How to Prune and Propagate a Ficus Tree

I have had this plant for a couple of years and wondering what is it and can I prune and propagate it? It’s a bush now, but can I make it into a tree?


Hi Desmond,

Your plant is a type of Ficus tree, specifically a variegated Ficus benjamina.

Here’s a picture of a ficus benjamina that has been pruned to be a tree rather than a bush. A ficus tree loves to be pruned. The best time to prune is in the late summer or early fall after a ficus tree has stopped growing for the year. You can prune dead or broken branches at any time during the year.

Ficus tree has hundreds of dark green leaves on woody braided stems
Ficus Tree Benjamina

You can propagate an indoor ficus tree by stem cuttings or by air-layering.

Stem Cuttings: Use a sharp, clean scissors or razor blade to cut a 4”-6” piece from the end of a healthy stem just below a leaf node. A node is where a leaf joins the stem. Remove leaves from the bottom 1/3 of the stem. Dip the cut end of the stem into a small amount of Rooting Hormone that contains a Fungicide. Plant the stem in a 4″pot (drip holes in the bottom) of moist potting soil. Cover the pot with clear plastic to increase the humidity and prevent the soil from drying out. Check the plant every few days to be sure the soil stays moist. Tug on the stem cuttings after a few weeks, if there is resistance, roots have developed, the plastic can be removed, and the propagation was successful Propagating houseplants by Air Layering is used primarily for large plants with thick strong stems that are not easily propagated by other methods. The new plant is propagated while still attached to the parent plant.

Air Layering:  Use a sharp clean knife make an upward 1” slit just below a node on the stem of the “mother” plant. A node is where a leaf attaches to the stem. The slit should go 1/2 way through the stem. Place a piece toothpick in the slit to keep it open. If the slit heals shut, the new roots won’t grow. Remove any bark or leaves a few inches above and below the slit in the plant stem. Dust the area with Rooting Hormone that contains a Fungicide. Pack a large handful of moist sphagnum moss around the slit. Cover the moss with clear plastic, and tie the plastic securely to the stem. Check the moss weekly to be sure it stays moist but not soggy. When roots have filled the moss, cut the stem below the new root ball and plant it. Air layering may take months, so try to be patient.

You can read all my care tips for a Ficus Plant at

These care tips are for pruning and propagating an indoor ficus tree. If your tree or any tree is planted outside and is large you should consider a professional tree service.