Rubber Plant Propagation
Propagation

Rubber Plant Propagation

Rubber Plant Propagation

Welcome to our article on Rubber Plant Propagation. 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 always use water propagation as I find it the easiest and I can monitor root growth. We´ll cover this step by step below. We´ll talk about the others too. 

See also: Ficus Religiosa, Ficus Elastica Ruby, Ficus Triangularis.

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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:

  • Step 1: Take a cutting from the rubber plant with 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. 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. 
  • Step 2: Put the cutting in a jar of filtered tap water.
  • Step 3: 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.
  • Step 4: Pot the cutting up into a pot with well draining soil and water it. 
Rubber Plant Propagation

Rubber Plant Water Propagation

Can You Propagate A Rubber Plant In Water? 

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

Rubber Plant Soil Propagation

Can You Propagate A Rubber Plant In Soil?

Yes, you can propagate a rubber tree cutting straight into soil.

  • 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.

Rubber Plant Leaf Propagation

Can You Propagate A Rubber Plant From A Leaf?

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. 

Rubber Plant Propagation

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.

Where To Cut Rubber Plant For Propagation

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.

How Long Does It Take To Propagate Rubber Plant?

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.

Summary

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. 

You might like our other articles Water Propagation, and Pothos Propagation.

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