While propagating Fiddle Leaf Figs is not as simple as it is for other houseplants, it can be done, producing even more of these stunning trees at absolutely no cost. In this guide, we’re going to go through step-by-step how to propagate a fiddle leaf fig at home successfully.
Propagating Fiddle Leaf Figs – The Essentials
Fiddle Leaf Figs are best propagated in spring or summer by stem cutting and planted into soil rather than water. Single leaves can grow roots in water, but they will not grow branches or develop into full plants. Rooting hormone and a plastic cover to create a greenhouse environment around the cutting will increase your chances of success.
Can All Fiddle Leaf Figs Be Propagated?
Most houseplant enthusiasts will be familiar with the regular Fiddle Leaf Fig species Ficus lyrata. But that’s not the only option. There are also a few exciting cultivars that make great collectors plants:
- Variegata: The variegated Fiddle Leaf Fig with a band of cream around the edges of the fiddle-shaped leaves.
- Compacta: A medium-height variety growing around 5 feet tall with dense clusters of foliage.
- Bambino: A dwarf variety with cute and compact leaves.
These types can be propagated in the same way, although they may take longer to develop roots than the original species due to their slower growth.
Key Considerations When Propagating Fiddle Leaf Figs
Level of Effort
When compared to other houseplants, Fiddle Leaf Figs are not the easiest plants to propagate. Their woody stems are not as prone to developing roots as soft stems, making success less likely.
That does not mean it’s an impossible process. There are a few products and tricks that will increase your chances of rooting. Propagating several cuttings at one time will also give you better chances of ending up with at least one rooted cutting.
Can You Propagate Fiddle leaf fig From Just a Leaf?
You may have seen pictures of Fiddle Leaf Fig propagation across your social media feeds, with large leaves popped into glasses and placed on a sunny windowsill. The roots evident in these images mean that single leaves can grow in the water independently.
But, there is a catch.
These leaves are unable to develop into fully-fledged Fiddle Leaf Fig plants. They do not have enough nodes – the parts of the stem that develop roots and new tissue – meaning that new branches cannot grow. The existing roots develop from the remaining tissue of the original node.
These roots can continue to grow and keep the leaf green if additional nutrients are provided. However, you can’t propagate new plants from a single leaf.
Rooting In Water Vs Soil
Water is a commonly recommended propagation method for Fiddle Leaf Figs. Unfortunately, this only really works for single leaves and not stems.
Woody cuttings need to be propagated in soil for the highest chances of root growth success. Propagating in water is likely to do more damage to the stem by causing it to rot, ruining any chances of root growth.
If you want to keep a single leaf in water as a decorative feature, it may develop roots over time. But if you want to regrow a healthy and happy plant, soil is your best bet.
How to Propagate a Fiddle Leaf Fig
Gather Your Tools
Woody stem propagation requires a sharp pair of pruning shears. The cleaner the cut you make, the less damage there will be to the cutting and the plant itself.
If your shears have been previously used, you should also clean them thoroughly before you get started. Tools can transfer harmful bacteria and germs to your plants, encouraging disease. Clean with soap and water or a 5% bleach solution to properly disinfect them.
You will also need a container. A recycled medium-sized plastic container is perfect as the cutting won’t be in the pot for long, but any container with drainage holes is suitable. If you’re reusing an old container, make sure you wash it with soap and water to remove any previous soil residue.
Prepare The Soil
Propagating mix is slightly different from the regular potting soil. It should be light to provide as little resistance to root growth as possible and well-draining to stop the cutting from rotting.
Propagation mixes are available to purchase at nurseries or online. You can also mix your own by combining coconut coir or peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite. These materials retain enough water to keep the mixture moist but drain well enough to prevent rotting.
Pre-moisten the soil mix after adding it to your container and let the water drain from the bottom. This will limit the need to water after planting, which can wash away the rooting hormone at the bottom of the cutting.
Choose A Stem
Next, you’ll need to choose the right stem for cutting. It should be healthy and damage-free with at least three full leaves. Newer stems with green growth are more likely to develop roots than older, woodier stems.
Lateral branches that are crossing over one another are ideal as these need to be pruned away anyway to promote airflow. Do not remove too many cuttings at one time as this can result in stress.
Make A Cut
Once you’ve chosen your stem, count three leaves down from the growth point. The points where leaves develop are called nodes, and this is where new growth, whether it be roots or leaves, will emerge.
Make a cut just below the third node at a 45° angle. This increases surface area, providing as much space for root growth as possible.
A milky sap will leak from the cutting – avoid getting it on your hands. It is an eye and mouth irritant and can damage sensitive skin too.
Remove And Trim The Leaves
If there are any leaves growing from the bottom node of the cutting, remove them gently with your shears. Avoid damaging the node in the process as this will reduce your chances of rooting.
For the remaining leaves on the top half of the cutting, it’s best to cut them in half. Chopping a leaf may go against all gardening instincts. However, this is the method used by commercial growers to reduce moisture loss and direct the plant’s energy toward root growth.
Some leaves are still required for energy, but half of two large leaves will be plenty to maintain growth.
Dust With Rooting Hormone
While rooting hormone is an optional step, it greatly increases the chances of root growth in woody stem cuttings. It does this by stimulating root growth at the site of the cut.
Rooting hormone comes in powder form. Place some of that powder into a small container and dip the end of the cutting in until it is fully coated.
Don’t place the cutting directly into the rooting hormone container as this can contaminate it. Always throw the remaining powder away rather than putting it back into the container for the same reason.
Grab your pot filled with the premoistened soil mix and make a hole in the center with your finger. Place the cutting in the hole until the bottom node is completely covered and the stem stands up on its own.
Try to touch as little of the sides of the hole as possible to keep the rooting hormone in place. Less movement means more stays on the end of the cutting, increasing your chances of success.
Once planted, gently press around the cutting to anchor it in place.
Your final step is to create a mini-greenhouse to stimulate root growth. There are specialized propagation covers that have this effect, but you can also create your own with a clear plastic bag and a few skewers.
Place three to four skewers in the soil at the edges of the pot. Cover the skewers with the clear plastic bag, ensuring the sides of the bag do not touch any of the leaves or the cutting itself.
Place the pot in a warm spot with bright indirect light. Keep the soil moist by checking daily and mist inside the bag to raise humidity.
How Long Does A Fiddle Leaf Fig Take To Root?
If propagation is successful, your cutting should develop roots in just over a month. After six weeks, you can check on root growth by gently pulling on the cutting. If there is some resistance, or if there is any new growth developing on the cutting, your stem has roots. It’s best to hold off fertilizing a fiddle leaf fig until your plant has had a change to develop naturally as well.
Don’t be disheartened if there is no root growth after this time. Fiddle Leaf Fig propagating doesn’t have as high a success rate as other plants. It may not be a case of incorrect cutting care, but just that you were unlucky this time around. Find another stem, take another cutting, and try again.
Common Problems and Remedies
For successful rooting, it’s best to propagate in spring or early summer when the plant is actively growing. This also gives you the chance to take a cutting from the new growth, which is far more likely to develop roots. Cuttings taken over fall or winter are unlikely to develop roots, even if other conditions are met.
Post propagating care is also vital to root growth. Misting regularly and keeping the soil moist will create the right environment. Keep temperatures above 70F and keep the cutting out of direct sunlight to stop it from drooping or drying out too quickly.
Propagating Fiddle Leaf Figs – The Final Word
Fiddle Leaf Figs are so stunning that it’s hard not to want more of them. Luckily, with propagation and a bit of luck, you can grow as many new plants as you can handle.
For more, see our in-depth guide to the meaning and symbolism of fig trees.
Madison is a writer and editor with a Bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science. She writes and photographs for various online and print publications in the gardening sphere and is the author of the book The Next-Generation Gardener.