The last cutting from my brother’s fig tree still stands in a pint-sized canning jar. Even when I took the cuttings out of the shipping container, some had sprouted leaves. The cuttings didn’t add much growth at all while rooting in water.
Wanna grow a fig tree? It helps to know someone who already has a fig tree. My brother (Kris, who has written a few guest posts for this blog) has at least one fig tree. He taught me how incredibly easy it is to grow a new one.
In April, Kris mailed to me six cuttings from his fig tree. These were about six inches long and each ended in a terminal bud—Kris had pruned his tree and made the cuttings from pruned branches.
After removing the cuttings from the mailer, I set them cut-side-down in a pint-sized canning jar with about an inch of water. This I placed on my enclosed porch where it has remained since.
Fig Twigs Sprout Easy
Within a month, one cutting sprouted roots. When the roots were about three inches long, I transferred the cutting to half a milk carton filled with very moist potting soil. The cutting put out leaves and grew taller and it looks encouragingly like a small tree.
After I removed the first rooted cutting from the canning jar, a second cutting put out roots. Then a third rooted while a fourth obviously died.
I planted the two rooted cuttings in half milk jugs, and a month later those look quite happy. Another cutting has made it into soil, and the remaining one still sits in the canning jar. It doesn’t seem stressed, but it only just started to grow roots. I’ll move it to soil soon.
Fig Tree Hardiness
Fig trees are, apparently, nearly as indestructible as weeds. They aren’t naturally large to begin with, but they don’t mind if you prune to limit their height and girth. This makes it possible to maintain a fig tree in a planter.
After a few months in potting soil, a rooted fig twig has grown into a very promising shape. I’ll most likely plant two of these in larger containers and move them inside for the winter. The rest will go in my yard where it will be sink-or-swim: they’ll receive no special protection against winter cold.
Most experts report that figs are hardy only down to zone 7. Fortunately, there are varieties claiming hardiness down to zone 5. In colder hardiness zones, fig trees die back significantly in winter but recover and actually grow fruit in the following season.
Many fig enthusiasts in cooler zones hedge their bets and plant in moveable containers. As leaves drop in autumn, they take the planters indoors. Alternatively, they wrap their trees in plastic or burlap and stuff in autumn leaves or straw to provide insulation. With either strategy, it helps to limit the tree’s size through regular pruning.
When you decide to add figs to your kitchen garden, find someone who is growing figs in your area. When you get cuttings from them in spring, ask how they winter over their trees—if they recommend special treatment beyond what you’re willing or able to provide, at least plan to drag your fig trees into a garage or shed after they drop leaves in autumn. With cuttings and patience, if you want a fig tree, you can grow that.
You Can Grow That celebrates gardening each month. The list of this month’s celebrants and links to their posts are at You Can Grow That.