Propagate a Fig Tree From a Cutting

Lead Image
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 20-60
What You'll Need
Fig cuttings
Light sandy soil
Cover for the pot
Two-liter bottle

There are several ways to propagate fig trees. Some methods are easier and have a higher success rate than others. For example, growing from seeds is very hard and often results in failure. Growing cuttings taken from a healthy fig tree, on the other hand, has a 50 percent or higher success rate. This entire process will start in the late winter or early spring and last until the following fall.

Step 1 – Choose Your Tree

There are several things to consider when collecting your cuttings:

Know the variety of the fig that you are taking your cuttings from. Be sure that it is well suited to growing in your area. There are many varieties of fig, each with their own climate and conditions that they flourish in. A fig tree that grows superbly in Texas, for example, likely won’t grow at all in California, and vice versa.

Should you want to purchase a new fig tree from a nursery and take cuttings, keep in mind you should wait about 2 years before taking any cuttings. This will give the tree a chance to establish strong, vigorous, and healthy growth.

Step 2 – Choose Your Cutting

Take your cutting from a vigorously growing stem. They should be rather woody and not entirely green. Softer, greener stems are more likely to rot. The cutting should be about six to eight inches in length, and about the diameter of a pencil. Cuttings are best taken when the plant is dormant.

TIP: Expert gardening advisor, Karen Thurber adds, "Cuttings are best taken when the plant is dormant. However, if you take a cutting when the tree is not dormant you can fool your cutting by putting it in the refrigerator for a few weeks prior to rooting."

Step 3 – Pot the Cutting

You can dip the cuts into a rooting hormone, but some growers advise against it, and it is not required. Figs root readily without rooting hormone. Place the cuttings in a plastic pot, about four inches in size and completely filled with a light, airy soil. Moisten the soil and cover the cutting to hold in moisture. A two liter pop bottle with the bottom cut off and the cap still on makes for easy moisture insulation.

Don't water the cutting again until it is dry. Place it outside in mild sun, or under the shade of a mature fig tree.

TIP: Karen suggests, "Do not place in direct sun or it will overheat."

Step 4 – Harden off the Cutting

In time, you’ll see vigorous growth with newly formed leaves as well as roots growing. Wait until a complete root system is formed, then you can begin to harden it off. Start by removing the lid on the bottle, if the plant starts to wilt replace the lid. Once you can leave the lid off, bring it outside uncovered for several hours a day and bring it back inside at night. It will take about two weeks to fully harden off and become accustomed to its new climate.

TIP: Karen advises, "Occasionally, new leaf growth begins on the cutting before it has established roots. Be sure to check the roots before hardening off your fig. Rooting your fig in a clear container allows you to see the roots without disturbing them."

Step 5 – Transplant

Once a fig tree has hardened off, it is possible to transplant it permanently outside. However, allowing the plant more time to grow in the container leads to less transplant shock and better success. Waiting until spring to plant the fig outdoors is a good idea.

Propagating a new fig tree from a cutting is simple and has a high success rate. Just follow these steps, and before you know it, you’ll have a wonderful new fruit tree in your backyard!