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  • Cuttings season basics (Please read!)

    Cuttings season is rapidly approaching, and it is the best time of year to acquire new varieties of figs. This post is meant as a rough guide to help newbies and veterans make the best of this season.

    Where to get cuttings:
    Many forum members offer cuttings for sale, trade, or giveaway. Ebay and Figbid are also common marketplaces. Some growers have small online stores, such as figaholics or willsc.

    Ebay is known to have many scammers (see here), one must use caution. DO NOT purchase from overseas. It is illegal. The USDA will come seize the plant material sooner or later because foreign plant material can harbor new pests and diseases. If you see Black Madeira cuttings on ebay at a price that seems too good, it probably is.

    Also be aware that some people buy and sell cuttings for profit, so more handling and time out of refrigeration may occur. There is also increased chance of mistakes in labeling, intentionally or not.

    When to get cuttings:
    Typically late fall to early winter is prime cuttings season. Cuttings from dormant trees store best. Trees will go dormant at various times depending on the climate, generally after a light frost or stretch of cold weather. Be aware as winter gets colder that cuttings exposed to below freezing temperatures may be damaged.

    What makes a good cutting:
    An ideal cutting is at least pencils thickness with 3 nodes. Some people do fine rooting 2 or even 1 node cuttings, but more nodes makes for good material. Wood should be fully lignified (brown) and solid when squeezed to store the best. Green cuttings will root, too, but won't store well. Moldy cuttings might root if you can clean them up and remove rotten wood, but don't hold out too much hope. Anything that has been frozen is not a good cutting. Frost to remove the leaves is fine, but a freeze will likely have damaged the wood.

    How to store cuttings:
    Everyone has a method, but generally they need to be kept cold and kept from drying out. I personally wrap them in plastic wrap with a sticker label, then a ziploc bag and stick them in the back of the fridge. Good quality cuttings can be stored for 6 to 12 months, or longer. Some people like to disinfect cuttings before storage with bleach or peroxide solutions, up to you.

    When to root cuttings:
    Anytime, BUT unless you have the capability to baby plants that naturally grow in blisteringly sunlight in your house all winter one should wait until spring. Light and heat are limiting factors for most people. I personally wait until April and do it outdoors, otherwise it's a struggle all winter. Plus, fungus gnats can cause marital strife!

    How to root cuttings:
    There are hundreds, if not thousands posts on this topic. It ranges from stick them in dirt outside to using specific mixes of perlite or diatomaceous earth under heat lamps. Searching the forum will yield plenty of ideas. Personally, I try to keep it simple but you should try some methods to see what works best.

    Ensuring cuttings are true to type:
    Best practice is to only sell/trade cuttings from plants that have borne fruit and are proven to be true to type. Some people are dishonest and will intentionally mislabel for profit (ebay scammers). But more often it's just human error. Labels get mixed up, the wrong branch gets cut, mistakes happen. Sending mislabeled cuttings creates headaches for everyone down the line. Try to only get cuttings that have fruited, and please do not sell/trade cuttings that haven't fruited unless you can be certain it is true to type (you removed the air layer yourself, for example). More than few cuttings I have grown out were mislabeled due to people's eagerness to share a rare variety they hadn't fruited. If you get mislabeled plants, let the source know (politely), and move on.

    Mailing cuttings:
    I like to mail on Monday to ensure packages do not sit in the PO over the weekend. Everyone has a method, but generally send them dry or barely damp in a bag or wrapped in plastic. First Class mail is typically plenty fast (3 to 4 days) and cheaper than priority if under 13 ounces. It is legal to send cuttings to CA but not plants with soil (unless certified).
    Last edited by Kelby; 09-23-2019, 10:48 AM.
    SE PA
    Zone 6

  • #2
    Great information.
    Zone 7a - Dover, DE Wishlist: ALL OF THE FIGS!
    Seriously : LdA, CLBC, CC, all CdD, All LSU, Black Ischia


    • #3
      Awesome! Thank you for posting this Kelby.
      Danny; NYC Z7b

      List safe. Bid safe. figBid.com


      • #4
        That was incredibly helpful. Thank you for taking the time to share all that great information.
        South Jersey, zone 7a- 20 mins from Philly, 30 mins from AC


        • #5
          Great information. Very thorough and extremely helpful.
          Linda (aka ItalianFig)/Toledo,Ohio/Zone 6A
          WL: Bolzano Nero, White Triana, Fracazzano Nero, Brogiotto Bianco, Popone, Rigato del Salento, Neruciollo d'Elba, Moro de Caneva


          • #6
            I would add to NOT automatically condemn an eBay seller. There is a list of known scammers on the Forum but I have purchased many from new sellers I checked out and have had good results with them. Many eBay sellers look for new things to sell and find that cuttings from a fig tree can be sold so they go to "Grannies" house and cut some and sell them. Sometimes they have no clue what kind of fig tree "granny" has and say so, sometime "grannie" knows and tells them. I bought several cutting for someone that got shall we say run down of a Forum because they were not a member and was stated they did not know for sure what the trees were. Funny, the seller was checking out the Forum and saw the post. He then informed the poster all of his trees were ID'ed by the LSU Ag people as most were LSU figs, they even took cutting back to LSU. Before knowing this and buying a bunch from them I did a Google Earth on their location and found like they said they had 6 fig trees in their yard. All I did was place a $15 order to see what I would receive and then used the shipping address to look at it. I then ordered cutting of everything they had. About half of my current LSU figs came from them. Another seller I had good experiences with was mistakenly condemned on a Forum as a "known scammer" by overzealous do gooders without checking her out. Do your own checking, many fine people supplement their income selling on eBay, some are scammers but not all. And keep in mind anyone can make mistakes on labeling. Retail Nurseries, online nurseries, eBay sellers and "trusted sources" have all shipped me incorrect figs. I have several plants I have lost tags on and have no clue until they fruit what they are. So accept that as part of buying figs. AgriStarts has sold many thousands of incorrect figs to suppliers that sold them as T/C plants and wholesale growers to resell them after growing them for a year or so to garden centers. Places like Wholesale Nurseries, Lowes and HD sell plants as labeled, they have no way of knowing what they received was not what they ordered. I would make an educated guess that since T/C plants were developed 90% of the White Marseilles sold were not White Marseilles. What I bought as a T/C Conradia turned of the be a Chicago Hardy. So buyer beware wherever you buy fig plants. For a first time cutting order I limit my outlay to $4 per cutting delivered. A $16-$20 gamble. I don't buy trees but do buy T/C plants for cutting generators. I have had very good lock with members trading cutting and plants. I don't think I have ever been intentionally scammed, but have many cuttings and plants that were incorrect. So ask on the Forum if you are not sure about a seller, and DO NOT spend big $ without checking first. And use your brains, if you pay Brown Turkey prices for a prized cutting you will probably get a Turkey of some kind! And if you are new to figging understand that all of us have the very widespread type called "unknown"! Sometimes a fig turns out to be something else and a very good fig. My biggest producer this year started out as an LSU Tiger cutting to a tree planted in the ground and transmogrified (my new word for the day) into a Brown Turkey that produces big fat juicy figs, and lots of them!

            Definition of transmogrified - transformed in a surprising or magical manner. Like an LSU Tiger to a Brown Turkey is magical and surprising! Fig On!


            • Kelby
              Kelby commented
              Editing a comment
              Everyone has their opinions, and that's great. IMO figbid (aka Danny) actually works to prevent scammers while eBay does not care. If I had the money, time and space to take chances on things I would absolutely buy random ebay cuttings.

              Additionally, from a sellers perspective, figbid is WAY cheaper to use.

            • jmrtsus
              jmrtsus commented
              Editing a comment
              I agree ....figbid is the place you are least likely to get scammed. They do a great job!

            • Charles
              Charles commented
              Editing a comment
              My advise to a friend would be: Before purchasing ANY plant from eBay I would google the sellers name along with the word "scam" and see what comes up. I would also do a search of this site using the sellers name; if nothing comes up just start a new thread here asking for advise on the seller. If nobody knows the seller then I would advise to just skip purchasing from them unless you want to be the guinea pig.

              Regarding Amazon: For me NEVER AGAIN. Having received the wrong orders and having them come from overseas (i.e Vietnam and China, both times with the country of origin purposefully blanked out) I would NOT buy any plant material from Amazon again...it's a crooks paradise and Amazon will do nothing to protect the consumer or the US agriculture.

              Regarding Online nurseries: Some of these places are just like flower ordering site that have no inventory at all and simply fulfil your order using legitimate nurseries. I'd look up lots of reviews prior to purchasing.

          • #7
            This is incredibly helpful, thank you.
            South Florida, Zone 10B
            Wishlist: Azures Dark, Bordissot Blanca Negra, Black Madeira, Campaniere, CdD Noir, CdD Blanca Negra, CdD Gris, CdD Roja, Cavaliere, I-258, Golden Riverside, Sucrete.


            • #8
              Thank you for this. I am going to follow this sticky heavily until next Spring. I was looking at Ben's fig pop method (was not familiar with it) and it looked amazingly easy. And since he seemed to store them just in any cardboard box until they rooted (no heat or light added), that seems like the best option for me. However, I was worried about the timing, and this sticky may have helped me decide what I will be doing. So let me lay that out and if anyone has suggestions/corrections, please don't hold back.

              I am thinking of cutting 30-50 cuttings from the tree (could get a lot more, but storage in the fridge is limited) and storing them in the fridge until early March. At that time, I want to take the cuttings and put them in the bags for the fig pop method and store them in a cardboard box/bin in my sunroom until they root. As they root, I will transfer them to pots and leave them in my sunroom close to the screen to get indirect sunlight. My thinking is that this will be around late May.

              But that's where my plan ends. When do I put them outside? Since they would be in the sunroom from April, I would like to assume that they would be acclimated to the temps/humidity pretty quickly. But at what point should they be put into full sunlight?

              Thanks again for this sticky. I feel this will be very helpful for me and other newbies.
              Central, GA - Zone 8a
              Wish list: Yellow Long Neck, Lattarula, Italian 258, Black Madeira


              • XstreamINsanity
                XstreamINsanity commented
                Editing a comment
                ginamcd The 30-50 cuttings will all be from my Celeste tree. I know I have some people from church who have stated that they would like a tree, so if I can get enough to root and grow well, I can give them to my friends from church. I was also thinking that it MIGHT be possible that if I get enough of them to root, I might be able to go to a local Farmer's Market and either sell them or trade them. But if none of those first two things happen, then I'll have enough trees (hopefully) to produce enough figs that I can then remove my current in ground tree so that I can plant a new one in a different position. That is my ultimate goal in the next year or two as we try to get our backyard to how we want it. But I need to "perfect" my cutting/rooting skills (and hopefully air layering skills) before I go killing a 17' tall Celeste tree.

                As for picking up other varieties, I likely won't be doing that for some time unless it is through trade or gifts from other people (like Reba sending me a Lattarula). I don't have much of an expendable income for picking up different varieties, and won't for some time. Five kids, need to build a deck around the pool, we want to put in a raised bed garden, we have changes we want to make inside the house, etc...the wife wouldn't be happy if I'm dropping money on different fig varieties as she's not big on figs (nor are the kids). I'm hoping the Lattarula may change her mind some, or at least show her the variety of flavors figs can be.

                As for the drip system versus SIP, I'll look into the differences. Where I want to keep the figs is a bit of a ways away from the house, and having a hose go across the backyard is not ideal when you have a dog and kids (and need to cut the grass). Now, if I were to lay a line down through the yard, maybe. But thank you for giving me another system to consider.

              • ginamcd
                ginamcd commented
                Editing a comment
                I hope you have good results from your rooting trials! Yes, the drip will be an initial investment, and if you're not keeping many potted trees beyond early summer, may only be a short-term need. However, if you're planning to add a raised bed garden, think long term and see if you can keep the figs near enough to where you'll put the garden then run a trenched water line in that direction that can be tapped into for a drip system for the garden.

              • XstreamINsanity
                XstreamINsanity commented
                Editing a comment
                ginamcd That is what I am trying to plan out currently. Because we still have kids that like to play in the yard, I'm planning for the garden and fig trees to be along the back fence, allowing the kids to still play in the middle part of the yard. I had previously mentioned to my wife that we're going to need to invest in a long hose, but now considering running a trenched water line out there might be the best option. As glad as I am that our backyard was not over "developed" when we bought our house in May, the planning of our backyard seems overwhelming. But, I want fresh fruits and vegetables, a place for the kids (and eventual grandkids) to play, a place to relax and entertain, and less grass to cut.

            • #9
              Great info thank you đź’•
              Zone 8a Olympia, WA

              Grow What You Love & Love What You Grow!


              • #10
                Thx for the great info.


                • #11
                  Thanks for this info. I'm a brand new member with Many yrs of plant propagation under my belt, but a relative fig newbie. I hope to be able to add a few varieties to try eventually.

                  Pickens Cty, SC zone 7B
                  Tony; Pickens county, SC zone 7b
                  WL: Brooklyn White; Dominick; Golden Riverside; Maltese Beauty; Norland


                  • #12
                    Thank you all the great information.....and especially '
                    DO NOT purchase from overseas. It is illegal. The USDA will come seize the plant material sooner or later because foreign plant material can harbor new pests and diseases'.


                    • #13
                      Thank you for sharing the information on how to share fig tree cuttings. I have been rooting fresh green cuttings but new to stored cuttings.
                      SE gulf coast (zone: 9B). WL: Azores Dark, CdD Noir, Golden Rainbow, Hative d’Argenteuil, Iranian candy, Fig Preto, LSU Scott Black, Socoro Black, Sweet George


                      • #14
                        kelby speaks the truth about fungus gnats...destroyed almost my entire collection of fig cuttings i had put into a small green house. and it all stemmed from one pot of bad soil (cause i ran out of dr. earth and used a bag i got from home depot.) - i'm going to try with coco coir this year to test. small test sample i did earlier did results in roots and fungus gnats don't/cant breed in that.

                        also..thanks to this group and others i wouldn't have known you can't order overseas. ebay or other online services should just not make it possible for you to purchase overseas for figs and other plants. nobody wants a knock on the door and getting all their stuff confiscated.


                        • Pdiscool
                          Pdiscool commented
                          Editing a comment
                          What does fungus gnat damage look like and how can you distinguish it from overwatering or under watering?

                      • #15
                        Great information, thanks.
                        SoCal- Zone 9b


                        • #16
                          This is written excellently. Yeah we all do some parts of this here and there but this is flushed out nicely. Thank you for taking the time Kelby to share this with us!
                          -Vince Russo
                          Norwalk CT Zone 7a


                          • #17
                            awesome information I am so glad to have joined this community today and its due to the YouTuber Ross Raddi. I thought I was the only fig and grape fanatic.


                            • BC BYRON
                              BC BYRON commented
                              Editing a comment
                              No there are just a few fig nuts here

                          • #18
                            I didn't know you can send cuttings to cali but without dirt/material. Good tips


                            • #19
                              Thank you to everyone for sharing their knowledge and experiences.


                              • #20
                                I got my cuttings from Kelby


                                • #21
                                  Kelby great info. A question about brown lignified cuttings. I notice when i scrub them with dawn dish soap to wash them they have a green tinge. Does that mean they are not fully dormant yet?
                                  Najam from Sugar Land, Texas, Zone 9a

                                  Wishlist: sao miguel roxo (azores dark), burgan unk, world's best mulberry


                                  • Kelby
                                    Kelby commented
                                    Editing a comment
                                    1st year branches will typically be that way, should store fine

                                • #22
                                  As a newbie trying to root cuttings for the first time, what percentage of my cuttings should I expect to successfully take root? I've ordered about 18 cuttings so far, consisting of around 5 or 6 varieties. I have Clonex gel and TakeRoot powder. Most on the forums lean towards Clonex, so I think I'll use a gentle application of that beforehand. If and when I am successful, I will put my plants under grow lights for a head start before moving them outdoors in the Spring. If I get an 8" piece, is it advisable to cut it in half to double my chances? If so, I presume I should let the bottoms callus, in the fridge for a week or two before trying to root them.
                                  -Carl (Marlton, NJ (Zone 6b/7a))
                                  WL: CdD mutant, De Tres Esplets, Exquisito, Nero del Cisternino, Sangue Dolce, BFF, Noir de Caromb, RLBV, Dall Osso White, RGR


                                  • Kelby
                                    Kelby commented
                                    Editing a comment
                                    I wouldn't both using rooting hormone, most people see no benefit. Some people root nearly all, I'm happy with 2/3s rooting. You can cut it if you want, I personally would not unless it's got a ton of nodes. There aren't really any right ways, just what works for you.

                                  • ginamcd
                                    ginamcd commented
                                    Editing a comment
                                    And if this is your first time rooting, assuming your cuttings are from dormant trees don't start all of them at once. Keep some in the fridge, make sure they are kept dry and properly wrapped to keep them from desiccating. If you find your chosen method isn't working, you'll get another chance with a different method if you keep some in reserve. Good luck!

                                • #23
                                  Awesome thank you both!
                                  -Carl (Marlton, NJ (Zone 6b/7a))
                                  WL: CdD mutant, De Tres Esplets, Exquisito, Nero del Cisternino, Sangue Dolce, BFF, Noir de Caromb, RLBV, Dall Osso White, RGR


                                  • #24
                                    I’ve seen diluted miracle gro for cuttings that show roots mentioned multiple times here. What is the recommended dosage? And how often round about?
                                    Zone 7a Westchester County, NY
                                    Wish List: Figo Preto, Bordissot Negra Rimada, Col De Dame Blanc, Smith, Cravens Craving, Noire De Barbentane, Strawberry Verte


                                    • Kelby
                                      Kelby commented
                                      Editing a comment
                                      A quarter to half strength should be good.

                                  • #25
                                    "Cutting season" is what? The opposite of growing season? November and December? First frost through to Spring?
                                    1st year newbie --- [My Figs] --- Eastern Missouri --- Zone 6 --- Wish List: a greenhouse and a pallet rack


                                    • nycfig
                                      nycfig commented
                                      Editing a comment
                                      Cuttings season is the opposite growing season. It's when growers prune their fig trees and it's different for every growing zone, depending on dormancy. Starts as early as September for some on the east coast and continues through February for our friends on the west coast. But an official start date for me is the day the number of cuttings listings surpasses the number of fig tree listings on figBid. This year that date was 09/20/19. I'll update here and FB with the official end date

                                      https://www.facebook.com/figBid/post...854501?__xts__[0]=68.ARDg9mPUp0PtTOeoKPkxEbmNw8R7xbi37l7KEClvHxaE1v-V5azq_57OKQhM8Gh8Evnq85ANsDhvGTk40KxgMMS2Ea2GaiWwT Np2MzjVnl5GYI_7AbBIZDzK_51QTwKROsFz3U1oLwaa-t-OsVaMF0BQmMcHGD2gZ7tKbQxJtWDa8G17gV3s5Y0Ch8nnOlHlo XEsiLImel3SZzmR3-impZc993-YvDM5MU-TKtH7A86ceVf9iy_qUqmwyNJcuTFgByD0U4_3v8vFqHS-QZ89ekkca5i18VoP1uXK8zSuv9uQ6u-KZtYK5ZITsgrDrVt4KeEt8cBq6lueatK-oO6WcmOw&__tn__=-R