with one hand and the pot with the other. Remove the pot gently.
Then, gently “untangle” the root ball to remove as much soil as you can after removing the plant.
Additionally, there is no problem if a few roots break off, but try to reduce that number as much as possible. To get rid of most soil, you can also run the plant under running water.
Step 4: Get rid of damaged and rotten roots
Using a pair of small scissors, cut off any damaged or rotten roots once you have cleaned the root system.
This will prevent the pot from becoming infected with disease or root rot.
Moreover, it will encourage the plant to replace the old and decaying roots with new, healthier ones.
Step 5: Place the fig plant in the new pot
Once you have cleaned the root system of the fiddle leaf fig and removed all soil, dead roots, and rotting roots, you can plant it in its new pot.
Fill your new pot ⅓ with soil mix. Next, place the fiddle leaf fig in the pot, making sure its base just touches the pot rim.
Hold the plant with one hand and use the other to fill up the remaining space in the pot with soil mix.
If you need help filling the pot with soil, you can have someone hold the pot upright for you.
Using the palm of your hand, compress the soil once the pot is almost full in order to keep the plant stable.
Make sure you don’t compact the ground too much, just enough to provide some stability and prevent the top layer of soil from blowing away.
Check Out: How To Choose the Best Pot For Fiddle Leaf Fig
Step 6: Water your fiddle leaf fig
Now that you have re-potted the plant, it’s time to water your fiddle leaf fig. By watering, the soil will naturally compact a bit more and recover from being repotted.
Step 7: Aftercare
Once your fiddle has adjusted to its new pot, place it back in its place and resume your usual care routine.
However, don’t fertilize for a month or so after such a big change, as the roots are tender. Once a month, you can return to fertilizing with fiddle leaf fig food to help your fiddle grow and thrive!
It’s a pretty easy problem to solve, but bound roots can harm your fiddle if left untreated. Be sure to repot your plants every year or two to prevent root wrap from occurring in the first place!
Learn More: About Repotting Fiddle Leaf Fig – When, Why, and How to Re-pot
What is the best time of year to repot fiddle leaf fig plants?
It is best to re-pot fiddle leaf figs when they are active. In the summer or spring, the plants are most active, so repotting at that time is best.
Regardless of whether it’s root-bound or not, repot your fiddle leaf fig every 2-3 years.
By repotting the plant, the soil is replenished with nutrients, which boosts the plant’s growth.
However, if your fiddle leaf fig is root-bound, re-pot it immediately.
Additionally, winter is too cold for fiddle leaf figs, so never re-pot during this time.
What is the recommended pot size when repotting fiddle leaf figs with root rot?
Use a 2-3 inch larger pot if your fiddle leaf fig is root-bound.
If you use a too-large pot, the plant will spend all its energy growing roots instead of foliage.
Also, it’s very important that the pot has proper drainage holes for the excess water to drain away. Root rot will occur if excess water does not drain out of the fiddle leaf fig.
What kind of soil should I use when repotting fiddle leaf figs?
It’s important to choose soil that allows excess water to drain from the bottom of the pot. For this reason, well-draining soil is essential for fiddle leaf figs. Moreover, figs prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH level between 5.5-7.
Furthermore, no matter how saturated the soil is, there should still be air pockets. Also, your fiddle leaf fig should drain excess water after you have watered it.
When you keep your fiddle leaf fig in the same soil for an extended period of time, the soil’s acidity increases, which can damage the plant.
A soil mix that provides all the nutrients supports good drainage, and remains aerated will be the best soil mix.
To make the best soil mix for fig plants, follow the instructions below.
For a soil mix, mix two parts potting soil, one part perlite, and one part peat moss, and add a little water to make it.
You can also use one part compost and two parts cactus or succulent mix as potting soil for fiddle leaf figs. This is a perfect choice for your fiddle leaf fig since succulents and cacti both need a lot of drainages.
See our in-depth post on choosing the right soil for fiddle leaf figs
Few questions on fiddle leaf fig root bound
Q1. When should I re-pot my Fiddle Leaf Fig?
Ans. Fiddle Leaf Figs usually need to be repotted every two years, and spring is the best time to do this since the weather conditions can aid root growth. Also, warmer weather allows you to repot your fiddle outside, which is especially helpful if your tree is large.
Q2. Do fiddle leaf figs like big pots?
Ans. No, they don’t. Pots that are too large (over 6 inches in diameter) may cause root rot to take hold. Your fig will grow best in pots that are three to four inches wider and two to three inches taller than the pot it came in.
Q3. Can root-bound plants recover?
Ans. It is possible for rootbound plants to recover with the right repotting technique and adequate hydration.
Q4. What happens if you don’t re-pot?
Ans. If your plant is overgrown for its container, with roots crowded and no room to expand, it will become stunted and stressed. If it does not receive enough water and/or nutrients, it could drop leaves or even die.
Figs prefer to remain rooted in pots that feel secure. But they dislike root-bound situations. As the roots expand rapidly, they emerge from the drainage hole of the pot. Thus, it blocks the plant’s water and nutrient supply. As a result, your fiddle leaf fig becomes unhealthy.
You can find out if your plant is rootbound by checking its roots. When you see roots circling, extending out of the pot, and dry soil, that is a sign that the plant is root bound.
A root-bound situation can lead to root rot if not treated. Moreover, rotted roots can hinder your plant’s growth.
The best way to fix this problem is to repot your fiddle leaf fig. Furthermore, repotting the fig plants every 2-3 years is recommended to ensure healthy growth. Consider the steps listed in the article when repotting your plant.
Please feel free to ask for advice in the comment section if your fiddle leaf fig is experiencing any other problems. I would also appreciate it if you shared the article with your family and friends.
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