A Guide to Fiddle Leaf Fig Propagation 

A gorgeous addition to the home, the lyre-shaped leaves of the Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata) have helped to make it one of the most popular houseplants. Its glossy, lyre or violin shaped green leaves make it a great addition to a room. Taller varieties, which can grow up to 6 ft tall, can also be used to create a natural focal point.

Native to tropical parts of Africa, these plants thrive in wet, warm conditions. While this can be challenging for novice plant growers, with a little time and effort you can create a favorable environment for these attractive, easy going plants.

One of the most difficult aspects of growing a Fiddle Leaf Fig plant is propagation. However, in the right conditions, you can soon learn how to cultivate a new plant.

This guide to Fiddle Leaf Fig propagation highlights a few different methods, explaining each one in detail and allowing you to decide which method is best for your plant.

1 Fiddle leaf fig
Green and glossy, the foliage of Ficus lyrata has helped to make it a popular houseplant. Source: starr-110209-0875-Ficus_lyrata-leaves by Forest and Kim Starr / CC 2.0

Different Fiddle Leaf Fig Propagation Methods

There are a number of different Fiddle Leaf Fig propagation methods.

You can propagate either a stem or a leaf. The cutting can be rooted in water or potting soil. You can also carry out a Fiddle Leaf Fig propagation process known as air layering.

Each method has its pros and cons. Take the time to read through each method before deciding which one is best for you.

Timing your Fiddle Leaf Fig Propagation

Timing propagation correctly helps to ensure that the process will be successful.

The Fiddle Leaf Fig is a tropical plant that becomes dormant during the fall and winter months before waking up the following spring.

When the plants are dormant they try to conserve as much energy as possible. Producing new roots is an energy consuming process, if the plant is dormant you will struggle to get it to expend the necessary energy for the process to be successful.

The best time for propagation is during the spring or early summer when the plant is actively growing and producing new growth.

That being said, a Fiddle Leaf Fig plant that is growing indoors, where the environment, particularly the temperature, is consistent throughout the year means that it is unlikely to enter a deep dormancy. This means that you can attempt propagation throughout the year. Particularly if your home is a humid, warm environment.

Is Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant a Good Candidate for Propagation?

Before you begin, inspect your plant. In particular look for any signs of sickness or disease such as wilting foliage or yellow spots. Any issues should be resolved before you start propagation.

You should also treat any infestations before you begin propagation. Neem oil is a safe and effective solution which is suitable for houseplants, as our guide to using neem oil on plants shows.

2 Propagate healthy fiddle leaf fig

Only take cuttings from healthy plants. Source: Ficus Lyrata by Lisa Taliana / CC 2.0

Allow your Fiddle Leaf Fig plant time to recover before you begin the process. Only ever attempt to propagate plants that are healthy and problem free.

You can also use this opportunity to identify the nodes on the stem of your fiddle leaf fig plants. These are the points from which stems, leaves or roots emerge. Knowing where the nodes are helps is a key part of Fiddle Leaf Fig plant propagation. The location of the nodes determines where you make any cuttings.

Prepare the Pot and Soil

Preparing the materials that you need before you begin Fiddle Leaf Fig propagation helps to make this a smooth process. A discerning plant, Fiddle Leaf Fig cuttings require transplanting as quickly after removal from the parent plant as possible. Allowing the cuttings to sit around for a while before planting may cause them to fail.

Your potting soil should be well-draining or porous. However, it should be able to retain some moisture. You can make your own potting medium by working a moisture retaining material such as perlite into good quality, organic potting soil.

3 Fiddle leaf fig proagation preparations
Prepare your potting soil before taking any cuttings.

Your chosen pot should be clean, of a good size and have drainage holes in the bottom.

Depending on the size of the plant you are propagating you will need a pot 6 to 15 inches in diameter. It should also be deep enough to accommodate the root system of a mature plant. Avoid using a small or shallow pot.

Fiddle Leaf Fig tree cuttings are best started in large pots like this 12 inch round Prime Planter pot. These plants dislike the disruption caused by transplanting and can easily become stressed.

Fill your chosen pot with potting medium and water well. Allow any excess water to drain away. Damp soil supports the cutting and helps to keep the rooting hormone on the plant. Watering after planting the cutting risks washing away the rooting hormone.

If you are rooting your cuttings in water, the preparation for planting can be done after making the cutting, while you wait for the roots to develop.

Before you take a cutting, clean your potting bench and sterilize any tools that you will be using. Not only does preparing everything beforehand help to make the propagation process easier, it also helps to prevent the accidental transfer of disease between plants.

How to Take a Cutting

Correctly taking a cutting is one of the most important parts of fiddle leaf fig propagation. Where you make the cutting and the angle of the cut impacts not only how easily new roots emerge on the cutting but also how well the plant heals.

4 Take cuttings with leaves

Your cutting should have some leaves and nodes. Figuier lyre, Ficus lyrata by Olive Titus / CC 2.0

Angled cuts are often recommended because they provide a larger surface area from which new growth can emerge. However, they also leave a larger wound on the parent plant. This can be more easily accessed by fungal or bacterial infections than the smaller wound from a straight cut.

Straight cuts create less surface area but are also less effective. The smaller surface area created by straight cuts means there is less room for roots to emerge.

Use sterilized garden scissors or hand pruners to cut just below the third node on a stem that has 2 to 3 leaves. This ensures that the cutting has enough leaves to sustain itself without using up too much valuable energy. The cutting should be 6 to 8 inches long.

The area between the nodes is known as the internode. This is where you make the cut. Cutting on a node stops it from being effective, harming both the cutting and parent plant.

As well as some leaves, your cutting should have at least 3 nodes. Nodes are the areas on the stem from which leaves or branches emerge. It is also where new growth emerges.

If your cutting has a lot of leaves or small stems, cut away any on the lower half of the cutting. This creates more nodes from which roots can emerge. If you don’t remove the lower leaves they can, if buried in the potting medium, become moldy. This can lead to the cutting developing either a fungal or bacterial infection.

Dip the cut end in RootBoost Rooting Hormone Powder. Rooting hormone helps to stimulate root development as well as speeding up the process. Like other woody plants Ficus lyrata benefits from the boost that rooting hormone provides, increasing the chances of propagation being successful.


Plant the cutting roughly one-third deep in the pot. Firm down the soil, lightly compacting it to keep the plant in place.

Place the cutting in a large propagator or plastic bag. If you are using a plastic bag, stick some 17 inch Green Bamboo Sticks into the soil to hold up the plastic bag. Do not allow the plastic bag to touch the cutting.

Covering the cutting helps to maintain moisture and humidity levels around the plant. It also protects the sensitive plant from unexpected changes in temperature.

Roots typically form in 3 to 4 weeks.


Propagation from a Single Leaf

While possible, the propagation of a Fiddle Leaf Fig plant from a single leaf is one of the most difficult methods of propagation.

5 Propagate a single fiddle leaf fig leaf

You can also propagate from a single leaf. Ficus lyrata ‘Bambino’ by Sergey Urzhumskov / CC 2.0

Use sterile scissors to cut a healthy leaf from the plant. As with stem propagation you can either make a straight cut or a diagonal cut. While diagonal cuts create a greater area from which roots can grow, it also provides more room for disease or infection to enter the plant.

Coat the cut area with rooting hormone and plant in a pot filled with moist potting soil.

Place the pot in a propagator to maintain humidity levels. Regularly moisten the soil with a Driew Plant Mister Spray Bottle or watering can to prevent it from drying out.

If successful, roots develop in 3 to 5 weeks.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Propagation By Air Layering

This is a more complicated propagation technique that involves making cuts in the plant tissue of a branch. In this process the branch that you are propagating remains part of the parent plant until after roots have formed.

The idea of air layering is that the new roots can draw the energy they need to develop from the parent plant. It is a good way to take larger cuttings with lots of leaves. This means that the new plant is immediately more full and attractive.

Use a sharp, sterile knife to make the incisions on your chosen branch. An older, healthy branch or offshoot is ideal.

Dust the area with rooting hormone and cover in damp sphagnum moss before wrapping in a plastic bag.

Elastic bands or string can be used to keep the moss and plastic covering in place. This seals in moisture.

Over time roots emerge from the incisions. Once these new roots are around 2 inches long the intended cutting should be able to support itself without the help of the parent plant.


When the roots are long enough, remove the section from the parent plant and pot on in a new pot. This should be filled with moist, well draining soil.

This method of Fiddle Leaf Fig propagation is best done in the spring but can also be attempted in the fall.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Propagation in Water

You can also propagate a cutting in water. While leaves can also be propagated in water they are also more likely to fail.

6 Fiddle leaf fig propagation in water
Roots can develop from cuttings placed in water.

Take a cutting with sharp, sterile scissors. If you are propagating a stem or branch cutting make sure it has a few leaves and is around 6 inches long and has at least 3 nodes. It should also be healthy. Remove any leaves or stems from the lower half of the cutting. Allowing these to sit in water can cause them to rot.

Removing the lower leaves also creates more nodes from which roots can emerge.

Place the cutting in a tall glass or jar filled with fresh water. You can also use a plastic bottle. The bottom of the cutting should not touch the bottom of the jar.

Put the jar in a window which enjoys around 6 to 8 hours of indirect bright light every day. The more indirect light the cutting the plant receives, the quicker roots develop.


You can also place the jar close to a humidifier. These are humidity loving plants, placing close to a humidifier helps to boost your cutting and improve cell production. This, in turn, promotes healthy root growth.

Replace the water a couple of times a week. Cuttings need oxygen to survive. Changing water regularly ensures a steady supply. Stale water has a lower oxygen content. Allowing your cutting to sit in old or stale water can cause it to struggle or fail.

Before placing the cutting in tap water, allow the water to stand for a day. This gives any chemicals such as chlorine time to dissipate. You can also root cuttings in rainwater harvested from the garden.

Roots typically emerge within 6 weeks. When the roots are a few inches long, plant the cutting as described above, in moist, well draining-potting soil.

Aftercare Tips

Once planted the next important part of fiddle leaf fig propagation is aftercare. The time from planting to rooting is a crucial time. These are sensitive plants and cuttings are prone to failure.

Fiddle leaf fig cuttings love moisture. Placing the pot in an Early Grow Domed Propagator or plastic bag helps to maintain even humidity and moisture levels around the plant.

Misting the leaves daily also helps to maintain humidity levels. This is important because the cuttings are yet to develop roots so are unable to take moisture from the soil.

Allow the top layer of soil around the cutting to dry out before you water it again. If the leaves feel listless, cut them in half. This reduces the amount of moisture lost while roots develop.

As roots develop, place your cutting in a bright, indirect light spot. Ideally the plants should receive 6 to 8 hours of light a day. Close to a shut window that enjoys lots of morning light is ideal. Do not place the cutting in a direct light position.

Do not place the cutting in a cold or drafty spot.

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Care for your delicate cutting. Ficus lyrata cutting 20190629_142256 by Benjamin Ho / CC 2.0

Roots typically form in 4 to 6 weeks. Fresh, healthy growth emerging is a clear sign that roots are also present. To check for roots, gently tug the Ficus lyrata cutting. If you feel resistance it means that roots are present, anchoring the plant into the ground.

Once the cutting has grown by around 2 to 3 inches it is ready to be removed from its plastic bag and placed in a permanent spot.


However, care is still vital. These are delicate plants, for the first few months up until the age of around 2 years old, the plants are unsettled and struggle to cope with major changes. Diseases such as root rot can also develop during this time.

If you want more information on caring for the Fiddle Leaf Fig plant, our Grow and Care guide is filled with useful information.

Warning, be careful when handling the plants. When cut or opened the Fiddle Leaf Fig plant can emit a white, sticky sap. This is a mildly toxic substance that can irritate skin. Wear work gloves and a long sleeved top when attempting Fiddle Leaf Fig propagation. You should also avoid touching your eyes during the process.

The plants are also considered toxic to both cats and dogs. If you have curious pets there are a number of dog and cat safe alternatives.

8 Fiddle leaf fig propagation

Learning how to propagate Ficus lyrata enables you to expand your houseplant collection.

A time consuming process, whichever propagation method you decide to use, learning how to propagate the Fiddle Leaf Fig can be frustrating. Taking more than one cutting helps to guard against failure.

However, even with your best efforts, the process may not always be successful. Consequently learning how to correctly propagate the plant is a rewarding process.

Propagation is also a cost effective way of increasing the size of your plant collection or creating gifts for plant loving friends and family. Finally, the skills learnt here are transferable. The above methods of Fiddle Leaf Fig propagation can also be used on a range of other plants.

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