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Do you have a fiddle leaf fig growing happily in your living room? If so, you’ve probably already thought about getting another and who could blame you? This plant, also known as Ficus Lyrata for its violin-shaped leaves, wouldn’t have become so popular if it wasn’t a beautiful addition to a home.
But before you rush off to the garden center, consider another approach. It’s possible to propagate a new plant from your existing fig. This is a great option if your tree is already in need of a prune but, even if your plant is smaller, propagation is a fascinating way to expand your house plant collection.
What is Fiddle Leaf Fig Propagation?
Technically speaking, propagation is cloning. If you’re successful, your new baby plant will be an exact genetic replica of its parent. Thankfully, you don’t need to be a mad scientist to make this happen.
Propagating a new plant is quick and easy. In less than three months, both you and your parent fig could have a new friend.
In the wild, Ficus Lyrata is a rainforest plant that grows from seed. It will grow in soil, but it prefers to find a spot in the crown of another tree for optimum access to sunlight. Once established in its spot in the canopy, its roots grow downward and slowly strangle the host tree.
Thankfully, the law of the jungle doesn’t apply when you want to grow a new fiddle leaf fig at home. In fact, it’s easy to propagate a new plant from just a leafy twig.
How to Propagate A Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree
Step 1: Wait for the right time of year
You have a much higher chance of success if you take your cuttings and propagate your plant at the beginning of the growing season. If the idea strikes you in the middle of winter, it can be frustrating to wait, but a twig is unlikely to grow into a plant if it’s taken from a dormant parent plant.
You should aim to begin propagating in March or April. If you’ve had to repot your parent plant this year, give it a few weeks to recover from the stress of being moved before you take the cutting. After that, you’re ready to go.
Step 2: Choose wisely
You should try to propagate from the branch of a mature tree or the main stem of a younger plant. The second option has the advantage of encouraging the parent to branch, but be sure to make the cut when the leaves are almost fully grown. New leaves are usually too small to propagate successfully.
Choose a piece with between one and three leaves and a couple of inches of stem. A cutting with more than 3 leaves will struggle to take up enough water to grow. Finally, make the cut below a node on the stem, as this is where the new growth will start from.
Step 3: Trim and prepare
Especially if you’re planning to propagate your plant from branches you’ve pruned, you have some work to do before you transfer your cutting to water.
First, remove any extra leaves and trim the stem to a couple of inches in length. When trimming, be sure to keep any nodes on the stem intact.
Next, cut the end of the stem to a 30 – 45-degree angle. This gives it more surface area to take up the water it needs to grow.
Finally, dip the end of the stem into some rooting hormone gel to give it the best possible start.
Step 4: Place in water
Because the new cuttings need so much moisture, you have a better chance of success if you start your cuttings in water before transferring them to the soil. This method is also great for your nerves because you get to watch the first roots grow.
Remember to be kind to your little twig. Put it in lukewarm or room temperature water to avoid shocking it and change the water weekly so that it stays nice and fresh. Place its container on a moderately sunny windowsill and, within 3 – 4 weeks, you can expect to see the first roots emerging.
Step 5: Plant into soil
After 5 – 6 weeks, your cutting should have enough roots to graduate to a plant pot. Your plant is still just a tiny baby, so choose a pot no more than 6 inches in diameter with plenty of drainage holes.
Just like its parent plant, your propagated fiddle leaf will prefer well-draining houseplant soil and will thank you for keeping it away from prolonged direct sunlight, drafts and low humidity conditions. Water it when the top two inches of soil is dry, mist it regularly and, after 2 – 3 months, begin fertilizing it as you would a mature fiddle leaf tree.
Within a few months, both your parent plant and your new baby should be giving you some beautiful new leaves. If you start this process in the spring, there’s still plenty of time for both of your fiddle leafs to put on a show.
5 Best Tools for Propagation
High-quality pruning shears
Fiddle leaf figs can be fussy to care for and they’re not always recommended for beginners. By the time you come to propagate yours, you should consider yourself a proper gardener, which means it’s probably time to invest in some tools to make your life easier. These shears are fantastic for taking cuttings.
What makes them special? These shears are light enough to be easy to use but strong enough to trim the branches of a mature Ficus Lyrata. It’s a perfect balance! As you’d expect, there’s also a safety lock for peace of mind.
Pruning shears are essential if you want your cuttings to succeed. Since you’ll be propagating from a mature plant, ordinary scissors won’t be strong enough to handle the woody stems. Using blunt or weak tools is likely to bruise both the cutting and the parent plant and increase the risk of infection, so treat yourself to some shears before you begin this process.
Your cutting might grow without a rooting hormone, but using a product like this will increase the chances and accelerate the process.
Why do I need this product? The hormone tells the twig that it’s time to stop making woody cells for the stem and start making root cells instead. This gets you through the cutting’s vulnerable period more quickly and gives you a healthy plant earlier in the growing season.
Clonex rooting gel is a great option for fiddle leaf fig propagation. Whereas traditional rooting powders won’t work when you’re starting off in water, the gel will continue to nurture your new plant as you wait for the roots to emerge.
This product is more expensive than some of the others on the market but a bottle is an investment which will last you for several years. This makes it perfect for when your first fiddle leafs have grown up and you’ve got the itch to propagate some more.
Well draining compost
Who knew when you started your garden that there were so many different kinds of soil on the market? Finding the right one can be confusing, but the right choice will give your cuttings the best possible start in life.
Thankfully, fiddle leaf figs are not quite as particular as succulents and orchids when it comes to your choice of compost. All they need is a well-draining houseplant soil like this.
What makes it unique? This soil is a great option to support even the most temperamental fiddle leaf fig. It retains water without becoming waterlogged. This is essential for all tropical plants, but especially for fiddle leafs, which like conditions to be as constant as possible to maximize their growth.
The nutrients in the mix will give your propagated fig a constant supply of food as its roots become established. Finally, it has the added benefit of being bark-free, which discourages the gnats which can often move into your plant pots.
For plants, fertilizer is like a multivitamin for us humans. Over time, plants will absorb all of the nutrients from even the highest quality soil. In the wild, these would be replenished naturally but, when gardening indoors, it’s down to you. This feed has been specially tailored for fiddle leafs.
What makes it stand out? Fiddle leaf figs are hungry plants and their growth can stall once their soil is exhausted. Once your cutting has been in the soil for 2 – 3 months and has started to grow new leaves, it’s time to feed it.
The Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Plant Food has the perfect ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium they need. Happy reviewers report that their plants have grown faster and produced bigger leaves than before. It’s also been known to revive sickly fiddle leaf figs and encourage the new growth they need to get over a phase of brown leaves and spotting.
The best part is, you can use it on your parent plant as well as your new baby.
Yes, you could root your cuttings in a regular jar but, since it’s going to be taking up prime real estate on your windowsill for at least a month and a half, consider treating it to a more beautiful container. These minimalist glass vases are a perfect choice.
Why should I choose this product? At between 6 and 8 inches tall, these vases are dainty enough that a small branch won’t look out of place. The mismatched shapes look great displayed together and the clean lines will complement the beautiful shape of your fig leaves.
Many bud vases have narrow necks. They look stunning but run the risk of damaging the new roots when you come to remove cuttings from the water. This isn’t the case with these vases.
The bases are reassuringly weighted to prevent them from being accidentally knocked over and when you’ve planted your fiddle leaf on, you’re bound to find other uses for the vases around your home.
So there you have it! There’s no mystery to propagating your fiddle leaf fig. If you take your time and use the correct tools, you should be watching your new plant sprouting its first fresh leaves in no time.
The only word of warning is this: once you start taking cuttings, be prepared to find yourself with a whole family of fiddle leafs. Once you’ve successfully propagated one plant from a cutting, you won’t be able to stop. Watching a whole new plant grow from a single leaf takes patience, but it’s rewarding in a way that you just don’t get from buying a new houseplant from the store.
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