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Starting a Fig Tree
Figs, (Ficus carica) are a member of the mulberry family. Did you know that figs originated in the Middle East and are even mentioned in the Bible several times? The fig tree is in the first chapter of the Bible in Genesis with Adam and Eve. Every year in the United States, California raises thousands of pounds of Smyrna figs. When I think of figs, I think of cookies. As a child, I thought they were so delicious and I couldn't eat enough of them. And, I admit, they are still one of my favorites. I did some reading and found out that you can grow your own fig tree. If you have a neighbor with a fig tree, see if he/she will allow you to take several cuttings. This will save you money from having to buy one from the local nursery, or mail order catalog.
Fig trees are easy to start by taking a cutting. Take a cutting in the springtime, before the sap begins to flow. Select a strong, mature looking branch that is as big around as the diameter of a pencil, and cut a length of about 6 to 8 inches. Your cutting needs to be somewhat woody, not entirely green. Make sure there are several nodes on it. Take several cuttings because not every cutting will root and grow. With a sharp knife, cut around each node, but only go through the thin outer bark. This is where the roots will form. Do not cut around any nodes that are less than one inch from the tip. Dip the end of the stem into some root hormone.
Propagating in a Pot
Place this cutting standing upright into a ten-inch container filled with light, porous potting medium. Leave at least an inch of its tip sticking out.
Cover the container with a plastic bag to keep the cuttings humid. Put the container in a sheltered place, like under a tree or against a fence. Keep the soil moist, the plant protected and it should produce roots in a matter of weeks. If you live in an area where the temperature stays warm like California and Texas, you can plant the cuttings into the ground. Choose a sheltered place and allow them to root. You will have to provide some protection for them with stakes and wire.
Where to Plant
The fig tree likes open surroundings with ample sunshine. It does well in most soils, but it does not like a soil that has too much alkaline or salt. For other people like me who live in colder climates, then the fig tree will need the protection of being indoors. Container cuttings need to stay in the container for one year before you transplant them into the ground. If the temperature does go to 10 or 15, it may kill the tops, but the roots of the fig tree will remain alive. Simply cut away the dead part and it will re sprout from the roots.
Fig trees are practically disease free. The only thing that fig trees have trouble with is the cold. If the temperature drops below 10 degrees, you will need to protect them. Grow them indoors in a big pot. A window with southern exposure is the better location for your fig. If you want to move the fig tree outdoors during the summer, put the pot on a board platform with wheels. This will make moving your fig tree easier.
The Texas Everbearing has large fruit although it is not as sweet. The one advantage of growing this fig tree is that it bears fruit from early summer to early autumn. Other varieties, like Celest and Brown Turkey, have a sweet tasting fruit.
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