Greetings To All,
I've been a member since 12/8/15, started to try and root cuttings on 11/5/15. My first introduction into adding figs to my summer gardening and planting hobby began a few months earlier when I bought some locally grown figs from a fellow member I meet through craigslist. Through our discussions and his guidance, I decided to enter into propagation in order to take away some cabin fever I develop over the winter months. My first attempts at rooting were using the damp moss technique back in October. I cut off about a half dozen cuttings from my potted figs (Brown Turkey, Black Mission and Bensonhurst - 2 each). Over the course of 2 to 3 weeks, they all rotted. Starting on 11/5/15 I placed 15 cuttings in clear plastic cups using a 50/50 mixture of vermiculite and perlite. Eight rooted and seven rotted. I potted the eight but because they rooted so early, it is a huge question what if any have survived a basement confinement even though I tried to do all the right things with lights and all, but that's another story. Starting 11/23/15 through 11/30/15 I cupped 50 more cuttings but this time used ProMix as a rooting medium. This time I had 31 root and the rest rotted. Again, I question how many will survived the winter basement confinement.
Both times I analyzed what went wrong and what changes needed to be made. I talked some more to my local contact and a great piece of advice was to join this forum. I have to say, this has been the biggest help in getting me get up to speed. So I read the threads carefully to see what was tried, what did not work and what had good results. After another month and getting through the holidays, I had gathered another 85 cuttings. Most were low cost Ebay specials of mostly unknown varieties. My goal was to figure out rooting techniques, not necessarily acquiring specific varieties and especially not anything rare. Until my skill set at rooting gets better and by a lot, it would be foolish to waste money as a gamble. Out of the 85, over 50 rooted and have been potted. Most of them are flourishing strongly which was due to uncovering them from their storage containers for several hours each day. The one thing I did this time was to un-cup any cutting that did not show roots in 2 weeks after cupping. I cleaned the cuttings, inspected them and re cupped in new and less moist soil. I think that helped a lot although the information I gained from inspecting gave me a huge insight to what was happening and to see if rotting was a big issue; which in a lot of cases, still was. This was going to be my last cutting group for this winter but the failure rate just gnawed at me. In this forum I finally came across Mai's article on the plastic bagging technique. A lot of things I learned from my failures, posts on this forum and especially Mai's take on her rooting method made a light bulb go off in my head.
I believe the reason for so many failures and especially rotting failures came from three specific things: humidity too high, temperature too high and medium too wet; everything rot loves. I believe Mai's method will address all those issues. On 3/4/15 I took the 45 new cuttings a received over the prior month and did the plastic bag method. This time I made the potting medium just damp enough that one could tell it was not dry. Compared to how moist I had my medium before, I would have considered this medium dry, but it isn't. Although I did place the bags in a covered container, this time NO heat mats were used. Another thing I like about this method was the saving of space and potting medium. I can easily place ALL 45 bags in one storage container whereas before, with cups, only 19 could be placed in the storage container. The clear plastic cover has a small 2" computer fan mounted on top that runs every 4 hours for 15 minutes to keep air flowing and humidity down. The DC voltage has been lowered to keep the rpm down. I have a wireless temperature/humidity unit in the container so I can constantly monitor the numbers. The humidity hovers between 50% to 80% depending on the fan running, whereas it was not uncommon to hit 100%, the temperature hangs round 68 to 73 degrees whereas it use to be around 80 to 85 degrees and the moisture in the form of dew or water droplets is virtually non-existent. Roots and I mean strong roots have form on 2 cuttings so far. This is far less than before but that was expected since I have reduced humidity and temperature. This is fine as long as rotting is eliminated and besides, time is not a priority. A day ago I took half the cuttings out of their bags (I know that is a no-no, but I had to see for myself) to inspect them. The main thing I was checking for was rot development. I am very happy to say there was NONE. Nubs were forming but no roots so far. I will now leave them alone. I am writing this at this time because I have a very high degree of confidence that everything is going great and according to plan. One final thing, no rooting hormone was used. I have not seen any difference using it in my previous tests.
This is my first post and I know I’m a newbee to this figs thing but I find them so fascinating. Then I was treated to a right off the tree ripe fig and I was hooked. WOW! What a flavor treat, and I thought Fig Newtons were good. Anyway, I, in no way, am making a point that this is what anyone should follow. I post this as information only and anyone can take what he or she wants out of it or not. I only hope that it may give some insight and helpfulness to someone. I certainly want to thank everyone on this forum as I have found so much helpful information from everyone posting. There is no doubt my skill set increased greatly because of all of you. Thank you.