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Can You Propagate Rubber Plant In Water? Here’s The Answer

Can You Propagate Rubber Plant In Water? Here’s The Answer

One of the easiest ways to save money on houseplants is to grow them yourself from existing plants, rather than purchasing new ones. In case you have rubber plants at home, this should be fairly easy.

All you have to do is propagate them from stem cuttings. Propagating a rubber plant isn’t a challenging process, as long as you know what you are doing.

In case you do not have enough space to propagate the plants in soil and would like to observe the root growth, it is also possible to do so in water instead.

Rubber plants are popular as houseplants, especially due to their durable and flexible nature. In the wild, rubber trees grow up to 100 feet high.

Although rubber plants grown in pots are smaller, they still grow very fast. This allows individuals to propagate these plants often and multiply them quickly.

Can you propagate rubber plant in water?

Yes, you can propagate rubber plants in water.

Although most plants require soil for propagation, water propagation is a viable option for many plant species too. Rubber plants happen to be one of them, and you could easily take a cutting and plant it in a jar of water to grow a new plant.

In this regard, you might want to note that water propagation is less efficient than soil propagation, with a lower success rate. However, it is still a good idea if you are too short on space for soil propagation.

Can you propagate rubber plant without leaves?

To grow a new rubber tree, the cutting would require at least one growth tip. This growth tip would develop into the new shoot, with nodes for branching.

However, to have a functional growth tip, the cutting must carry at least a node and a leaf. Plants also require leaves for the sake of photosynthesis, which is to their survival. Hence, a cutting without a leaf would fail to grow into a new rubber plant.

How to propagate rubber plant?

Propagating a rubber plant is a relatively easy task if you know how to go about it. As a word of caution, you might want to note that the sticky sap from rubber plants can cause skin irritations.

Cutting the stem would cause this mildly toxic sap to come out. You might want to consider wearing gloves, in order to protect your skin from it. Now, there are two methods in which you could propagate a rubber plant:

  • Propagating in soil
  • Propagating in water

In both methods, the process of cutting a section of the rubber plant for propagation remains the same. Here is how you should go about it:

  1. Firstly, you would have to pick the right stem for the job. You should pick a healthy rubber plant stem, in order to ensure that the new plant would grow up to be healthy too. Stems that are healthy and larger can develop better roots, which ensures a higher success rate.
  2. As mentioned earlier, leaves are necessary for a new plant to grow from the cutting. Hence, you would have to cut the stem at least an inch and a half below the foliage. Make sure that the cutting carries nodes as well, as they are crucial for branching.
  3. Use the right pruning tool and make a clean and quick cut at the correct spot. As mentioned earlier, you would have to be careful about the sap that oozes out. If the oozing continues, pat the area with a dry paper towel until it stops.
  4. You would have to move the mother plant to a pot with good quality soil, and water it enough for it to recover. If it receives adequate care, it should regrow soon. Pruning the mother plant also helps it get bushy, by restricting vertical growth and promoting lateral growth.
  5. To prevent diseases from transmitting to your rubber plant through the blades of your shears, use rubbing alcohol to disinfect them.

Now, you would have to replant the cutting for the new rubber plant to grow. This process would vary depending on whether you are using the soil propagation method or the water propagation method.

Propagating your rubber plant in soil

Once you have the cutting ready, here is how you may proceed with the propagation in case you are using soil:

  • Firstly, prepare a pot with nutritious and well-drained soil. Keep in mind that while the new cutting would need plenty of water, overwatering can do more harm than good. Also, you might want to add some perlite to the soil to keep it porous.
  • Be careful while handling the cutting, as damaging its base may prevent healthy root growth. Applying a rooting hormone would be a good idea too.
  • Poke a hole in the center of the soil and place the rubber plant inside it. You might want to insert a small stake to support the plant too. Once done, cover the hole with soil again and pat it down to secure the cutting in place. Make sure that the node stays above the surface of the soil.
  • For the roots to start growing, the rubber plant cutting needs a humid environment. Take a zip lock bag and use it to cover the cutting together with the container, creating a greenhouse-like environment. You could also use a glass or a plastic jar for this.
  • While covering the plant, make sure that it doesn’t touch the walls of the jar or the bag. This is why it would be logical to take smaller cuttings for rubber plant propagation.
  • Place the covered pot in a place that receives ample natural light but lies away from direct sunlight. South-facing windows are usually the best for this. You might have to leave the plant inside the mini-greenhouse for up to about six months.

Once the new rubber plant finally grows, it should start thriving quite well. Just make sure to take proper care of it in the meantime.

Propagating your rubber plant in water

Once you have pruned the cutting for water propagation, follow these steps:

  • Take a pot or a glass jar and pour water into it. If you wish, you could add a small amount of fertilizer for your rubber plant’s nutrition.
  • Now, all you have to do is place the cutting in the jar. A small part of the stem must remain submerged under the water, in order to facilitate root growth.
  • Make sure not to submerge any leaves. If necessary, you might also want to prune away leaves that are too close to the node and would likely go under the water.
  • Like in the case of soil propagation, you would now have to place the jar in a spot that receives indirect sunlight.
  • While this isn’t an absolute necessity, you could consider adding a few pothos to the jar. Doing so would help your rubber plant grow its roots faster.
  • While propagating your plant in water, you should be able to observe the new root growth easily, especially if you use a glass jar.
  • Keep the plant in the water until the roots have developed to at least one to two inches in length. Once the roots are ready, take out the rubber plant and put it in a pot with soil.
  • After repotting the rubber plant, simply water it regularly and make sure the water drains well.

You should usually be able to transfer your rubber plant from the jar to the soil-filled pot in about a month after placing the cutting in water.

Which is better between soil propagation and water propagation of rubber plants?

Between the two processes, soil propagation usually has higher chances of success. This is because the rubber plant cutting would have a higher chance of rotting when left submerged in water. Soil also provides the plant with better nutrition and aids in quicker root growth.

However, this doesn’t mean that choosing water propagation for your rubber plants is a bad idea. Simply make sure to change the water and add fresh water every day, so that the water doesn’t get stagnant and murky. Also, clean the cutting and remove all the leaking sap after pruning it from the plant.

Despite the lower success rate, water propagation is still a very viable option. In fact, if you cannot arrange for soil propagation, you could even just leave the plant in water.

It would still grow into a regular rubber plant and develop the shoot. However, the plant may not be as healthy, due to the lack of adequate nutrition. Fertilizing the water occasionally would help.

Can soil or propagation harm your rubber plant?

Although the propagation process requires you to cut off parts of your rubber plant, you may rest assured that it wouldn’t cause any harm. In fact, pruning is a process necessary in order to keep plants healthy.

Just make sure to use disinfected shears and do not let oozing sap smear around to other parts of the plant. While pruning the stem, make a straight and clean cut so that it doesn’t cause any collateral damage.

As rubber plants can grow quite tall in the wild, the ones in your pot can get undesirably large. Besides the fact that maintaining such a big plant would be difficult, it would also become unhealthy due to the limited pot size.

Even if you didn’t propagate your rubber plant, it is still advisable to prune it at regular intervals anyway. Why throw away the pruned parts when you can help it grow into a new rubber plant?

Can you propagate a rubber plant in water using a leaf?

Often, individuals think about growing a new rubber plant just from a leaf. In case you try it out yourself, you might actually find the leaves to be growing roots.

While this may make the leaf stay alive for a long time, it certainly wouldn’t allow a new shoot to grow from it. The growth buds on the stem are necessary for shoot growth. Hence, you cannot grow a whole new plant using just a rubber leaf.


When you propagate a rubber plant, do put in some effort to pick a healthy one. This would greatly increase the chances of success doing a water propagation, by helping prevent rot and facilitating faster growth.

As long as you follow the above guide properly, you shouldn’t have any trouble propagating your rubber plant. Hence, you love this houseplant, one should be enough to help you grow as many as you want over time.

Rubber plants are convenient to have at home, due to their hardy nature.

The fact that you can propagate them in water makes them an even better choice. Just make sure that your pets do not come in touch with the plant sap. Hopefully, this guide will help you propagate your rubber plant successfully.