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Propagating Figs

Figs are easy to propagate (reproduce) using cuttings, but be patient - cuttings taken in early march may not develop leaves for 10 weeks or longer!   

Taking Cuttings:
To take cuttings, use a very sharp set of pruners, and cut directly below a node (a node is where a leaf connects to the stem, and this area is where the roots will grow from).  I typically use loppers to cut off medium sized branches from existing trees, and then will take the individual cuttings right when I stick them in the rooting hormone / medium.

Rooting Cuttings:
A few techniques for encouraging the cuttings to grow roots are described below.  Figs are fairly easy to root, so if you just take 10 cuttings and stick them in the ground, a couple of them should take.  For better success, try the techniques described below.

The Best Technique:
In my experience, the best technique is to fill a black pot (1-5 gallon size, depending on the number of cuttings desired) with about 6 inches of rough sand (you may need to place a layer of gravel on the bottom of the pot to keep the sand from pouring out through the drainage holes).  In early March, take 8-10 inch long cuttings of healthy looking wood that is 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick.  Apply rooting hormone, if available, and stick the cuttings 4-6 inches deep in the sand. 

Place the pot in an area that receives some sunshine, but is not in full sun all day.  The sunlight heats up the black plastic pot, and the higher soil temperature speeds up the root formation process.  In early May, the cuttings should start pushing out small green buds.  At this point, when the buds look like they are just about to pop, the cuttings should show the beginnings of root development, and may already have a small root system.

Gently remove the cuttings from the sand and plant them out in their final location.  Cuttings done in this manner will grow up to 2 feet in the first year, and will fruit the following year.

The Simplest Technique:
In early march, take 8-10 inch long cuttings of wood that is 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick.  Clear a small area free from grass and weeds, poke a hole in the soil, and stick the cuttings 4-6 inches deep (which leaves about half of the cutting belo
w ground).  This method should have a 30% - 40% success rate.

Fig Propagation - In Ground

The best strategy when utilizing this technique is to root the plants in the final location where they will grow.  Cuttings rooted in this manner can produce fruit by the next season!  Simply take about 4 cuttings for every location you want a fig tree, and the percentages should work out for you.

For a slightly higher success rate, place 1/2 inch of sand at the bottom of the holes where you are sticking the cuttings.  This helps keeps the wounded end dry, which reduces the rate of rot and disease.

If the cuttings are to be moved to a different final outplanting location, they should not be moved or transplanted until the following spring. 
Moving the cuttings sets them back about 1 growing season, due to the damage to their fleshy root systems.

Some additional tips:
Rooting Hormone:
If you have rooting hormone available, dip the end of the cutting into the rooting hormone. 

Girdling Cuttings:
This is reported to increase success rate up to 75%, and will improve the success rate for any of the propagation techniques above.  The branches from which you want to take cuttings need to be girdled 30 days before you take the cuttings.  Girdling is simply taking off the bark in a 1/2 inch wide strip all the way around the stem, so as to cut through the tissues that transport nutrients and sap from shoots to roots.

The explanation for why it works:  Plants produce two types of hormones.  One (auxin) is produced in the shoot tips, the other (cytokenin) in the root tips.  The relative concentration of the two hormones essentially tells a plant cell where it is and what it should become.  Girdling is a way of naturally increasing the concentration of rooting hormone in the stem, as it is produced in the shoot tip but cannot migrate down to the roots, due to girdling.  Whole branches can be girdled, and then you can take multiple cuttings from them.  The cuttings already have a high level of auxin, and more readily develop roots.