Rubber tree (Ficus Elastica) plants grow as tall as 100 feet in their natural environment. These jungle plants reach about 25 to 40 feet in landscapes with tropical climates. Placed in warm, bright areas indoors, rubber trees make interesting houseplants in large pots. With their large, evergreen leaves, these tall plants make nice selections for indoor trees in lofted foyers and entryways. Air layering provides a way to propagate healthy plants and create new rubber tree plants.
Select a broad, thick area of stem to create your air layering propagation. Choose a location just beneath a node where a leaf attaches to the stem. Remove the leaf and other leaves within 3 or 4 inches of your selected location.
Soak a couple handfuls of sphagnum moss in clean water. Purchase this type of moss at your gardening center or craft store. Lightly squeeze the excess moisture from your moss and place in a bowl until needed.
Cut a wound in the stem with a sharp knife. Firmly grasp the upper part of your rubber tree plant and hold in place to avoid breakage during cutting. Make a long, slanting cut into the outer one-fourth to one-third of the exposed stem. Do not allow this long, deep gash to penetrate through the stem.
Push a pinch of powdered rooting hormone into the open cut. This will help the plant form new roots at this site. Push a toothpick into the cut to hold it slightly open. Pack your moistened sphagnum moss over the cut and around the stem. Tie the damp moss in place with a long piece of twine.
Wrap a piece of plastic wrap around the moss and stem. Encircle the stem a couple of times with the plastic wrap. Place a layer of aluminum foil around the plastic wrap to provide a damp, dark climate for rooting.
Check the moisture in the moss every week, and add a little water if it feels slightly dry. Watch for new root to form around the outside of the packed moss. This may take anywhere from one to eight months, depending on your type of rubber tree plant.
Remove the upper portion of the plant when you notice several roots showing through the plastic. Use a sharp knife to cut just below the mass of fine roots. Keep the moss in place, but remove the plastic wrap and twine. Place the rootball in a large pot with well-drained potting soil. Cover the rootball with the soil and pack down firmly to remove any air pockets. Water slowly until moisture drips from the pot's drainage holes. Place in a sunny location, and enjoy your new rubber tree plant.