How to Propagate a Fig Tree

Overview

Except in tropical regions, fig tree fruits do not produce viable seeds. The tiny wasps that pollinate figs do not survive winter temperatures. Some fig trees require pollination to produce fruit. Other varieties produce fruit without cross-pollination, and even when grown as container plants and sheltered indoors in winter. Use rooted cuttings for propagating desirable varieties of figs without grafting.

Rooting Cuttings

Step 1

Cut a 12-inch long section from a healthy fig shoot or branch in February during the tree's dormant season. The base of the cutting must include two year old wood. Rooting should take place before the tree develops new foliage.

Step 2

Fill a clay flower pot with vermiculite--a sterile growing medium--and water the material thoroughly. Plant the stem end of the fig cutting several inches deep in the vermiculite. Cover the cutting and pot with a clear plastic bag to prevent drying out. Keep the cutting moist but not wet--when dormant, fig trees need minimal water, but cuttings will not root in dry soil.

Step 3

Place the pot in a warm and well lit location but not in direct sunlight. Keep the vermiculite moist. After several weeks check the fig cutting for roots by carefully pulling aside a portion of the growing medium.

Step 4

Transplant figs to a pot filled with potting soil in about six weeks if roots develop. Include any vermiculite which clings to the new roots--too much disturbance during transplanting could harm the cutting. Plant to the same depth as in the first pot and water well. Cover with the plastic bag.

Step 5

After the fig cutting develops it's first leaves, remove the bag to begin the hardening off process. Avoid exposing the new fig plant to temperature extremes. Bring the pot outside for a few hours of sunlight daily in early spring. When all danger of frost is past the fig plant could remain outside.

Alternative Methods

Step 1

Check figs with multiple shoots for side shoots emerging from below ground level. Side shoots often develop secondary root systems and can simply be severed from the main plant and transplanted. Transplants succeed most often during the fig tree's dormant season.

Step 2

Root cuttings directly in garden soil where winter temperatures remain above freezing. Plant deep enough to leave only one bud above ground. Keep the cuttings watered and allow the new figs to grow in place until leaves drop in the fall. Transplant to permanent locations when the trees go dormant.

Step 3

Create rooted cuttings by air layering if a fig grows with multiple stems. Use a knife to cut a ring of bark three quarters of an inch wide from the two year old growth of a healthy shoot. Pack wet sphagnum moss around the exposed sapwood and wrap the area with polyethylene film. Tie off the film on each side of the wound. When roots develop cut the shoot below the layer and transplant.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Vermiculite
  • Clay pots
  • Polyethylene bags
  • Knife
  • Saran wrap
  • Sphagnum moss

References

  • Who Pollinates Fig Trees
  • Home Garden Figs
  • Fig Fruit Facts

Who Can Help

  • Fig Variety Descriptions and Photos
Keywords: propagate fig trees, fig cuttings, transplant figs

About this Author

James Young began writing as a military journalist in Alaska and combat correspondent in Vietnam. His lifetime fascination with technical and manual arts yields decades of experience in electronics, turnery, blacksmithing, outdoor sports, woodcarving, joinery and sailing. Young's articles have been published in Tai Chi Magazine, Sonar 4 Ezine, The Marked Tree, Stars & Stripes, the SkinWalker Files and Fine Woodworking.