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Air Layered Figs  RSS feed

 
Jason Bijl
Posts: 23
Location: Kamloops, BC - Zone 6
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Hi Folks,
I took my 2 fig trees out of dormancy early this past winter, attempting to air layer the branches. 

I cut a 1" wide band of bark from the branch, and then scratched off the thin layer of membrane, below the bark, with the knife.

I applied raw honey to the section and then enclosed the area in a small ball of damp and sterile potting soil.  I then wrapped each in plastic wrap, and then aluminium foil.

It worked, each one took.
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David Livingston
steward
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Location: Anjou ,France
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Great post but can I ask why ?
Figs are the easiest thing in the world to root from cuttings ? And with less effort than this method . Other trees where cutting don't root well I can understand .

David
 
Greg Martin
Posts: 76
Location: Maine, zone 5
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Hi David.  I agree that few plants are as easy to root from cuttings as figs are, but while some figs root very easily there are several varieties that are very difficult to root as cuttings.  Some are best done as air layers and some don't even do well with that method and are best grafted.  The flip side of this is that some people are more successful/comfortable with one method over another.  It's a good skill set to be able to do all methods.
 
Liz Hoxie
Posts: 226
Location: Ellisforde, WA
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Which varieties are best as air layers and which do best as grafts.
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
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Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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There are so many different varieties... Are there types, groups that behave the same, so it can be easier to know which can do with what way?

For example varieties that give fruits twice, and those that have fruits only in autumn.
In Spain they do not even have the same name...

I am going to try with my cinnamon tree, as it seems that it does not work with cuttings, and I was looking for a simple way to air layer. Thanks!
 
Matt Darkstar
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Great to know, I would like to root some cuttings for my sister, she lives in Nashville and her neighbors obviously have great success growing figs, you can see them peeking over just about every fence.
I have a violet de bordeaux and a black mission, anyone know which techniques work best for either of those?
 
Jason Bijl
Posts: 23
Location: Kamloops, BC - Zone 6
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I figured that a fig might be a forgiving plant to practice doing an air layer, it was.  I also took the remaining branch tips to practice cuttings.

Any tips for grafting?
 
Hans Quistorff
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Location: Longbranch, WA
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Matt Darkstar wrote:
I have a violet de bordeaux and a black mission, anyone know which techniques work best for either of those?

Black mission cuttings rooted very well for us in Northern California.  We cut 3 foot branches as soon as they went dormant. Using a hydro spade, which is basically a pipe on a hose, we made holes 2 feet deep and inserted the branches. They rooted over the winter and grew vigorously the nest summer.  Made a living fence around 3 sides of the 1 acre property.
 
Greg Martin
Posts: 76
Location: Maine, zone 5
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I'm not aware of fig groupings that struggle with rooting.  I have one variety of English Brown Turkey called Hanc Mathies (which is probably a Southern Brown Turkey...fig names can be very problematic) that I air layered due to a reputation for difficulty with cuttings.  It's very rare due to the difficulty in propagating it, but it has a reputation for cold hardiness that keeps a few of us growing it.  I haven't had any trouble with rooting cuttings of other EBTs.  I haven't personally grafted any figs yet, but this is usually done to promote vigorous growth in varieties that don't grow well....typically because they have virus problems.  Grafting onto a vigorous grower helps these varieties out greatly, though you have to worry about the rootstock sending up suckers (select a rootstock with very different leaf shape to help identify this problem if it pops up).  Depending on the selection of the clone, Black Madeira can fall into this category.  People put up with difficulties with BM because it's generally considered the best flavored of figs when ripened under ideal conditions.  (might be worth a greenhouse if you're outside it's ideal range)

Rule of thumb....first go to method is rooting cuttings....especially handy because they ship so cheaply.  If that doesn't work out (and you're good at rooting cuttings...otherwise practice first with an easy to get and root variety like Hardy Chicago, Brown Turkey, etc.) then give air layers a try. 
 
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