Propagating Fiddle Leaf Figs by Air Layering

I fell in love with fiddle leaf fig trees a few years ago. I bought three plants that first year, and since then, I have propagated SO many. Most went to new homes with my friends, and a few were added to my collection. A few of my trees have gotten SO big, that I wanted to try propagating by air layering. I’m excited to share this technique with you, and I’ll also put links at the bottom of this post to all my other posts on pruning, propagating, caring for fiddle leaf fig trees!

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When I have previously propagated new plants off my fig trees, it was by cutting off 2-3 leaves at a time and putting them in water until new roots formed (all the details in this other post). This works quite well, but you can only make plants from small cuttings, because they need to survive until the new roots form. Air layering is great for propagating larger branches, and while it takes a little patience up front, you end up getting a mature new plant much faster!

The principle behind air layering is that you set up conditions for your plant to form new roots, while it is still attached to the original plant.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • sharp knife or vegetable peeler
  • rooting hormone
  • thick plastic wrap – I cut open a one-gallon ziploc bag
  • sphagnum moss
  • string or rubber bands cut open to use as ties
  • patience (this process takes about two-and-a-half months)

Here’s how to do it:

Choose the section of the plant that you want to eventually cut off for a new plant. I tried this with approximately 2-foot section of my biggest plant – it was hitting the ceiling! It went really smoothly, and I’m now trying with a 3-foot section.

At the base of what will be your new tree, remove a leaf or two to create an open section of stem. Use a knife or vegetable peeler to remove the top layer of the stem – you want to remove the bark and the darkest green layer, but leave a little green and the white section of the stem. This will allow nutrients to continue to flow up into your plant, while it forms roots from the outside of the stem. See the picture on the left below:

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Next, spread some rooting hormone on the bare stem.

Wrap your plastic around the bottom of the bare stem and secure with string or elastic.

Pack wet sphagnum moss into the pouch you have formed and secure the top with string or elastic (see right picture above)

Right around two months, I saw the first roots inside my ball of moss. Within three more weeks, the moss ball was full of roots!

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Once I started seeing roots, I did check the moisture level of the moss and add water every week or so.

When the roots are filling up the bag of moss, as shown in the last picture above, it’s time to cut off the new plant and plant it in soil. It helps to stake the new plant, as it is top heavy. Here’s how my new plant looked, when I first planted it – much bigger and healthier than the new plants you can get by cutting and rooting in water!

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A couple of months later, I passed this plant on to a friend as a housewarming present. As I was repotting, it I found that the roots had quickly grown to fill a large pot (see picture below)!

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I’m so excited to keep trying this technique for creating healthy new plants while keeping my jungle in check.  Here’s how my “mother” plant looked, hitting the ceiling, before I made a new plant from the top section.

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And here’s how it looks now, starting to come back into shape. You can see that a new bud formed where I cut off the new plant, and the branch is starting to grow back. I’m already working on air layering that back branch, so that will get trimmed off soon, too. My favorite stage of this plant was when the two big side branches arched together into a heart shape, so I am hoping to get back to that in a few weeks.

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Looking for more information on fiddle leaf figs? Check out these other posts:

If you have a big plant, I definitely recommend trying the air laying. I’m sure I am not the only one who feels that time is moving slowly being at home during the pandemic, and watching these new plants grow has been a silver lining.

Happy plant vibes!

Julie aka “Jewels”

 

 

 

 

Repotting Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant

After years of professing to have a black thumb, I have been pleasantly surprised to discover over the past couple of years that fiddle leaf figs seem to love me as much as I love them.

Other posts in my fiddle leaf fig series are:

Today, I’m sharing tips on repotting your plants. I just repotted my two largest plants, which actually turned out to be a serious workout! (Or so I told myself when I had dessert later…)

What are some signs it’s time to repot your plant?

  • You just bought a new plant – most new plants from the nursery have been in their small pots for a while and should be repotted.
  • The soil isn’t holding water – water runs through more quickly than usual, because much of the soil is filled with roots
  • You see roots coming out the bottom of your pot (see below!)
  • It’s been a couple of years since you repotted. The timing depends on how fast your plants are growing. I’ve had to repot every 1-2 years

This plant had been in the same pot for about 20 months, and it was definitely time to repot it!

Tips for repotting your plant:

Ideally, try to repot in the spring or summer, when your plant is growing fastest, as this will help it recover more easily. Since we’re in California, where winters are shorter and milder, I’ve been able to repot in winter without issues – this was out of necessity, when I suddenly realized my plants were suffering from outgrowing their pots.

Pick a pot that’s a few inches bigger than the previous pot. Going up too far in size will leave too much empty soil and risk overwatering. Ideally, use a pot with good drainage, though I have do have several growing successfully in pots without drainage holes – I did put more rocks at the bottom of those, to create a space for water to drain within the pot.

If the roots are really matted and tight (left picture below), you can gently loosen and trim them (right picture below). If you can’t or don’t want to use a larger pot, you can also gently trim the roots, brush off as much of the soil as possible, and use the same pot, though this might limit your plant’s growth overall. I’ve just put my biggest two plants into 24″ diameter pots, which I think is as big as I’ll go, so I’ll need to try just trimming the roots next time. I had to look in a few places before finding this size at Flowercraft in San Francisco.

Line the bottom of your pot with small rocks to keep the soil from leaking out and add extra drainage. Add a layer of fresh potting soil on top of the rocks, and put your plant back in. Adjust the height by adding or removing soil until the top of the root ball sits a little below the rim of your pot, remembering that the soil will compact a bit over time.

Fill in soil around the root ball until about two inches from the top. Add some slow release fertilizer pellets – I use this one from Osmocote – and the continue filling in soil until it’s even with the top of your root ball.

Give your plant a good watering, and watch it grow!

Here’s a picture of the craziness while I was in the middle of repotting the two big trees – it’s a jungle in here!

My plants sure seem happy in their new pots! I have a plan to sew some giant planter bags for them, similar to this one, which is now going to be handed down to a younger FLF! UPDATE: Here are some pics of the plants in their new planter bags, and here’s a link to the tutorial for the new giant planter bags!

Let me know if you have any questions, and happy gardening!

Julie aka “Jewels”

Macrame Plant Hangers- Now in Color!

I’ve decided to call my crafting style “serial crafting monogamy.” I definitely go on streaks where I fall in love with a new technique and can’t get enough of it. Right now, I’m sure you have noticed, I am addicted to macrame. Once I got the hang of it, I have so many ideas to try!

Today’s post is about adding color to your plant hangers – I did this with dyeing an ombre pattern as well as with adding colorful embroidery floss.

If you want to go back and see other posts on macrame, here are the links:

First, check out these beautiful ombré plant hangers. I made them with cotton clothesline and created the ombre pattern with navy fabric dye.


To get the ombré effect, I dipped the plant hanger in a container of dye solution and then pulled it out and hung it with just the bottom sitting in the dye for 20-30 minutes.

The other way I added color to the plant hangers was by adding gathering knots in different colors of embroidery floss.

And I just recently discovered Bobbiny cotton rope from Poland. It’s so soft, recycled, and beautiful, so I’m definitely scheming to add more color to my macrame projects that way!

“Jewels”

DIY Mid-Century Modern Plant Stands – Props to Plants!

Yup, yup, after years of wearing a “brown thumb” badge of honor, I finally fell hard for gardening and house plants about a year ago. As a crazy plant lady, I do, of course, occasionally indulge in buying some new … Continue reading

Fiddle Leaf Fig Care Tips – Printable

It’s no secret that I have a serious love of the fiddle leaf fig plant – and quite unexpectedly for this life-long brown thumb, I have had a lot of success in growing them! This is a good sign for those of you who want a fiddle leaf fig of your own!

I started off with three plants that I bought. They have grown so much that I have been able to prune them (here are some tips on pruning), and I have propagated five new ones (here are some tips on propagation) off of those. I’m about to send one of the baby fiddle leaf figs off to a friend’s home, and I thought I would include a little card with some tips on caring for these special plants. I’m not having difficulty letting go, really…

Here’s the card I put together, and if you want this in a PDF format, this is the link: Caring for your Fiddle Leaf Fig.

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Happy growing!

“Jewels”