Is this houseplant the new fiddle leaf fig? Real Homes asks the experts

The ubiquitous fiddle leaf fig's got competition

bedroom with shady lady plant
(Image credit: Courtesy of Magnolia Network)

The fiddle leaf fig has become an icon of the houseplant world. Whether we're on Instagram or Pinterest, we can't move for pictures of bright white living rooms with the 'it' houseplant tucked in the corner.

The fiddle leaf fig love is real, but the Shady Lady, AKA the Black Olive tree - or for the botanists among us, the Bucida buceras - could be about to change all that.

shady lady tree in large white pot

(Image credit: Getty / Patricia Anguita Paris / EyeEm)

Daniel Nichol, Managing Director of House of Kojo, isn't so sure. 'I have seen them in homes in the US, but I don’t think Shady Lady will replace the fiddle leaf fig just yet,' he says. 

'They are generally only available in huge sizes, so it's not something most people can fit in their home. You see them occasionally in airports and hotels because it is one of the only trees that does well indoors. They grow huge!'

He adds that growers in Europe may be able to grow smaller variations, and then they might become popular.

'House plants do follow trends though, so what everyone wants this year may be out of fashion next year. People love a fiddle leaf fig, though!'

shady lady plant in pot indoors

(Image credit: Getty / Imagenavi)

Anna Waterfield, founder of Plant Pet Club, says the Shady Lady definitely has the potential to steal the crown from the fiddle leaf fig. She thinks its popularity comes down to the way it quite literally brings the outdoors in. 

'This tropical tree species is very popular among architects and interior landscapers,' she begins. 'And this has everything to do with the ‘outdoor effect’. So for those looking for a simple yet striking transformation of space, this tree is definitely the one!'

If you've not had much luck with your fiddle leaf fig, the Shady Lady could be a good alternative. 'It is relatively easy to look after,' Anna adds. 'It will thrive in full sun, however, it will do well in partial shade too. It's draught tolerant and needs only occasional pruning. 

She points out that while a large tree can be expensive, it will grow by around 12 inches each year if given the right care. We recently wrote about the most valuable houseplants - do you own any of them?

bedroom with wallpaper on the ceiling

(Image credit: Courtsey of Magnolia Network)

For our pick of the very best indoor plants, head to our guide. And if you're looking to spruce up your outdoor space, head to our garden design ideas piece.

The black olive tree's name is actually a bit of a misnomer, as it won't produce edible black olive fruit. We've seen this gorgeous tree with dainty leaves cropping up in episodes of Fixer Upper and Dream Home Makeover, and as long as you've got a decent space, we think it makes a fabulous statement piece.

Millie joined Real Homes in early 2021 as a homes news writer. When she isn't writing about trends, makeovers and houseplant care, she spends her free time making tweaks to her rented flat in North London. Her next project is a very basic armchair reupholstering job to help create a cosy reading nook in her living room. She loves browsing antique centres, tending to her small front garden, and is never without some fresh flowers at home.