Saturday, 29 September 2018

It's fat and ugly, but it's alive

The Ficus Carica truncheon cuttings which I planted in April were by far my most ambitious propagation attempt to date. An attempt made more complicated by my decision to plant them without using rooting hormone which, I've heard, may be carcinogenic. Instead I soaked them in a kelp solution and hoped for the best.

As we were heading into winter at the time, I knew a lot of patience would be required. Ficus Carica is a deciduous tree so I told myself there wasn't much prospect of visible growth for several months.

Strangely one of the thickest cuttings showed signs of budding early on so, when the weather got cold I moved that one into my greenhouse. With limited space, however, I was forced to put the other five in a less sheltered area, on the lower shelf of a metal stand which I cover with frost cloth on nights when the temperature drops below 5°C.

By mid-August many of my trees, my established Ficus Caricas included, were already turning green, but there were no signs of life from my truncheon cuttings. Well not until mid-September, when I finally noticed a couple of buds on the thickest cutting in the less sheltered area.

A couple of weeks later the growth on that one is looking promising, so I'm hopeful that root growth is at least as good.

Late September 2018

So far none of the others are showing signs of life, not even the one that was in the greenhouse. I fear I may have harmed that one by pampering it, exposing it to excessive heat when the weather started warming up.

I'm not giving up on any of them just yet though. I made that mistake with my previous attempt three years ago only to discover that one of the cuttings I'd just dug up was starting to root. I tried putting it back in soil, but it never recovered. I really regret that because it was a far more interesting cutting than any I got this time.

I'm a bit frustrated that the cutting which has rooted is the ugliest of the bunch - no taper and it even has an ugly crack at the base. But I'm impressed that I was able to root a cutting approximately the thickness of a soda can without using rooting hormone.

I'm not convinced this tree will ever have bonsai potential but if not, hopefully in time it will give me figs to eat, something none of my other Ficus Carica trees have done so far.

Photo progression including future updates can be seen here.

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