Rooted Fig Cutting: Grow in Pot or in Ground?

Zone 7B. I purchased several rooted cuttings of various fig varieties, all cold hardy, for growing in ground, not in pots.

My instinct is to immediately plant the rooted cuttings in the ground, in their permanent spots- mulch well, fence well against all critters and water religiously. I have been advised not to do this- to keep them in pots this summer.

I think the pot route is far riskier- dries out fast, can get knocked over, squirrels dig in the dirt, etc.

Has anyone planted out small rooted fig cuttings in the ground and had success?

I have 100% success at planting apple bench-grafts immediately in their permanent spots in orchard, no nursery bed. Why not figs?

Thanks.

Steve

Yeah sure, and you can dig them up in the fall. I left mine in, they died to the roots, but didn’t outright die.

Thanks Drew. I plan to leave them in the ground, pile extra mulch on top for winter. What’s your favorite fertilizer for tiny in ground figs?

I plant almost all of mine now as soon as they are ready, i.e. filled their containers. Did about 200 last June @ ~3 months old and didn’t lose a single one, even bare rooted almost all of them. Many did have a tough time adapting, lost leaves (got cooked on the black ground cover) but all survived and grew well. Surround will help a little with heat stress.

Digging in the fall actually seems to be risky, still waiting for a 2 yo RdB to wake up, it never really recovered from the shock and keeps dying back further. Also dug one in the spring and although it lost its top over the winter it has rebounded well. The roots really spread in the ground so there is just no way to fit them into a container.

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I would only plant it once you see a nice root system developed in the pot.

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@figerama, @hoosierbanana, @Drew51 - thanks. The pots are opaque- I can’t see the roots. I could just grow them in pots for another month or two and plant them in ground in July or August with some burlap for partial shade for a few days. How does that sound?

Guess I could gently slip the pot off to look at roots but that seems risky.

If you don’t think you can turn the pot upside down without it falling apart I would baby it in a pot like you said for a couple of months so the roots develop better. Newly rooted cuttings sometimes have a great looking canopy but lack the roots development.

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Thanks. What fertilizer do you prefer for small rooted cuttings?

I don’t have a lot experience yet to tell you maybe someone else can advise. I’ve been using Dr. Earth all purpose fertilizer?

When you can see roots through the drain holes they should be ready to harden off. If you acclimate them well before hand and don’t disturb the roots much they shouldn’t need any shade. Compost would probably help if you have sandy soil, the soil here is usually more than adequate without any fertilizer but is silty and has plenty of organic material.

June is the best time for planting, I’ve never had much luck past July.

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By “harden off” does that mean ready to plant in the ground?

Yes, they should be used to the same amount of sunlight they will get in the planting location, and go easy on the water for a week or 2. Lush growth wilts easier so go easy on the fertilizer too.

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I was out of town, and I hate using my phone to respond. I have big fingers! Anyway everybody has their own way. So you look at all suggestions and decide how you wish to proceed.Let’s go back to your original instinct. I’m with you. I grow peppers and tomatoes and start them indoors like everybody else. I always push the envelope. I lost some to frost, so i started a 2nd round very late. As soon as I could see a true leaf they went from seedling tray to in ground. I think it’s best if they have time to adapt, and they have all summer, if you plant them out now.
I agree that keeping them in pots for 2 years would be better, but I hear you about maintenance, so put them in the ground.I put 5 figs in the ground first leaf, all survived. The winter kicked their butt, I’m in Zone 5b, they are growing back. I’m not sure if I’m going to keep them though? Or try others? No hurry to decide.

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On fertilizer, well Foliage Pro is excellent stuff for seedlings. It has all the micros and most plants like a 3-1-2 NPK ratio and it has it. I also like using any organic, once a certain size, it easier. Just apply once a month. Another approach is dynamite slow release. It also has the correct ratio for most plants and all the micros too. It lasts 9 months, not 6 months for Osmocote. it can be used indoors or out. Control release is tricky because once above 85F it dissolves faster and only lasts half the time they say. So in the summer it lasts 4.5 months (just about the whole season, so i use it once).
I use foliage Pro with seedlings, and once I plant out I use Dynamite once and once a month use an organic and be generous with it. I usually use Tomato Tone or Plant Tone, but any organic will work. I think it’s best to switch up products from time to time and see what is working best. So I may try other organics at times.
I have a lot of stuff to take care of, and I’m a fan of fertilizer, it works, and works well, the plants need it. I have little time and is why i do what I do. It’s quick and easy. Results are not satisfactory they are exceptional. I have been doing this for at least 3 years now. For my situation with limited time it has served me well.

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Thanks Drew- great information.

If you do not plant soon then you’d have to wait until next year because they need as much time to grow by winter as you can get. If they are used to full sun with little to no stress then plant them ASAP I am not sure if you have moles yet if you do I’d suggest protecting the trees with wiring or caging because gophers do not just eat the roots they can eat the trunk if they are not protected from the ground. Make sure to water every other day in the evening or early morning if it does not rain otherwise the roots would not get enough water. This will need to be done for weeks. Once the tree is obviously growing faster with less stress you can lessen how often you water.

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Thanks- very helpful info for this fig novice.

Oh and if you water with Silica Blast at 1 teaspoon per gallon that lessens the heat stress a lot especially if you soak a tree in the Silica Blast water mixture before planting, you’d have to wash out any dirt from the roots first.

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You are welcome, once I planted a tiny looking rooted cutting and at the time I did not know that the variety’s more sensitive to planting in the ground in hot weather than a lot of other fig varieties, odd since that variety loves tons of heat once it’s big, more so than the average fig tree and it survived fine, in weeks it started getting strong. It did not loose much leaves with the Silica Blast watered every other day. Each tree and each variety will be a little different.

@hoosierbanana

Following up here on your good advice: if I plan to plant rooted cuttings in ground in June, does that mean starting the rooting process in April or even before that?

Thanks.