I cut off three branches about 16" in length and 1/2 pencil thickness from a large, healthy indoor ficus benjamina. I braided them, dipped them in rooting hormone and stuck them into potting soil, and watered them every day, never letting the soil dry out.

Over the following days, all of the leaves got curly, dried out, and fell off. (There were dozens of leaves to start with.) It's been three weeks and two of them have lost all their leaves and only one of them has four leaves left. That one may make it, but it is now intertwined with two dead ficus corpses. Should I keep hoping on the other two or give up? Is there anything I should have done differently?

Update: all three of them died. I pulled them up and there was no sign of any rooting at all. They must have tried to keep their leaves alive instead of growing roots.

  • 4
    You may have overwatered - daily watering of a pot without useful roots is very likely to be too much. A plastic bag over to conserve moisture from the leaves may help. Also common to remove most of the leaves, so there's less leaves to lose moisture through while the cutting is getting roots sorted out.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jan 27, 2023 at 22:04

2 Answers 2


I know it seems counterintuitive but you’ll want to cut off almost all the leaves before trying to propagate. For the last few leaves you can even cut them in half (cut the ends off). What you are doing is giving the energy stored in the branch time to root. The leaves transpire water which makes the stock die quicker. You don’t need many leaves at all during this process.

You’ll want to have a length that has a few nodes inside the soil. 16” may be longer than you need. The node is the place the offshoots grow and leave. Those places are where the roots like to regrow so having a few buried is great.

Good luck and welcome to the group!


I have tried a few times to sprout 2 to 4 foot branches, all failed . I read ( forget where) that one has better success with a single leaf taking root.

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