Rooting Figs – A Simple Guide to Propagating Fig Trees

The fig tree, a resilient and ancient plant, has graced our landscapes for thousands of years. In fact, archeologists have discovered evidence of fig cultivation that dates back to 5,000 BC. With their ability to thrive in various climates, some fig varieties even withstand temperatures as low as 10 to 20 degrees F (-12 to -6 C). These small, warm climate trees bear fruits for approximately 15 years, making them a valuable addition to any garden.

If you’re a fan of figs, whether fresh, dried, or in preserves, and you find your fig tree getting old or your neighbor’s tree reaching its golden years, you may be wondering how to propagate fig trees instead of buying new ones. Fig propagation offers an economical way to continue or even increase your fig production.

Methods for Starting a Fig Tree

Starting a fig tree from fig cuttings is a straightforward process that can be accomplished in one of three ways. Each method of rooting figs is simple and effective, and your choice will likely depend on the weather conditions during the dormant season in your area.

Layering for Fig Propagation

One method for propagating fig trees outdoors relies on the dormant season temperatures never dropping below freezing. This technique, called ground layering, involves burying a portion of a low-growing branch with 6 to 8 inches (15-20 cm) of the tip exposed above ground. The buried portion then develops roots before being severed from the parent tree. Although this is the simplest method, it may pose challenges for ground maintenance while the branches take root.

Rooting Fig Cuttings Outdoors

Another popular method for propagating figs outdoors is through fig cuttings. Late in the dormant season, after the threat of frost has passed, find small branches that are two to three years old. These branches should be approximately ½ to ¾ inches (1.3-1.9 cm) thick, similar to the width of your pinky finger, and 8 to 12 inches (20-30 cm) in length. Create a flat cut on the bottom end and a slanted cut on the top end. Apply a sealant to the slanted end to prevent disease and rooting hormone to the flat end.

When using this method to start a fig tree, it’s advisable to take six to eight cuttings, allowing room for potential failures. After all, you can always share your success with others!

Plant the flat end of the cuttings about 6 inches (15 cm) deep in a hole that’s 6 inches (15 cm) wide and space the cuttings roughly a foot (30 cm) apart. Water them thoroughly, but be careful not to overwater. In just one year, your fig cuttings can grow up to 36-48 inches (91-122 cm). By the following dormant season, these new trees will be ready to be transplanted.

Rooting Figs Indoors

The third method of fig propagation involves starting a fig tree indoors. This approach is beneficial if you want an early start or if your spring weather tends to be unpredictable. Simply follow the previous method for taking fig cuttings. Line the bottom of a 6-inch (15 cm) pot with newspaper and add 2 inches (5 cm) of sand or potting soil. Stand four of your treated cuttings upright in the pot and fill the gaps with soil. Thoroughly water the pot, and then place a 2-liter bottle with the bottom cut off over the cuttings to create a makeshift greenhouse.

Keep the fig cuttings warm and place them in a bright, indirect window, avoiding direct sunlight. Only water the soil when it becomes very dry. After witnessing new growth, wait for about a week before removing the makeshift greenhouse. Once you observe vigorous growth, either plant your rooted fig cuttings in larger pots or transplant them outdoors when the weather permits. Keep the transplants moist throughout the summer, and watch them flourish.

As you can see, propagating fig trees is a simple and satisfying process. When done correctly, it not only provides you with an abundance of figs but also offers an economical and rewarding experience. So, why not give it a try? Happy fig growing!

Fig Tree