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You can bring the tropics indoors

I’m not a fan of winter and this winter has been the worst.

I long for all things spring and summer — green leaves on trees, colorful azaleas, tulips and daffodils. One way I like to rush it along is to bring those wonderful things indoors, and a new houseplant has worked for me.

Like fashion, houseplants come in and out of vogue. In the 1970s and 80s, the snake plant was all the rage. It was pushed aside by the ZZ plant and now the fiddle leaf fig is king of the hill.

The fiddle leaf fig, ‘Ficus lyrata,’ has made its way into many of our homes. I’ve seen it featured on Pinterest, Houzz and most of the home and garden magazines. As the name implies, the foliage of the fiddle leaf fig is shaped like a fiddle or lyre.

It’s native to the tropical jungles of the West African region near Sierra Leone where it can reach a height of 40 feet tall. Indoors, you might expect it grow 10-12 feet tall.

Here are a few tips to help you grow your fiddle leaf fig indoors:

• Place the fiddle leaf fig next to a window giving it as much natural light as possible.

• Make sure the tree is in an area of the house that does not receive direct air flow from air-conditioning or heating vents. The constant dry air blowing on the tree will dry out the foliage and soil more rapidly than normal.

• As with all potted indoor plants, watering is crucial. Before adding water, be sure to let the soil dry out to the point that it is dry to the touch. At that point, water thoroughly until you see water trickle from the bottom of the pot.

Because you are leaving the Fiddle Leaf Fig in place, don’t forget a good saucer to catch the extra water.

A method of watering that I use is to add one cup of water at a time — keeping count of the number of cups it takes for water to begin to trickle from the pot. The next time you need to water you can fill up one container with the appropriate amount of water. This keeps me from over-watering and possibly damaging my floors.

The fiddle leaf figdidn’t become the ‘it’ plant because it is difficult to grow. Following these few simple tips will help you chase away winter and bring the tropics indoors.

Rebecca Bates is an MSU Extension-Lincoln County agent, and can be reached at 601-835-3460 or by e-mail at rebecca.bates@msstate.edu.