July 13, 2023

Olympian Fig Propagation & RKN Part 2

My Olympian fig has been looking pretty good in spite of the RKN infestation. Here is how it looks in direct comparison to two months ago when I repotted it in vermicompost. Same shape but a little bigger and more leafy. There's a nice new branch coming straight up the middle that you can't see.

To my dismay, upon entering the hot and humid, plant stressors time of year, black spots are developing on the leaves. Maybe the RKN is not being controlled by the vermicompost as I'd hoped. It's too early to disrupt the soil to check the roots, so I'm hedging my bets with stem propagation. I chose one stem for air layering and one as a cutting.

The air-layered branch is foil-wrapped. The cutting is in a "deep" pot made from stacked bottomless seed-starting pots.
I bought a canister of rooting hormone, and my natural desire to propagate plants has now surged. I've got some cute Night Blooming Cereus cuttings, already rooted and with new growth, if you're interested.  
Excess leaves trimmed, stem girdled and dipped in rooting hormone.
Figs are supposedly crazy easy to root, but I'm helping my cutting root faster by girdling the stem where it's a bit green (young wood is this year's growth) and using rooting hormone. Girdling disrupts the flow of water and nutrients, which somehow encourages root growth.
I believe that each nodule is capable of becoming a root but they're clustered on old wood. I girdled the stem where the wood isn't hardened yet.
The nematodes are soil-bound so rooting stems is the only way to have RKN-free roots. A well-rooted cutting, if large enough, is capable of producing fruit as a 1-year old plant. For me, 2-3 years is likely with these small pieces.
Envisioning the shape of the fig tree after taking the cutting and air-layered branch off, I think it'll look good, assuming the tee survives, that is.
If the original plant growing in vermicompost beats the RKN, the cutting roots, and the air-layered branch roots, I'll have three Olympian fig trees. I'll be happy with just one so maybe a couple of my friends will get lucky.
If you click on the photo for the enlarged view, you can see that black spots are developing. Luckily, they're on just the leaves considered "excess," which were getting trimmed off anyway.

I do not know what the black spots are. I'm assuming "not good." I suspect the 7.5+ inches of rain we had in June had something to do with it. Even with a healthy root system, that's a lot of water for a young tree to manage.

This is the branch I chose for air-layering. Instead of girdling the branch, which remains attached to the plant, I only scratched away bark on three sides. I wrapped the branch with a small plastic water bottle stuffed with moist sphagnum moss. It's covered in foil to create a dark environment. All this encourages root development, and if it goes well the plastic bottle will be full of roots in a month or two.

Here is a reference on fig propagation:  Getting figgy with it

What's growing on in your garden? Are you growing figs?

P.S.: The beekeeper's guild is turning out to be a bust. I'm assuming the top-bar aspect of our beekeeping style is the problem. They've already done their honey harvest here so the 2023 season's over. But we chatted with some Master Gardeners at the Virginia Beach Honey Festival and have some ideas for next year. Stay tuned!


Post a Comment

Join the Conversation. Leave a comment.