Fiddle Leaf Fig Fanatic! How to Propagate Plants from Cuttings

Don’t say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks! After years of joking about my “brown thumb,” I’m getting really excited about gardening and plants. It’s so rewarding to watch things grow, not to mention how plants freshen up any space both visually and literally.

I’m growing all kinds of plants, but one of my greatest loves is the Ficus Lyrata, the fiddle leaf fig. I’ve heard that some people have found these at big box hardware stores, but I had no luck. I ended up buying one online (really!) but eventually acquired two more at local nurseries Sloat Garden Center and Flowercraft. The one I got online is fine, but the ones from the nursery are much bigger, so I’d definitely recommend looking around locally, if you can.

After just a few months, two of my trees needed trimming already, so I decided to try to propagate new plants from the cuttings. I have done this several times now, so I have updated this post with all the tips – get it? tips!

When and where to propagate?

  • Plants grow fastest in spring and summer, so you’ll have the best success between March and September
  • For more tips on when and how to prune your tree, check out this post
  • Place your cuttings in a bright location, to help them grow, but avoid direct sun that could scorch the leaves. The cuttings are more delicate than an established plant

What type of cutting can you propagate?

  • Using a clean knife or scissors, take a cutting that includes a section of stem and one to three leaves. If you want to trim more than three leaves, separate the cutting, so each section has no more than three. A bigger cutting can’t get enough water to survive while it’s forming new roots
  • If you cut the tip of a branch, which includes a bud, the cutting will continue to grow from the bud
  • If you cut a section of stem from the middle of a branch, a new bud will form on the side of the stem and will grow upwards
  • I have heard lore of being able to propagate a leaf without a stem section, but the one I tried did not work. I will probably try again, but I don’t have first-hand experience seeing this work.

What supplies do you need?

  • You can place your cutting in water, soil, or an inert medium like vermiculite. The bottom tip of the cutting needs to stay very moist, which is easy in water. If you use soil or vermiculite, wrap the container in plastic wrap to keep moisture in and check it every few days, adding water when it starts drying out
  • I applied rooting hormone to the bottom end of the cutting to help encourage new root growth. Apply this just once. If you over-use the rooting hormone, it actually hardens the tip and makes it more difficult for roots to grow – yes, I learned the hard way!

Here are some pictures to show what you can expect over time:

0 weeks

3 Weeks

You may see some new roots around this time!


And your original plant should be growing a new bud (or two, or three) where you took the cutting:

4 weeks

You can see more robust root growth taking off!


The original tree where I cut off the top three leaves also looks great. There’s a good-sized bud forming!

5 weeks

Exciting news! The single top leaf has grown so many roots that I transferred it to a pot today!


The tree where I cut off three leaves also grew a ton with three buds on it!


6 weeks

Crazy! This is where I cut off three leaves from the top of a plant. It went from buds to tons of new branches and leaves in just one week. So exciting!


2-2.5 months

I started to see new leaves growing out of the top of the stem cuttings. (Photo credit here goes to Nicola, who adopted one of the plants and kindly keeps me updated!)

3 months:

I came back from vacation to find that the stem cutting which started with a single leaf had two new leaves!

3.5 months:

This was the stem with a single leaf. It now has three new leaves and a promising looking bud pushing out the top. Yay!


If you take a cutting from the center section of a stem, with no bud attached, it may take even longer for a new bud to form, but it can definitely work!

9 months

For real! The plant in front was a section of stem with a single leaf off the top of the plant in back. It grew like gangbusters!

Thanks for reading and please share your questions and tips!

“Jewels”

14 thoughts on “Fiddle Leaf Fig Fanatic! How to Propagate Plants from Cuttings

  1. Hi Jewel. Thanks for the detailed pics. I am interested in knowing what happened to the leave that rooted? Did the leaf sprouted a plant or will it remain a leaf forever with root? I appreciate your reply.

    • Hi,
      Thanks for your note! I will post another update. Out of the various cuttings, two survived to make new plants, and both are growing new leaves! It took about 3-4 weeks from the time the leaves were cut until they grew decent roots. It took about two months from the time they were cut until the new leaves started growing. While I was researching, I learned that this only works when you take a top section of leaves that has the apical bud on top. It won’t work if you take a leaf from the bottom that has no bud attached. It is so exciting! Good luck with your plants!
      Julie

  2. Hi Jewel,

    Thanks for this post! Does it matter where you exactly make the cuts from the tree? Should I cut it as close to the stem as possible?

    Thank you!

    • Hi,
      From my reading and experience, it is unlikely to work with cutting off a leaf from the side of the plant. The technique that works is to cut 1-3 leaves off the growing end of a branch or the main stem, including the bud at the end. This section will form roots. The original plant will grow 1-3 new buds close to where you cut it. Hope that helps!

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    • Hi, I watered them based on keeping the soil moist but not soaking. It varies based on humidity, etc., but I recommend checking the soil moisture about twice a week, if you have the soil covered in plastic wrap. Good luck! I had a few cuttings that didn’t make it, but most do.

  4. Hello! 🙂 Just wondering about the single top leaf that you cut off and put in water (the one with no stem/branch attached to it). Can you tell me what it is like today? Did it actually grow into a bigger tree?

    • Hi! So, the only ones that worked included stem. The top part of the stem with the “apical bud” can definitely grow well. I have a couple of middle sections of stem that grew roots and are alive, but I’m waiting to see if they’ll grow upwards and get new leaves.

    • Hi! Just an update (see new pictures in the post) that it is possible to grow a plant from a section of the middle of a branch, with no bud, and a bud will (eventually) form. Good luck!

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