Fiddle Leaf Fig Fanatic! How to propagate plants from leaf 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 them from the cuttings. I tried a few variations:

  • Top leaf / leaves in water
  • Top leaves in soil
  • a bottom leaf – in water (I learned later that this doesn’t usually work, so stick with the top leaves that have an apical bud attached)

For all of the cuttings, I applied rooting hormone to help encourage new root growth.

Here’s what’s happening! I will keep adding pictures to this post, as the cuttings grow!

0 weeks

3 Weeks

Wow! The leaves in soil already are growing roots! Nice!

The leaves in water are showing tiny tiny roots as well:

From right to left: a single top leaf I cut from a plant, the top three leaves I cut from a larger tree, and a single bottom leaf from a plant. The three leaves had really started to wilt, and they are now perking up again!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, there’s a little bud on my tree just below where I trimmed the top three leaves!

4 weeks

It was the best of times and worst of times for the aspiring fiddle leaf figs this week. The group of top leaves in water started to rot, and I think they may be goners. On the bright side, the single top leaf  sprouted a ton of roots! Take a look:

This is the real deal, and I think I’ll put it in soil soon!

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

Everything else stayed about the same this week.

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!

The plant where I cut a single leaf also now has a little bud.

Some other cuttings are hanging on without much change. I should probably give up on the leaves that started rotting and that subsequently also got sunburned, but I’m feeling stubborn and keeping them a little longer. No pictures of those sad guys.

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 leaf 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 single leaf I had rooted had two new leaves!
3.5 months:

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


Rooting in soil may go faster than rooting and water, though it can be tricky to get the moisture right. I had a problem with some of the leaves rotting in water, so that may be an advantage to soil.

Here are some expectations in terms of timing:

  • Time to seeing good roots: 3 to 4 weeks.
  • Time to seeing the original plant sprout new buds: 3-5 weeks.
  • Time to seeing new leaves on the cuttings: 2-2.5 months.

Update with even more tips!

  • I learned (the hard way, always!) that too much rooting hormone will actually backfire by hardening the cut tip, making it harder to root. Dip it once and be patient.
  • I also learned (yes, the hard way) to root a cutting with no more than two or three leaves. The cutting has to survive with less water and nutrients for a few weeks, and if you have more leaves, they might not make it.

Thanks for reading and please share your questions and tips!