Widely grown as potted plants, rubber trees (Ficus elastica) are easily propagated using tip cuttings. Although cuttings can be taken at any time of year, you will be more successful if you begin the process in middle to late spring. The warm and humid spring and summer weather will provide an ideal environment in which to propagate rubber tree cuttings.
Fill a 2-inch pot with vermiculite. Level the top and set the pot into a larger container. Add water so it comes about halfway up the sides of the smaller pot. Leave the smaller pot in the water until the surface of the vermiculite looks damp but not soaking. Remove the smaller pot from the water and allow excess water to drain away.
Use the clippers to remove a cutting from the end of a branch of your rubber tree. Make the cutting about 6 to 8 inches long and cut just below a “bud,” which is a slight swelling on the stem.
Dip the cutting into the rooting hormone and blow off the excess.
Poke a a hole in the vermiculite using the eraser. Insert the base of the cutting into the hole. The prepared hole will keep the vermiculite from removing the rooting hormone from the cutting as you insert it. Firm the vermiculite around the base of the cutting so it stands up.
Slip the entire pot into the large plastic bag, but do not secure the opening. Put the bag outdoors in the shade during warm weather or a brightly lit room of average temperature indoors. Check occasionally and add water as needed to keep the vermiculite moist but not soggy.
Check to see if the rubber plant has grown roots about 8 to 10 weeks after beginning. Gently pull on one of its leaves. If the plant resists coming out of the soil, roots have begun to form and it can be transplanted into its own pot. If it easily slips out of the soil, it is not yet ready to be transplanted. Check again in 2 to 3 weeks.
Things You Will Need
- Sharp garden clippers
- Rooting hormone powder
- Pencil with eraser
- 4-inch pot
- Plastic bag
- Propagation with tip cuttings has a high casualty rate. Start several more cuttings than the final number you want to end up with.