Saturday, January 17, 2015

Fig Cuttings. 1.17.15

Celeste Fig Cuttings.  1.11.15

Celeste Fig Cutting.  1.11.15

Celeste Fig Cutting.  1.11.15
 This is a progress note on fig cuttings.

I started the Celeste and LSU Gold, about the first of Jan.  The photos for those were taken on about 1.11.15.

The Lattarula I started a few days later.

This is how I like to start fig trees.  It is more involved than necessary.  This approach appeals to me, because I like to observe every little growth along the way.  I think they grow faster this way.  I think I get a head start of a year in growth, overall, by starting them now.  Some fig hobbyists complain about gnats and mold.  I have never had those problems with this method.  On the other hand, I have also stuck many fig sticks into the garden soil, and had them take and grow, with no effort or coddling at all. 

1.  I like to start with fig sticks a little thicker than a pencil, and about that long.  Smaller or thicker will work, but this size seems to have the most vigor.  Thicker cuttings may not have buds for top growth.  Thinner cuttings may not have the stored carbohydrates to nourish root growth prior to leaf growth.

2.  I cut off the top.  They can grow with the apical bud, but my observations lead me to think, the apical bud is a little inhibitory on root initiation.  So I cut the top.  It's my habit to cut the top at an angle, and the bottom flat across.  Most hobbyists do that, so it's easy to tell the top from the bottom.

3.  I like to clean the cuttings  by scrubbing lightly, with a plastic vegetable brush, with some dish detergent, in running water.  That removes most of the likely mold and mildew spores.

4.  I use a sharp knife to make a vertical incision through the bark, into the wood, on the lower end of the cutting.  The incision exposes the cambium layer, which is sort of stem cell tissue for root formation.  I've grown many cuttings without incising them, but I find the roots often form from that tissue, faster than from the sides of the stem.  They also sometimes form from the cambium at the cut base, and lenticels along the sides of the cutting..

5.  I use dip-and-grow rooting hormone, at a 5:1 dilution, for a few seconds.  Again, this is not necessary.  I did not use rooting hormone for my first few years of starting figs.  Many writers state it is not necessary.  But, the cuttings I dip, root faster than the ones I don't dip.

6.  I wrap the cutting in wet paper towel.  The paper towels are almost-dripping wet or barely dripping wet.

7.  Then into plastic bags.  I blow in a little air, and close with a zip tie.

8.  I use a seed starting mat.  Other options for warming are top of refridgerator, or other warm place.  On the other hand, I've left cuttings on a bookshelf and they grew.  Just takes a bit longer.

8.  Every couple of days, I open the bag, inspect the cuttings, rinse under running water.  If any mildew is forming on the paper towel, I discard it and replace with new, wet paper towel. 
LSU Gold Fig Cutting.  1.11.15

9.  When roots begin to grow, about 1/4 inch to 1 inch long, I carefully plant them in a flower pot or plastic container, in wettened seed starting medium.  I put them into plastic bag again, and back onto the seed starting mat.

10.  Once the leaves are bigger than a quarter, I usually take them out of the bags.  By that point, they can usually get by without the humid bag.

For cuttings in the garden, I just stick the fig sticks into the ground, preferably in a somewhat sheltered spot.  I had some that i thought were dead, and used them as row markers for vegetable seeds, and they grew.   The first year plants were very small, but in the second year they took off and grew nicely.

This year, I'm not starting many.  They are mainly for gifts.  I forgot to incise and dip the Lattarula cuttings, so they are growing without that boost.  Lattarula is usually so vigorous, it should do fine with no special effort.

Lattarula Fig Cutting.  1.17.15
Wrapped Fig Cutting.  1.17.15

Fig Cuttings in Bags.  1.17.15


  1. Thank you, Thank you! for the fig tutorial. Too bad I didn't see that before I got the cuttings from the scion exchange. I want to email you about what I got from the event. I was a little late getting to the fig table and by end of the 2nd hrs most figs are gone. I'm only interested in the paler color variety because it doesn't need much heat to ripe. I think Italian 376 is the most interesting variety but I only have the last piece about only 3 in long tip cutting. Here is the loot: Negronne, Snowden, Longue D'aout, Jurupa, Flander, Deanna, MAryland, Conadia, Beall, Excel, Janice Seedless Kodata. In the grafting class, I did pick up some good tips like its best to get scions as dormant as you can and the rootstock as close to new growth as possible. So my cherry failture have to be in the timing not my technique. The people are really nice coming from all over the state. I did snatch up Calvile Blanc De l'hiver, Court pandu plate apple scions. Only Asian pear is Shinseiki,but many many plums. I got a lot of grafting ahead of me. Here is the sock technique which I don't recommand:
    The figs:
    The people:
    Bags on the table:
    I wish you were here; I think you'll be as excited as we are with a bunch of liked-mined people.

  2. Lance, that does sound awesome. I would love that.

    You got some good fig varieties. The best part is they are local, so I'm sure well adapted to your area.

  3. Wow, I would be like a kid in a candy store there!

    Shinseiki does well here. I like the flavor. We had too many, so sliced them thin and dried in a dehydrator. Those taste really good. Chewy with a burst of sweetness. My Asian pears are all multigrafts of unknown, Shinseiki, Hosui, Hamese, and Mishirasu. Plus some Euro pears, which I read don't do well on Asian pear understock, but mine took and grew vigorously. The multigraft gives lots of choices in a small space, and is highly effective at self pollenizing because different varieties are intermingled..

    I don't quite understand the sock technique. Maybe it keeps out the California sun? We don't have that much sun here.

    That tip sounds about right to me. Apples and pears are really forgiving about novice grafters and errors. Stone fruits are more picky. I read persimmons are really hard to graft, and it is best to refrigerate the dormant scions, then graft them onto wood that has already begun to grown.

    Sounds like an incredible get together. Really great! Great photos, too!

  4. She explains the sock is to protect it from the wind and sun; it adds warmth in cold spells. She also recommends clear plastic wraps around the entire scion if you don't have a sock. I think its just too much messing around. The sock is too heavy on a thin and fragile joint. She said a black sock won't work because it traps too much heat. I don't think the scion likes too much darkness even with a white sock its too dark.
    The plum people are generous there was a lot to look at but I was just don't know what and where to start. Just too tempting not to pick up a few: Sierra, Formosa,Bubble Gum. The pear and apple scions did took so much better last yr. This yr will start on plum, first time ever with Asian pear and persimmons. I do like to eat pears more then plums. Dry pears is a great idea, maybe I'll make preserves if I get any extras.
    I like your clear instruction on figs. I made the mistake of cutting the bottom too angulated thinking that it will have more surface for water intake, but those were the worse batch; most didn't take. So I change the angulation to more flat and it all went well. Yes, too much hormone is harmful to the cut end. I put as little as possible. I agree totally that the cutting needs to be close to a pencil thickness.

  5. That explains the sock. Some people use aluminum foil. Here neither seems needed. I do seal all cut surfaces. I also use polyethylene wrap for the graft itself. This year might use parafilm.

    Of your plums I have Toka which is Bubblegum. Interspecies hybrid if not intergeneric, has some kind of apricot in its parentage. Much hardier than the Zaiger ones like aprium. Very tasty. Reportedly an excellent pollenizer for American, Euro, snd Asian plums.

    The flat bottom on fig cuttings helps identify which end is the bottom. You already know so you dont need that. You might be doing them a favor with the slanted cut. More exposed cambium, so they can form more "stem cell" to make roots. I dont think you hurt them at all.

  6. I love all your posts about figs. I'm live in Renton and am trying to myself to grow various fig cultivars. Your blog is great to learn from. I also have a number of varieties that I'm testing to see if they will live outdoors in our weather. You can check them out here.

    Thanks again and please keep up with the blog!