It may just be a houseplant, but it’s a design game changer. It’s been called the “it plant of the moment” by the New York Times Style Section. Chances are you’ve admired it yourself while out and about in the décor-savvy restaurants and salons in Austin. What plant, you ask, can stir up this much buzz? The fiddle-leaf fig, a.k.a. ficus lyrata— because it’s the plant that can make almost any room look like a page from Elle Decor.
With its big shiny leaves, shaped liked—you guessed it—fiddles, this plant from the rainforest lowlands of Western African has a laid-back, pre-historic feel. Even though it is in the ficus family, it seems like a remote and very stylish cousin of those ficus houseplants popular in the 90s, the ones still hanging around in dentist’s offices. But while the mundane ficus evokes a waiting room, the fiddle-leaf takes you on a vacation to somewhere exotic—Morocco, Cape Verde, Ibiza.
Alas, like many beautiful things, the fiddle-leaf can be finicky. It doesn’t like direct sunlight—the leaves will burn. And it won’t be happy sitting around in water, so make sure the soil drains. Some on-line vendors of fiddle-leafs suggest that it’s a low maintenance plant (you can buy little ones from Home Depot for under thirty dollars). Don’t fall for it. They require attention. We recommend buying one from a local nursery like Shoal Creek, which usually has a great inventory, so you know what you are getting and can chat with an expert about the best spot for your new fiddle-leaf—they don’t like to be moved around. Find a good home for this statement plant, give it a little love, and you can savor its stylish charms for years.