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How to Propagate a Rubber Plant

Wondering how to propagate a rubber plant? Rubber plant propagation from cuttings is easy and just takes a bit of patience. Learn the 5 different ways I recommend propagating ficus elastica!

How to propagate a rubber plant from branch cuttings

Hey folks, I’ve got another propagation post for you! I recently shared a rubber plant care guide post, and today I’m sharing all about how to propagate a rubber plant from a cutting. Rubber plant propagation is not difficult, but it does take some patience.

Like most plants, it’s best to take cuttings to root in the spring and summer. That’s when it’s typically actively growing. However, you can technically propagate plants all year round—as I update this post in February, I am currently rooting rubber plant cuttings 🙂

beautiful large rubber plant

Table of contents

Below is a hyperlinked table of contents for the topics covered in this post. Feel free to click one to go directly to that section!

If you like this, you’ll also like my posts on how to propagate golden pothos from cuttings, how to propagate snake plants, and how to propagate prickly pear cactus.

How take a cutting to start a rubber tree plant

Propagating a rubber plant successfully starts with getting a great cutting. Taking a cutting from the tip of a stem is best—these root the most effectively. The cutting should be about 6 inches long, and you should take it just below a leaf. Then remove the bottom leaves from your cutting—this is where new roots will sprout from.

Note: When you take a cutting from a rubber tree plant, you’ll notice the milky gross sap it has. This sap can be highly irritating, so keep away from pets and children, and wash your hands immediately after. I recommend wearing gardening gloves, too.

rubber tree plant sap

Propagation method #1: Dividing a plant

Before we jump into the different methods that you can use to propagate a rubber tree cutting, I want to outline another common method: dividing an existing rubber plant. This can be done when there are multiple stems within a pot.

Technically dividing a rubber plant isn’t really propagating—it’s just splitting two plants apart and potting them up separately. However, it is the fastest and easiest way to get more plants. So I wanted to make sure I note this up front.

I have divided rubber plants many times. To do so, simply take the plant out of its pot and gently remove the soil from the roots. Find a suitable spot where you can separate two different plants. You may have to cut them apart—or they could be totally separate stems.

Whichever route you go, make sure you take as much of the existing root system with you as possible. That way, with you pot the two plants separately, they’ll have roots ready to go. The plant may still experience some shock, but it will have a huge upper hand when compared to fresh cuttings with no roots!

how to propagate a rubber plant
how to propagate a rubber plant

Propagation method #2: In soil

Now let’s talk about rooting fresh cuttings. There are a couple of different ways you can do this. The first way I’ve tried is soil. For this propagation method, you plant the cutting directly in soil.

If you’d like to use a rooting hormone on the end of the cutting, you can. I didn’t have any at the time and have not had any issues, but it surely wouldn’t hurt. Rooting powders and gels can help the roots to develop quicker.

Plant your cutting in well-draining potting soil. In these pictures, you’ll see I just potted my cutting up in an old plastic nursery pot with plenty of drainage holes in the bottom.

The rubber plant needs a little help while the cutting is rooting in soil. Many methods recommend putting the cutting in a plastic bag to create an on-the-go greenhouse of sorts. The plastic bag creates a high humidity environment that the new lil guy loves.

I put the plant low in an old plastic salad bin and then placed it high in our bathroom right on the windowsill, which gets really nice bright, indirect light. And, with being a bathroom, it also has higher levels of ambient humidity. You could also put plastic wrap on top of it to help with more insulation.

Water if things get dry. You want the soil to stay moist. Roots should grow in about a month, but don’t panic if it takes a few months. You can gently tug at the plant to check, but I’d wait about a month before doing that.

And don’t freak out if you lose a leaf or two—typically the oldest leaves. This often happens while propagating plants as the cutting diverts its energy to growing roots. This can take energy away from maintaining healthy foliage.

how to propagate a rubber plant
how to propagate a rubber plant

Want more plant content? Check out my string of pearls care guide, my prickly pear cactus care guide, my peperomia plant care guide, my philodendron care guide, my snake plant care guide, my guide to caring for the tradescantia zebrina, my tips for staking indoor house plants, and my post about 15 DIY planters to help you decorate with plants!

Propagation method #3: In water

You can also root your rubber plant cutting in water first. I have rooted many ficus plants in water. I love water rooting because you can watch the roots sprout and develop. You can also display the plants like you would cut flowers, which is a bonus!

Water rooting isn’t the best option for all plants, but I’ve had success rooting ficus lyrata (fiddle leaf fig) and ficus elastica (rubber plant) cuttings in water. Just refresh the water every week or so and transfer the cutting to soil when the roots are several inches long.

rubber plant cutting in water
ficus lyrata cutting rooting in water
ficus lyrata cutting with roots grown in water
advertising image with text about signing up for a guide about some of the easiest houseplants to propagate, including how I use Grow by Mediavine to deliver my free products using an email signup model

Here is the link to the Dropbox folder with the guide!

cover of my propagation guide that says getting started with houseplant propagation

Propagation method #4: Using LECA

LECA is a newer method I’ve used for ficus cuttings. It’s the current rubber plant propagation I have going in my windowsill right now. I love propagating with LECA because it helps to grow strong roots that suffer less shock when transitioning the cutting to soil.

To propagate a rubber plant cutting in LECA, grab a glass jar and add in an inch or two of LECA. Then pop the cutting in and fill LECA in around it to stabilize things.

Add just enough water to fill up that bottom inch or two of LECA. The cutting shouldn’t be submerged in LECA. The clay balls around the cutting will pull up moisture from the lower water reservoir, creating a moist environment that is conducive to root growth.

Keep an eye on the water level and add more water as necessary. After the roots are several inches long, you can transition the cutting to soil.

rooting rubber plant cuttings in LECA
rooting rubber plant cuttings in LECA
rooting rubber plant cuttings in LECA

Propagation method #5: Air layering

Air layering is another method used to propagate rubber tree plants, but I’ve never tried it. Air layering is a great choice to use when you propagate a larger section of the plant and increase its likelihood of success.

It’s done by scraping off the bark around an area you want to root, then added rooting hormone and covering the spot with damp moss and plastic (to keep things moist). When it develops roots after a few weeks, you can cut the stem off just below the new roots.

large rubber plant
plants on a desk

Transplanting a rubber tree plant

Whichever propagation method you choose, keep in mind that propagation is not always successful. I’ve found that the rubber plant takes longer than many other plants to root, so try not to get discrouaged.

Also don’t freak out if you lose some leaves either while rooting the plant or after transplanting it to soil. Plants commonly drop older leaves when conserving energy or when going into a bit of shock. It’s totally normal.

Just remember to keep your cutting relatively moist as it is getting used to its new home in soil, and give it plenty of indirect light. Once you see new leaf growth, you can begin caring for your new plant as you would any other rubber tree plant.

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