Do leaves and bud swell indicate rooting?

m_taggart(7b)February 24, 2010

Hey Folks. I'm in Raleigh, NC and rooted approximately 15 fig cuttings on January 28. Like a fool I didn't consult this forum before hand and used my own unproven method. I dipped the cuttings in a hormone gel and placed in a ~50/50 perlite vermiculite mix in 4" pots. I then placed in a large rubbermaid container and draped plastic wrap over the top to maintain fairly high humidity. The rubbermaid is under a north facing window in a room that is currently unoccupied. It stays around 63 degrees in there. I haven't watered since rooting as the pots feel like they're retaining a fair amount of water and I don't want to induce rotting.

So it's now been about a month and I'm unable to see if these things are rooting. I began to see buds swelling on many of the cuttings and in the past few days some very tiny leaves have begun to appear. My question is: are these signs of rooting? Must roots be present for the cutting to put out leaves or can that happen without roots?

Also, where do I go from here? Can I remove the plastic wrap from the top of the rubbermaid? Should the cuttings be moved to a south facing window? Should I begin to water when the pots feel like they need it? I understand underwatering is favorable to overwatering, so I'm treading cautiously on when to water. Any insight is most appreciated.

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My experience is at the lower temeratures the slower it is to root.
I have experienced leaves before roots and visa vera. I also uually do not water them afterwards until i transplant out of the cup and can see everything better.
Best Health

    Bookmark   February 24, 2010 at 4:43PM
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OK. So I can't really rely on the buds and leaves to tell me much except they aren't dead. At least that tells me something.

I had wondered if being in that cooler room might delay things a bit. Unfortunately, I don't have a heating mat I could put under the rubbermaid. Aside from that, I'm not sure how else I might raise the temp a bit. You think it would be worth moving to another, warmer room?

Also, I forgot to mention that I do have a 2 bulb 4 foot fluorescent lamp typically used for seedlings. Would the addition of some artificial light help at all?

    Bookmark   February 24, 2010 at 4:50PM
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I have not used a light before just trying to root cuttings so i cannot answer that question.
They should root fine in the cool room it just takes longer.
Patience is often the key but you can move them to a slightly warmer room and they would be fine.You can take the plastic off and look at the cups up close to see if you see any small roots if not just put back and recover bin.
Some folks give a real gentle twist of the stem to see if they feel any resistance an indication there are some roots taking hold of the mix but i just leave them be.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2010 at 5:19PM
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satellitehead(z8 ATL Metro)

They've only been going for four weeks, so I wouldn't jump out of my pants expecting them to root. We (humans) have this problem: We can't just "let things go". If I were to tell you anything right now, it would be - LET GO. Just see what happens.

If you really must, and curiosity is killing you, the only way I know how to tell if roots are in progress in an opaque container could potentially be harmful. I will twist the cutting (like, a "micro twitch" less than 1mm each way) and give a very, very tiny lift on the cutting. If something is well-rooted, it won't easily move anywhere. If it isn't, you will see a lot of play out of it and probably need to re-tamp the soil. If you twist or tug too hard, you're probably going to break immature roots so .... read and reconsider my first paragraph ;)

    Bookmark   February 24, 2010 at 9:37PM
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I would move the large rubbermaid container to a warmer room (70 to 75 deg F is good), if possible, and not use a heating pad. Outside heating is not necessary and often is the cause of mold formation on cuttings. Artifical light will not be helpful in this early stage of rooting.


    Bookmark   February 24, 2010 at 11:20PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

There is considerable advantage in having your cuttings in a cool room (55-65*) and using a propagation mat to warm the soil (usually adds about 10* to ambient temps). The warmer (than ambient air) soil temperatures promote rooting while cool air temperatures help retard bud movement, so cuttings are less apt to flush quickly and subsequently collapse.


    Bookmark   February 25, 2010 at 8:57AM
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It is much simpler to just move your cuttings to the warmer room as I have suggested above and skip the application of any heat source whatsoever to your container. You will be very pleased with the results that you obtain.


    Bookmark   February 25, 2010 at 10:15AM
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M Taggart,
well you seen several options that will all do fine.Ive seen pitures posted of folks useing bottom heat source in a cool room as mentioned here and it works fine, ive seen and done rooting in a warmer room with no bottom heat source and it worked fine,ive also rooted them in a cool room no bottom heat source and they turned out fine just took a little longer.
You might be wondering ok hmm now what or perhaps slightly confused on what to do.
Bottom line is figs generally are easy to root.
What you have on hand and are doing is fine in my opinion.
Just give em time and post back in a month.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2010 at 12:10PM
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Yes figs are EXTREMELY easy to root and fortunately there are several good methods that can be used. However, M Taggart indicated he/she does not have a heating mat and is questioning whether or not moving to a warmer room is advisable. I believe that I have answered those specific questions. Al is the one confusing the situation by throwing in the use of propagation mats.....which M Taggert has already stated he/she does not have.

Maybe one day we will see the details of AL's written fig rooting method(s). I know that he has been passing a rooting method around to certain forum members. The IMPROPER use of heating mats can be very problematic and is often THE CAUSE of rooting failures. IMO the risk/benefit and cost/benefit analysis of using any external heating source is not justified for a hobby rooter when very reliable rooting can be conducted INDOORS at room temperature. Normal room temperature (70 - 75 degs F) works real well and no propagation mat is needed.

Al recently posted this suggestion to another forum member:
"I've rooted thousands of deciduous cuttings by sticking in a damp, sterile medium and applying bottom heat to keep the cuttings in the 70-75* range. I normally provide some type of tenting to keep humidity very high, but vent the tent. Keeping air temps a little cooler than soil temps (10*) is also helpful. I remove bottom heat a soon as the cuttings have struck."

In answer to M Taggert's question in this thread, Al references a 55 to 65 degree rooting temperature. In the quotation I reference above Al recommends a 70 to 75 deg rooting temperature to another person. Which is it?????..... the 55 to 65 cited above or is it the 70 to 75 range he cited in another post???? A post, by the way, in which I was criticized by some forum members when I stated the obvious......that a 70 to 75 deg temperature range is plain old room temperature (see link below). It would be helpful to forum members if Al posted his exact fig rooting method(s). Maybe there would be less confusion.

M Taggert, in answer to your question and in consideration of your particular situation.....move your cuttings as I've suggested above. Keep the top on your Rubbermaid box. Save your money and do not go out to buy a propagation simply IS NOT NEEDED in your situation.

FYI.... if interested in reading more about my preferred ROOM TEMPERATURE rooting method see the attached thread (link below). You will be very pleased with the results that you obtain if you follow this very simple fig rooting method. I consistently obtain a very high rooting success using this method. You DO NOT NEED a heating pad, nor a propagation mat, nor a temperature controlled device, nor any additional heat whatsoever from any source when rooting indoors. Many forum members have had their cuttings severely damaged or destroyed thru the improper use of heating devices that were recommended by others. Those devices are better used in an OUTDOOR (Greenhouse) type of rooting environment.


Here is a link that might be useful: An easy and reliable rooting method

    Bookmark   February 25, 2010 at 1:56PM
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pitangadiego(San Diego, CA)

Leaves and bud swell indicate laeves and bud swell, nothing more. No relationship between that and growing roots. See

    Bookmark   February 25, 2010 at 2:43PM
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Folks on this forum never cease to amaze me with their knowledge and willingness to help. I do appreciate all the information.

Here's what I'm working with. I removed the plastic wrap, but it usually stays on top.

From ">

From ">

That's Colonel Mustard at the bottom right.

Now don't laugh; remember I'm a first timer and my second attempt will surely be one of the methods mentioned here that has been proven to give good results. From looking at others cuttings, I'm thinking some of mine are a little too large. Yes?

I do believe I'll move the bin to a warmer room. Our room temperature is probably much cooler than the majority of homes. We lower the heat to around 62 degrees during the day and turn it up to 65 at night. So, even in the warmest room in the house there's really no way it'll be in the preferred 70-75 degree range. I guess I'll just have to be patient.

Now, when the leaves on these things do become recognizable, I'd love to have some help with identification. I took these from an NC State research station in Reidsville. I have no idea how long the mother plants have been there, but they seem to be fairly neglected and there's no one I can ask about their history. I'll keep my fingers crossed. By the way, will I be eating figs this year?

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   February 25, 2010 at 4:35PM
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As far as a first time fig rooting experience, I think
that you are doing GREAT! Keep that potting
medium just moist (not wet) and when the leaves "unfold", make sure that there
is plenty of (natural/artificial) light avaialble for
them fig twigs to produce some more food/energy beyond what was
originally self-stored within...

    Bookmark   February 25, 2010 at 5:02PM
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Hey Matt,

I wish I had a fig guard dog like your Colonel Mustard!! Also do what George suggests and you should be fine. Have fun.


    Bookmark   February 25, 2010 at 5:11PM
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A loose/vented dome will also be (moisture)
helpfull for the new young terder leaves...

    Bookmark   February 25, 2010 at 5:12PM
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satellitehead(z8 ATL Metro)

Looks like you're doing wonderfully. Now that you're this far, the real challenge is to remain patient and let the cuttings do their thing without your intervention. You can very easily "tend a cutting to death".

I would say, if you are putting directly into a potting medium, skipping baggie or other root starting method, you should:

- If container is mostly closed, you shouldn't need to supplementally water anything using most potting medium (even Perlite).

- Swing in and check out the leaf growth periodically. Be patient. Let the cuttings do their thing. Be patient! Enjoy the bud swells and leaves. Be patient!!

- If I were you, I wouldn't even expect the start of roots for 6-8 weeks, even in the best conditions.

- There is no such thing as "too big a cutting". Get this phrase out of your vocabulary!! ;)

- Even with no interaction, at normal room temps (avg 65), rooting will occur. In fact, I reckon if you leave those be, as they are, with the lid on, and either barely crack the lid or leave it open for an hour every 2nd or 3rd day, 3 out of 4 of those things will root really well.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2010 at 5:54PM
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