Propagating your rubber plant is easy but requires patience and focus, so you do not damage the original plant or the new ones.
We will explain three different methods to propagate rubber plants and expand your indoor garden.
What You Will Need
Before you get started, you need a few tools and materials to propagate your rubber plant in either soil or water.
- Scissors or gardening shears
- A new planting pot
- Soil (well-draining is preferred)
- Protective gloves
- Zip-top bag
- Rooting hormone (this one is easy-to-use and effective for most plant types)
- Glass full of water
- Paper towel
- Peat moss
You will need scissors or gardening shears to cut your rubber plant. Make sure that you make a clean cut to not damage your original rubber plant, so be sure to use sharp scissors, so you don’t have to pull the rest off.
If you plan on propagating your rubber plant in soil, you’ll need the right kind of soil. Just like the original, your new rubber plant will need well-draining soil. You want to have your pot of soil ready to ensure that your new plant has the right water levels, nutrients, and space to begin establishing itself right away.
Perlite is a lightweight excavated mineral rock. It will provide aeration within the soil, which helps to drain excess water and bacteria away from the roots of your rubber plant. Perlite is porous, meaning that nutrients can get trapped in tiny crevices on the surface. Plant roots can then access these nutrients much easier and at a pace that will sustain your new rubber plant.
If you have well-draining soil that already includes some mineral rock, you might be able to skip the perlite. If not, mix the perlite with the soil for best results.
Method 1: Propagating Rubber Plants in Soil
- Prepare a clean surface area to work on. Rubber plants have an oozy, latex-rich sap that makes propagating them messy, so prepare a clean area ahead of time, along with all of your tools and supplies. You also want to wear protective gloves as the sap can also cause skin irritation upon contact.
- Choose where to cut. Cut at an area where your rubber plant would benefit from pruning, such as uneven spots, a spot with leggy branches, or a spot where you would like your plant to look fuller. Rubber tree cuttings should be about 6 inches long and have at least four leaf nodes for the most success.
- Cut. Once you’ve identified where you will cut, take your scissors and make a swift, diagonal cut under the lowest leaf node under the new cutting. The cutting may drip sap, in which case all you have to do is take some paper towel and gently pat it dry.
- Prepare the cutting. After taking the cuttings, remove the bottom leaves from each stem, leaving two or three leaves at the top of the cutting. This way, you expose the stem, encourage rooting, and ensure that the cutting’s energy is directed towards new growth.
- Plant the cutting. Mix the pot with half perlite and half potting soil, and use a spray bottle to moisten. Then, apply a rooting hormone to the end of each cutting. Next, poke a hole through the soil at the center of the pot and push in your cutting. Ensure that the exposed nodes are covered in soil, and pat the soil around the cutting to keep it in place.
- Place a zip-top bag over top. Rubber plants require a humid environment to sprout roots, so place a zip-top bag over each pot so that you create a greenhouse environment.
- Set and wait. Finally, set your cuttings with the bags in a warm, sunny location, but avoid putting them in direct sunlight as it will burn the leaves and cause the cutting to dry out. After about four weeks, the cutting should begin to grow roots.
Method 2: Propagating Rubber Plants in Water
You can also propagate rubber plants in water. While water is not the most effective way to propagate rubber plants, it can still be successful.
Just as with the first method, make sure you start with a clean workstation and protective gloves.
1. Cut. Cut a stem from the original plant similarly to how you would if planting in soil. If there is sap oozing out, wipe it off before continuing.
2. Submerge in water. Submerge the trimmed branch in a pot or jar of water, ensuring that the nodes are submerged to enable root growth.
3. Set and wait. Place the pot of water somewhere where it will get bright, indirect sunlight. A south-facing window is best, but any window that gets enough sunlight will do. Make sure to change the water frequently.
4. Check the roots every few weeks. Propagating in water is a slightly slower process than propagating in soil, but you should start seeing roots growing on the branches after a few weeks. After a month, the roots should be healthy enough for repotting.
5. Repot in a pot with soil. Once the roots have grown to between 1 and 2. inches, repot your plant in a pot of well-draining soil, ensuring that the plant will thrive once it’s in the soil.
No matter which method you use, your propagated plants should have a well-established root system after a few months.
Method 3: Using Air Layering to Propagate Rubber Plants
Another way to propagate a rubber tree plant is by using air layering, a somewhat complicated technique. Air layering is usually used for big rubber plants or if you want to ensure that your plant grows upright.
1. Choose the right stem. For air layering, choose a stem in a soft and tender area. It should be 12 inches long, but it can be longer if you want. You then want to prune some of the leaves to make room for the air layering. As you prune, the stem will ooze sap, so make sure you have your paper towel ready.
2. Cut above the node. After removing the leaves, cut a quarter inch from the node. Then, remove a one-inch wide strip of bark that goes all the way around the stem. You should have a bare ring that goes around the stem of the rubber plant. Remove all of the soft tissue in that ring, but leave the hardwood in the center.
3. Dust ring with rooting hormone. You then want to cover the ring with damp peat moss and secure it with a plastic covering to help keep it damp, ensuring that the moss is completely covered. You can use a zip tie to help keep it secured.
4. Set and wait. Set your rubber plant in a bright spot with indirect sunlight. Keep watering the plant, making sure that it isn’t too wet or too dry.
5. Remove the bag and moss, then clip. After about three weeks, there should be white gentle roots formed around the moss. Remove the plastic bag, and use a spray bottle to keep the roots moist.
6. Cut and re-pot. After about eight more weeks, the new plant should be ready to be cut from the original plant. Gently cut it off, then plant it in a new pot with well-draining soil. Move to a bright spot with indirect sunlight, and you’re good to go.
To propagate a rubber plant, all you need is time and patience. Otherwise, propagating rubber plants is almost as easy as growing them.
The best way to propagate rubber plants is to plant the cuttings in soil, but you can also put them in water or try air layering if you are up for a challenge. No matter how you propagate your rubber plant, you’ll be happy to have several of these beautiful plants around your home.