Fruit & Nut Research and Information Center
Fruit & Nut Research and Information Center
Fruit & Nut Research and Information Center
University of California
Fruit & Nut Research and Information Center

Fig Propagation

Sexual propagation

Although it is possible to grow fig from seed it is not recommended unless breeding new cultivars. Plants grown from seed are not guaranteed to have the same traits as either parent. Additionally, only some seeds will produce female trees with edible fruit while the others will produce male fig trees with small inedible fruit.
Figs contain many small fruits and seeds. Viable seeds can be separated from inviable seeds by floating them in water. Viable seed will sink and can be germinated. Seeds that do not sink to the bottom are inviable and should be discarded. Fertile seeds can be germinated by spreading them on flats of moist soil mix or sphagnum moss (Hartmann 2011).

Asexual propagation

Fig is most commonly propagated by cuttings to ensure that new trees are female and “true to type”, with the same traits as the tree from which cuttings were collected. Shield- or patch budding, or cleft- or bark-grafting techniques can also be used to topwork an existing orchard (Morton 1987).


Fig plants are commonly propagated by cuttings. Dormant cuttings of 2- or 3- year old wood, or basal parts of vigorous first year shoots with a heel of two-year branch at the base, should be used for propagation. Cuttings should be ½ to ¾ inches in diameter and eight to twelve inches long (Morton 1987). For best results cuttings should be prepared in early spring well before bud break. Grow cuttings for one or two seasons (12-15 months) in the nursery before transplanting to a permanent location (Morton 1987). Occasionally two cuttings can be set in one location to ensure establishment if one does not survive (Hartmann 2011). 

The fig can be budded onto existing rootstock to change fruit varieties. Fig can be topworked by inserting t-buds into vigorous 1-year-old shoots on heavily pruned trees, or patch-budded onto older shoots (Hartmann et al. 2011). Cleft- or bark-grafting can also be used to topwork existing varieties.


Although commercial plantings should utilize nursery stock, propagation by ground or air layering can be successful in figs. Layering should be done in early spring using one-year old branches to ensure sufficient rooting my midsummer (Hartmann 2011).


Fig shoot tips and nodes have been successfully micropropagated using several techniques. In general, roots can be propagated from shoot tips by placing them on semi-solid propagation material with IBA. Nodal explants can be propagated by placing them on propagation material with BA (Bapat and Mhatre 2005). Each fig variety may require different concentrations of growth hormones for successful propagation.

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Page Last Updated: July 31, 2013
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