Propagating a fig tree cutting

jacquedJanuary 28, 2013

Coming from California and currently living in N Utah I sorely miss the fresh figs I picked from my So Cal garden. So I am challenged to grow a fig tree. I actually found another gardener in the area that has had great success growing a fig tree and got some cuttings from him when he pruned his tree last fall. Today I am very excited to see a tiny leaf sprouting from the top of one of the 6-inch fig cuttings I've kept on top of my refrigerator in a ziplock baggy. It is lightly wrapped in a damp paper towel. What should I do at this point? There are no roots yet and I'm thinking I should take the leafed-out cutting and put it in some potting soil in a covered pot. Any suggestions?

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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Pot it up and keep it warm and in a sunny window. Let's see if you can get it to root. You can get a lot more info over on the Fig Forum here on GW, and there is another great fig forum, Figs 4 Fun Forum, that has a lot of very knowledgeable fig enthusiasts on both forums, especially the latter - very busy forum.

Patty S.

This post was edited by hoosierquilt on Mon, Jan 28, 13 at 22:44

    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 10:42PM
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ahajmano(sunset 23, Mission Viejo CA)

I dip the damp cutting in rooting hormone and stick it in a pot mixed with 1 part potting mix, one part perlite. I find this method to work the fastest and easiest. Takes about 3 weeks to root and see a leaf bud.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 12:38AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)


How long has it been in the baggie? Just remember leaves mean nothing...what you have to see is roots. Once roots start to form and are maybe 1/2 long pot it up in a very airy mix and give it a nice sunny window. I would say each cutting has about a 80% chance of rooting. I would not dip it in powdered rooting hormone. The liquid like dip n grow is good but not if it has already been in the baggie for awhile. Generally the roots take about 3-4 weeks to start growing depending on temperature.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 7:50AM
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Thank you all for responding. Hoosierquilt thank you for the website information. I will check it out as well as the "Fig Forum on GW. Ahajmano thank you for the recipe for potting the cutting in perlite and potting mix. Initially, the cutting was stored in straight vermiculite since late October. My berry canes have done well but the fig cutting not so much...Thanks BambooRabbit! The cutting was tranferred to the baggie about 1 month ago. Should I keep it in the bag till 1/2 inch roots form? 80% chance? That's encouraging but leaves don't indicate success? Is my fig twig doomed?

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 7:21PM
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ahajmano(sunset 23, Mission Viejo CA)

In microclimate of my south facing room, the leaf by is always a week before I see any roots. Just make sure you don't transplant until you actually see roots form at the bottom if your container. I use clear plastic cups for propogation, then transfer to a pot.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 7:52PM
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Everytime ive ever tried to root fig cuttings, theyve put out a leaf or 2, before the roots and died. I was using something new (to me), basically pudding cups filled with rooting gel. They didnt seem to work.

Your best bet is to dip then in rooting gel, put then in some nice airy soil, seal the bag, and put it in a bright warm room, but absolutely no direct light whatsoever. You will cook the tops. IF any heat is used, use a heat mat for bottom heat.

Lastly, keep an out for fungus/mold due to the high humidity in the bag.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 7:35AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)


Some take long as it is still alive there is hope. I have started a couple hundred fig cuttings this winter of 30+ varieties. look at the pile of baggies. I used barely damp newspaper instead of paper towel but it is all the same. Sometimes the leaves do start before the roots but you really want roots before leaves.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 7:54AM
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BambooRabbit: Wow! You are my new hero...that's a load of fig cuttings. Is your theory to bag up many cuttings with the realization of some rooting failure? I've only got 2 cuttings so my odds of having successful rooting may be slim. Thanks for the "no rooting hormone" tip too. That would have been my next misstep... Think I may be purchasing a cutting this spring. I'm trying to educate myself through the "Fig Forum" on this site. Thanks again for your expert advice!

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 12:54AM
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I was wondering how your fig tree cutting were doing? I live in Salt Lake and would LOVE to have a fig tree if it will survive here. What variety is it? Any info appreciated! :)

    Bookmark   June 1, 2013 at 10:26AM
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We just discovered that the beautiful Ficus carica 'Corky's Honey Delight' green fig tree we bought at abut 3' high several months ago has had most of its root gnawed off by a gopher. We can see the teeth marks. It had already begun to lose its leaves, and as this is the season when our big old fig always does so, for a while we thought nothing was wrong.

Trying to rescue it, we took one 1' long branch that had a few roots left on it (the only branch that did), and replanted it in the garden, surrounded by gopher spurge. Another fig we bought at the same time, which has striped green figs, is nearby and may have been protected by the gopher spurge plants that had sprung up here and there from last year.

(1) Did we do wrong to replant this branch outside? Our garden is in So. Cal; the night temps, when cold, at present reach the upper 50s. The garden is protected to the north and has our house and the neighbor's giving it some shelter as well. The old fig tree has been very happy there, which is why we figured it would be good to try other varieties of figs, as we have not had success with peaches and plums.

(2) We took several other cuttings, some around 6~8" long branches, as well as the main stem/trunk, which had no roots left at all, so we cut it off, salvaging the 22" long main stem with a few twigs growing out of it. Are we unwise to try to salvage such a big portion of the main stem? If it is feasible, what method should we use? It is about 3/4" wide where we cut it off.

(3) There is also an 8" twig we took by cutting the main stem (about 3/4" in diameter at that point) about 3/4" above and 3/4" below where the twig was growing out, thinking maybe more surface for roots to form on is better. But would this twig be better off being cut by itself, where it is only about 1/3" across?

All of the cuttings we took have tiny buds at their tips. It hasn't gotten cold enough yet for the trees to go dormant, so I'm afraid this is not a good time to try to root cutting from a damaged tree, but we have no choice.

As you can see, I know nothing about propagating fig trees, so any comments will be welcome. Having read some of the comments here, I know I can stick the thin cuttings into baggies, and will put them on top of the fridge until I know better what to do.


    Bookmark   December 4, 2013 at 4:50PM
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So...I've got some fig cuttings in water and all doing OK under a baggie on a heating mat...however...1 stick actually has ROOTS coming out of the top!! I've triple checked the growth of the buds and it's definitely NOT upside down...what do I do? ?

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 9:41AM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

Lay the cutting down on it's side burried in 1/2 " of damp, not wet soil. The roots will go down, and shoots will come up. It will know what to do.

I do this outside in partial shade. It's been done this way for thousands of years in the Mediterranean.


    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 10:03AM
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Desertdance - thanks for the info...I had no idea! I will be very curious to see how this cutting the experiment that I didn't expect!

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 10:07AM
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