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

Hey everyone! Today, I’m excited to share with you a side-by-side look at two amazing plants that have captured many hearts.

One key thing that sets the Fig Tree apart from the Fiddle Leaf Fig is its ability to handle the cold a bit better. This means you can plant Fig Trees in your garden even in areas that get cooler, way up north.

Because Fig Trees are tougher when it comes to cold, they’re often grown for their delicious fruit. On the flip side, the Fiddle Leaf Fig is usually found adding a touch of green indoors as a decorative plant.

I’ll dive into a few more differences between these two in this post, so stick around!

Fiddle Leaf Fig vs Fig Tree

Fiddle Leaf Fig and Fig Tree

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

Leaves

One standout feature of both the Fiddle Leaf Fig and the Fig Tree is their leaves, each bringing its own unique charm.

The Fiddle Leaf Fig’s leaves are quite large, often reaching up to 18 inches in length and 12 inches across. They start off narrow at the stem and then flare out, creating a shape that’s quite similar to a fiddle, hence the plant’s name. These leaves don’t have lobes, adding to their distinct look.

On the other hand, the Fig Tree’s leaves are a bit smaller, typically maxing out at 10 inches long and 7 inches wide. What’s fascinating about them is their deep lobes, usually three to five per leaf, which give them a very intriguing appearance. Unlike the Fiddle Leaf Fig, these leaves have a unique shape thanks to these cuts.

Texture-wise, the Fig Tree leaves have a slight matte finish, which makes their green a bit more subdued. In contrast, the Fiddle Leaf Fig boasts bright green leaves that come with a glossy sheen.

Fruits

The Fiddle Leaf Fig does produce small fruits, about 1 inch in diameter, but when it’s grown inside, you might not see much fruit, if any at all. This is because it needs lots of sunlight for the fruit to develop properly, something hard to come by indoors. As a result, any fruit it does produce might not ripen fully or take on the purple hue it’s supposed to.

Moreover, the fruits of the Fiddle Leaf Fig are encased in a tough, leathery skin that’s not easy to peel, and their flavor is often underwhelming or nonexistent.

On the flip side, the Fig Tree is celebrated for its delectable fruit, a staple in diets across many cultures for ages. The fig industry is vast, covering the cultivation, harvest, and sale of figs. Given its outdoor growth, the Fig Tree basks in ample sunlight, encouraging a generous yield of fruit, which can grow up to 2 inches in diameter. There’s a wide array of fig varieties out there, with some top picks being Brown Turkey and Black Mission figs.

Temperature/Hardiness

The Fiddle Leaf Fig thrives in warmer conditions, ideally between 65-75 °F (18-23 °C), but it can manage in temperatures as low as 50 °F (10 °C). This means it’s more of an indoor plant for most folks in the U.S., given the cooler climates in many regions.

The Fig Tree, however, is much tougher. It’s happy growing in zone 8, where the mercury can plunge to 10°F (-12°C), making it a great choice for outdoor planting and ensuring a bountiful fruit crop.

What’s more, thanks to the efforts of breeders, there are now Fig Tree varieties that can brave the chill of zones 7 and even 6. This opens up the possibility for nearly everyone in the U.S. to grow this marvelous plant in their garden.

So, wrapping up this section, the Fiddle Leaf Fig is a prime pick for an indoor decorative plant, while the Fig Tree stands out as a robust fruit-bearing tree for the outdoors.

Size and Shape

Both the Fiddle Leaf Fig and the Fig Tree can grow into towering trees in their natural environments. The Fiddle Leaf Fig can shoot up to 50 feet tall, while the Fig Tree typically grows to about 33 feet tall and spreads out to 10 feet wide.

However, when the Fiddle Leaf Fig is kept indoors, it seldom grows taller than 10 feet. It usually sports a main trunk from which branches sprout, leading to large, impressive leaves.

On the other hand, when planted outdoors, the Fig Tree can reach its full potential in size, developing a broad shape that allows for a sprawling canopy. Plus, it’s quite manageable through pruning, allowing gardeners to shape it as needed.

Light

In their natural habitats, both the Fiddle Leaf Fig and the Fig Tree can thrive in full sunlight. However, since the Fiddle Leaf Fig is commonly grown indoors, direct sunlight is usually too harsh for it. In nurseries, these plants are often raised under the filtered light of greenhouses, getting accustomed to more moderate light conditions.

If you choose to move your Fiddle Leaf Fig outside during the warmer months, it’s best to avoid placing it directly under the harsh sun. Ideally, it should catch a few hours of the gentle morning sunlight and then enjoy the shade for the remainder of the day.

The Fig Tree, on the other hand, loves sunlight and benefits greatly from it, especially when it comes to fruit production. Ample sunlight energizes the tree, enabling it to produce a bounty of tasty figs. If the Fig Tree receives only partial sunlight, you might notice a decrease in fruit yield. And in full shade, it might not grow well at all.