Fiddle Leaf Fig, I Wish That I Never Brought You Home

Showering my fiddle leaf fig: The Spider Mite Episode

At the start of the pandemic, we were all cycling through similar horrors:

How will we get 36 rolls of toilet paper?!

Yeast! We need yeast to make our own bread!


Quick, buy a ton of houseplants!

Ultimately, we got the toilet paper and grocery thing sorted. I never did have to resort to making my own bread, or toilet paper! Epic relief. We rely on a brave personal shopper to hit the stores for us and deliver all the essentials. And, of course, Amazon. Love that company or hate it, if you need strawberries or new Crocs for your child, they’ll show up at your house in a smiling box.

The plants, however…

In April, I rapidly grew my house plant collection from 5 to 19 in a matter of weeks. There’s probably more than 19. I’m too embarrassed to count. But, when we were on lock down, one of the few places I felt safe shopping was the local nursery: Boston ferns, monstera, monstera adonsonii (the swiss cheese plant), a money tree, too many succulents, and the figs.

Every damn influencer and magazine spread has one or more fiddle leaf figs in every shot. Their trees are glossy and have giant, perfect leaves, artfully plopped into a bohemian basket, stylishly punctuating every foyer. The figs appear to be effortless sentients to the activities of living being advertised.

When I found a pair at the nursery, I lugged them and two giant pots (and the dirt) into my life. I needed a distraction from reading horrible covid-19 articles and statistics. I needed some control. I became, or tried to become, a crazy plant lady.

I clogged up my Instagram feed, following local plant vendors and my Google feed with YouTube videos about the care of these plants.

And guess what I discovered? These are finicky fucking plants. All of my other house plants are polite enough to survive 10 days without water.

Not you, fiddle leaf fig! My YouTube crazy plant people all tell me how “finicky” you are. Are the leaves brown? Are you over-watering? Are you underwater? Root rot? How to tell if your plant has spider mites. Ah, spider mites?! (It turns out my figs DID have spider mites and I have not forgiven them since. When you have to give your plant a shower to blast off tiny spiders, you’ll lose the love fast.)

Fiddle leaf fig. Even typing your name makes me want to choke you. And that’s also a thing that I’m supposed to be doing. Rather, I should “exercise” my plant, à la Homer Simpson. What? You’re not exercising your plant?

Oh, I’ve been waiting 2 months to write about how you’re supposed to exercise your plant by “shaking it for 2 minutes several times each week”. Like, be the wind in the rain forest. But guess what? I’m too busy. I’m not really exercising my own body right now and I’m supposed to shake a small tree?

Saturday is “water the plants” day. Some plants, I mist during the week. Because part of my plant hysteria involved purchasing two amber glass spray bottles…for misting the damn house plants. The Boston ferns and the accursed figs. The ferns are grateful and are growing into gigantic green beasties. The figs. Those damn figs. Every week is their last chance. I sneer at their spotty new leaves and the others that curl, or droop.

“This is your last week, plant!” (I know, you’re supposed to love on them and name them and play them the Baby Einstein Rainforest nightlight your children have outgrown.

But that’s the thing, plants. I have humans to take care of. And an elderly cat. And sometimes I even try to take care of my husband.

This is your last week, figs!! Shape up and get Instagram worthy or I’m chucking you in the dumpster.

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