cuttings are rooting, what now?

joewormMarch 19, 2012

I stuck 6 cuttings from a fig tree into a large container full of a mix of topsoil and compost. This was in February and now they are putting out leaves. I pulled one up to see what was going on root wise and sure enough, there are small roots.

What is the next step? leave them where they are for now and for how long or move them into seperate containers now?


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Hello..I started a bunch of figs this winter trying both the plastic bag method with sphagnum moss and simply sticking the cuttings into a mix as you described. They both worked and I now have about 65 healthy looking young trees. The cups I used were clear so I could see the roots. Once I saw good root structure I moved them up to a gallon pot. All seem very happy. I will say that in my experience the new roots are somewhat fragile so Ive avoided " pulling" and been very careful while transplanting.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 10:37PM
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How long does it take for the cuttings to have a root structure sufficient enough to transplant? I can't see the roots unless I pull them out of the soil, which I don't want to do unless I'm going to transplant them.
The roots the cutting has that I pulled out of the soil to look at are not very well developed, just barely there actually.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 10:54PM
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Interestingly I'm finding the rate at which the roots develop to be dependent on the variety of fig cutting. Some of them are quite eager while others have been very slow. Something I did which is described in a post titled " newbie" was go around to old homesteads and gather cuttings from well established trees in an effort to propagate a variety that had obviously withstood my zones climate. Ive found that the largest, most stately and seemingly the oldest and hardiest has proven the slowest and most challenging to root.
I am no expert and the Internet is full of opinions, many of which are contradictory, but what I have found is that when there is STRONG leaf presentation... Not just a tiny few peeks... There are likely some decent roots.... But not always...yet when I found those " not always" ones I simply potted them on and they actually did fine. I honestly don't believe I've lost one single cutting. Yes they may pout, drop a leaf or two, but they come back. I've found this propagation of figs thing to be far from rocket science despite all the " methods."

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 8:03AM
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Here are my thoughts:

If you go ahead and pull them up and transplant them now, as you have observed, the roots are not yet very strong and are easy to break. You will certainly break a significant proportion of the roots in the process. The cuttings will probably end up OK even if this happens (as long as you don't break all the roots), but it might slow their development down a bit.

If you wait a month or two until the roots are stronger, you will have a tangled mess on your hands. Frequently the roots grow straight out until they hit an impediment. They will be stronger, but also more tangled. You can either try to actually untangle them (no doubt breaking some in the process), or just draw a perimeter around each plant and cut straight down, cutting through the ones that have ventured too far away from the cutting. Either way you will lose root mass.

In summary, no matter what you do or when you do it, at this point you will lose some amount of root mass no matter what. It is 90% likely they will do fine in spite of this, so don't get too worried. But this is why many folks (myself included) put their cuttings in separate containers right from the start. They figure this way there is less stress put on the cutting in the early stage.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do.


    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 10:42AM
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At the time all I could do was to put em' in what I had and hope for the best. Next time I'll plan ahead and have some individual containers ready for the cuttings. At any rate, these seem to be doing fine and I think I'll wait another month or so before trying to transplant into individual containers.

Actually, I'm surprised at how easy it is to propagate these figs from cuttings....stick em' in the ground and watch them grow!!

I have no idea what variety the fig is. The cuttings are from a tree my dad has had for over 25 years. He took cuttings for that tree from a fig tree my grandmother had. As a kid I remember eating figs off her tree and over the years eating figs from my dads tree. Now I hope to be able to grow a few trees from the cuttings and have my own trees.

Thanks for the help.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 6:05PM
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No worries Joe. I just started working with figs last year and have learned a lot from my mistakes along the way. I'm sure that you'll get a few trees from those cuttings you've started.

There is a good chance that your tree is either a Brown Turkey or Celeste. Those are very common in your area and grow really well there. You can post photos of the leaves and fruits this summer and people here can help you identify what it is, if you're interested.

If you have long term access to your father's tree you could also try to do an airlayer this spring/summer. If you're not familiar with that method, you can do a search here for more info. In summary, what you do is during the active growing season, you wrap a branch with sphagnum moss or potting soil, then in plastic or a water bottle, and then aluminum foil around that. Make sure it stays moist. After a month or two you should have roots. Then you cut it off and you have a pretty strong tree pretty quickly.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 9:51AM
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I don't have access to his tree but I like the idea of air layering for another project. I have a large mulberry tree that I'd like to get a cutting from. I'll try air layering that and see what happens.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 8:01PM
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