Propagating rubber plants: tips for propagation by cuttings & more


Having studied organic farming, I enjoy trying out new cultivation methods and other gardening experiments with friends in our community garden. I care deeply about exploring sustainable and mindful approaches to working with nature. This is my biggest passion, but I am also a real ornamental plant enthusiast!

Favourite fruit: strawberry, mango, guava
Favourite vegetables: artichoke, tomato, rocket

Making two rubber plants from one is not difficult. Here, you can learn how to easily propagate a rubber plant by taking cuttings or by air layering.

Rubber plant in pot
You can propagate rubber plants yourself at home [Photo: Yakov Oskanov/]

The rubber plant (Ficus elastica) is pretty to look at and also very low maintenance. All the more reason to grow new saplings from your own plant. You can easily multiply your rubber tree or even give some of these tiny green gems away. So it does not hurt to know how best to approach rubber plant propagation. Below, we show you how to go about propagating rubber plants via cuttings or by air layering.

Why stick to just one rubber tree when you can have many? If you have also asked yourself this question, you should start thinking about propagating your own rubber plant. The Ficus elastica can be propagated in the same way as most Ficus species. In general, there are two ways: By cuttings or by air layering. Taking cuttings is a very uncomplicated and easy to use method. Air layering is much more complicated and takes more time. The result – magnificent and vigorous saplings – makes this method all the more attractive. Whichever option you choose, the best time for propagation is in the spring.

Propagating rubber plants from cuttings

For propagation from cuttings, you can choose between two methods: Either by taking cuttings from the main stem, or, if your tree is already larger, opt for propagation from node cuttings. For both methods, it is best to use a clean and sharp knife.

Propagating a rubber tree from main stem cuttings

For main stem cuttings, find a healthy shoot. From this cut off a five to ten centimetre-long shoot tip. The cut should be set at an angle just below a leaf base. Now remove all the leaves from the shoot, leaving only the top. When cutting the rubber plant, a white-milky sap will seep out of the cut. Dab this with a damp cloth.

Tip: Because the rubber tree is slightly toxic and can because skin irritation on contact, we recommend that you wear gloves for any work on the tree.

Prepare a pot with drainage holes and special growing soil as a planting container for the cutting. A peat-free sowing soil such as our Plantura Organic Herb & Seedling Compost is ideal as a substrate. The cutting should now be placed in this container and moistened with a spray bottle. From now on, the rubber plant sapling will need warm, bright and humid conditions. To increase humidity and create a particularly good microclimate for the cutting, put a plastic bag over the pot or place it in a homemade mini greenhouse. Every few days, the cutting should be aired and the bag should be removed for a while. The future tree needs a miniimum temperature of 25 °C to grow. After about three months, you can put the sapling in a larger pot.

Small pots filled with soil
The seeds are covered with suitable soil and always kept moist [Photo: Artur Szczybylo/]

Summary: Propagating rubber plants from main stem cuttings

  • Select a healthy shoot
  • Cut off a 5 – 10 cm-long shoot tip
  • Remove all leaves except the top one
  • Put the cutting in potting soil and moisten it
  • Place a plastic bag over the pot
  • Regularly air it and spray with water
  • Grow at 25 °C
Organic Herb & Seedling Compost, 20L
Organic Herb & Seedling Compost, 20L
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  • Perfect for herbs as well as sowing, propagating & transplanting
  • For aromatic herbs & healthy seedlings with strong roots
  • Peat-free & organic soil: CO2-saving composition

Propagating rubber plants from node cuttings

If your rubber tree has already grown to a stately size, it can also be propagated by node cuttings. To do this, select a woody shoot with leaves and so-called ‘nodes’. These nodes can be recognised by small bumps on the shoot. Now cut a three to four centimetre-long piece with a node from this shoot. Remove the leaves from the cutting. Now place the cutting is in a pot with growing soil as described above.

Summary: Propagating a rubber plant from node cuttings

  • Select a woody shoot with leaves and nodes
  • Take a 3 – 4 cm long cutting with a node
  • Put the cutting in potting soil and moisten it
  • Place a plastic bag over the pot
  • Spray regularly with water at 25 °C
Rubber plant seedlings
The seeds should be covered with suitable soil and always kept moist [Photo: Artur Szczybylo/]

Rubber plant propagation by air layering

Air layering is the process of turning one plant into two. This works with the so-called ‘wedge method’, by encouraging a part of the plant to form roots, although it is not even in the ground.

Here is how to do it with a rubber tree: Pick a healthy and strong shoot to use this method on. Cut diagonally along the shoot, to a maximum of halfway. Use a damp cloth to remove any sap that escapes. For faster root formation, you can put rooting powder on the cut. Then insert a wooden wedge or match into the cut; this will prevent the cut from resealing.

Now to add a layer of moss that gives this method of propagation its name. Wrap the area with a layer of moss. Next, wrap the moss with a layer of cling film and tie it below the cut on the shoot. Make sure to keep the moss sufficiently moist and in a few weeks the cut should form roots. This step requires some patience, because it can take six to ten weeks for the cut to form a sufficient number of roots. Once the shoot has many roots, you can cut it off from the main shoot and put it in a pot. The part of the shoot left on the plant will regrow leaves after some time.

Summary: Propagating rubber plants by air layering

  • Select a strong, healthy shoot
  • Cut diagonally into the shoot
  • Place a wedge in the cut
  • Wrap with moss and cling film
  • Keep the moss damp
  • Roots should form in 6 – 10 weeks
  • When sufficient roots have formed cut off the shoot and plant it

Of course, once you have mastered the propagation of your rubber tree, your brood of little trees will also want proper care. In our special article, we tell you everything about properly caring for a rubber plant.

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