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, and I’m so grateful that they seem to thrive in our conditions. I originally bought three plants, which have all at least tripled in size, and I’ve successfully started about 10 plants from cuttings. Here is a list of all my fiddle leaf fig-related posts:
- How to propagate plants from cuttings (this post!)
- How to prune and shape a fiddle leaf fig
- Complete care tips, such as light, watering, and repotting
I mentioned I originally bought three plants. 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?
- Newest lesson: the cuttings from more mature branches seem to work better. I tried propagating brand new growth (about a month old), and those cuttings failed to grow 😦
- 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.
- Update: I just got an exciting new tip from Candice on Instagram (@cee_marie923) She accidentally stripped the outer layer off the stem, and the roots grew much better and faster! I can’t wait to try this out myself. Meanwhile, here’s a picture of her cutting – thanks, Candice!
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:
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:
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!
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!
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!
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!)
I came back from vacation to find that the stem cutting which started with a single leaf had two new leaves!
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!
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!
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.
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!
Thank you! This is the most detailed instructions I’ve read.
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?
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 jewel, how often did you water the cuttings?
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.
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!
Hello, wandered across your blog in researching this question. I have a single leaf that I was given about 1 year ago, and it’s still alive and has put out roots, but STILL hasn’t formed any other buds, leafs, stem, and so forth. Is this a lost cause or do I stick with it?
Hi, sorry for the late reply. Do you know if your original cutting included part of the plant’s trunk? If so, then I think it could definitely grow. If not, I think it’s less likely. You might want to try giving it some fertilizer and see what happens. I’ve noticed that fertilizer it really helps my plants with branching. Good luck!
Best found info on the net of how to do this hands down!! Thanks!
Thanks for the feedback. It took some time experimenting to figure out, but it’s so exciting once you start!
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A good post, loved the photos and the plant developing new growth, I would love one of these Fiddle Leaf trees they always make a stunning display. I am so inspired to try.
Thank you! I hope you get to try! It’s so fun to watch them grow!
Just tried this! Fingers crossed. Thanks so much for the useful info 🙂
You’re welcome! I’ll cross my fingers for you, too! I’ve still don’t succeed with every cutting, but with the tips I’ve learned and shared, it usually works. Good luck!
Hi, I have a huge fiddle leaf fig in my back garden, approx 8 metres high. Am I able to propagate a 1 metre cutting? If so any tips?
Hi, your tree sounds absolutely amazing! How wonderful. You can cut off a metre, but I would not recommend trying to route it as one cutting, I would cut the stem into smaller sections with 2 to 3 leaves on each section of stem. In my experience the larger cuttings do not survive, because they can’t get enough water and nutrients during the time that they are forming new roots. Good luck with your project and If you have time, let me know how it goes.
Thanks so much, yes its an amazing tree, only discovered what it was last year. lol x
Para secciones grandes de rama ,o muy gruesas ,recomiendo hacer acodo aéreo
“For large or very thick branch sections, I recommend air layering”
Gracias! I have heard of this but haven’t tried it yet. Thanks!
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I’ve rooted and potted my single leaf FLF, but it still hasn’t produced any new growth. The leaf still looks healthy though. Any suggestion of when I can expect new growth?
Hi Kathy, did your cutting include a stem? I haven’t had success with a leaf alone. With three stem, it varies but I usually see new growth in about a month or two from potting it. Good luck!
I started rooting some cuttings in water 3 weeks ago and some are forming some great looking roots! When should I transfer them into regular soil from the water (or should I put them in vermiculite)? And what size pot should I use?
This is a great resource page!
Hi! Thanks! Once the roots look strong, it’s fine to transfer to soil. I tend to keep the soil extra moist and cover the pot with plastic wrap for the first while, to help support the new roots. As for the size of the pot, I’ve had success transferring to a larger pot (12” diameter) or small (quart-sized yogurt container). They grow pretty fast, so if you choose a smaller pot, which is easier to water, you’ll probably have to move it again in a couple of months. Enjoy!!
Thanks Julie! I actually took 4 cuttings and tried to root them all in water. They were all from new/young growth (a large FLF tree had roots growing out of the pot and started producing a branch down by the soil, which I cut off into 4 pieces to propagate). One of the four never grew roots, so I finally put it in soil like the others that had rooted. I checked it about a week after I put it in soil (out of curiosity) and it still had no roots, but otherwise looks healthy. I’m keeping it moist and covered with plastic wrap. It does have a piece of stem on it and it is a single leaf. I’d love to know if you’ve had an experience like this.
Hi Lauren, how exciting! I have had the experience of taking several cuttings from the same plant at the same time, with very different timelines to getting roots. As long as it looks healthy, I’d keep waiting, and it may yet work! Julie
I have one single leaf that was given to me, it has rooted and in dirt. The leaf is getting really big, but that’s it. When can I expect another leaf? Also, I would like for my cutting to stay a bush instead of a tree once it kicks off, so how do I accomplish that?
Hi, was there a part of the main stem that was attached to your leaf? Those are the only cuttings I have had success with. I think that theoretically a leaf without a part of the main stem can grow back into a plant, but that is less certain. If your leaf and stem was from the tip of the plant, then there will be a little bud on the tip, and it will start going again, usually in a month or two. If it was from the center of the stem, then a new bud will appear on the side of the stem, and that might take a little longer like two or three months. Once it gets going, you can prune it when it gets taller, and that will encourage it to make more side branches. Julie
How long do I wait to take a cutting off my original plant? I bought mine in spring at only 7inches high, it’s now about 2 and a half feet tall. Should I wait until next spring? I’m wanting it to be around 5-6 feet tall forsure but would love it to branch out… That’s my second question, if you clip the top off to make another, does the original plant make branches?
Hi, it’s great that your plant has grown so much already! Usually, it’s recommended to do trimming and repotting in the spring or summer, when the plant is growing most actively. It depends on where you live. I live in California, and I found that my plants didn’t really go completely dormant even over the winter, and I didn’t have problems with repotting in the fall. If you live further north, you might want to wait. Branching depends on how much you cut off. The more you cut, the more likely you are to get branches, and the more branches you’ll get. There aren’t exact rules, but I found that cutting three or more leaves along with the top is more likely to cause branching. I have another post on shaping your plants, with more information. Hope that helps! Julie
Great job!! I love working with plants. I experiment all the time. Have fun planting.
Thank you! I’ve been trading baby plants with friends, too. Definitely fun!
What do you use to clean and shine your leaves?
What temperature do they like?
Hi! I dust my leaves with a duster, and I don’t add anything else to shine them. They’re tropical plants and do well in a typical indoor temperature around 70 F. I know some people who live where there are warm summers put their plants outside for the summer. We get cold nights where I live, so I haven’t done that. My plants are inside all the time. Best of luck!
I took a cutting of two leafs with some stem. I put it in soil and it’s been about 8 weeks. The leafs are still healthy but no new growth should I give up on it?
It’s great that they are still healthy. That very likely means that they are forming new roots. If you’re feeling brave, you could very gently pull back some soil to check, but I’m almost certain that it’s fine. The cuttings often take a while to start growing again, because most of the energy is going into forming new roots. Also, it’s a slow growing season over the winter. I think as long as the leaves look healthy, I would just be patient. It’s probably going to be fine. How exciting!
When do you apply the rooting hormone
Hi, I put it on after taking the cutting, before putting it in the water or soil. Good luck! Julie
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Is it okay to use a leaf that is a little brown
You can definitely try. The leaf is under some stress staying alive while the roots form, so the healthier it is, the better your chances.
What type of soil did you use? I have heard use potting mix or cactus mix and then I heard that the new roots shouldn’t have any fertilizer but the big box stores only carry soil with fertilizer. Thoughts?
Hi, I use regular potting mix, and I hadn’t been aware of the fertilizer caution, but I haven’t had problems. Makes sense to not use liquid fertilizer, but I think what’s in the soil is slow-release. Good luck!
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I have had mine growing outside shelterd for 20 years or more and it’s quiet a sizeable plant.
Like to try your rooting trick and interested if it works for me too
That sounds like an amazing plan! I don’t think we can grow it outside where I live. Good luck with your cuttings!
This is amazing!
I just got 3 large cuttings off of a lady, who was chopping back her MASSIVE flf in her back yard. I hope that i have success!
I have rooted several leaves off my FLF and a couple are ready to be planted in soil, is there a speciic soil to use or the normal planting soil.
How exciting! I use regular planting soil.
Hola, me da mucho gusto saludarte, y también he experimentado con los ficus, he tenido ya experiencias con buenos y malos resultados, solo quiero comentar que también se pueden propagar cortes un poco más largos y de madera más vieja madura) solo que a estos les toma más tiempo en salir las raíces, de 2 a 3 meses. también es posible reproducirlos por medio de acodos aéreos y de esta manera podemos sacar adelante ramas mucho más grandes, estos tardan unos 3o4 meses en tener buena cantidad de raíces antes de cortarlos porque tienen que alimentar una rama mucho más grande. 👋🏻Un saludo desde la Ciudad de México! . Que sigas teniendo éxito!
Hello, I am pleased to greet you, and I have also experimented with the ficus, I have already had experiences with good and bad results, I just want to comment that you can also propagate cuts a little longer and of older mature wood) only to these it takes them more time to get out the roots, 2 to 3 months. It is also possible to reproduce them by means of aerial layers and in this way we can carry out much larger branches, these take about 3o4 months to have a good amount of roots before cutting them because they have to feed a much larger branch. Greetings from Mexico City! . May you continue to succeed!
Hi! It’s september…is it still ok to take a cutting yet?
I think it depends on a lot of factors. I’ve heard that it’s not a good idea to do it in the fall and winter, although I have been able to do it. I live in California, so my plants don’t feel the effects of winter as much. You can give it a try!
I am new to the fiddle leaf fig family and gardening itself and dont have much, or any for that matter, experience in plants 🙈.
Your article gave me some hope to possibly save my FLF. He was quite a beauty when I got him, and completely fell in love with his amazing green leaves. But I think I might have loved it to much by giving him to much water, leading to root rot, browning of leaves and eventually the majority of the bottom leaves falling off ☹️.
He is quite a stalky little fellow now and I was wandering if pruning might help encourage new leaf growth lover down? And I can create a new baby with the pruned section, yay 😀! My only problem is that I dont know what the best section would be to cut off for my FLF and was wandering if I can send you some photos for you to possibly help show me where you think I should cut off?
Hi Christelle, thanks for reaching out. I definitely know the joy of a beautiful new plant and the pain of one that is not doing well. I haven’t had that specific problem before, so I can’t say for sure, but I’m happy to take a look at pictures and do my best. My email address is on the contact page. Julie
Thank you for posting this ! Great information
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Hi – I need help!! I am new to fiddle leaf figs – a gift from my 85 year old aunt!!! I noticed there are leaves growing from the dirt and they are attached to root chunks from the main plant. I want to save those and propagate them for my two daughters. How do I do this? Could I take a knife and cute off parts of that chunk and root it? Thanks for any help you can provide.
That’s so wonderful!! I’ve been able to separate plants like this by cutting out a section of roots with the smaller plants – basically cut a small circle vertically around your new plant. You want to make sure you give each new section enough roots to grow, as well as leaving enough for the main plant. The exact size depends on each plant. Since you’ll have roots already, you can plant directly into soil. I recommend trying one section first and giving it a week or two to make sure it’s surviving, before doing more. Good luck!
Hiiii! Thanks for creating this post! I didn’t even know it was possible to propagate a fiddle!
Where do you buy your pots? They are so pretty!
Thanks! I find my pots in a variety of places – there are often cute small-and medium-sized ones at Ross/ Marshall’s. The ones with the stand is from West Elm, and I’ve picked up large baskets (they’re storage baskets, and i put plastic pots inside) at Target or Pottery Barn.
Hello, what state do you live in? Is it pretty humid?
We’re on the Northern California coast, so yes, it is pretty humid here. I hadn’t thought about that before, but that might be part of what is making my plants happy.
Hi, I cut the complete top of my tree as all the othe leaves were gone or brown. Do you think the bare stem will sprout new branches?
I haven’t tried before, but I think it’s worth giving it a few weeks to see what happens. Plants are amazingly resilient! I’ll send green vibes in your direction!