Propagating Fig Cuttings

So we are likely all deciding how we are going to propagate fig cuttings this year. The method I think I will go with is sprouting in a shoe box. Keep it in the refrigerator apparently before you put in sphagnum peat moss. Is there a better way?


I’ve never heard of the shoe-box-in-fridge method.

“Best” depends on what you are trying to optimize.

For me, my prefered method is to prune the tree and stab several prunings into the dirt in a raised vegetable garden bed or someplace I want a tree to grow.

This is the best method when you want to minimize effort, you have a fig tree, you have a mild climate, and you don’t have any real need for more fig trees :slight_smile:

If 1/4 take it is a success and and it’s almost the same amount of work as not trying at all (would have still had to do something with the prunings).

That is an extreme, but I assume when most folks say “best” they mean best probability of success for cuttings that aren’t super easy to take and/or technique that will most quickly result in good-sized tree. I also assume it is for a limited number of cuttings.

For quick-to-good-sized-tree, layering is hard to beat, but requires extended access to the tree.


If I was not out of warm weather then I would have used this method lol (2 months but 100% success). Kind of an air layering knock off which I like a lot.
This is the air layering method
This is the mound layering method

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I like the mound layering. Couldn’t be easier.



Put the shoebox “on top of” the frig. NOT “in” the frig.


It will be in the refrigerator for now I guess until my heat mat arrives. I have them wrapped in damp towels. I cut about 20 brown turkey to practice on. Thanks

I like direct potting fig cuttings with exposed portions wrapped in parafilm.

I did it w/o hearmat, but just kept ambient temps above 70 F. 90% take.

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Looks like a great way to go Jesse. Might give it a try. We are ignorant to growing citrus and figs here in Kansas as we don’t exactly have a lot of practice! I have a guy down the road growing them who had no idea he couldnt grow them and grew them by luck. Those sre likely the only figs except mine in 100 miles . Thank you

Can I propagate some fig cuttings now or do I need to wait until dormancy to harvest my scion and then try to get it to sprout in the spring? Whenever I do it, I’ll probably just fill paper cups with perlite and/or potting soil and stick scion sticks down in it and see what happens. But my question is, can I do that now? Can I cut the tips of limbs off my fig trees today and put the cups inside where its warm(ish- 72 degrees) or should I wait for dormancy to harvest? I’m wondering if it might mess things up because if I get wood to sprout this fall indoors, then in a sense those plants will never have a dorman period this year (since it will probably continue to grow indoors all winter)

In short, can I cut and propogate now or do I need to wait for winter harvest and spring sprouting? THanks

You could have done that this summer, but you’re a bit late for that now.
You’ll have to wait for them to go dormant, and then cut your wood just
before the trees break dormancy.

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Can you please elaborate? If he is rooting them indoors, why would it matter if he harvests them in summer vs now? Is it just because their growth has slowed and they’ve started to accumulate chill hours? I’m not sure if they have in TN, but we have recently.

I have a poor track record in rooting figs (at any time of year), but I’ve had good success with fall rooting currants, gooseberry, and elderberry.

I’m curious about this as well. I don’t think it would be an issue- chill hours are usually important to stimulate blooms on fruit trees, but in the this case, you are just starting the plant, so I don’t see why an especially long “first summer” (stretching from December to the next fall) would hurt anything. I’ve fall planted (indoor) apple seeds and rooted grapes and both seem happy enough to grow for 9+ months.

I’ve pondered fruit growing in the Game of Thrones universe, where there are multi-year long summers, followed by variably long winters. I’m guessing that they must have developed some ever-bearing varieties of most fruits. But I suppose that isn’t too implausible, compared to a 700’ tall wall of ice, dragons, and reanimation of the dead.

Another question is if figs even need chill hours, which gets discussed here:

People that root indoors use dormant wood. You can give it a try, but rooting
figs indoors requires an elaborate set up, a lot of work and great patience.
That’s why I always summer root outdoors. You can give it a try, but your success rate will be much higher, if you use dormant wood.

Once the leaves fall off is a good time to take wood to root, but you can really do it any time of the year with work. The easiest is the paper towel method.

Get a big semi-clear, plastic tub/box. Place a tray with multiple layers inside that allows for air circulation. Take cuttings that have ends wrapped in damp paper towels and place on shelving. You can do hundreds in those large plastic totes/tubs. Keep paper towels damp. Pot up when roots show.

I started rooting these about 10 days ago. The ones in water have little rootlets forming. The clear plastic containers with soil (water bottles with the tops cut off and an old strawberry box) show nothing yet.

I see roots coming out the tall black, open bottomed pot, so this looks pretty encouraging. In fact, I’m thinking about taking the ones from the water and moving them into their own tall pots.

This setup is in a South facing window, but I’ve kept the blind drawn, so they actually get mild, but frequent light.


One generous forum member recently sent me some fig cuttings which I put into the rooting bin today. Visible in this photo are: Teramo, Stella, Morley, Sweet Joy, Brooklyn White, and Red Lebanese Bekaa, among others.

Syrian Six aka Sweet Joy already forming root initials.

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Those are not actually roots, just woody material that pushes out of the lenticels when they open up. If it gets really extreme or slimy it probably means your rooting medium is too wet. The roots usually form at the base of the cutting after callus has formed and flared out a little bit.

That little stub below the bottom node can cause problems occasionally by letting rot in which destroys the xylem and cuts off the roots that form all the way at the bottom from the leaves at the top, usually after potting up. I trim cuttings through the leaf scar to get rid of most of the pith on the bottom and have had fewer failures since.


Thanks for the good advice. That will help me step up my game.

Just wonder if you use rooting hormone to root figs at all. I wonder if it would help. I have a pretty bad track record rooting figs.

Not more than a few times and I didn’t like it.

I wash the cuttings after I take them out of storage (April is ideal here), soak overnight if they seem dry, and then trim before putting in a shoebox (I use a couple tubs with multiple layers actually ;)) full of moist coir. Keep them someplace that is about 75 degrees, check after 2-3 weeks and pull out any that have roots. I usually wrap the tops in parafilm at that point and pot them up. Use potting mix that has been watered and drained a day or 2 in advance and do not water them after potting, wait to water until the pot is lite in weight.

You can get a decent result from just laying cuttings in a shallow trench in the garden, it is not ideal since you need to leave them in place all season but can produce a nice plant with very little effort.

This is the best method for rooting fig cuttings. I would not score the cutting if it’s thin. That can increase rot. Also great success this way with pomegranate cuttings: