The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Fig cutting failure

Molding cuttingsWell, I now know two methods of rooting fig cuttings that definitely don't work for me --- in a ziplock bag on top of a heat pad and in a pot of soil on top of a heat pad.  The fungal growth is pretty impressive, but the cuttings are obviously dead.

Actually, I suspect the problem started even before I began trying to root the cuttings.  I had to cut the young wood before it was 100% dormant because a hard freeze was coming and I needed to wrap up the tree.  Perhaps the branches were too high in sugars (thus the fungal growth) since they weren't fully asleep yet?

All is not lost.  Three little sprouts rooted the easy way, right at the feet of the parent plant, and I have two in my garden and one in Mom's garden waiting for spring.  Since there really is a limit to how much space I have for fig trees, I suspect this propagation method will do the trick.  I'd still like to learn to root cuttings just for geekiness sake, but I'm not too heartbroken over this round of failures.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Hi Anna,

Considering that many (all?) animal and human diseases are 'cured' by adding deficient minerals and other substances to their diet, I wonder if adding the 'right' mineral mix to your soil might cure the transplant problem?

Maybe try a range of various mixes and additives like granite dust ,seawater, animal manure, etc. in different pots to see what works and what doesn't.

For an interesting read about really improving plant health, see Julius Hensel's "Bread from stones".


Comment by john Thu Jan 10 10:39:09 2013

John --- While I agree that minerals in the soil are very important, I doubt they're the issue this time around. The fig cuttings didn't put out any roots at all, so the only way soil minerals could have affected rooting would be if the parent tree were deficient, not if my potting soil was deficient.

(I suspect you'll love next week's lunchtime series, though, because I'm going to talk about soil analysis in great, great depth. :-) )

Comment by anna Thu Jan 10 12:01:10 2013

Hi Anna,

It WILL be a very interesting and important discussion.

Different soil consultants recommend different quantities of the various minerals in their ideal soil. The most informed will follow the minerals into the plants and on into the animals. And will probably be into hair trace mineral analysis of their animals and humans.

For example iodine, the cancer mineral, passes through plants without modifying their growth. So you can't tell what is in a given plant unless you have the plant measured. There is one iodine accumulator plant family. Brown seaweed - kelp and kombu.

I suspect this is why 'seaweed' is a popular soil addition. Plants so fertilized make people feel better :).

If you look at germanium and the lanthanide series elements you will find some of the more informed consultants talking about them.

Do look at bread from stones if you haven't. I got it free from Steve Solomon's internet library.

Lots of fun :).


Comment by john Thu Jan 10 14:59:26 2013
I have never tried to root a fig cutting. My tree puts up suckers from the roots throughout the growing season. I have dug several up for friends who wanted a tree of their own but usually chop the suckers down. I'm assuming the variety you have doesn't do that since you're trying to root cuttings. I live in zone 7 (forget if I'm 7a or 7b - clt, nc) and have no issues with hardiness but I'm uncertain what variety my tree is. I have had really good success rooting pomegranite cuttings in water. Have you tried that method with your figs?
Comment by Ed Thu Jan 10 19:34:37 2013
Ed --- Rooting in water tends to work for softwood cuttings, not hardwood cuttings. But I may try that this summer to see if it does a better job --- this method clearly isn't working... :-)
Comment by anna Fri Jan 11 11:49:22 2013
Wow that is a lot of fungal growth! Our cuttings are just in a pot in the green house (kept at about 40F) with no bottom heat. About a month ago I thought I saw the beginning of some fuzzy mold so I removed the zip loc bag. I have not seen any fungal growth on ours as of yesterday, but I still don't know if they have successfully rooted either though.
Comment by Brian Fri Jan 11 16:43:58 2013
I haven't tried rooting cuttings, but I have had success with layering the low hanging limbs. I took a more determined approach this fall and actually cut the bark on a few branches and placed a brick on top to maintain ground contact. I'm hoping this will yield four or five new plants this spring.
Comment by Jeremy Mon Jan 14 08:23:15 2013

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