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While the large, glossy leaves on fiddle leaf figs are often the first things that catch your eye with these plants, you may also notice that you’ve got a fiddle leaf fig with multiple stems on your hands. But what exact does this mean for your houseplant?

Although this can be quite standard and isn’t necessarily an issue, one of the issues that can come about when a fiddle leaf fig has multiple stems in the same container is that the plants will start to fight one another for resources, as well as space. One way to help prevent issues from arising due to multiple stems is to split the fiddle leaf fig.

Keep reading to find out what you may want to consider doing with your Ficus if you’re faced with this situation.

fiddle leaf fig with multiple stems

Why does my fiddle leaf fig have multiple stems?

A fiddle leaf fig can develop multiple stems if more than one plant has been planted in the same container, or if the plant was pruned and trimmed back. Whenever the fiddle leaf fig is trimmed back, the plant will grow an extra stem. This is the plant’s way to make sure it keeps growing and gets enough nutrients.

When a fiddle leaf fig has multiple stems it is not something to be worried or concerned about, and it doesn’t signal that something is wrong with the plant. It is a natural occurrence that is a common sight with these plants.

That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to keep multiple stems. Separating or dividing the fiddle leaf fig is an option if you would rather have a plant with a single trunk.

Do fiddle leaf figs have more than one stem?

It is not uncommon for fiddle leaf figs to have multiple stems or trunks growing in the same pot. Having multiple stems in the same pot is not always a bad thing, since the more stems the plant has the fuller it will look. There are some downsides, however, to having a fiddle leaf fig with multiple stems.

Multiple stems on a fiddle leaf fig are extremely common, and make the plant look more like a bush and less like a tree. Some gardeners prefer to have a fiddle leaf fig with only one stem, since multiple stems can cause these plants to compete for resources.

However, if you provide the fiddle leaf fig with proper care, it can have multiple stems and still get the right amount of nutrients and care to be healthy and happy.

fiddle leaf fig with multiple stems in a basket

How many trunks does a fiddle leaf fig have?

Fiddle leaf figs can have one single trunk or multiple trunks, though small trunks can be hidden by the leaves, making them harder to see. A benefit of this plant is that you can choose to allow multiple stems to grow, separate the trunks into separate pots to have even more fiddle figs, or braid the trunks together.

Can you braid a fiddle leaf fig?

It is possible to braid a fiddle leaf fig. However, it must be done when the plant is young, since the stems are more pliable than when the plant gets older. Braiding the fiddle leaf fig with multiple stems when the plant is young will make the fiddle leaf fig appear bushier and fuller.

Braiding a fiddle leaf fig is not a difficult process, but care must be taken not to damage the plant’s stems.

How to braid a fiddle leaf fig

If your fiddle leaf fig has multiple stems that you would like to braid, you can follow this process:

  1. Take a relatively young plant, where the trunks are thinner and more pliable than a more mature plant that may have a thicker trunk.
  2. Prune off any twigs that may get in the way when braiding the main stems.
  3. Add one stake to each side of the pot, with the height of the stakes reaching the lowest leaves of your fiddle leaf fig.
  4. Loosely braid the stems, being careful not to be too strong so as to not break them off.
  5. Continue with the braids until either you reach your plant’s leaves or the trunks get too tough to move in this way.
  6. Tie off the top of the braid with some twine or similar and then tie the end of the twine to one of the stakes.
  7. Monitor your fiddle leaf fig as it grows. Once the trunk has grown around 8 inches (20 centimeters) in several months, cut the twine, continue the braid, then tie off the new braid with some twine which should be reattached to a stake. You may also have to replace the stake if the fiddle leaf fig tree gets too tall.

Should you split a fiddle leaf fig with multiple stems?

If your fiddle leaf fig has multiple stems, you can leave the plant as is or split it. It is generally left up to personal preference as to what to do. With that said, if your fiddle leaf fig seems to struggle with the multiple stems, it may be best to go ahead and split the plant.

A healthy fiddle leaf fig with multiple stems is not a bad thing, and can actually make the plant appear fuller and more bush-like. If you want to increase the amount of fiddle leaf fig plants you have, or you want a tree-like fiddle leaf, then splitting the plant is your best course of action.

For fiddle leaf figs that you’ve just acquired, wait a bit before splitting the plant or making any major changes to it. Anything you do to alter the plant can be jarring to the fiddle leaf fig, and you want it to be settled into its new home before making any big changes.

fiddle leaf fig with multiple stems in a paper bag container

How to separate a fiddle leaf fig into multiple stems

Separating a fiddle leaf fig is not a quick task, and must be done over the course of several days. While not hard to do, care must be taken not to damage the fiddle leaf fig’s stems during the process.

1. Make sure the plant is healthy

The health of your fiddle leaf fig is extremely important and should be considered before starting the separating process. If your current plant isn’t thriving and is merely trying to survive, it isn’t a good candidate for separating. Trying to separate an unhealthy plant is one of the quickest ways to kill your fiddle leaf fig.

Separating a plant puts extra stress on it, and performing this task on a plant that is already struggling isn’t a good thing. You should always take the health of the parent plant before performing any separating or propagating.

2. Prepare the new container

Fill the new pot or pots with a well-draining potting mix that is light and airy. You will need enough pots for each stem you separate from the original plant. Avoid filling the entire pot with soil and instead leave the top 2 inches of the pot open.

The best pots are ones with drainage holes at the bottom instead of along the side of the container. You also want to make sure that the pot is about 2 inches larger than the plant’s root ball. This will give the plant enough room to grow.

Find out more: 9 Best Planters for Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees

3. Dig out the plants

Separate the stems by carefully digging between the plant’s stems with a spade. This process should be spread out over several days so as not to shock or damage the plant.

When digging out the plants, you may meet resistance with the roots. If this occurs, use a clean and sharp pair of pruning shears to snip the stubborn roots. Make sure to work slowly and carefully during the separating process.

fiddle leaf fig with multiple stems in a black pot

4. Keep the plants from falling

As you are separating the stems, the plants may start to fall over. Make sure to keep them upright at all times to help prevent damage to the fiddle leaf fig leaves. While the trunk of the plant is usually sturdy, the foliage can be easily damaged, so care must be taken when handling the plant.

It can be difficult to keep the plants upright by yourself. If possible, seek the help of a friend or family member to help gently hold the plants up by the trunk while you separate them.

5. Loosen the roots

Use your fingers to loosen the roots from your fiddle leaf fig’s potting soil. You can use your sharp spade to help break apart any roots that are stuck together. With that said, however, you don’t want to go breaking all the roots to get the plants separated.

6. Lift out the plants

After the roots have been loosened, use your spade to lift the newly separated plants from the pot. When handling the fiddle leaf figs, avoid grabbing their leaves and instead carefully hold onto their stem/trunk.

fiddle leaf fig branches

7. Repot the plants

When repotting your fiddle leaf figs, set each new plant in its own pot with the root ball facing down. Cover the root ball with the fresh potting soil. Each new container should be filled with fresh potting soil, leaving two inches at the top of the container soil-free.

8. Water the new fiddle leaf figs

Now that you have the new fiddle leaf fig plants in their own container, you will need to water the plants deeply. Any excess water you give to the newly potted plants should run out of the drainage holes along the bottom of the pot. This will help prevent root rot that can occur from overwatering.

Related: How Often Should You Water a Fiddle Leaf Fig?

9. Provide them with proper nutrients

Give the newly potted plants, as well as the original plant, some fertilizer designed for fiddle leaf fig plants. Feeding the plants will help provide them with a boost of nutrition, which can help them become established in their new pots much quicker. Make sure to follow the application instructions on the bottle of the fertilizer for the best results.

10. Leave the plants alone

This can be one of the most difficult steps in the entire fiddle leaf fig separating process. Once the new plants have been potted, avoid messing or fussing over them or the original plant.

These plants have gone through a rather traumatic experience and they are in shock. They need a recovery period where they can be left alone so they can reestablish themselves in their pots. You can still, however, check the soil for dryness and water as you normally would.

11. Be patient

It can take several months before a fiddle leaf fig with multiple stems will start to produce new growth. Separating a plant is a stressful situation for it, and its current goal is to just stay alive. Once the plant has reestablished itself, you will begin to see new growth.

How to encourage a fiddle leaf fig to grow multiple stems

The easiest way to get multiple stems on a fiddle leaf fig is to buy a plant that already has that bush-like appearance. Thankfully, there are ways you can help encourage the plant to grow multiple trunks. The best way to ensure your fiddle leaf fig has multiple stems is to either prune, notch, or pinch the plant.

1. Prune the fiddle leaf fig

The most common way to encourage multiple stem growth on your fiddle leaf fig is to prune the plant. It is not only the easiest method, but it is also the most reliable way to ensure multiple stems.

To prune your fiddle leaf fig, simply snip the plant at the height where you want branches to grow, making sure to cut at an angle. You can also keep the cutting you snipped off and propagate another plant from it. Pruning works best when the fiddle leaf fig is taller than the height you want the branches to form at.

How pruning works is that, when you snip the plant, it activates dormant buds located below the area where you cut. For best results, prune the fig leaf plant above a close group or cluster of leaves.

tall and skinny fiddle leaf fig

2. Notch the fiddle leaf fig

Notching the fiddle leaf fig works best when you don’t want to remove the height of the tree, which is what occurs when you prune the plant. With notching, you make small cuts, also known as notches, on the trunk or stem of the plant. This encourages the plant to produce new growth at these notches.

You can notch by either making diagonal cuts that are about 1/3rd of the trunk’s depth above a leaf node. Another notching method is to make two small cuts that are within 1 ½ mm of one another and remove the small slither of the trunk from the tree.

The downside of notching is that it can be difficult to do correctly. It is not uncommon to cut too deep into the fiddle leaf fig, and you also run the risk of accidentally cutting the stem off the plant. Another thing to consider is that not all of the notches will produce new stems, so experts recommend making several notches to increase the chance of success.

3. Pinch the fiddle leaf fig

Pinching a fiddle leaf fig is similar to pruning, except you don’t need a pair of pruning shears to complete the task. Pinching also doesn’t involve removing a piece of the stem, and instead, you simply pinch off the top bud from the fiddle leaf fig.

Pinching is a great way to encourage multiple stem growth on plants that have already reached the height at which you want them to branch from.

The actual method for pinching requires only your pointer finger and thumb. Use these two fingers to break off the growing tip. If you have difficulties removing the growing tip with your fingers, grab your pruning shears and cut it off.