Propagating Ficus Elastica: An Easy Step-By-Step Guide

The Ficus elastica, commonly known as the Rubber Plant or Rubber Tree, is a favored houseplant due to its glossy green leaves and striking stature. As part of the large Ficus family, this plant, native to southeast Asia, has become a staple in homes and offices around the world. If you’re smitten with your Rubber Plant and wish to multiply its presence in your space or share it with others, propagation is the key. In this detailed guide, we’ll delve into the process of propagating Ficus elastica to ensure the best outcomes.

Why Propagate Ficus Elastica?

Propagating Ficus elastica allows you to:

  • Multiply Your Collection: Obtain more plants without purchasing them.
  • Refresh an Older Plant: Over time, rubber plants can become leggy or overgrown. Propagation helps rejuvenate them.
  • Share with Friends: A propagated plant makes a thoughtful gift for fellow plant enthusiasts.

When to Propagate

The best time to propagate Ficus elastica is during its active growing season, usually spring and early summer. This period ensures the plant cuttings have the best chance to root and grow.

Tools and Materials Needed

  • Sharp, sterilized scissors or pruning shears
  • Clean pots or containers
  • Potting mix (preferably a well-draining one)
  • Rooting hormone (optional but can improve success rates)
  • Plastic bags or wrap (for creating a mini greenhouse)

Propagation Methods

A. Stem Cuttings

  1. Cut a Healthy Stem: Using sterilized scissors, cut a 6-8 inch long section from a healthy stem. Ideally, choose a section with 4 or more leaves.
  2. Prep the Cutting: Remove the bottom 2 leaves, leaving at least 2-3 leaves on the top. This exposes nodes, which are essential for root growth.
  3. Rooting Hormone (Optional): Dip the cut end into rooting hormone. This can boost root production.
  4. Planting: Insert the cutting into a pot filled with a moistened potting mix, burying 1-2 inches of the stem.
  5. Mini Greenhouse: Cover the pot with a clear plastic bag or plastic wrap. This maintains humidity, which aids root development.

B. Air Layering

This method involves rooting a section of the stem while it’s still attached to the parent plant. It’s especially useful for taller rubber plants.

  1. Choose a Section: Select a healthy section of the stem, typically 1-2 feet from the top.
  2. Make an Incision: With a sharp knife, make a 1-inch upward slanting cut about one-third into the stem.
  3. Encourage Rooting: Insert a toothpick or small piece of wood into the cut to keep it open. Optionally, apply rooting hormone.
  4. Wrap in Moist Medium: Surround the cut with damp sphagnum moss, then wrap it in plastic wrap, securing it with ties or tape.
  5. Wait for Roots: In a few weeks to months, roots will begin to form within the moss. Once substantial root growth is observed, the new plant can be cut from the parent plant just below the rooted section and potted separately.


  • Position: Keep the new plants in bright, indirect light.
  • Watering: Ensure the soil remains slightly moist but not soggy. Overwatering can lead to rot.
  • Humidity: Ficus elastica appreciates humidity. If your environment is dry, consider misting the plant or placing it on a humidity tray.
  • Fertilization: Once your propagated plant is well-established and showing new growth, you can begin feeding it with a diluted balanced liquid fertilizer during its growing season.

Potential Issues

  • Root Rot: Overwatering or letting the plant sit in water can lead to root rot. Always ensure your pot has proper drainage.
  • Leaf Drop: A common response to stress, newly propagated plants might drop a few leaves. Ensure the plant is in a stable environment with the right conditions.


The process of propagating Ficus elastica is not just about creating new plants but also engaging deeply with the wonders of nature. It’s a rewarding experience, teaching patience, care, and observation. With the right techniques, you can easily expand your collection and enjoy the lush beauty of the Rubber Plant in multiple corners of your space.