For those of you who have been following the progress of the little cutting from the Sicilian fig tree that returned with me after our last trip, I think it is now safe to call it a little tree instead of a cutting! It is about 2.5 feet high and has been thriving this summer with the leaf stems sprouting secondary growth and becoming small branches.
So here's where we started and where we are now. Pretty amazing, huh?
And in case you missed the original post from November....
For the Love of Figs,
November 14, 2009
I've been wanting to plant a fig tree for a while now. We were at our friend Kaysey's house in Covington last year and picked fresh figs from a tree right off of her balcony one morning for breakfast. Drizzled with a little honey and spread with fresh goats cheese, they are to die for! So I start looking online, trying to figure out what kind of fig tree I wanted and where I would get it. Should I order one? Should I just find one locally? Could I grow one from a cutting?? For the last year I've been contemplating planting a fig tree but somehow it never seemed to happen.
Sometime before we went to Sicily I was again looking at growing from a cutting. I found out it was relatively easy, but how would I decide where I wanted to do a cutting from? The right answer didn't come, until we were in Sicily...
On a windy Sunday afternoon in Sambuca di Sicilia, we were walking the beautiful grounds of Planeta's Ulmo winery with Chiara Planeta. Having just finished an amazing tasting of way too many of their wines, we were heading into the dining area of the 16th century farmhouse for lunch, when I noticed a beautiful fig tree on their property. After more wine and a delicious lunch of local foods, I asked Chiara if I could possibly have a cutting from their fig tree. She said of course and cut off a small piece about 6-8" long. As delighted as I was to have it, I now just had to figure out what to do with it!!
So, I put the cutting in my purse and tried to recall what I had read about propagating fig trees from cuttings. When we got to our next lodging spot, Mandranova, I was so enthralled with the place that I had forgotten about my cutting. Four days later at our last agriturismo, I found it and decided to put it in a glass of water. Our next stop was Roma for a few days and then home so I wrapped the bottom in a paper towel soaked with water and then put it in a plastic bag. I was a little nervous about getting it through customs, but it made it into the states and into our kitchen.
Well we came back with way too many things to do, so I just stuck it in water again until I had time to do something with it. Another week went by, it was now more than 2 weeks since Chiara had cut it for me, when I found a post about propagating fig trees at gardenguides.com. By this time is was starting to get brown and I really didn't have much hope for it, but I figured what the hell, it couldn't hurt to try. Here are the instructions that I followed:
Cut stems for rooting in late winter. Cut 1-year-old stems growing in the center of the tree. Make the stems between 6 and 8 inches long and approximately as thick as a finger. I kind of got this right, but we did not take it from the center of the tree and it wasn't late winter...
Line the bottom of the plastic container with newspaper and place 2 to 3 inches of potting soil into the bottom. Place as many as four cuttings in one plastic container, standing them so that the cut ends are in the soil. Add more potting soil to fill the container--you should see just the tips of the cuttings.
Water the soil and place the container in a location where there is bright sun, but not direct light. Keep the temperature at 70 degrees F or higher. My office at home seems to be working well. It has lots of windows and gets light from the east and south.
Cut off the bottom of a plastic bottle--a soft-drink bottle works well--and place the bottle over the container. Keep the cap on the bottle. I used an orange juice container that Ron had left in the frig during his house/dog sitting stay.
Water the cuttings only when the soil dries out completely. Lift the container and if it feels light, place it in a shallow pan filled with water. Allow the soil in the container to soak up water from the pan. Remove the container when the soil is moist again. I have not had to do this yet, probably in a few days.
When new shoots and leaves extend from the cuttings, remove the bottle cap. If the cuttings continue to grow after several days, remove the bottle. If they wilt, replace the bottle and try again in a few days. If they thrive, it is time to transplant the cuttings. This where I am now, I just removed the cap, take a look at my photo!! I am amazed that this thing is actually growing after what I've put it through...
So, I'll keep you posted as to how the rest of this goes, but so far so good! Keep your figures crossed and hopefully one day I can be giving some of you cuttings from my Planeta fig tree from Sicilia!!