Learn How to Propagate a Fiddle Leaf Fig With These 3 Proven Methods

By: Matt Slaymaker
January 19, 2024
How to Propagate a Fiddle Leaf Fig
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Does the beauty of your fiddle leaf fig urge you to own a few more? Its lush, wavy leaves and effortless elegance easily elevates any indoor space. So, the good news is that you can propagate a fiddle leaf fig using one of the three popular methods. Besides rooting plant cuttings in the most common medium - soil, you can also grow them in water or use the air-layering technique.

Today, you’ll learn how to propagate a fiddle leaf fig (Ficus Lyrata) by applying these proven methods. Keep reading to know how to avoid common propagation mistakes and get some helpful fiddle leaf fig care tips, too!

Can You Propagate a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree?

Can You Propagate a Fiddle Leaf Fig

You can propagate a fiddle leaf fig tree easily on your own. It's a simple process using a stem, cut at 45 degrees and placed directly in soil or water. Or you can propagate it by developing roots on a node, directly on the parent plant, via air-layering. Last but not least, you can divide a large fiddle leaf fig, which has individual stems that form a bushy tree. This propagation is used rarely for woody plants and requires a bit more experience and skills.

What Is the Best Time of the Year to Propagate a Fiddle Leaf Fig?

Late spring to early summer is the ideal time to propagate a fiddle leaf fig, which applies to the majority of indoor trees. During these seasons, the temperature is warm, and the light is bright enough to create the perfect growth conditions that ensure faster rooting of the plant.   

Fiddle Leaf Fig Propagation: Supplies You Need

Before you begin propagating your fiddle leaf fig, you need to gather these few basic supplies:

  • Sharp pruning shears or knife
  • Sterilized pots
  • Potting mix
  • Rooting hormone powder
  • Clear plastic bags 
  • Distilled water 
  • Glass container (for water propagation)
  • Peat/sphagnum moss (for air-layering)
  • Disinfectant

Before making cuts, sanitize the tools using rubbing alcohol to prevent any disease transfer.

Also, be careful while working with rooting hormones. Pour some of it into a separate container and dip the cutting into it. 

Placing the cutting into the rooting powder’s container may spread bacteria, which can be transferred to future cuttings. Wear gloves to avoid skin irritations, due to the chemicals.

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How to Propagate a Fiddle Leaf Fig

Being woody plants, fiddle leaf figs are ideal for propagation using plant cuttings in soil, water, or by air-layering. 

Propagating a Fiddle Leaf Fig in Soil

Propagating a fiddle leaf fig in soil is a fairly straightforward process. Here's how to do it in a few simple steps:

1. Select a Cutting

Choose a healthy stem with 2-4 nodes; these are the bumpy points where the leaves emerge. Multiple nodes provide several growth points. Ideally, the stem should be thicker than a pencil.   

2. Cut and Prepare a Plant Cutting

Using a sharp knife, cut a 6” stem at 45 degrees right under the node to produce a viable plant. Trim leaves off the section that will go into the soil. 

3. Coat the Cutting with a Rooting Hormone

In a cup, take rooting hormone powder. Dip and coat 1”-1.5” of the cut end. If the powder doesn’t stick, dampen the cutting slightly and try again. 

4. Prepare the Potting Mix

Blend a houseplant potting mix and cactus soil at a 1:2 ratio. It should be a well-draining compost with a pH level of 6-7. Put it in a small/medium pot.      

5. Plant the Cutting

Make a 1"-2" deep hole in the soil using a pencil or finger. Plant 1/3rd of the cutting in it. 

6. Meeting Water and Light Needs

Water the soil, but don't make it too wet. Also, spritz water on the leaves and keep the soil moist. Place the pot in indirect light to reduce moisture loss.

7. Cover the Plant With a Clear Bag for Humidity

Put a clear plastic bag over the cutting in the pot to create a humid environment that stimulates growth. But remove it daily for 10-15 minutes to allow fresh air. 

8. Check the Roots

After 4-6 weeks pass, assess the cutting for new roots that emerge at the nodes by gently pulling it.  

9. Provide Proper Plant Care

Let the plant sit in a bright spot with indirect sunlight and water it only when the soil feels too dry.

How to Propagate a Fiddle Leaf Fig in Water

Fiddle leaf fig propagation in water is another technique you can use to expand your tropical plant collection. Again select a healthy stem that has at least a couple of nodes and cut it. Remove the lower leaves. 

1. Fill a Glass Container with Water

Take distilled water at room temperature. Don’t use softened water. It inhibits growth.

2. Place the Cutting in Water

Ensure the nodes of the cutting are submerged and change the water weekly.

3. Provide Warmth and Light

Place the cutting in a warm spot with indirect light to trigger root growth within weeks. 

4. Monitor for Root Growth

Check every week for roots growing from the notes. It takes around 6 weeks.

5. Transfer the Cutting to Soil

When the roots are 1”-2” long, plant the cutting in a small pot in a well-draining soil. 

6. Continue to Provide Care

Water the plant and keep the soil moist for 1-2 weeks to ensure optimal growth conditions. 


Fiddle Leaf Fig Propagation by Air-Layering

Another popular method of propagating fiddle leaf figs is by air-layering where a cutting isn't required. Follow these steps:  

1. Select a Branch and Node

Pick a branch that's sturdy enough to support new plant growth, having 3-4 nodes and a few leaves. Also, select a suitable node for propagation.  

2. Prepare the Stem

Start by making a 1.5”-2” incision around the branch's outer tissue without cutting it off. Dust the incisions with rooting hormone powder.

3. Prepare Peat/Sphagnum Moss

Soak some sphagnum or peat moss in water for 10-15 minutes. Then, squeeze out excess moisture, ensuring it’s damp but not wet.

4. Apply Peat/Sphagnum Moss

Apply the damp moss around the incision site and wrap a plastic wrap around it to secure it in place. The plastic also prevents moisture loss. 

5. Check the Moss Moisture

Check the moisture level of the moss by unwrapping it weekly. Spritz some water to keep it from drying out.

6. Wait for Roots to Grow

You'll notice root growth from the node in about 6-8 weeks.

7. Cut and Plant the Rooted Branch

When the roots are 1”-2” long, cut this branch section. Plant it in a well-draining soil mix in a small planter. 

8. Provide Proper Care

Place the plant pot in a brightly lit spot with indirect light. Water it when the soil feels parched. 

Fiddle Leaf Fig Propagation: Mistakes to Avoid

Fiddle Leaf Fig Propagation Common Mistakes

Propagating fiddle leaf figs is quite easy. But beginners often make some common mistakes. Avoiding these pitfalls will reward you with new and vibrant fiddle leaf figs.

Attempting to propagate a fiddle leaf fig from a single leaf in water is one such mistake. It often fails as the blind cutting, also called Zombie leaf is incapable of developing into a healthy tree.

Using unsterilized tools is another mistake as it transfers disease to the cutting or the new plant, inhibiting its growth. 

Overwatering and underwatering during propagation, as well as exposure to scorching sunlight or insufficient light leads to dying cuttings.

It’s also important to choose a healthy parent plant for successful propagation. Cuttings from weak or ailing plants have lower chances of rooting properly. 

Rushing through the soil-transitioning process can stress the plant, too. It might happen if you move a cutting or a newly rooted plant to soil too quickly.

Fiddle Leaf Fig: Post-Propagation Care Tips 

Patience and close attention to each step of the process lead to successful propagation. Also, taking good care of your baby fiddle leaf figs is key to get these air-purifying guys to maturity. To ensure that your hard work doesn’t go to waste, follow these care tips for your new plant:

  • Light and placement: Place your young fiddle leaf fig in a spot with bright but indirect light. Avoid direct sun as it can scorch a tender new plant. 
  • Watering: Ensure that the soil is moist but not soggy. So, water it only when the top of the soil feels dry without flooding the pot.
  • Humidity and temperature: Maintain a humidity of 40%-60% and a temperature of 60F-75F.
  • Sudden changes: Don't change the plant's environment suddenly. Rapid fluctuations in temperature, humidity and light, can stress the plant.  
  • Fertilizing: Apply an NPK fertilizer with nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium at a 3:1:2 ratio every 2-3 weeks in the growing season.  
  • Pruning: Prune the plant in spring and summer to encourage a bushy shape, using sterilized pruners.

Be patient and gentle with your young fiddle leaf fig, until it establishes in the next few months.

How to Propagate a Fiddle Leaf Fig: FAQs

Q: What happens if you cut the top off a fiddle leaf fig?

A: If you cut off the top of a fiddle leaf fig, you can encourage the plant to become bushier. This pruning method encourages branching, giving the plant a fuller look. 

Q: Why is my fiddle leaf fig cutting not rooting?

A: One of the reasons your fiddle leaf fig isn’t rooting is that the cutting doesn’t have sufficient nodes. You should always choose a stem with 2-4 nodes. It’s also possible that the parent plant is unhealthy or diseased, which is why the cutting is also feeble to produce healthy roots.  

Q: Do fiddle leaf figs need rooting hormone?

A: Yes, a woody plant like the fiddle leaf fig needs rooting hormones to induce healthy and fast root growth. Dip your cutting in rooting hormone powder to propagate it in soil. Or add the hormone powder in peat/sphagnum moss if you use the air-layering propagation method. 

Q: What not to do with a fiddle leaf fig?

A: Whether you have a mature fiddle leaf fig or a newly propagated one, you should never overwater or underwater it. Do not expose it to direct scorching sunlight or keep it in a spot that’s too dark, dry, or cold. Also, do not overfeed it to prevent leaf issues.   

Conclusion 

Propagating a fiddle leaf fig at home can be easy. But be careful about things like where to cut the plant for propagation or how to transplant it without shocking the baby plant.  

Avoid common mistakes and follow the steps above. And soon, you'll have beautiful new plants for your home. 

You can also pair this tropical plant with split leaf philodendron, rubber tree, a variety of snake plants, and more, to expand your plant family.