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  • Cutting Storage?

    I have just discovered that something went horribly wrong with some of my cuttings that were stored in the fridge over winter.
    I did not see a hint of mold on any cuttings until they were placed into plastic shoeboxes with sphagnum.
    Somewhere around November 15 last year I began taking cuttings from my inground trees before wrapping them.
    After cutting them I dipped just the ends into candle wax and into freezer bags they went. Each labeled freezer bag was then placed into another freezer bag containing a wrung out damp papertowel. I thought this would stop dehydration over winter. When I opened the bags about a month ago nothing looked strange about them. There was a small amount of condensation on inside of the bag containing the cuttings, but I did not think anything of it. All bags were stored in the vegetable crisper with the fridge temp. set right in the middle. I don't have a clue what went wrong as some of the varieties I had stored are thriving and some have fallen to mold. Surely I should be able too keep these cutting viable through such a short storage period, some people say they keep them in the fridge up to a year. Any ideas what I did wrong? I would like to hear what methods of storage others are using as well.

  • #2
    Possibly some of the cuttings were 'green' cuttings which do not store as well. I received some cuttings with green bark in the early winter and stored them sealed in plastic with NO water in the fridge until after Christmas due to some time constraints (stored for about 5 weeks). Several of them did not make it - they molded as soon as I put them in damp perlite. I lost both cuttings of 3 different varieties, but several others which looked more 'woody' but were received at the same time and stored the same way did fine
    SW PA zone 6a


    • #3
      Dan (CajunChem on the web and formerly other fig forums) claims that any direct contact with water while the cuttings are stored can lead to rotting, but that condensation of the moisture expired by the cuttings themselves is especially bad. The claim (and I am paraphrasing) is that the condensation is essentially distilled water and is more reactive than other water (e.g. if they were put away wet.)
      This winter I have followed his approach of first letting the cuttings cool down in the fridge first, giving off some moisture as the do. The briefly take them out and quickly wrap them in plastic wrap -- then put the wrapped cuttings in a freezer bag with the damp paper towels. The theory is that the cooled cuttings will then NOT expire water vapor that condenses, but the damp paper towel will still keep things at a relatively high humidity level.
      Last year I stored my cuttings with a bit of shredded, dried sphag moss. It seemed to soak up and distribute any water droplets so that they weren't in direct contact with the cuttings. It seemed to work reasonably well. (I had some cuttings that eventually rotted, but I can't point to the storage as the culprit.)
      Jim -- Central NJ, Zone 6b


      • #4
        I have had good luck tightly wrapping my cuttings in plastic wrap, then placing in a zip lock bag. The tighter the wrapping, the less prone to moisture buildup.
        Frank ~ zone 7a VA


        • #5
          The condesation from the cuttings themselves will cause mold in storage as will any added moisture.
          Thats why I seal the ends with wax and add a few tablespoons of Long Fibered Sphagnum moss inside the 1 gallon freezer bags to absorb any condensation. With this procedure I've been able to keep cuttings viable for over a year and have had almost no mold.
          Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b


          • eboone
            eboone commented
            Editing a comment
            Pete, then you are not using plastic wrap around each individual cutting?

          • AscPete
            AscPete commented
            Editing a comment
            No. I do not use plastic wrap in longterm storage. They are placed in Freezer bags with the LFS moss.

        • #6
          Thanks for the responses. Next year I will experiment a little and try a few diffrent methods.
          Today I got thinking maybe putting them inthe fridge at room temp. may have caused them to perspire while adjusting to colder temps.
          Come fall I will give them a few hours in the fridge to adjust temp. before storage.
          Thanks for the tip.
          I will also try some with the sphagnum as well. That stuff really drinks it up. I think it will help alot.

          I might try some in coir as well.
          Just a pinch or two.

          Thanks again,


          • #7
            Is everyone still using this method? What has worked for everyone so far??
            Robert - HZ7B


            • eboone
              eboone commented
              Editing a comment
              What Pete said above worked well for me for bulk storage last 2 seasons

          • #8
            What sort of wax is used for sealing the ends? Paraffin wax? Candle wax?
            I just picked up 100+ cuttings from different trees and would hate for them to be damaged in any way. I am using the wrung out paper towel method but maybe I should change the approach.

            Is it necessary to use bleach or peroxide to clean the cuttings beforehand if I was interested in maximum storage life?



            • #9
              I use "Gulf Wax". It is a household paraffin wax.
              Bill - Long Island, NY 7a
              Wish List: Glacia Negra and any fig from Bari.


              • #10
                For the record the best way is to simply NOT store them at all. They can be stored but even if done perfectly every day in storage does reduce the chance they will root. It is why I no longer store away ANY cuttings as I want the people that buy them to have the best chance. When I use to store them away some people told me they did great and other people had issues. Due to how they are rooted and stored by the person who bought them before they put them in to root it is hard to know where the problem came from. Last year I decided to take cuttings only when ordered and shipping them the same day the feedback from customers has been great. So when the person would buy them from me on eBay or whatever and the auction closed they were still on the trees then cut, wrapped and mailed same day. For me it is a lot more work this way but is the only way I will do it now. If you want cuttings to start in December make sure the seller cuts them in December.

                I remember last year on eBay there was a pretty well known seller listing a LOT of cuttings but if you looked at the pictures of the cuttings close you could see that the chance they would root were just about zero. Tell tale signs are if there is any wrinkled looking bark near the ends.
                Cutting sales will start Tuesday Nov 1 at 9:00 eastern


                • ramv
                  ramv commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Thanks Wills. I will certainly keep this in mind. But right now I already have cuttings that I don't want to root until Jan/Feb due to lack of space.
                  In my experience what you are saying makes perfect sense. I got 100% success with fresh cuttings but much less with old ones.

              • #11
                Hi all,

                This is how I prevent molds in all my fruit tree scions or fig cuttings. I take a tooth brush and brushed all the cuttings with 1/5 bleach/water solution. I then air dried them and wrapped each one individually with para film (the stretchy film that you an buy on Ebay, they came in a roll). You can keep your scions or cuttings for months with worrying about drying out or molds. One time I forget that I still have some scions woods left in my refrigerator that were collected in late February, I unwrapped them in the middle of August and they were still green in good grafting condition.

                Last edited by Tonyomahaz5; 10-06-2017, 09:27 AM.


                • #12
                  I got a bunch of branches off a neighbors unk variety in early December last year and simply cut them down to 3-4 node pieces and stored them in the basement fridge (~40F) in 1 gallon ziplock bags filled with dry peat moss. The peat moss was straight from the bail just fluffed up, no water added. Well into the summer those cuttings looked great.
                  Bill - Long Island, NY 7a
                  Wish List: Glacia Negra and any fig from Bari.