Got figs?

Two months after air layering the fig tree, I severed the cuttings from their parent branches.

I knew at least one was ready because I could peek under the tape wrapped around the bottles and see a mass of white roots.

I watered the bottles when they felt light. Otherwise, I just left them to do their thing. 

Not a single root grew from the inner wood. They all grew from the bark above the cut. In this case, I should have placed the bottles higher on the branches, covering more bark, giving opportunity for more roots. I still got rootings from two of the three branches. The one below did not root.

The leaf growth on all three was extremely lush. I filled the bottles with some lovely leaf mold though, so not too surprising.

The roots were also very soft and not well attached to the branch. Many of them were damaged when prying off the hard bottle opening. Next time, I will remove this to start, and just use the softer plastic to hold the soil against the branch, or maybe skip the bottle and wrap it with cloth or a plastic bag. I have seen tin foil used.

I removed the lush leaves since there was now little root to sustain them. That was hard. Then I potted all three up, even though the one hadn’t produced roots (I figured it might still root), and put them in the shade under a potting bench. 

Two weeks later, they have leafed out and the two that had rooted are ready to plant. Still waiting on the third.

As an experiment, I also took some regular cuttings off the same fig, placed in water for a while, then put into moist soil. They have also leafed out; but after four months there is still not a rooting I can find from five cuttings.

Several years ago I started the parent fig by leaving a dormant cutting in water in a sunny window until roots appeared. It was the one of six that rooted. 

It seems air layering is the superior method for propagating figs. Let me know if you try it -on figs, or anything else.


  1. I just read a fascinating article about fig plants. I didn’t know what a keystone species they were in thier natural habitat. Some cultures considering them sacred. It reminded me that the fruit is the enveloped flowers. I supposed that means we probably don’t have a wasp pollinator around here? And that’s why we need to propagate from cuttings?


    1. I don’t know if the seeds would be viable here. Ants make their way into the fruit I know, but do they pollinate?

      I would start from cuttings anyway because it is so much faster and preserves the characteristics of the parent.

      I may just have to try letting a fruit go to seed and see what it does. Thanks for asking.



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