How To Propagate Fig Trees

Propagate Fig Trees: How To and Why

 How to Propagate Fig Trees

Let me first say that I’m not the Fig Tree expert. My neighbor has been a Master Gardener for a very long time. He has planted thousands of plants. He has a bit of knowledge to share and I’m ready to learn. On his property there are several varieties of Figs. When I offered that I wanted to start some Figs, my neighbor graciously allowed me to take some cuttings. He also shared how he used to propagate them when he worked at the Botanical Gardens. They would put cuttings in Perlite alone and claimed 100% success with his propagation.

My method will be a little different. I’ll be using course sand.

For planters I choose the yellow Kitty Litter buckets. These are a great resource. They have so many uses. It pains me to know that many of these go from the grocery store to the house then to the trash when empty. What a waste.

Check out this video of my process of how to propagate fig trees.

Did you like that video? Subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more.

We start with a Fig branch with a few leaves on the end.

How To Propagate Fig Trees
Fig Trees are pretty easy to propagate with cuttings. Here is a nice cutting to start with.

Notice all those little bumps? That’s where the branch will make roots.

How To Propagate Fig Trees
See all those little bumps? Those are natural places where the Fig tree will put out roots if this branch lays on the ground.

The Kitty Litter bucket has 8 holes drilled for drainage. There are 4 holes on each of the short sides of the bucket.

How To Propagate Fig Trees
Kitty Litter buckets are a tremendous waste if they are only used for bringing home the litter, then tossing in the trash. I get these from a friend. By re-using them as planters I give this material more purpose and I save money.

An old towels is torn and used to cover the drain holes to keep the sand from pouring out. UPDATE: This project failed. I believe the old towels over the drain holes was part of the problem. When I discovered that the Figs didn’t live I poured the sand out. The sand was smelly at the bottom. What that tells me is that the drainage was not good and it all became anaerobic. 

How To Propagate Fig Trees
Notice there are 8 holes in the sides of the buckets. There are 4 on each short side. The old towels cover the holes on the inside so the sand doesn’t pour out.

Lay the towel over the drain holes and cover with sand to hold them in place. (See update above)

How To Propagate Fig Trees
We save all our old towels. This one is perfect for covering the drain holes in the bucket.

The Fig tree branch is placed in the sand and covered. Give it plenty of surface area below the sand level so it can produce lots of roots.

How To Propagate Fig Trees
The Fig cutting is placed in the container.

I like to keep some room at top of the bucket. It’s not filled all the way up with sand. This allows me to pour the water in so it can sit on top and drain down through the sand.

How To Propagate Fig Trees
This is one completed Fig Tree cutting placed in course sand. Figs to not need soil to start roots.

All the leaves, except for a few are cut off. We certainly do not want to bury any leaves below the sand.

How To Propagate Fig Trees
Most of the leaves were cut off. Only a few at the top are kept.

This branch with multiple smaller branches will give me three more Fig tree cuttings to propagate.

How To Propagate Fig Trees
This larger Fig Tree branch with multiple smaller branches can be split up to make more trees.

There’s one!

How To Propagate Fig Trees
That’s one! Let’s cut a few more Fig Trees from this branch to start more trees.

The yellow buckets are set down in these larger square plastic container. This will allow the buckets to sit in a little bit of water I can control the water level this way. Also, I can use less water by re-using water that drains out.

How To Propagate Fig Trees
The yellow buckets are placed in a square plastic container to keep them from draining all the way dry. These containers were saved from the dumpster too. I like to recycle items where I can.

This step may be not needed but I figure it can’t hurt to give it a try. I took some Willow leaves from the Willow trees that I started in a similar way. These leaves were soaked in water to release the rooting hormone.

How To Propagate Fig Trees
Willow trees are known to make good rooting hormone. This is a cup of Willow leaves that has soaked for 24 hours. I’m not sure if this is exactly the way to use Willow, but I figure it can’t hurt.

The Willow water is poured on the Fig tree cuttings. Hopefully this gives the roots a jump start.

How To Propagate Fig Trees
Pouring on the Willow water as a rooting hormone.

… and finished. There you have it! Four Fig trees started in the Daddykirbs Garden.

How To Propagate Fig Trees
Finishing off all 4 cuttings with the Willow water as a rooting hormone.

Why Propagate Fig Trees?

This is a good question. Isn’t it easier to just go to the store and buy a tree when you want it? Well, it might be, but consider what I’ve done here. This was all free. Yep, I spent no money and will potentially have four fruit bearing trees on the farm to enjoy for many years to come.

I talked to my neighbor (building community) and learned from him how to start, grow and care for these trees. He gave me the cuttings. These free cuttings were planted in sand that was already here and placed in buckets that were free to me. Saving money and helping the environment at the same time by keeping these buckets out of the landfill.

Once I was finished planting the cuttings they were all placed in a larger container that, again, was saved from the dumpster and landfill. By re-using the items I save myself time and money by not having to go to the store (saving gas too) to buy new items that would serve the same purpose.

Free fruit trees sounds pretty good to me!

Is this how you propagate Fig trees?

How about sharing in the comments your method? I’d love to hear from you.

If you haven’t watched the video… you may want to check it out. There is a surprise funny ending 🙂

I found a BETTER way!

Did you like that video? Subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more

Pin This!



With the failure of this attempt to propagate Fig trees I learned that proper drainage is important. I will try again soon.

Don't Miss A Thing! Subscribe and Follow

It would be my honor to have you subscribe to my YouTube channel and to this blog. Check out the subscription box below.

30 thoughts on “Propagate Fig Trees: How To and Why”

  1. When is the best time of year to do this propagation? I live in Vancouver, Canada and planted my first fig tree in my garden this summer. Unfortunately, it does not look to be to doing the best and I pretty sure that was because of the soil conditions. I started to add some dolomite lime and it looks better now.

    1. If I were doing this straight in the ground, then I’d probably do it in the Spring after the last frost. For me, since I have a small greenhouse, I decided that the timing wasn’t critical. I’ll put the buckets in the greenhouse for the Winter. Hopefully next Spring I can plant them. I’m glad yours are perking up.

  2. I have a Q about when it comes time to transplant. Would you wait until they are dormant and wash the sand off to transplant them as bare-root, or what is the right way to get them from the bucket of sand and in to the ground?

    I’m thinking of using this technique for several grape vine cuttings – any thoughts on that?


    1. I think that would work fine. Otherwise I’d just do it like a potted tree when it’s fully leafed out. I don’t think there would be any issue planting it in the sand… But someone with more experience might have a different opinion.

  3. Hi there
    Thanks for this useful article. Really appreciate it.
    How long did your fig cuttings take to root? How long will you wait until you replant them? How do you remove them from the kitty litter box without damaging the roots?

    Many thanks

    1. This experiment went bad. I believe that my mistake was adding the cloth over the drain holes. The sand was a bit stinky which told me that the drainage was not good. All my figs died. I’ll try again coming soon 🙂

      1. glad i saw this. i just tried your fig tree propagation method and used clean cat litter as it’s coarse, because i don’t have perlite or sand.

        i used an old tin and made large drainage holes, with no cloth to cover up the holes. And just watered with rain water. It’s not sitting in water either. lets see if it will work. will water it when it’s a bit dry.


  4. 1. To prevent sand from running out of drain holes I use coffee filters to cover holes from the inside of my transplant pots. 2. Have propagated Roses, Pomagranetes, etc using your method but the easiest way, in my opinion is air layering. Taking the same type of limb and a limb at least 1 year old, I take a wet sponge, wrap around the selected limb, wrap limb and sponge in plastic wrap , and tie securely with brown twine and monitor moisture every few days. That involves unwrapping and checking moisture of sponge being careful and fast to re wrap securely. Depending on the daily temperature Rooting takes place in about 3 or 4 weeks. This needs to be done when temperature is at least 75 degrees during day. Air layering doesn’t do well at the end of summer when temperature doesn’t get over 50 or 60’s Works just about every time.

    1. I am very interested in Air Layering. Thank you for describing your methods! I did one experiment with it so far but it didn’t work out. I’ll try your method to see if I get better results.

  5. I live in northern New England. I experimented with my Celeste and Black Mission figs last winter and the previous summer. Cuttings placed in perlite during the summer rooted okay, but took a few weeks and not all of them made it through the winter (in containers in my garage). I then tried dormant cuttings about 6″ long on April 19th directly in perlite over a bit of heat. After 2 weeks I had some initial root activity and by May 17th there was substantial growth and I then transplanted them into individual pots in a potting mix which they remained in for the season with 100% success. They all look healthy going into the winter where they will stay in my garage with their parent plants until next spring. I try and use a sterile mix and if I were to use sand I may sterilize it first in my oven as I have in the past to kill off any disease. I have also done well with air layering , but find the dormant method much quicker and I can get many more plants in a very short time.

    1. I have often been tempted to buy a fig tree, but was afraid to lose it do to the cold. I had seen that one of my family members who lived in DC had a successful fig tree. I live in central NY on one of the FingerLakes. I understand that you winter your fig tree in your garage? When do you place them in the garage? When do you take them out of the garage? Do you water them through the winter? Is your garage heated? Is there light in your garage? Thank you, I am highly interested in understanding how to succeed with a fig tree.

      1. In NH (which is similar to your climate), I bring them into the garage after the leaves have dropped. My garage is heated, but only minimally to keep my workshop and glaze materials from freezing (my space doubles as a pottery studio). There are windows, although I move the figs into any corner they will fit in, so they are often buried in a dark corner. I end up with them in large containers, so having them on wheels helps me move them around as needed in the winter. I do splash some water on the during the winter when the soil gets dry, but I am careful to not let them stay too wet as the roots will probably rot.

  6. This article is titled “How and Why”

    It goes into great detail on the How but never touches on the Why. I really wanted to know the advantages of this tree versus other fruit bearing trees.

    1. I grow them because my wife loves figs. Fresh figs are not very common to come across here in NH and when you can find them, they are quite pricey. If we ever get an excess of them, I will try drying them as well.

      1. I am an American who is retiring in the Philippines. In the small rural community we are now in it is almost all either Mango’s or Banana’s. So for diversity I have been looking for other fruit trees that might be able to live and thrive in a tropical setting.

        Will they grow in a humid climate? How long until you could expect a harvest? Is it a viable plant for the Philippines?

        I liked your article and it interested me greatly. Unfortunately it created more questions for me than answers.



        1. My dad did well with them in Southern Florida for the 25+ years he was living there. In his case, it was only when there was a cold snap that it slowed down his figs!

          1. I see lots of people here in Texas having great success with Figs. Some of the trees here are very large and old. It’s wonderful seeing such a mature food bearing tree!

          2. Hi Kelley-
            I just got this. Sorry about the delay.
            My dad never was able to find out what variety it was before he died, but I had given him a small cutting from a “Celeste” fig and it was starting to do well when he left Florida. I still have a plant started from the one he had in his backyard in Fla,, which I bring in each winter along with my other figs, but it still has not produced any fruit. I have not been able to identify it yet.


        2. With no experience growing anything in the Philippines, my guess is that they would do fine. Plant in full sunlight, compost and mulch regularly. I hope you find great success with this and share it with your neighbors!

    2. I don’t have any specific reasons why Fig is any better than another fruit tree. This is just another fruit tree that will grow in my area. I love the idea of having a wide diverse variety of food plants on my little farm. Fig is just one among many.

  7. If your experiment didn’t work why is it still online? Click bait? Also if your neighboor is an expert why don’t you just follow his advice? I don’t understand this.

    1. I believe that all experiments are valuable information whether they fail or succeed. It’s clearly marked so there is no deception… at least none intended. My neighbor has been away for a while now. He is now in a nursing home. I have to take the information that he gave me and do the best I can with it. My Figs, using my new method, root very well and are doing great. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *