Propagating Fig Trees with Cuttings

Fig trees are grown all over the world with the exception of very cold climates. Although birds eat the fruit and can spread seeds, it’s better to use vegetative propagation methods to ensure your plant grows true to type. Stem cuttings are the most common propagation method, especially for edible figs.


Fig Tree Basics

Although some figs can grow up to 30 feet tall, most gardeners prune them around 10 to 12 feet for easier care. The edible fig can be grown in USDA Zones 5 through 11, depending on the variety. Not particular about soil, they need little to no fertilizer and are drought tolerant once they are well-established. However, they should not be over-watered.

Taking Fig Cuttings

Here are the basics for taking fig cuttings:

  • Choose a healthy branch but do not use the branch tips.
  • Select a branch as thick as a pencil but no larger than your biggest finger.
  • Cut sections six inches long.
  • Ensure each cutting has at least two growth nodes.
  • Cut just above and just below a node.

Stem Cuttings in Water

Fig cuttings can be rooted in water, although it’s labor intensive. Place three cuttings in a clean mason jar half-filled with water. Mark the water line and keep water at that level. Change the water daily and rinse the cuttings. Keep under fluorescent lights about three inches above the tips. When there are four good roots, pot up. Cover with a plastic bag open at the bottom and keep moist.

Stem Cuttings Outdoors

If you take cuttings in late spring, you should be able to grow them outside in warmer areas. Don’t start them until all danger of frost is past. Treat the tops with sealant for disease protection and dust the bottom with rooting hormone. Plant four to six inches deep in commercial potting soil and keep well-watered. Place in bright indirect light rather than full sun for the first few months.

Stem Cuttings Indoors

In colder climates, you may have better luck starting your figs indoors and transplanting after the danger of frost is past. Make cuttings from dormant branches and follow the instructions under fig cuttings for outdoors. Place in a warm room with lots of indirect light. Keep moist but don’t over-water to prevent rot.

Growing On

No matter how you start your fig cuttings, you should always harden them off before planting in their permanent spot. Unless you have very sandy soil or drainage problems, you can plant them pretty much anywhere as long as it’s in full sun. Water when the top inch of soil is dry. It will take five or six years before they produce fruit.