How to root fig tree cuttings
The fig is a sweet, wonderful fruit that is often enjoyed as a dessert. Fig trees can be propagated from a cutting of a desired variety or from seed, which doesn't usually offer a true representation of its parent.
It is easy to root from a cutting, and seeds are usually not fertilised, so the former is almost always used to start a new fig tree.
Root the cutting in soil
- Pick your cutting, either fresh from a tree or refrigerated from a neighbour's or friend's tree.
- Full-sized fig trees like sun; however, for rooting the plant, too much sun can easily burn the tree.
Pick your cutting, either fresh from a tree or refrigerated from a neighbour's or friend's tree. The best time to do the cutting fresh is in the spring before the leaves form.
Choose an area in your garden that's shady, and prepare the soil. Soil should be nutrient-rich and moist. Add a layer of mulch on top to maintain moisture. Full-sized fig trees like sun; however, for rooting the plant, too much sun can easily burn the tree. Once the roots set, transplant the tree to a new area.
Bury the entire length of the cutting in soil except for the end bud. This is best done in early spring. It should root itself and grow quickly throughout the summer.
Keep an eye on the cutting over the next few weeks. Water the plant if the soil starts looking dry. If the leaves fall off, that doesn't mean the cutting isn't rooting. Check back in a week or so to see if new leaves are beginning to sprout.
Root the cutting in water
- Take a fresh cutting and place it in a glass of water indoors in a warm, slightly sunny location.
- Try to ignore the bag for at least a week to let the condensation form a greenhouse and warm the cutting.
Take a fresh cutting and place it in a glass of water indoors in a warm, slightly sunny location. Rooting directly outdoors is nice if it is the right season, but in the off-season it is best to start indoors. Keep an eye on the glass and replace water once a week or so. In four to eight weeks, you should start to see roots forming.
Another indoor alternative is to wrap the end of the cutting in wet paper towels, and put it in a sealable clear plastic bag. Place this in a warm location out of direct sunlight. Try to ignore the bag for at least a week to let the condensation form a greenhouse and warm the cutting. If there is too much condensation, open the bag for a couple of hours. You should start to see roots forming in three to four weeks.
Plant the indoor cuttings that now have very fine roots into vermiculite or another light, nutrient-rich soil. Let the roots develop more fully in this potted environment, making sure the tree gets partial sun and has moist soil.
- Although rooting hormone is not necessary, you may use this product before the first step in any of the strategies.
- When you trim your adult fig tree in the spring or cut it back for winter burying, this is a good time to take the cutting specimen. You can keep the cuttings in a bag in the fridge for months before trying to root them.
Andrea Cohen has written about everything from lipstick to politics. Her work has appeared in The Post and The Examiner, where she was features editor. She has journalism and sociology degrees from the University of Maryland and is working toward a Master of Business Administration.