Water bottle air layer figs

I do a lot air layers ,using small water bottles.
Cut the bottom off , take off cap , turn upside down , fill loosely with potting soil ,and i fill up a bucket with these bottles.
Then I take them for a walk , putting them on figs, befor the leaves come out ,
I just slide them over a twig where it will be supported by a side branch, add another hand full of soil , and kind of pack it in there.
By mid summer you can see the roots in there.
Once I see " a lot " of roots I cut them loose,and sometimes trim top back a little.
Often requires cutting side of bottle and neck to remove.
Make great little transplants .
While a larger container may be better, I find these to be very affordable .
Take very little soil, and you can see the roots.
Tree pots are the best ,but more $,take more soil, and can’t see the roots…
And often need support
I don’t girdle ,but this may help.
I don’t water, but this may help also.
This is so easy. ,!


Interesting. What fruit plants have you tried this procedure on?


I don’t do air layer quite like that but I have tried it on Honeyberries, and it worked very well, besides figs.I’m going to try blueberries next.


So far , mostly fig,pomegranate ,Apple rootstock, grape. Has been most successful .
But these root easily.
I believe with wounding ,and auxin , it could work with many things.

As all you have to lose is an old water bottle and a hand full of dirt,I would encourage you to try it on anything.

Somethings I put them on did not root ,( a golden del. Branch , etc.)
I just left them on, hoping that the blanching ( etiolation ) ,and constriction of the bottle will encourage rooting in the second year ?


I’m considering testing the method on filberts, blueberries, muscadines, blackberries, and pomegranate. Thanks for the tip.

A neibor tried this on blue berry and had success .
That is on my list this year as well


Yes I heard it works, and very good news as blueberries are not easy to propagate.

Not sure about blackberry ?
But should work well on the others.

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One more thing, I pre moisten the soil befor I put them on, and pack very well once in place,
Dry soil sometimes will run out the bottom.

I’ve done something similar (and even more simple) on muscadine and it worked fine. Same for blackberries. I just take a flexible cane or vine and lay it in a pot (bent a little so it goes in and out of the pot) and just cover with soil.

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Also virginia creeper and tomatoes-

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Thanks for sharing. It’s a very simple easy to use concept. I’m surprised your Figs don’t die to the ground most years in zone 6b.

What are your inground varieties?


Some years ( when it gets like -5…-10F) I have had them all die to the ground.
The older they get, the tougher they are.
I used to wrap ,mulch, cover, but often ended up with rodent damage. So I quit wrapping
Bass recommends ; mothballs to prevent this,…have not tried, but may on a new planting,

Very nice technique! I may have to give this a try, beats trying to worm my way under a fig tree that’s all leafed out.

My best ,hardyest ones,are unknown local plants;

My best is one I found at the 3rd. Oldest house in charlston Wv.
The McFarland -Hubbard House
It had a cannonball shot through the roof in the civil war.
So iam calling it " cannon ball"
It is a mt. Etna type, very similar to ( and may be ?) Hardy Chicago .
The original plant I believe is gone.?
If it freezes to the ground (-5…-10F?) it will come up from the root and still produce figs.
Right now I have a few of them over 8’ tall some 6’…"still trying to assess winter damage, as it has been 0F here a few nights
I have a few cutting of this for trade, ( that were harvested befor the cold)
And possibly plants , depending on winter damage is my barely protected nursery.

My other best is ;
One I found in the historic town of Matewan Wv…in bloody Mingo Co.
Site of the Hatfield -Mcoy feud. …Matewan massacre
Mine wars etc. and a community called little Italy ( i.e. figs)
This plant was in the back yard of the Historic Matewan house, the front porch of wich served a the morge after the massacre.
I was staying there and admiring the fig .
One day the owner asked me if I wanted that old fig bush , as they were going to start construction on a new building there tomorrow .
I dug the whole thing up , a large bush,in July “after” a day of hard work at my job, and brought it home .
You could see the bullet holes in the wall from where the fig was.
The original plant is not there , it’s in my front yard.
Sorry if iam rambling here,I think it is a good story,and needs to be recorded somewhere that will out live me ( here ) as I have distributed these plants to NAFEX members and others.
Had no intentions of posting this here, but now glad you asked.

So Matewan is ; a yellow fig , not as hardy as my cannon ball , but second in line, also Mt. Etnna type ( I think) very hardy, " if" it freezes to the ground it also will produce a late crop of figs.

I have a few other unknown in ground locally acquired varietys,some do ok.

Also many newly acquired varietys ,I can not vouch for the hardyness of here.

Iam not selling fig plants !
But may consider trade.

Mostly just want people to know that the bottle method is a fool proof method to propagate figs,
If you are having trouble rooting fig cuttings, try the bottle ! :champagne::dizzy_face:
And after that, put some bottles on some figs !


We like to hear these stories, what this place is about! I live in Michigan and I grow corn every other year in a 4x12 raised bed. last year a fig appeared in there! I took it out and call it corn fig. it is still seedling size, so hope it survives dormancy in my garage. It could be from old cuttings, or a seed from figs I have purchased. I often just toss the stems, and well some flesh with seed could have been in there. I have no idea? I probably will not have fruit till next year, it is still very small. If it even survives the winter.

Another thing is figs can often come with root knot nematodes.
By using " clean " potting soil (not soil from the ground) and placing the bottles up high , you can propagate a nematode free plant, from and infected plant.