Fiddle Leaf Fig vs Fig Tree: What’s The Difference?


Mentions of the fig tree are very old and it has long been world-famous. Not least because of its very tasty fruit. The benefits of the fig tree are attracting more and more gardeners.

The main difference between the Fig Tree and the Fiddle Leaf Fig is that the former can withstand lower temperatures. Accordingly, Fiddle Leaf Fig can be grown in the garden much further north.

A consequence of its higher frost resistance is that Figs are mainly grown for their fruit. The Fiddle Leaf Fig, on the other hand, is most commonly grown as an ornamental houseplant.

There are also some other differences between these plants that I am going to tell you about in this article.

  Fiddle Leaf Fig Fig Tree
Botanical name Ficus lyrata Ficus carica
Temperature/USDA hardiness zone 50 °F (10 °C)/10-12  10°F (-12°C)/6-11
Mature height 10 ft (3 m) 23–33 ft (7–10 m)
Mature width 3 ft (0.9 m) 10-30 ft (3-9 m)
Leaves 18 inches long and 12 inches wide 10 inches long and 7 inches wide
Sunlight exposure Part shade Full sun
Soil loose, well-drained loose, well-drained
Soil pH 6.0-6.5 6.0-6.5
Watering Water when soil is 2 in dry. Water when soil is 2 in dry.
Diseases fungus fungus
Pests insects insects
Fiddle Leaf Fig vs Fig Tree
Fiddle Leaf Fig and Fig Tree

Leaves

One of the most notable features of the Fiddle Leaf Fig and Fig Tree is the leaves.

Fiddle Leaf Fig has almost twice the leaves of its competitor, reaching a length of nearly 18 inches and a width of 12 inches. The leaf shape is very interesting, with a narrow leaf next to the petiole and widening further up the middle. The end of the leaf is very wide, as a result, the shape of the leaf is reminiscent of a fiddle. This is where the name of the plant comes from.

Fig Tree has smaller leaves, usually no more than 10 inches long and 7 inches wide. Also, the Fig Tree leaf is divided into 3 or 5 lobes. The cuts are very deep and the leaves have a very interesting shape. Fiddle Leaf Fig on the other hand has no lobes.

In addition, the surface of the Fiddle Leaf Fig is slightly matted, and, accordingly, the color is not as bright. Fiddle Leaf Fig has bright green leaves with a glossy surface

Fruits

Fruit is another significant difference between Fiddle Leaf Fig and Fig Tree.

Fiddle Leaf Fig has fruits approximately 1 inch across. When growing indoors, there is usually not much fruit or there may not be any fruit at all. For normal fruiting, it needs a lot of sunlight, which is not possible to get indoors. For the same reason, single fruits ripen very poorly and do not turn purple as they should.

In addition, Fiddle Leaf Fig fruits have a thick, leathery skin that is difficult to peel. Their taste is not very pleasant or there is none at all.

The Fig tree on the other hand has been known since ancient times for its delicious fruit. There is now a whole industry of growing, harvesting, and selling figs. In many countries, figs are a significant part of the diet.

Because the fig tree can be grown outdoors, it gets plenty of sunlight for abundant fruiting. The fruits of the fig tree can reach 2 inches across. There are many varieties of figs available today, some of the best are Brown Turkey, Black Mission, and others.

Temperature/Hardiness

As for temperatures, there are also some differences.

The Fiddle Leaf Fig can withstand temperatures of at least 50 °F (10 °C). But the most comfortable temperature for this plant is 65-75 °F (18-23 °C). This means that most people in the U.S. can only grow this plant indoors. Only in 10-12 USDA hardiness zones, Fiddle Leaf Fig can be moved outside in the summer.

Fig Tree, on the other hand, is much more hardy. It can grow in a hardiness zone 8 where temperatures drop as low as 10°F (-12°C). Growing a fig tree outdoors allows for a large harvest of fruit.

In addition, breeders have already introduced varieties of Fig Tree that can withstand freezing temperatures in zones 7 and even 6. All of this suggests that almost everyone in the U.S. can grow this wonderful plant. There are even examples of Fig Tree growing in Canada.

Many gardeners have had good results growing Fig Tree in pots. But in this case, it is better to move the tree to a cool place (basement, garage, etc.) for the winter.

From what has been said in this chapter, Fiddle Leaf Fig is better suited as an ornamental indoor plant, while Fig Tree is a full-fledged fruit tree for the garden.

Size and shape

Both Fiddle Leaf Fig and Fig Tree are full-grown trees. In their native habitat, Fiddle Leaf Fig can reach a height of 50 feet. Whereas the Fig Tree is usually 33 feet tall and 10 feet wide.

But because Fiddle Leaf Fig is usually grown as an indoor plant, it rarely exceeds 10 feet in height. Most have a central trunk that branched off into leafy petioles with huge leaves.

Because the Fig Tree can be grown outdoors it can reach its maximum size. The shape of the tree is wide so it can form a large canopy. This tree is also easy to control by pruning. The main thing is to use sterile tools and not to cut branches that have fruit buds.

Light

Both plants can tolerate full sun if grown in the wild. But since Fiddle Leaf Fig is mostly an indoor plant, full sun is contraindicated. In nurseries, these plants are grown in greenhouses in the diffused sun, and as a result, they are used to moderate amounts of light.

When you buy a Fiddle Leaf Fig, place it against an east, south, or west-facing window. The plant should receive direct sunlight several hours a day. You should not place it in a northern room because it will get not enough light there and it will be brittle.

If you decide to move Fiddle Leaf Fig outdoors in the summer, don’t put it in an open spot. Place the pot so that the tree gets a few hours of early sun and stays in the shade the rest of the day.

As for the Fig tree, it needs as much light as possible. It is the sunlight that gives the tree the energy to create lots of delicious fruit.

If the Fig tree is partially shaded, the amount of fruit will be much less. But in full shade, it will not grow at all.

Water

When it comes to watering, both trees are about the same. They need sufficient water to thrive.

When potting Fiddle Leaf Fig, you need to use pots with drainage holes. Water when the soil is about 2 inches dry. The amount of water should be large enough to moisten all of the soil in the pot.

The closer you get to winter, the less often you need to water Fiddle Leaf Fig. In winter, watering can be reduced to a minimum.

The Fig tree also needs watering. This is especially important for newly planted trees. As in the previous case, water when the soil dries out a bit. The amount of water should be large so that the soil is well saturated.

One feature of Fig trees is an aggressive root system. This tree has learned to survive in the hot environment of the mid-Mediterranean. The consequence of this is that growing other plants under a Fig tree is quite challenging.

Soil

The soil requirements of both plants are very similar. Fiddle Leaf Fig and Fig Tree can grow in almost any soil and problems rarely arise. But they need a well-drained, loose substrate to thrive.

Add a few buckets of organic matter to the planting hole before planting. It is preferable if you use quality fresh compost. You can also pour a small number of stones into the bottom of the hole to create drainage.

If you are growing any of these trees in a pot, you can use a special potting soil mixture designed for fig trees. Or you can make your own by using regular potting soil and adding lots of nutrient-rich organic matter.

Regarding the pH of the soil, both plants prefer slightly acidic or neutral soil. The soil should have a pH of 6.0-6.5.

Fertilizer

In general, both plants are not particularly demanding to feed. If the soil is nutritious, these trees can grow without fertilizer at all.

But if the Fiddle Leaf Fig does not grow or the Fig Tree does not bear fruit, you can fertilize them. I recommend fertilizing these plants with a slow-release fertilizer in pellet form. The amount of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium should be 10-10-10.

Fertilization is best done in early spring. The amount of fertilizer depends on the size of the plant. Fertilizer manufacturers usually give exact instructions on how to apply their products.

Igor Viznyy

Hi friends, I have been growing plants for many years and love doing it. You can find more information on the page About Author.

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