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Lessons learned from fig rooting failures

Soaking in rooting hormone

Willow rooting hormoneI felt much better about my two previous fig-rooting failures when the experts explained that rooting anything is dependent on a dozen different conditions, so you can think you're doing the same thing and get completely different results from different batches.  Nevertheless, I'm also pretty sure I did several things wrong in my previous fig-rooting experiments, so I'm hopeful I'll see success in round three.

First of all, I didn't use rooting hormones previously, and figs are supposed to be one of the plants that do well with the chemical nudge.  While it would be easy to buy the exact rooting hormone recommended for figs (1,000 ppm IBA in a 5 second dip), I wanted to test out my willow rooting hormone.  So I soaked half my figs in water and half in willow tea the day before potting them up.

Pouring stump dirt

I'm pretty sure my stump dirt is just fine as a rooting medium, so I'm repeating that part of Molded cuttingsthe procedure.  However, I think I was actually keeping things too damp and hot previously, thus the overwhelming fungal growth

The step where someone recommended wrapping the cuttings in wet newspapers and sealing them inside a ziplock bag also appears to have flaws.  My new understanding is that this procedure was meant to callous the cut tissue, but that would have happened better without the damp paper towels.  Rather than modifying it, I decided to completely skip the callousing step this time around.

Fig hardwood cuttings

I'm also opting to leave off the humidity dome (aka plastic bag) I'd previously put over top of my pots.  While necessary for softwood cuttings (if you don't have a misting setup), holding in too much moisture can actually be a bad idea with hardwood cuttings.

Potting fig cuttings

So fig rooting experiment 3 is going to be ultra simple.  I snipped the terminal buds off any cuttings that had them, cut the bottoms of all the cuttings to expose fresh tissue (since they'd been sent through the mail), and pushed them most of the way into a pot of stump dirt.  I put four pots partially on a heating pad on low, and will water them if the soil seems to be drying up.

Labelling a pot

I now know that an absence of leaves is good news early on.  You want the cuttings to be putting all of their energy into root growth, so I won't worry if the twigs don't leaf out for several weeks.  That's also why too much heat is a bad thing --- it can tempt the plants to use up fleeting carbohydrates above ground before they have enough roots to become active.  Our house is pretty cool in the winter, though, so I figure a heating pad on low will help rather than hurt.

Gooseberry cuttings

Now it's just a matter of waiting and hoping.  Maybe three will be the charm?  (By the way, Brian also gave me a few Hinnonomuki Red Gooseberry cuttings, which I'm treating the same way.  Thanks so much for the excellent scionwood, Brian!)

Our chicken waterer makes care of the backyard flock clean, easy, and fun.


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