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?
- 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.
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!