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Do you want the easiest way ever to propagate your fiddle leaf fig plant? While there are many different ways to propagate your plant, water propagation is by far the easiest and it’s also fun to watch the new roots develop. Keep reading to find out the simple, yet important steps, to propagate your Ficus lyrata, or Fiddle Leaf Fig.
HOW TO PROPAGATE FIDDLE LEAF FIG IN WATER
1. TAKE STEM CUTTINGS
When is the best time to take cuttings? The time of year matters. While you can really do this at any time, for best results, take your cuttings during the growing season.
I would recommend late winter through early summer. This way your plant can root and can be potted up before wintertime.
The first step is to take a stem cutting of your plant. In order to minimize the spread of any disease, take a pair of pruning shears and wipe down the blades with isopropyl alcohol.
I typically use a 91% isopropyl alcohol (link to Amazon), soak a paper towel with it, and carefully wipe down the pruning shears.
Next, you’re simply going to use the pruning shears to cut into a healthy stem to make a cutting.
Here are some important guidelines:
- I’d recommend that the cutting have 1-3 leaves, and no more than 4. Don’t include too many leaves otherwise, the cutting will be too stressed.
- You’ll want at least one node (if you can get a couple, that is better) to be underwater. What is a node? It’s a location on your cutting where the leaf meets the stem and this is where root growth and new shoots will form.
- When you make your cutting, the stem will exude a white milky sap that can irritate your skin. Promptly wash your hands if you come in contact with it. And rinse off your pruning shears with soapy water because when the sap dries, it will be sticky.
Even if a leaf fell off and you have part of the stem that is bare, the node is still there. If there is still a leaf at the bottom node, simply snip it off.
Or if you already have a leggy plant that lost a lot of leaves, you can obviously skip this step.
2. PLACE YOUR CUTTING IN WATER
Next, fill a jar or glass with water. Take your fiddle leaf fig cuttings and place them in the jar of water. Remember, you’ll want at least one node under the water, so make sure that there is enough water to accomplish this.
Tap water is perfectly fine to use. If you have horrible tap water and don’t want to use it, you can use distilled water as well.
Place your cutting in an area with enough light. A little direct sun is fine! Place it right in front of a window that has at least “bright indirect light” and up to 3-4 hours of sun. Morning sun is beneficial to get your cuttings going.
Eastern-facing windows are perfect for this. If you have a window with no direct sunlight, that’s fine too. Just make sure you place it immediately in front of that window.
Keep an eye on the water level and make sure that 1-2 nodes are underwater at all times.
Always use room temperature water (never cold water). Change your water out completely and replace with clean water every week, or more frequently if the water looks dirty. Why do you want to do this?
- To replenish any lost oxygen from the water.
- To remove any decaying material that can encourage your cutting to rot.
And while you’re at it, clean the jar of water itself with soapy water every week or two in order to keep it nice and clean.
How long will it take your fiddle leaf fig cutting to grow roots? Depending on if you have the right conditions, you should see new growth within a few weeks.
The new roots will look a little weird at first. You’ll notice little, white, bumpy growths on the stem that is underwater. As they continue to grow, they will look like “normal” roots.
Once your roots are about an inch long or so, take your cutting out of the glass of water and it’s time to pot it up. Don’t wait terribly long to pot up your rooted cutting otherwise it will have a harder time transitioning from water to soil.
While your cutting is in water, if you happen to see your cutting droop, you can help things along by increasing the humidity level. An easy way to do this is to make a tent with an upside-down clear plastic bag.
You can place a couple supports (bamboo sticks, or any thin objects) in the glass of water, and then place the clear plastic bag over it.
The cutting should perk up after a bit. Unless you have a large cutting or a cutting with many leaves, you shouldn’t experience too much trouble and it may not be necessary at all to use the plastic bag, but it doesn’t hurt to do it regardless.
3. POT UP YOUR CUTTING
Once your cutting has roots that are about an inch long or so (even two inches), go ahead and pot it up. It’s a good idea to start with a small pot first and then increase the pot size as your root system grows and your plant is root bound.
Why is this a good practice? You can control the soil moisture better this way. In order to promote healthy roots, you’ll want to maintain a fairly moist soil, but you do want the potting mix to start drying out in a reasonable amount of time.
If you start off with too big of a pot, it will stay wet for too long.
My recommendation is to start with either a 4-inch or 6-inch pot at the most, and make sure that your pot has drainage holes! They are not optional.
You can use your favorite all-purpose potting mix with some perlite or pumice added to it. 3 parts of an all-purpose mix and 1 part of perlite or pumice (link to Amazon) is a good mix.
The drainage will improve with added perlite or pumice, and this also allows more air and oxygen to your root system and will encourage better root development and healthy leaves.
Check out my blog post where I talk about the pros and cons of perlite vs. pumice.
If you’re looking for an amazing potting mix that you can use straight out of the bag for your Ficus, check out the Rainforest Soil Blend from Oh Happy Plants. This is an amazing mix and you will get 10% off at checkout automatically if you use my link.
Once you’ve potted up your new fiddle leaf fig, water your plant thoroughly, allow excess water to drain away, and place your plant in front of a bright window.
For more specific details on light, as well as all other growing tips, check out my fiddle leaf fig care blog posts. I’m confident that you will learn at least a few important tips!
FIDDLE LEAF PROPAGATION FAQ
Here are some of the most common fiddle leaf fig propagation questions that you may be wondering about.
CAN YOU PROPAGATE FIDDLE LEAF FIG FROM A SINGLE LEAF?
Yes you can, but only if you get a leaf node as well. You can’t have success by cutting off the leaf without also cutting part of the stem along with it.
If you just have a single leaf with the petiole and NO stem, your cutting may even start to grow roots, but it will never form a new plant.
This is the exact same premise as propagating Hoya kerrii. Often times, they are sold as single leaves sticking out of a small pot of soil around Valentine’s Day.
If a portion of the stem wasn’t taken when the cutting was made, it will never grow into a new plant.
If you do cut off a piece of the woody stems with your single leaf cutting, a new shoot will start to grow from the node eventually, but this will be much slower than taking a cutting from the tip of a branch, but it is possible.
If you do choose to do a single node leaf cutting (where you cut off a piece of the stem as well), a great thing that you can do to speed up the process is to use a propagation mat (link to Amazon).
They are inexpensive and so simple to use. Simply plug it in, and set your plants and propagations on top.
The propagation mat will provide gentle bottom heat which will encourage new root growth, as well as help that dormant bud in the node to start growing a new stem.
Be patient as this process can take months, but the mat will definitely speed up the process!
DO YOU HAVE TO CUT FIDDLE LEAF FIG LEAVES IN HALF WHEN PROPAGATING?
You don’t have to, but it can help the cutting conserve water and place less stress on the cutting while it is trying to root.
Normally, you wouldn’t have to. As long as your cutting isn’t too big and doesn’t have a ton of leaves.
WHAT OTHER METHODS OF PROPAGATING FIDDLE LEAF FIG ARE THERE?
There are many ways that you can propagate a fiddle leaf fig trees in the home:
- Cuttings in water
- Cuttings in soil
- Division at the roots (if your pot has multiple trunks)
- Air layering
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post on propagating fiddle leaf fig in water. Have you tried it before? Comment below. I’d love to hear!