Rubber Plant Propagation
Welcome to our article on Rubber Plant Propagation. I’ve propagated a lot over the years and I have a few inside my home and outside on my balcony too. Rubber plants are really popular for a reason. Their leaf color and shape are a great way to add green to a room, they can be vertical or branch out and are relatively easy to care for. To propagate a rubber plant you can use various methods, I normally use water propagation as I find it the easiest and I can monitor root growth. I’ll cover this step by step below. I’ll talk about the others too.
Tip: we recommend Etsy for buying plants. Look for the best rated seller you can, and try to buy as close to your home as possible so the plant does not travel too far.
What You Will Need To Propagate A Rubber Plant:
- A jar of tap water (filtered and left out overnight).
- A rubber plant, big enough to take a cutting from.
- A sharp, clean knife (or scissors).
How to propagate a rubber plant
Here is a step by step method to propagating a ficus elastica:
Time needed: 1 hour
Rubber Plant propagation step by step
- Take a cutting
Take a cutting from the rubber plant try to get 2 to 4 leaves on it, and make sure the stalk under them is long enough to reach down in the water. This stem should also include a node (the place where the leaves grow from on the stem – the cutting will root from there). A good time to do this is spring time at the start of the growing season, although I´ve had success doing this year round.
- Put the cutting in a jar of filtered tap water
You want to make sure the leaves do not touch the water, but the stem is well under the surface so it roots well.
- Let it root
Wait until you see a healthy amount of roots. This can take some time. Root growth can be slow on rubber plants, but have patience and in a few months the cutting should be ready to pot up.
- Move the cutting to soil
Pot the cutting up into a pot with well draining soil and water it.
Rubber Plant Soil Propagation
You can propagate a rubber tree cutting straight into soil, follow these steps:
- Take the cutting below the node. Leave a long stem (remove lower leaves if you need to).
- Put the cutting in the soil to root, then water it.
- It will need a lot of moisture / humidity. Get a plastic bag and cover the whole cutting and pot with a plastic bag and seal it shut. Try to make sure that the plant has enough space and is not touching the bag. This humidity will help the roots grow.
- Then leave the plant in a place that gets plenty of indirect sunlight and leave it to grow roots, ideally 2 months or more.
Propagation A Rubber Plant With Sphagnum Moss
You can propagate a rubber plant using sphagnum moss, it is a great method, as like with the water propagation method you can monitor root growth easily if you use a transparent cup. You need to take a cutting with at least one node and some leaves, then place the cutting in a cup with wet sphagnum moss so that the moss is touching the node. You should see roots appearing in month or so through the moss, and in two months you can pot the new cutting up to soil.
Air layering a Rubber Plant
Air layering is the process of starting to get roots from the cutting while it is still on the plant and taking some of the stem off and covering in moss to encourage roots to grow, then separating it from the original plant. It sounds more complicated than it is to be honest, give it a go!
This is how you propagate a rubber plant with air layering:
- Step 1: Get a sharp knife, some plastic wrap or airtight sandwich bag, some string/twine, and some sphagnum moss (soaked in water).
- Step 2: Find a node on a branch that has at least a few leaves above it. And remove leaves that are on this node using a clean, sharp knife.
- Step 3: Now you need to remove the bark/flesh of the plant around the node, from a centimeter (or half and inch) above the node to a centimeter below the node. It is like peeling an apple, you need to take the layer of green off to reveal the inner branch which is a tougher woody texture. Peel the outer bark off but leave the inner branch in tact. Be as careful as possible here you are damaging the plant, but try to limit the damage. Do not get the sap on your skin as it can cause rashes.
- Step 4: You now get the sphagnum moss and put it around the node with the bark removed. Tie it on with the twine, so that all parts of the bark-less branch are touching and covered by the wet moss.
- Step 5: Then wrap the plastic wrap or bag around the moss ball and use twine to tie it on. You need to try to make sure that it is tied at either end relatively tightly to keep it as water-tight and air-tight as possible. You want it to keep really moist in the wrapping to encourage root growth.
- Step 6: Keep the moss wet for about 2 months (you will need to unwrap every week or so and spray it with water).
- Step 7: When you can see a lot of healthy roots in the moss ball, make a cut below the moss ball, and plant the cutting up in soil. You now have a new plant with an already established root system.
Rubber Plant Propagation Water Vs Soil
For me I start the propagation off in water, then move it to soil after a few weeks when roots have started to grow.
Rubber Plant Water Propagation FAQs
You can put multiple plants in one pot. I have a pot with 3 plants in it.
The best time is in spring so they can grow into their new container over the entire growing season. But you can do it year round.
Yes you can just use water, you can even leave the cutting in water alone as a centerpiece. See the step by step instructions above. For more on this type of propagation, see our Water Propagation article.
You can root a leaf cutting and plant it up, but unless it has a stem with a node on it will not grow into a full rubber plant, you´ll just have the leaf being kept alive on a root system. The good news is that often on a rubber plant a leaf cutting may have a node as they are close to the leaf.
You want to cut it below a node, as this is where the roots will grow from. There are loads of nodes on a rubber plant, they are the parts on the stems that branches grow from.
They can take a few months from making the cutting up until they are a juvenile plant. The roots will develop in the first few months, but slowly, and it can be up to six months or more before new leaf grows.
Yes you can plant them directly in soil. Keep them humid until they root.
There are few ways to propagate a rubber plant. All the methods take 2 or 3 months to get a well rooted new plant. I like the water propagation method myself as I love the simplicity of it, and having a cutting in water on my desk looks great.
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