Monday, August 26, 2013

A New Twist: Fig Tree Propagation Update Six

Changes are happening this week (some good, some maybe bad?), and it's nice to be able to report on it after a quiet past few weeks.
For cutting #1, in the left window of our living room, not much of a change in the root nubs...
...but something weird is happening with the leaves. They're curling a bit, and I'm not sure why. Maybe the leaves are suffering because the root system hasn't kicked in yet? Definitely something to keep an eye on.
As for cutting #2, we're still looking good! The one root that has sprouted continues to grow, with an increase in length of the main root and more tiny side root shoots coming off of the main one. I think we're still a few weeks away from potting this one.
As for the leaves of cutting #2, the branch coming out of the top third of the cutting continues to grow, but the leaves further down under the water line by the roots are about the same size as last week.
Cutting #3, located in the right window of our living room, is being potted today. This is new and exciting for me because this will be the first time that I'm potting a fig cutting from water. Every other time that I've propagated figs has been directly into soil, prior to the growth of roots. I'm a little nervous that I may hurt the roots when potting it, since there are SO many roots (as can be seen in the picture above), but hey, there's a first for everything, right?
As for the leaves on Cutting #3, the leaves look a little bigger than last week, but growth has definitely slowed from previous weeks. Also the leaves have yellowed slightly (difficult to tell in the picture), so I think that potting it now is a good idea!
Cutting #4, in the same 1 liter Le Parfait jar as Cutting #3, is also being potted today. I never got around to getting my dreamboat fabrique en France indoor ceramic pots (not yet at least, maybe for Cutting #1), so terra cotta it is. I wasn't going to pot the two of these cuttings at the same time, but it's time. The roots of the two of these cuttings consume so much of the jar, that I don't want to hurt them by leaving them in the jar any longer. So into soil they go.
As with Cutting #3, the leaves on Cutting #4 are also a little larger, but the growth appears to have slowed in the same way. The leaves of Cutting #4 have yellowed a bit as well.
{Root systems of Cuttings #3 & #4}
As for Cutting #5, still nothing new to report. The root nubs are looking the same, maybe a little bigger, it's debatable... are the leaves. This cutting appeared to be much at the same stage of growth as Cutting #1, until this week. No curling of the leaves in this cutting, not yet at least. I'm curious to see if these leaves begin to curl in the same manner as Cutting #1. We shall see... Also there appears to be a new bud opening a little lower down the cutting from the leaves. Again we'll have to see.
At this point, after being involved with these cuttings for 6 weeks, I'd say that when comparing propagating fig cuttings in soil vs. propagating fig cuttings in water, I prefer to propagate them in soil. It is a little more work in the beginning, as you need to have a pot and soil to work with (sounds easy but sometimes you'd be surprised), but once they're in the pot, they're in there, and you don't need to worry about potting it once roots have developed. I've never had a fig cutting not root in soil, but as can seen with the above pictures, we're still waiting on roots for 2 out of 5 attempted cuttings in water. I also don't know what shock potting the current cuttings with roots in soil is going to cause. The less you need to mess with transplanting early in the cuttings life, I say the better.
Remember that Control Cutting? The one I potted the typical way I propagate figs (in soil), to test the methods side by side? Well, this is it, after six weeks. The other good thing about propagating directly in soil is that once this one began to show signs of life (i.e. growth of leaves), I put it outside, and it was able to not only get more and better sun, but was able to get knocked around in a little bit of wind and (very) little rain. Yes, it has taken more work than the cuttings in water, but I think this little tree is pretty strong now, as the few thunderstorms we've had have been pretty heavy duty.
{New bud forming near the base of the Control Cutting}
However, I do feel that there is an exception to this rule. Propagating a cutting in soil requires some constant care. I like the soil to be constantly moist (not soaked though), which means you need to physically be there to water it, or have someone whom you trust with your cutting to do so. I firmly believe that no one knows your plants better than you do, so a change like that can cause problems when trying to root a cutting in soil. Difference in watering style (both in frequency and quantity) can make all the difference at this point of the growing process. However, I would feel much more confident asking someone to care for a cutting in water and saying "fill the water to {here} when it starts to evaporate, and don't move it from the window." And I don't mean if you're going to just be away for a weekend, more like if you're going away for a few weeks. One could argue that maybe you shouldn't try to propagate a fig cutting before going away, but sometimes you're lucky enough to come across cuttings at inopportune times. So for those moments, I think this method would be a great alternative to doing a rain dance before leaving for a trip.  
Phew, ok, long update. How you doing? Thanks for hanging in there. I'm off to pot Cuttings #3 and #4, wish me luck that I don't completely hurt all of the roots!
Check back here next Monday for my week 7 update!
Confused with what's going on here? Want to review past week updates? Here's some links for you then!
A la prochaine friends...

1 comment:

  1. it's growing. you should never leave plants with me. i tend to kill them, as i almost always forget to water them. eeek.