I have a Black Mission fig tree that's getting removed soon, and in order to (after a fashion) rescue it, I've taken some cuttings from it using the instructions I found here. The cuttings I've taken have lots of leaves on them since spring is here and that's what happens.

Should I trim the leaves off my cuttings, or leave them on? Maybe just remove the big ones and leave the newly-budded leaves?


No, you should not. Without at least one leaf, your cutting is unlikely to grow any roots.

Photosynthesis is necessary to grow roots. The leaves must take in carbon dioxide and as a consequence will lose water to the air if the relative humidity is less than 100%. Hence, you need to make a humidity tent or terrarium around the plant so that the air inside will stay humid so your cutting won't desiccate and die. Some people cut the bottom off plastic soda bottles for this purpose. I most often put cuttings in 1 gallon nursery containers - a gallon size zip lock bag fits over the pot quite nicely.


When you take stem cuttings you want to denude most of the cutting of leaves because those leaves draw water from the cutting which in unable to to provide it yet, however you will want to leave a leaf at the tip of each cutting so it can get what it needs from the sun and so you don't inadvertently damage the tip bud, which is where the tree will want to grow from for a while.

It will help to put a clear plastic bag over the top of the pot you are rooting your cuttings in to keep the plant in humid conditions so it doesn't need to draw as much water from the ground to support itself and so any transpiration that does occur will be kept in place.

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