One day Filbert the Fiddle Leaf Fig became too tall.
His head hit he ceiling, his trunk was leaning – no longer was he petite and small.
One day he was chopped, he and I stood in shock, as the top half of him began to fall.
But then I realized there’s no reason to cry – soon well have a few more Filberts after all.
Filbert, as explained in my Dr. Suessian intro, was hitting my 10′ ceiling and, quite honestly, I couldn’t let him get any taller. He was one spindley trunk that leaned heavy to the right with leaves spaced very far apart. Fiddles are finicky, and he was my learning curve in figuring out the best lighting and conditions for them to flourish. I’ll admit, his appearance suffered a bit.
My post about propagating my Monstera is my most popular on this blog, and quite honestly, on Google. I explain how terrifying propagating is and how my only reason for actually doing it in the first place was to trim Monty down to a manageable size. Well, here we go again.
Why you should propagate.
Before I dive into the terrifying experience that is cutting a 10′ tree in half, let me explain why you should prune your Ficus Lyrata. One, it makes them look fuller (like any plant) and two for health reasons – it promotes more stems and growth. Many of the Fiddles you see in Crate and Barrel and Architectural Digest are a multi-stem tree full of yummy leaves like this:
Almost all “how to propagate a Fiddle Leaf Fig” posts I found was using a multi-stem and multi-branch plant (ugh, see above). So if you have this situation, that’s great. I also saw there is always a chance the plant can either die in the process or not root, but it’s usually fine since there are multiple stems to work with. I don’t know if you noticed, but Filbert was one trunk and, like, a branch. I didn’t find another person who chopped down their single stem Fiddle Leaf Fig and had it work out. SUPER.
So here I was again, terrified to chop up another one of my beloved and named plant friends. Even though my confidence was slim in the beginning, I now have two happy and healthy mini Filberts. Here’s what to do.
Propagating a Fiddle Leaf Fig.
I chose to propagate a Fiddle Leaf Fig in water. This is the most painless way to propagate and most fun to watch. At this point I have successfully propagated two Ficus lyrata in water and they both gave me chubby, healthy roots.
Where should I cut?
First, think about where you’d want new growth. You need to keep leaves on the Mama plant, so don’t got crazy. I chose a spot where it would look “nice” to have new branches and would look fuller.
This is very important: be sure to choose an area where there are leaves underneath. Again you don’t want a bare plant, so you want a spot with plenty of healthy growth below it. You’ll probably have to trim some leaves from the cutting, too.
Alright let’s do this.
- Identify where you want to cut and make a clean cut.
Be sure to use heavy pruners so you don’t struggle like I did.
- Remove any lower leaves.
The cutting should have 3-4 leaves max so its energy can be spent creating roots.
- Place the cutting in the jar with water.
Be sure there is enough space so when roots do grow, it isn’t a tight fit. Fill about 1/2 way with water.
- Place in a sunny, bright location that’s warm.
No drafts or depressing corners, please.
Waiting for Roots
After this initial chop, nothing happens for a while. And depending on the season (like if it’s winter) that may be a long while. Just be patient.
What comes next might be weird, but it’s totally normal. You’ll see fuzzy, barnacle-looking white spots pop up – and that’s good! These are roots forming. Do not pick them off or find them gross. In due time these become fuzzy white roots and eventually plump up.
Some other things might happen too – you may see a new leaf pop out and that great! A new bud may appear on the side and that’s great too.
The Mama plant will recover just fine and you should see some new growth very soon near where the cutting was taken.
When to Repot
Once the roots look beefy like this (see below), it’s time to plant!
Potting is pretty simple, it’s just like potting up a regular plant.
Step 1: Pour some soil in the bottom of the planter so the cutting has an anchor and doesn’t tip over.
Step 2: Insert the cutting and cover it with soil gently.
Step 3: Be sure not to pack it down.
Step 4: Water thoroughly until water comes out of the bottom and the soil is damp with no dry pockets.
Step 5: Ta da! Straighten the cutting so it’s not crooked and place in a warm, bright location.
Here are some things you don’t want to see:
-The stem turn black and mushy
-Its leaves all turn yellow and fall off
-Mold appears on the stem
These are all bad signs and a signal something went wrong. Your plant may have had an issue before you propagated, or your water may be too chlorinated. Either way, the cutting cannot usually be saved.
Propagating Fiddle Leaf Fig Leaves
Sometimes a leaf pops off and you think, sure let’s propagate it! That’s fair. But I have bad news, you can’t propagate a Fiddle Leaf Fig with just a leaf. This is called a blind leaf.
I talk a bit about blind leaf propagation in my Hoya kerrii post, but basically like a Hoya, Ficus lyrata need a stem piece to grow roots which then turn into a plant. A blind leaf will produce exciting roots, but that is all it will produce. Unless there is stem chunk attached, it will only ever create roots. I even tried it. I placed a leaf in water and just roots formed, but never anything else. It does look pretty in a glass jar though.
Have questions? Need troubleshooting? Leave a comment below!