Here in our corner of paradise, the Rogue Valley, figs are easy to propagate because they root very easily. There are several ways to propagate them. The most common method is to root cuttings taken in late winter or early spring, although the fine folks at the Master Gardeners tell me that you can root figs at just about any time of the year.
Cuttings can be 6 to 18 inches long and pencil to finger thick. If the weather is unsettled and frost is likely, store your cuttings in a sealed zippered bag in the produce bin in your refrigerator. If the weather is warm and likely to stay warm, pot your cuttings. Place a half sheet of newspaper tightly into the bottom of a 4 or 6 inch deep pot (not THIS paper; use the one from Medford!) Mix some sand or perlite with potting soil and fill about half of the pot. Stand up one to four cuttings in your pot (depending on size – you don’t want to way overcrowd them) and fill the pot with your mix.
Water the pot thoroughly and set it in a nicely lighted location. Direct sun would be bad. I have cuttings under my fruitless mulberry in the front yard. They get some morning sun, but mostly are lighted, but shaded, most of the day. Cover your cuttings with a 2-liter pop bottle with the very bottom cut off, but still with the lid in place. Some folks say to not water again until your cuttings are quite dry and others say to provide water from the bottom of the pot. Some say add liquid rooting hormone or to dip the cut end of your cutting in powdered rooting hormone or to do nothing but pot them. When you see vigorous growth or perhaps roots from the bottom of the pot, take off the lid of the pop bottle and see how the plants do. If they look good after a few days, take off the pop bottle. If the plants begin to wilt, cover them back up.
I am not a fan of watering with liquid hormone, but I am a fan of powdered rooting hormone for cuttings – because it always works for me. It’s worked on roses, hydrangeas, lilacs, wild elderberry and a bunch of other slips over the years. I also prefer clay pots over plastic, especially for bottom watering since they wick water into the soil.
After a few days, it will be time to pot up the new plants. Don’t do this just because you see a few leaves growing. Sometimes there will be four or five leaves and few – if any – roots. Wait until you see VIGOROUS growth and even roots out the bottom of the pot. Repot into new, one gallon pots. You can use the black plastic ones if you like; I still use clay ones. Water thoroughly and apply a light application of a good liquid organic fertilizer. In four to six weeks, depending on the variety of fig you are rooting and the weather, your baby trees should be ready for a larger pot or in-ground planting. Once you plant them in the ground, keep them well watered until they have rooted in very well. This usually takes only one warm season. A two to three inch layer of mulch will help the new plants conserve moisture, keep the roots cool when it’s hot and provide cold protection in the winter.