The Q&A Archives: FICUS

Question: I have a ficus plant that I would like to split into two (since I will be repotting it). What is the best way to go about this? I also would to know if I can start a new plant from a thin branch? I did not braid it the first time and would like to do so this time.

Answer: I'm not sure what you mean by splitting it into two pieces. Most ficus are sold as single-trunk trees (or braided trees that in effect have a single trunk.) Obviously, you can't "split" the trunk.

Ficus can be propagated by branch cuttings and air layering. The most reliable is probably air layering. Do do this, you'll need some sphagnum moss and plastic wrap. First, moisten the moss well. Make a shallow slice in the branch where you want to take the cutting. Don't cut it all the way through, though. Press a little of the damp moss into the cut, being careful not to bend the branch too far and break it. Alternatively, you can wedge a wooden toothpick or matchstick into the slice to prop it open a little. Then, wrap the moist moss all around the cut, and cover the ball of moss with the plastic wrap, securing it with tape (on the plastic only, not the bark) above and below the cut. Check the moss every few weeks to be sure it's still moist. Check the plastic frequently, and eventually you'll see little roots growing. When you see them, it's time to remove the plastic and moss, and cut the branch off just below the roots, and pot it up.

As you can probably see, it will take a while to get the branches all rooted and ready to braid. Have fun!

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