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  • My rooting method

    I've posted this over my blog too, but I wanted to share how I've been rooting this winter.

    Some people start cuttings in baggies with damp paper towels or sphagnum moss. Some start them in pure perlite or coco coir. Some people use humidity bins kept at certain temperatures. Some people use cloners. There is every combination of every medium and process.

    Here's my problem with those methods: I'm lazy and cheap. I want the shortest number of steps and fewest inputs needed to get decent results. If I already have the ingredients, even better. This is my 2nd winter rooting, so when reading know that I'm far from an expert. This is just what works for me, and I'll admit it doesn't always work. I'd estimate somewhere around 50-75% success, but I'll discuss failures at the end.

    The basics that you need:
    -Potting soil (good quality, not Miracle Gro)
    -Grafting Tape

    I use potting mix blended by the company I work for. It's designed for annuals and bedding plants, very light. A seed starting mix should be comparable. I usually add a small amount of GardenTone or PlantTone to a bucketful for a little bit of fertilizer and for fungal inoculation. I've experimented with adding more perlite, pine fines, or other items to the mix. I can't say I've noticed any real differences. I think there is extra perlite and pines fines in this bucket.
    I'm finding it's best to cut the bottom to just below a node for best rooting. Today I have some Adriatic JH cuttings sent from a generous friend.

    Cuttings are then wrapped in grafting tape to about 1" below where the potting mix will be. This is to prevent dessication of the cuttings. If you've never used grafting tape before, it takes a little practice to get it stretched correctly. One layer should be fine, leaves will push right through that.

    A brief word on rooting hormones: I don't know if they help for figs. I've used it and not used it. Sometimes I think it speeds rot and sometimes I think it helps. I didn't use it for these cuttings. This is in regards to rooting powders, haven't tried other types.

    Cuttings are placed in pots (I've used from 2.5" to 1 gallon). I like the size you see because it's small enough that water is easy to control but large enough they can stay in it for a while. I've been planting 2 or 3 cuttings per pot to save on space in case 1 fails. Water well until water runs out the bottom of the pot.

    This next step is something new I'm trying and have liked the results. I put a layer of limestone screenings on the top. It acts as a mulch to reduce drying out and has prevented fungus gnats without needing Gnatrol or Mosquito Dunks. Plus, figs like lime. It does cake, so watering needs to be done more slowly.

    And don't forget to label your cuttings. Twice even, things happen.

    I've been putting cuttings in sunny windows and watering as needed. Heat mats may help, but I believe they only speed up the process and are not required. Patience is required, however.

    Now to the problems. Assuming healthy, undamaged cuttings, the biggest issue I've had is cuttings sending out shoots before they have rooted. This invariably leads to the cuttings dying, either because they use up all their stored energy or dry out. I've done some reading into what would cause this, most suspect either temperatures being too warm or too much light. I disagree with both of these, at least that they are not absolutes. I keep my cuttings in windows with little or no supplemental heat, the house is kept at 70 in the winter. So warmth is not a cause. Light may be, but I've also had plenty of cuttings under the same circumstances root perfectly then leaf out. So I have no good answers. In the future I make try a day or two soaking in water or wet sphagnum, this suggestion from AscPete recently caught my eye.

    In effort to save some desired cuttings that are doing this, I've placed baggies over them. So far they are alive, but I don't know if they are rooting. I suppose that is the benefit to using the clear plastic cups.

    In best case scenarios, you'll get success. This is Longue d'Aout. Note the small pot. I like these because they are compact but they fill with roots quickly and tend to dry easily if not monitored.

    In conclusion, there is no right way to root cuttings. I like this way and I wanted to share it. Thanks for reading!

    I must give credit where due, this rooting method is directly inspired by HarveyC and Tim Clymer: Simple Fig Propagation
    Last edited by Kelby; 01-06-2016, 09:12 AM.
    SE PA
    Zone 6

  • #2
    Thanks for sharing your procedure...
    Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b


    • #3
      Thanks and nice results


      • #4
        That is a very interesting way to root cuttings, it seems to save a lot of steps. Thank you for sharing Kelby.
        Scott - Colorado Springs, CO - Zone 4/5 (Depending on the year) - Elevation 6266ft

        “Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.” – Bill Mollison


        • #5
          I have used this method as well this year, direct potting cuttings wrapped with parafilm on the upper half. I'm potting into clear plastic grow sleeves that are around a quart capacity, and using pro-mix hp as my medium. I've found it to be a simple and effective method which limits the amount of handling the young plant receives. I would estimate my success rate at around 80-90% with this method so far.
          Jesse in western Maine, zone 4/5
          Wishlist- earliest maincrop varieties


          • #6
            Kelby, what's the name of the potting mix your company makes? Did you buy stock before posting this :- )
            Bob C.
            Kansas City, MO Z6


            • Kelby
              Kelby commented
              Editing a comment
              Haha, it's just sold in our 3 stores here in PA. Nothing too fancy.

            • Harborseal
              Harborseal commented
              Editing a comment
              What are the ingredients?

            • Kelby
              Kelby commented
              Editing a comment
              Just a standard peat, perlite, and pine fines blend. Mostly peat, though.

          • #7
            Thanks, Kelby. Looks good. I may have to take a trip to Esbenshade's and pick up some of that mix.
            Last edited by Bigbill; 02-18-2015, 06:01 PM.


            • Kelby
              Kelby commented
              Editing a comment
              Hey Bill, glad to see you here. Let me know what you need, I'll hook you up.

          • #8
            A small update, I started a new batch that I'm putting in the furnace closet (dark and warm) to see if this spurs more rooting over shoot formation. I figure a week or two in there and I'll see where they are at.
            You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 1 photos.
            SE PA
            Zone 6