Q: My grandmother has a delicious fig tree that has fruit each summer. I want to propagate it. Can you tell me the best way to do this?

Answer: To start another fig tree from your grandmother’s, you will want to take a cutting in the early spring before the buds break or start growing. Using a clean, sharp knife, take a cutting from wood at the base of a branch that is ½ to ¾ inch wide and 8 to 10 inches long. Dip the bottom of the freshly cut stem in a commercial rooting hormone and then stick the treated base of the cutting into a damp, sterile medium made of equal parts of sand and peat moss. Keep the medium moist, but not soaking wet, to encourage root growth. Be patient and give your cutting an entire growing season to grow roots. You can gently wiggle the stuck cutting to determine when roots have formed. After the roots have formed, you can pot up the rooted cutting and reduce the amount of water you are adding each day. The next spring, you can plant your new fig out in your garden. Select a site that has winter protection from the coldest winds. Under most conditions, you will have a fruiting fig tree in four years.

Q: I saw Japanese Persimmons growing at the Agriculture Building in Winston-Salem. What are the best varieties for our area and do I need to have more than one tree to get fruit?

Answer: According to the Fruit and Nut Research Information Center at the University of California at Davis, persimmon grows best in subtropical to mild-temperate climates, with moderate winters and mild summers (USDA hardiness zones 7-10). Persimmon has a low chilling requirement (less than 100 hours). As a result, the buds may break dormancy after periods of early warm spells, only to be damaged by spring frosts that occur later in the season. Japanese or Oriental persimmons are small trees growing to a height of 10 to 15 feet. They bear fruit in late September to mid-October. The fruit are very decorative and resemble small orange pumpkins hanging among the leaves. The best varieties for central piedmont of North Carolina are Fuyu, Juro and Hanagosho. These three varieties are non-astringent and are delicious eaten right off the tree. You do not need more than one tree for pollination. A single tree is able to cross pollinate itself.

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Mary Jac Brennan is the agent for fruit and vegetable horticulture for small farms and local food for the Forsyth Cooperative Extension. Contact Mary Jac about commercial production, local foods, and sustainable agriculture questions. For information on home and gardening issues, contact the Forsyth Cooperative Extension office at maryjac_brennan@ncsu.edu or call 336-703-2850.

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