Concerns with Fig Cuttings - Need some advice

chome360November 7, 2012

Hello Everyone,

I'm new to fig cuttings (or any cuttings) and I'm part way thru my first attempt. I used the bag method with 10 cuttings. I wrapped them in wet newspaper and kept warm and moist for 3.5 weeks. So far so good. All but two grew roots. Today I transferred to 18 oz clear cups in 100 percent perlite. I really wanted to do a 60/40 of permiculite/vermiculite, but after going to 5+ stores and striking out on vermiculite, I settled for only perlite. I found that others have done the same with success. I have the cups in a tupperware bin and am hoping to keep the temp above 70 F and the humidity at 80%+. What I'm hoping for some help with is the following questions.

1. 2 fo the 8 cuttings that I transferred to cups and permiculite had a very small amount of mold on one spot. I gave it a good wiping with a damp paper towel and continued. Is that okay or should I be throwing them out? Or seperating from the others?

2. How much should I be watering these since they are 100 percent perlite? I know the key is to keep them moist, but with all perlite they seemed to just drained 100% with little to no retention.

3. Do they need any sunlight at this point? I don't have them near a window.

Thank you in advance! A pic is below.

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

80% for a first try is awesome ..

but that was the easy part ... lol ...

i would have gotten rid of the ones with mold or mildew.. etc.. i mean really.. will you need 8 by the time you are done. . lol.. fear success .. lol ...

NEVER put a closed container in full sun ... unless you want to cook them .. as close as possible to max light.. but never.. sun in a plastic box ...

you dont mention if you cut drainage holes in the cups .... so its hard to discuss watering ... in a closed container.. it ought to go rain forest on your rather quickly .. high humidity negates a lot of water in the root area ... hard to quantify it all ...

i would leave them on the floor in the middle of the living room.. but if that makes you happy.. wonderful ... lol ...

soooo whats your plan when all 8 are one foot tall ... or will you be able to get them outside fast enough in WA ...

there is a fruit forum.. you might find experts over there.. with more specificity ... but we like you here.. so wherever ...

ken

ps: did you sterilize the plastic bin.. washing in 10% bleach ... prior to stuffin your babes in there???

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 7:52AM
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chome360

Hi Ken,

Thank you for the info! I must have gotten lucky with the 80%. They seemed to be doing nothing for the first 3 weeks then the roots came fast over the course of just 4 or 5 days. These clippings are from my mother's tree that I "think" is a desert king. My plan was to take the cuttings in Dec/Jan (which I still will), but she showed up at my house with a bunch of pruned branches after mentioning to her so I thought I'd give it a go early. My understanding is this is not the optimal time of year to do it, but so far so good.

I wanted to put pencil sized holes in the cups, but i didn't have a drill bit big enough handy. Had to use a small drill bit and make more holes. About 10 along the sides and 10 on the bottom. Next run I'll definitely make bigger holes.

My plan was to keep them inside over the winter and put them outside in the spring. Do you think that's the best move?

I didn't think to disinfect the bin, I just used hot water. Its was new, but you're right, that doesn't make it safe.

Thanks again for the tips and advice!

-Chris

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 12:18PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

I wanted to put pencil sized holes in the cups, but i didn't have a drill bit big enough handy.

==>> i have tried.. you cant drill them..

use a new razor .. and slice the bottom edge ... two or 3 places around ...

always think operating room sanitary.. when trying this stuff.. it never hurts to start clean..

in fact.. see link.. i even nuked my perlite once ... since the open bag had been in the barn for 10 years ...

and i would have washed the cups.. any tools used.. etc .... i mean EVERYTHING .....

i dont know what will work.. or not.. you simply experiment .. and learn ...

air movement will become a problem.. sooner or later ....

good luck

ken

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 1:52PM
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chome360

Yes, I tried a big drill bit but it just destroyed the cup. I'll try your razor suggestion when I do my next batch late Dec.

For airflow, the lid to the plastic in doesn't close tight, so that provides "some" flow. I'm opening the lid once a day to let fresh air in, just to be safe.

Thanks for the info Ken!

-Chris

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 9:35PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

air flow

when they leaf out ... leaves need air flow.. or they tend to rot.. in near tropical conditions inside a sealed box ... which is what you have.. no matter what you call it ... it is a HUMIDITY CHAMBER ... not really a GROWING chamber.. if you want to put some words on it ...

by the time they leaf.. they will be needing light ...

and probably.. by that time.. will need to be in a good potting media ... of which.. sterilize it ... and fertilizing will become a variable ...

and most likely.. by that time.. will need to be under supplemental light .. for about 16 hours per day ...

now listen.. i dont know a darn thing about figs.. i am just laying out the variables that i see you needing to address in terms of rooting things indoors ...

at some point.. you should probably take this to the fruit forum.. in the hopes of finding a fig expert ...

what i found.. in summation your honor ... as that the most important variable is TIMING ... i like that you are already thinking along the lines of sacrificing these to the pagan tree gods.. and starting another batch.. in doing so.. you are raising your learning curve with every attempt .. but try to figure out.. how you can get them to leaf a few weeks prior to when they can go outdoors.. so you have fresh healthy young stock .. in the appropriate season ... [and it will be tricky to take them outdoors. and they will need to be tempered to outside temps and light conditions.. another variable .. lol]

good luck

ken

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 8:25AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

There is a fig forum... Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 3:03PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

To make holes in plastic cups I use a red hot metal skewer which I have heated on a gas flame. An old screwdriver will also do. Make sure the room is well ventilated and hold the skewer in an oven glove.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 8:23AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

Make sure the room is well ventilated and hold the skewer in an oven glove.

==>> that new razorblade.. is sounding better and better.. lol ..

fig forum.. crimminey.. what do they not have a forum for.. lol .. of course.. many of the forums are not very active.. and that is when its nice to have other forum options ...

ken

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 10:58AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Figs are one of the easiest trees to grow from cuttings. If I simply stick my prunings in a container in the shade, they will grow roots and foliage in the spring when the tree leafs out. With no hormone or heat, just our normal fluctuating winter temperatures and rain I will get better than 50%. Al

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 1:33PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

When there is a matching genus-specific forum that's fairly active (like the Hosta forum,) I think it merits mention. Figs have a huge following.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 4:00PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

1. 2 of the 8 cuttings that I transferred to cups and vermiculite had a very small amount of mold on one spot. I gave it a good wiping with a damp paper towel and continued. Is that ok or should I be throwing them out? Or separating from the others? You did fine, choosing only perlite to root in. Vermiculite is too water-retentive for my taste. I'd have dipped the cuttings for a minute or so in a 10% solution of unscented household bleach or a 10% solution of 3% H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide) to eliminate mold concerns. As Al noted, F carica is a very genetically vigorous plant and very easy to root, as woody plants go.

2. How much should I be watering these since they are 100 percent perlite? I know the key is to keep them moist, but with all perlite they seemed to just drained 100% with little to no retention. Plants most effectively absorb moisture from the microscopically thin film of water on the surface of soil particles, and from water vapor trapped in soil pores, so you want your rooting medium to be damp - not wet ..... and you NEVER want your cutting stuck so deep that it is below the upper limit of any perched water your medium supports. Cuttings need gas exchange, too. You might consider screening & rinsing your perlite, and employing a wick at the bottom of your container. Damp, not wet or soggy is what you're striving for, and 80% humidity with some air movement is a worthy goal.

3. Do they need any sunlight at this point? I don't have them near a window. Technically, they don't need light to root, but the cutting WILL be able to carry on some degree of photosynthesis in the green stem tissues, which will contribute food to what is already stored in cambial tissues. Also, it's best to have any foliage that emerges preconditioned to the photo-intensity that will be the norm for the cuttings.

I wouldn't have planned my adventure around the idea I was going to maintain these cuttings indoors for the winter. I'd have timed it so they struck at or just after last frost, so they could go outdoors. Root temps of 65-70* with air temps about 10* cooler are ideal for figs, and eliminate the bottom heat as soon as they strike.

If I take fall cuttings, I bury them upside down to callus until figs/mulberry starts to leaf out in the landscape, then I dig them up and pot or plant. I get near 100% success every time, and don't have to fuss with them and watch them decline over the winter.

There's soo much more that COULD be said ...... Any questions?

Al

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 1:53PM
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chome360

Thanks for the great info Al!

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 3:51PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

That's an interesting method to hold dormant cuttings over winter Al. I may have to give that a try just for the hell of it.

I always take my cuttings in the spring when the figs start to leaf out. Plus, figs throw out so many root suckers that need to be eliminated I prefer to just get some of those with some roots on it and it's ready to go.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 7:41PM
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