It's the perfect time to prune your fig trees and start sharing the wealth.
Figs are both delicious and easy to grow. In our growing zones (7a and 7b), they do really well both in-ground with winter protection and in pots. That makes them excellent gifts both for and from gardeners. Propagating from cuttings is a breeze once you get the basics down.
Even if you don't have your own fig tree, you've probably seen them around your neighborhood. Don't be shy—most fig lovers are happy to let you clip a cutting or two. You can also buy cuttings online from sites like FigBid or on online forums like OurFigs.
Take the cuttings.
If you plan on wrapping your trees against the cold before the winter sets in, cut all of the branches about chest-high. You can also cut any spindly branches right at the ground, to encourage the growth of your strong central leaders.
When you get the branches inside, cut them into 6-inch lengths, or long enough to include at least 3 nodes where the leaves were formerly sprouting. Do yourself a favor and make the top of each cutting straight, and the bottom cut along the diagonal. That will keep you from planting them upside down later.
November is the ideal time to prune your fig tree, before the first big snow. Make sure to wait until most of the leaves have dropped before you take your cuttings.
Prepare the cuttings.
Don't be alarmed if your cuttings ooze a bit of sap. Simply toss them all in a bin and add cool water with a few drops of dish soap. Swish them around and let them sit for a few minutes, then drain and rinse twice. Lay them out in a single layer for a few hours to dry.
If you're using them right away, you don't need to do anything else. If you plan on giving them as gifts, dip the cut ends into plain melted wax to seal. A dollar store tea light is perfect for this. If you have multiple varieties of fig trees, be sure to write a note on each cutting with a fine-tipped paint pen.
Cuttings can be kept for a few months in a refrigerator crisper drawer, along with your veggies. Just put them in a resealable plastic bag and label it with the varieties and date.
Plant the cuttings.
There are several ways to get your new cuttings to sprout, from simply sticking them in a cup of soil to fiddling with heat mats and grow lights. Consult the fig forums and YouTube before deciding on a method that works with your budget.
In general, it takes from 2 to 4 weeks for a fig cutting to grow roots, so start NOW if you plan on giving baby plants out as gifts. To be on the safe side, you can always just give the cuttings, along with a photo of the fruit and some notes about the flavor profile. Wrap them well in cling film and forward this article to the recipient!
Once you start propagating your fig trees, you may come down with a bit of fig fever. Before you know it, you'll have dozens of little cups going for Christmas presents, and you'll be bartering for trades online. You've been warned!
**The photos in this article are by Sarina Petrocelly.
Have you ever tried sharing cuttings from your fig tree? What tips and tricks do you have for first-timers? Share them with us in the comments!