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Fig cuttings acting strange  RSS feed

 
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So I recently posted about adopting a fig branch. Since then it has grown very well! The cuttings on the other hand are acting a little strange. They’ve grown a little larger than the pic below (3-4 leaves percutting) but have stopped growing. They have a pretty decent root system but not well enough to repot. I have themon a heat mat and they get partial sun via a window with cracked blinds near by. I give them enough water to moisten the medium when I can see it’s drying out (about every 2-3 days)How can I help them to grow?
fig-cuttings.jpeg
fig cuttings
 
gardener
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If there are some roots it is time to put them in some soil instead of that potting medium.
If you don't want to do that then you need to use some fish emulsion every two weeks to give them some energy and nutrients.

Cuttings aren't like seeds, they have nothing to furnish their nutrient needs unless you provide it for them.

I usually try to use sharp sand for starting cuttings since I can keep moisture levels optimal and I can then add the nutrients every time I water.
By doing this I can prevent accidental root burn from too much nitrogen easily and when there are good roots starting I can wash off the sand and get them into good, light soil, watering them in moves the soil all around the root system.
Using the sand also lets me dip the new tree into a mycelium solution as I get ready to either pot them up or if I am putting them in their permanent home spot.

Redhawk
 
Mike Bacile
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Thanks Bryant! So since there are visible roots in the cup and multiple leaves on about an inch and a half stem it’s okay to go ahead and plant them in a pot? I’ve got some potting soil and a 3 gal I could put it in. Just treat it as any other up pot? I have no experience with cuttings, my questions might seem like common sense 🤔

Also there is a 50-50 peat and soil in the medium
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Yes Mike, it sounds to me like they are ready for potting up, you just treat them now like they were a small tree in a container.
3 gallon is a perfect size, they will be able to grow good roots and not be moved for a longer time.
If your potting soil has fertilizer in it, try to mix it half and half so you don't accidently burn those new roots.

There is no such thing as a question that should not be asked.

Redhawk
 
Mike Bacile
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Awesome, thanks for the responses. It’s just an organic soil, should I had anything to that?
 
Bryant RedHawk
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I would try your soil first with no amendments, odds are it will be just fine.
cuttings usually don't really need fertilizer if in a good soil (an organic soil should have all they need already in it).

Just watch the leaves, they will let you know if something is needed.
If you think you are having problems, either let me know or make another post.

Redhawk
 
Mike Bacile
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Okay will do. Thanks again!
 
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When you get right down to it one fig tree will feed a family or three.`Of course, more figs is always better.

I've owned a few fig trees & did cuttings occasionally. Yours look normal to me. Be patient. Figs can be finicky to start like that. If you have access to a mature tree ... when a branch contacts the ground it will form roots there. Weight a branch down if necessary & pile up dirt to speed the process. After it's established just cut the branch & dig the new tree out with a shovel. Very high success rate transplanting like that. 

Still trying to get one to survive the colder climate I live in now. Figs are tasty trees to have around!!!










 
Mike Bacile
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Mike- that is exactly how I got my cuttings. A customer of mine offered a branch that had grown into the ground after I finished some work on her floors. In transport it toppled over and broke about 8 inches from the soil. So I saved what I could from that and instead of wasteing what was left I attempted to grow the cuttings. Turns out it’s actually kind of fun to watch them do their thing lol. They are very finicky though! Here is what the original rooted branch looks like now (1 mo th)
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Mike Barkley
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Definitely looks like your baby is still doing fine. Enjoy.
 
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Location: Southern Appalachia- Zone 6b
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I have some fig cutting questions too! I put my cuttings in potting soil at the end of February and they all did well, but now the leaves are turning black and crinkly (sp?)... I know they’re getting enough water- could it be too much water? Or some sort of nutrient deficiency? I re-potted then this week and it doesn’t really seem to have helped. I’m worried! They started off so strong and now I’m nervous that I’m going to lose them all. Any thoughts y’all?
 
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Kate, do be careful with water and figs.  Too much water can be bad for them.  You want a well draining soil mix to make sure their roots don't rot.

Mike, any idea what variety you've rooted?  Just curious.
 
Mike Bacile
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Kate- my first go at cuttings was almost a complete failure (due to rot!) I lost all but 1 and he’s got a few deformed leaves and a couple nice looking ones, hanging in there none the less. I would water them with a spray bottle once a week if you have fairly dense organic soil like I used. Sounds a lot like what happened to mine.

Greg- No sadly. The tree I got mine from was dormant so it’s still a blind project haha. My tree is growing a few different shaped leaves? One of them is doing extremely well, I’ll post a pic here when I have better light tomorrow. Maybe you can give it a guess?
 
Mike Barkley
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Figs do lose their leaves during winter. Maybe it got cold? Wouldn't worry too much unless the stem is dried & brittle. Figs are fairly hardy once they form roots. Did it have roots during repotting?
 
pollinator
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I recently did my first fig cuttings in summer. They rooted in no time at all. I always root cuttings in pure sand. As soon as they root I pot them in normal potting mix.
 
Mike Bacile
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We did get one cold snap here in Florida so that might had something to do with it.

When rooting in sand is there any chance of shock when moving to a soil mix?

Here are a few pics of the very healthy cut. The bottom leaves are kind of round vs the top leaves? Also the last pics are of some deformed leaves, anyone know what causes that?
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kate campbell
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Location: Southern Appalachia- Zone 6b
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Alrighty- that settles it. Way too much water. Dern. Anybody think I could snatch these figs from the jaws of death by repotting them again in something a little less dense? Or should I just ride it out and try again next year?

Beautiful figs Mike!
 
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Kate, if the leaves are turning black, that sounds like more then just over watering. Do you have salt accumulation, to much nitrogen in your soil, or frost exposure? Is the discoloration starting at the tips? You can definitely save them, but to have the best success you need to know with certainty whats causing the issue.  It may be a combination of things. If you don't know for certian, you'll have to take a more drastic action, like gently washing off all the soil. By gently removing the pot, and gently dunking the root ball in room temperature rain water till the old soil is removed; then repot into a new mix you know will have know issues, all without harming the roots. Of course that drastic action comes with its incresed risk. Yes over watering could be the issue, but I would find it hard for a small pot to be over watered to a damaging degree, unless you kept the soil soggy. Does your soil stay soggy between waterings, and are you inspecting for moisture levels between waterings? Small pots tend to alow for a better ratio of air exchange, which alows for more moisture tolerance in general. However to much moisture like being soggy all the time, can also speed up organic breakdown, which may cause an undesirable pH, anaerobic breakdown of organics if kept wet enough, and or high nitrite and nitrate levels that burn. Those could all be factors, that may require the aforementioned drastic measure to have the quickest saving result.To better diagnose the problem, more information will be required. The last thing a stressed plant needs, is anything but the exact problem fixed. Making any changes that don't fix the underlying problem or problems will only further stress the plant, and thats how most people love there plants to death. Guessing isn't an option, so you have to know with certainty, if you want to avoid drastic measures. I would test pH and nitrogen levels, just to rule them out. I would also carefully inspect for salt accumulation, and make sure the water your using isn't sofened water. If everything checks out normal, you then known less watering will have the highest probibility of solving your problem. If salt accumulation, or nitrogen levels don't check out, less watering can cause them to get worse.

Just a few things to think about. I hope it helps in some way.
 
kate campbell
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Hmmm.

No frost exposure definitely.

After further close inspection, I might have two different issues going on. First, before I transplanted the figs, it seemed that leaves were turning black and crispy from the tip and moving toward the stem until they were all curled up. Or, some leaves would look fine one day and then the next they would just drop off. I had potted my cuttings for the first time in February and since it was April and they all had lots of new leaves, I thought maybe it was just time to re-pot them.

So I re-potted each fig into it's own small container using some of the old potting soil mixed in with compost and leaf mulch on top. Then, since the day was getting hot and leaves were starting to look wilt-y, I heavily watered each fig. That might have been too much.

Now, it seems that the black crispy problem isn't developing (though I'm still trying to nurse back the victims from before), but entire plants just become wilted and limp. I had one especially vigorous cutting that I was very excited about, but over the past 3 days it seems to have gotten weaker and weaker, until this morning, all of its leaves are hanging by its sides and soft. On the other hand, I had one cutting from before that didn't look too hot and since re-potting it has tons of new growth and is looking great.

I don't think it's salt, because I'm not sure where it would have come from (we're on well water), and I haven't seen any salty accumulation on the sides of any pots.

It probably could be nitrogen? Maybe from compost that wasn't quite finished. Actually, now that I think about it, I don't think I mixed in any potting soil with the first 4 or 5 fig re-pots and just used compost and some left over crazy dirt (soil we buy from a local lady that's completed compost basically). Then, by the time I was potting the last fig, I didn't have much compost left, so I mixed in lots of potting soil (and that one happens to be the one fig that's doing well since transplant).

So, maybe today I will try to re-pot the wilting figs with a higher potting soil to compost ratio and water just a bit. Thanks for walking me through this Steele!
 
R. Steele
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Kate

Two things are most likely happening, and your inspection has revealed them to you. But I'll address them after I talk about well water. Well water is often mineral rich with alkaline minerals, that can build up, alter pH and create salt burn. Fortunately your assesment shows thats most likely not the case, though salt accumulation best shows when things are dry.

Now to your observations and what they suggst. Any compost that isn't finished can cause problems, and that problem could cause nitrogen burn, and drastic pH changes, that would cause black tips and progressively leading to black crispy leafs.

Then the potting up. The Figs went from potentially to much nitrogen and a pH thay may have been off. To planted the same soil, mixed with pure compost, and leaf mold on top. That new mix most likely pushed them over the edge.  It sounds like the mix was to rich, and held to much water. All the water the mix holds can increase the effects of the pH being off, and the excessive nitrogen in the mix didn't help either. Baised on your description of facts and events, it's a high probably the figs were struggling with nitrogen burn, and a potentially less then ideal pH. Upon potting up, the conditions combined with potential transplant shock, went from bad to worse. Which may have resulted in severely burnt roots leading to dehydration or wilt. Then noticing the wilting from potentially  burnt roots and or transplant shock. You did the instinctive responce, adding more water, which most likely further exaggerated the problem. Now keep in mind this is an unverified assesment, and merely a logistical probability based on known facts and your observations.

The cutting thats doing well it is like a control group. Though the control is less then ideal, it at leas points you in the right direction troubleshooting.

Figs like a well draining mix, that doesn't hold to much water and if your using lots of compost. You'll want lots of something like sand in your mix too. You could probably get away with 25% compost, 75% sand in your first potting up, as many rooting beds are often pure sand anyway. Though perlite is more desirable for weight reasons then sand in pots. You get the idea about the mix. The ideal soil mix in general would be about 30% water max, and 25% air ratio. You would water again at about 15-20% water ratio and the well draining soil quickly drains off to 30% water again. That means if your medium weights about 2 lbs dry, it shouldn't weight much more then 3 lbs wet after the pot is done draining. Compost can hold more than its own weight in water, so mixing it with something like sand helps curb that water retention.

Hopefully that helps in some way, and remember, its not to late to take new cuttings. If you can't salvage and need to try again. A pH test kit would be a good investment, and if you can get a test kit, that tests nitrogen too, that would be even better!
 
kate campbell
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Thank you again Steele-

Re-potting (2nd time) yesterday revealed that the soil was indeed WAY too wet and also that some of the root systems of the failing figs weren't too stout (I probably damaged them the first time).

The re-potted figs probably won't make it- I think they just took too much abuse. I'll try again next year (the parent tree is at my grandparent's house in TX), but I certainly learned a lot this year. Thanks all for the tips!
 
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Mike - The progression from simple to a more deeply lobed leaf shape as a twig grows is normal for figs as well as many other plants. That one looks exceedingly healthy and I suspect you've got a winner on your hands. Do you know the variety? I haven't seen that particular oakleaf shape on figs before...all the ones I've grown have been more rounded.

The deformation could be a number of things, but it looks mechanical to me, as if the wind rubbed a growing shoot against the wall.
 
Mike Bacile
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Thanks Phil

I’m glad it isn’t some sort of deficiency makeing the leaves deformed. Everything above the first few leaves all look great!
I have no idea, the branch I started with was a gift during winter so everything was dormant. I will definitely follow up here when I get my first few figs. Maybe we can all pin down it’s species
 
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