Fig pops failed………miserably.
Shoebox method resulted in a very high percentage of cuttings developing very good root masses and new green growth. However, after potting in 4 X 4 X 9 mini tree pots, about a third of the cuttings wilted and died. The roots just never grew when potted.
Best method: modified Figaholics direct planting! I modified Harvey’s method because winter growing conditions are different in NJ than in sunny California.
Step 1- I soaked cuttings in water and chamomile tea until I saw lenticels begin to pop or if a leaf bud showed signs of swelling.
Step 2- I filled a mini tree pot with well draining soil (about 25% sand).
Step 3- The cutting to be potted is wrapped tightly in Parafilm (I tried grafting tape but I didn’t like it). When wrapping, I did not not cover the nodes, giving them unimpeded freedom to grow.
Step 4- I took a razor knife and cut (not scraped) a strip of bark starting at the bottom node to the bottom of the cutting. I started shallow at the node but cut deeper towards the bottom of the cutting.
Step 5- using no rooting hormone, I just stuck the cutting upright, into the soil to the point where the Parafilm wrap begins. Then, I packed the soil around the cutting (when doing hardwood cuttings for bonsai, I had been told that cuttings need to be stable to root) using a small long handled spoon.
Step 6- The mini tree pot is placed in a tall Rubbermaid container which is placed over a seedling heat mat. The container has a 2 inch layer of pine chips on the bottom to buffer against too much heat. The pine chips are moistened with a solution containing insecticide (I use Demand CS) that has resulted in ZERO fungus gnats. The container is covered with a clear lid and lights are placed on the lid.
Results to date: Strong branches, good leaf development and near zero loss of cuttings. What I can’t tell is how the roots are developing. If roots are developing, they do not need to be disturbed until late spring when the plants will go into 5 gallon pots. I had read a respected grower on another forum state that you should NEVER disturb roots on young cuttings, which may be correct, considering my losses at the up potting stages when I used fig pops or shoebox methods.
I’ll post a follow up. And if successful with the modified Figaholic method, pictures too!