Over the past few days, our best fig tree finally went into dormancy, which fig advisers say is the best time to take cuttings for future propagation. So, while simultaneously pruning the tree to a more harvestable height, I made six dozen cuttings of perhaps 8 inches apiece yesterday.
There are more labor-intensive methods for taking fig cuttings, whose admirers say result in a very high success rate. However, I’ll be completely delighted if even 30 of these 72 cuttings grow up into little trees. And in fact, even that number is a lot more than I can handle now without selling or giving them away. Thus I’m using a reliable but much easier method of rooting fig cuttings:
First, I tied the cuttings together, all pointing the same direction, in bundles of 15-20, with twine. Next, I dug a little trench in one of my front garden beds. Then, I stuck each bundle upside down in the trench, with the cut ends up and the apical ends down. I filled in the trench until just a couple of inches of cutting remained above the soil surface. Those cuttings are callusing – the sap from the cut ends will dry over and form a callus, probably anywhere between two to four weeks depending on our whether. At that point I will plant each cutting deep in the soil, so that only an inch or so is above ground, with the callused basal end in the bottom of the planting hole.
Then we’ll see how many root and grow.
The tree that provided these cuttings is a Negronne or Petit Negri type, with medium-sized, very dark fruit with red, slightly dry flesh and a delicious intense flavor. It produces a so-called breba (early) crop and, most years, two other crops, including one that keeps ripening on into winter. The tree was small and very slow-growing for the first three years, but has gained in vigor. After cutting back the tops, it remains about 12 feet tall.
This is a fig I think anyone in the Deep South would enjoy. The fruit is great fresh and tastes like heaven when wrapped in bacon, stuffed with goat cheese and broiled or grilled. It dries well and is fine for baking (think cookies).