Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees are one of our favourite houseplants out there so we have always been super interested in figuring out the best way to propagate them and create more plants for free! They just bring that special something to your home, becoming the focal point in every room.
It doesn’t have to be a difficult process if you know exactly what to do. So we hope this post will guide you through the whole process, from tools needed to a step by step method as well as how to solve any issues you might face.
Why propagate your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree in the first place?
The main reason tends to be people wanting to multiply the number of plants without actually having to buy any more. Because at the end of the day, who can say no to free plants?! Small cuttings also make great gifts for friends, especially as fully grown plants are pretty expensive and can be a little tricky to get your hands on. You might also look to sell some of your cuttings and make some extra cash!
Another reason might be because your plant is becoming too big for the room. If you want to trim back your plant to fit the space, or just want to cut off some leggy growth, instead of throwing away the cuttings, why not use them to create new plants.
And lastly, you may want to propagate your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree if part of your plant is damaged, or dying. If you have tried to save your plant by adjusting the environment or care and still nothing works then we recommend taking a cutting and use that to create a new plant. The most important thing when doing this is to choose a healthy section of your plant as this will give your cutting the best chance of success.
What tools will I need to propagate my Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree?
Let’s start off with the easy part. It’s important to make sure you have all the right things before taking that first cutting!
Healthy and mature Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree
Fresh soil and water
Newspaper or plastic sheet
Toothpick, plastic wrap and sphagnum moss (if you are using the air layering method)
What methods can I use?
There are three main methods; stem cuttings, division and layering. Stem cuttings and division are definitely the more common methods used and the ones we would recommend if you are fairly new to propagating houseplants. Below you will find a step by step guide to each method.
A lot of people ask if you can propagate from a single leaf and we usually say no. The problem with single leaves is that whilst they can grow roots, they will never actually develop any branches or more leaves. This is because you need part of the stem to grow buds from. Occasionally, leaf cuttings do contain a very small section of the stem which can over time grow a bud but this is quite rare and takes a lot of time.
How to propagate a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree from stem cuttings
Locate your stem cutting
When taking a stem cutting you want to make sure that the part of the plant you are cutting is healthy to give you any chance of success. You also need to make sure this section of your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree has at least one node. This is a stem joint and where the roots would appear out of. Ideally, we would recommend using a cutting with 2 or 3 leaves (and their nodes) on. Choosing a cutting that is slightly more mature will help speed up the process but a cutting with any more than 3 leaves will require a lot of energy to grow and maintain good health.
Make the cut
You want to use clean scissors/ shears or a knife to make the cut to avoid passing on dirt or any infection to the plant. Use your tools to make a clean cut across your plant in a diagonal way. This increase the surface area of the cutting and will help with healthy root growth.
You will notice that when you cut the stem that white sap will come out from the cutting. This is totally normal to the Fig plant family. Make sure you don’t ingest it or get it in your eyes as it will cause irritation. If you happen to get it on your skin, it shouldn’t cause too many issues but be wary it can cause some irritation for those with sensitive skin.
Choose how you want to grow your cutting
You can choose to grow your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree directly in potting mix, or place it in water for a few weeks before repotting. Both work and are successful methods of propagating. Some plant parents don’t use the water method as they can be slightly more sensitive to overwatering compared to some other plants but we have always used the water method and have seen great results. Choosing to grow your cutting in water also allows better visibility on the stem and roots so you can spot any signs of illness or root rot quickly. If you are using potting mix skip straight to step 8.
Take off any lower leaves
If you choose the water method you will want to remove any of the leaves lower part of the cutting that may end up sitting in the water. They will rot if they are sat in water for a long period of time so best to cut them off now. Each cutting is different so there may not be any leaves that need removing, other times you may have to cut one or two – it’s completely dependent on the length of the stem.
Fill up your container with fresh water
Next, you want to fill up a container with fresh temperate water to place your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree cutting into. Make sure the water isn’t super cold or hot as this will shock or burn your cutting and decreases the chances of a successful propagation. It’s best to use purified water so the levels of chlorine and fluoride aren’t as high as in the water straight out of the tap. A great way to do this naturally is to leave the water out for 24 hours to allow the chemicals to evaporate. You can also use filtered water or collected rainwater for your cutting.
We always tend to use transparent glass container as it means you can not only marvel at the new roots growing on your cuttings, but it means you can spot any issues early on.
Place your cutting in water
Make sure that at least one of the nodes on the stem cutting is sat in the water to encourage roots to grow out from it. Place your container in bright but indirect sunlight. Intense light will damage the leaves on your cutting.
Change the water regularly
It’s really important that you keep the water in your propagation station fresh. We recommend switching it out every couple of days to keep it free from bacteria and stop the water from stagnating and smelling. After a few weeks, you should start to see some roots growing from your cutting. Once they are a few centimetres long, your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree is ready to be pot into soil.
Plant your cuttings into potting mix
Make sure when you pot your cutting that you use a high-quality potting mix to aid with drainage and aeration. You should also make sure the mix is fresh and not from any of your old plants as this is an easy way to accidentally carry bacteria and pests between your beloved plants. Newly formed cuttings are much more sensitive to disease and pests so you want to be as careful as possible.
How to propagate a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree by division
You can only use this method if your plant has several offshoots growing off the same mother plant. If your plant is only one offshoot then you must use the stem cutting or layering methods.
Locate the various offshoots
When looking for a part of the plant to divide it will become very obvious if there are various offshoots on your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree. They will be completely separate and growth will grow from each individual stem popping out from the soil.
Take the plant out of the pot
Once you have located the various sections of the plant you will need to take your plant out of the pot so you can divide the root system. Carefully lift the plant out and shake off the potting mix around the roots. A good way to loosen the soil is to run your fingers through the roots to start to separate them. Luckily, they are pretty sturdy plants and their stems don’t damage as easily as many other plants so you don’t have to be super delicate when handling them.
Separate the sections
You may have to trim off the odd root if they aren’t detangling easily but you should be able to carefully pull the sections apart from each other. It’s ok if you have to slice around the plant a little to separate them but just make sure that each part of the plant has a substantial amount of the root system to aid a successful propagation.
Place in water or fresh potting mix
Pot the main mother plant back into its original pot (or downsize if you have taken a large chunk from the plant) and decide whether you want to place the offshoot in water first or straight into potting mix. This depends on the size of the cutting and the maturity of the root system. If the offshoot has quite mature roots then it will be totally fine growing in potting mix already. However, if you feel the roots need to grow a little more then we recommend placing them into water as a middle step.
Continue normal care
If your cutting is now in fresh potting mix then you can care for it as you would your other Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree. If it is in water first you want to refresh that water every couple of days and repot into potting mix once the roots have matured a little.
How to propagate a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree through air layering
Air layering is a slightly less common method as it can sometimes be a little tricky but the idea is that your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree cutting will grow roots whilst still attached to the mother plant. We tend to only recommend this method to more experienced plant parents who are fully confident with the other methods first.
Locate a healthy stem
When choosing the air layering method you want to make sure you are using a healthy and strong part of the stem. Avoid any part of the plant that is yellow, brown or showing signs of pests/sunburn etc. This will impact how successful your propagation is so choosing the right part of the stem is key to this method.
Make a vertical incision into the stem
Using a clean knife make a vertical cut into the stem that is a couple of inches long. You want it to go about halfway through the stem but not the whole way through. When making the cut it’s important you don’t slice all the way through to the other side of the stem.
Open up the incision
We recommend inserting a toothpick into the centre of the incision to hold it open. This can be a little fiddly as you don’t want to poke through the stem.
Attach damp sphagnum moss to the side of the incision
You want to tie the sphagnum moss around the stem with the cutting in making sure it stays damp but not soggy at all times. Use brown string, plant ties or garden wire to secure the peat moss to the stem of your Fiddle.
Wrap up the sphagnum moss
You want to wrap a piece of plastic wrap around the moss and stem. Wrap it firmly around the stem but still leaving some air pockets around the sphagnum moss.
Once you see a new root you can cut off the stem
After several weeks you should start to see new roots growing out of the moss. Once you see this you can slice the cutting off your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree, remove the film and pot the cutting into fresh potting mix. Handle your new cutting with care as the fresh roots will be delicate and are easily damaged.
Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Propagation FAQs
Ideally, you want to start at the beginning of spring for the best chance at a successful propagation. Make sure that any wintery cold weather is behind you so that your cuttings are growing in warmer brighter months. The whole process can be a little slower than other houseplants as their roots will take some time to mature so make sure you don’t leave it too late as they will struggle to grow once autumn arrives.
Starting in autumn or winter will mean that your cuttings will be trying to develop roots and new leaves at a time where the plant is usually dormant. This means you won’t really see much happening at all and the risk of leaf and root rot is a lot higher.
Grow lights are great when if your home doesn’t get too much natural light. They help simulate the ideal environment for growth and lead to strong roots and healthy green leaves on your Fiddle. Grow lights are also great to use more generally on your mature houseplants too if they don’t get enough light so are a great investment for any plant parent.
Heat mats are also a great buy as they create a nice warm environment that helps speed up root growth. Cool temperatures are damaging to young plants so you want to avoid the cuttings getting too cold.
It’s important that you are able to identify the different parts of the plant so you know where to make the cut. A node is where the stem and leaf joints meet. Although they don’t grow ariel roots like some other plants, you can be sure that with every leaf, there is a node.
When propagating Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees through stem cuttings, you need to include at least one node. Without it, you won’t have any chance of success as there is nowhere for the roots to form and the leaf will die relatively quickly.
Unfortunately, you aren’t able to propagate from a single leaf cutting. There needs to be at least one node so that new parts of the stem and leaves can grow. You will find that you see a lot of photos of single Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree leaves growing roots online which look pretty cool. However, 99% of the time won’t get any new growth other than a few short roots so it’s not worth the effort.
Whilst you can have plenty of success with just one node, try to choose a cutting with 2 or 3 nodes/leaves. It will help growth and we have had more success than with a single leaf. It also means that the cutting immediately feels like a new plant, rather than just one lonesome leaf.
Avoid using a cutting that has more than 3 nodes/leaves as this will require a lot of energy and nutrients to keep the cutting alive.
You’ll notice when you take a cutting from a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree that it will release white milky sap from the stem. This is totally normal and just something which happens to plants in the Fig family. Make sure to keep it out of your eyes and don’t ingest any of it as it can cause irritation. This is why we tend to recommend wearing gloves as it can cause irritation for those with skin conditions or sensitive skin.
When it comes to fertilising new cuttings we recommend avoiding it completely for the first year. If you fertilise your cutting before then it can actually slow down root growth as you are giving your plant nutrients directly. It also commonly causes shock in new cuttings which shows in yellow leaves, stunted growth and various other problems.
So put simply, stay away from fertiliser for a while.
Common problems when propagating a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree
Propagation won’t always be successful and you may run into several issues along the way if something isn’t quite right. But monitoring your new cutting will help you spot any problems early and you should be able to fix it.
It can be quite a slow progress so don’t expect fast growth like you may have seen on some of your other attempts. It can take weeks and sometimes even months for proper roots to develop on your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree cutting.
Make sure you are changing out the water regularly and keeping the plant in a nice warm environment and you should start to see new roots growing eventually.
If you want to try and speed up the process you can use rooting hormone (either a gel, powder or liquid) which encourages faster root growth.
If you are trying to do this in a less than ideal environment (low temperatures or lack of sunlight) then this may be the cause of the lack of growth. You can help to speed up root growth by using a heat pad that you place underneath your cuttings. This warms up the area and provides an ideal environment for new growth. Grow lights can also really help to boost the level of light your plant is getting which will help encourage stronger roots.
If the leaves on your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree cutting are starting to turn brown and the stem is going quite mushy then unfortunately this isn’t a good sign. This is usually due to the cutting rotting in stagnant water. You want to make sure you are regularly refreshing the water every few days so that it doesn’t encourage the growth of bacteria. We recommend trimming away the mushy part and hopefully, there is still at least one node on the cutting so that it can still recover and grow roots.
If your cutting is starting to grow new leaves but they are much smaller compared to the leaves on the mother plant don’t worry at all. This is completely natural and is simply due to the root system being less mature than that of the larger plant which means it can’t deliver the nutrients needed to grow as maturely as your mother plant. Give it time and slowly the new leaves will start to get bigger and you can trim away the smaller leaves to encourage larger leaves.
If you notice the leaves on your cutting are starting to turn yellow then it could be due to too much direct sunlight which has burnt or scorched the leaves. This will show up as yellowy patches throughout the leaves which are very dry.
Yellow leaves on your Fiddle Leaf cutting may also be due to watering issues. If you have recently moved your cutting from water to potting mix take it out of the pot and see if you can spot a problem with the roots. As your new plant will be a lot smaller than the mother plant, adjust your watering habits accordingly.
It’s totally normal for a weird layer to form around your cuttings and their roots in water. This is totally normal and just comes from the water. You don’t need to worry about this at all as it shouldn’t harm your chance of a successful propagation. We recommend giving your cutting a quick rinse each time you change out the water to remove this layer.
We hope you have found this guide useful. Each and every time you propagate your plants you’ll find the process slightly different. There’s no exact timeline of when to expect root growth as it depends on so many factors. But as long as you are caring for your cutting properly and it’s in the right environment, there shouldn’t be too many major issues. Soon enough, you’ll have a whole new Tree to enjoy!
Check out our full Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Care Guide that has all the information and top tips to help you care for your plant. We also have a lot of common issues listed so if you ever have a problem with your plant, you’ll know straight away what’s causing it and how to fix it.
Written by Joanna Turner