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How to Propagate a Rubber Plant

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about how to propagate a rubber plant!

How to propagate a rubber plant from branch cuttings

Hey folks, I’ve got another propagation guide for you! I recently shared a rubber plant care guide, 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—you just need to make sure you have the right conditions…warmth, light, and humidity.

beautiful large rubber plant

Rubber plant propagation overview

  • Taking a cutting: Cut from the tip of a stem, approximately 6 or so inches long, just below a leaf; remove the bottom leaves to expose growth points, and be cautious of the rubber plant’s milky sap, which can be irritating.
  • Dividing a plant: This involves splitting an existing rubber plant with multiple stems into separate plants. It’s a straightforward method that yields immediate results.
  • Propagation in soil: Plant the cutting in well-draining soil; maintain high humidity around the cutting, either with a plastic bag or by placing it in a humid environment. Keep the soil moist; roots should form in about a month.
  • Propagation in water: Place the cutting in water, changing it weekly; transfer the cutting to soil once the roots are several inches long and keep moist.
  • Using LECA: Nestle the cutting in LECA and add water, ensuring the water comes up to just below the bottom of the cutting; this method helps encourages strong roots with less shock during soil transition.
  • Air layering: This technique involves scraping off bark, applying rooting hormone, and covering the area with damp moss and plastic; can increase success rates in larger propagations.

How take a good cutting

Propagating a rubber plant successfully starts with taking 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 sap it has. This sap can be 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

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

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

Transplanting a rubber plant propagation

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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collage that says how to propagate rubber plant cuttings with example photos

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