Call me crazy

asleep_in_the_gardenSeptember 28, 2013

...But I'm trying to root some rather large cuttings here.

Please feel free to advise,offer your own experiences,etc regarding the rooting of(perhaps impossibly) over-sized cuttings.

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i am very sane i assure you ;) and i root rather large branches of ficus lyrata every few years (3rd time now) - right now i have 2 20" long branches (excluding leaves len) with 5 leaves each that are in the process (planted in mix with wicks, waiting for full rooting)
i want max leaves and 6"-8" of bottom branch to develop roots since i read that for large trees that's what's best to keep them stable in the pot (and in the ground too, if necessary). was convinced.
so 1st i root them in water (many details here ;)
then i simulate air-layering by putting them in tall water-bottle (hole in the bottom) layered with coir matting for better wicking /airation (wick outside the coir). 50% perlite for wicking with AV mix or similar. dust the stalk with rooting powder, lay a little mix on the bottom, more perlite just around the bottom water roots, then the rest. water well to run-off and drain well. tent and wait. no more watering. they go 2 in a plastic basket for stability, tented. 1 week for water roots to latch onto the wick! still no watering. soil moist to touch.
once you have roots emerging on sides thru coir and soil on top getting dryer (only if it feels dry to touch) - elevate the bottle and drop the wick in the water. it'll wick just enough to keep inside mix moist. no rot. there will be soon roots generated all along the stalk. still tented, and in good light.
when i see roots emerging thru coir all along the bottle i can plant (1 mo?). i put 2 -3 rooted branches together without disturbing anything, coir and all in the pot with the same 50% perlite wicking mix.
it can be on the wick or not at this point (i have both). with wick you don't have to monitor water intake as much. and i do go away a bit.
i have large ficuses grown like this and thriving - have pics in 'pruning ficus lyrata' thread and posted about the process.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 6:54PM
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Hey thanks for all the great advice Petrushka! :) Real good stuff,especially the coir. In time I think I will get some and once I have significant root nublins,I'll fill my jar with it and allow the roots to scramble all over in there. Just a few minutes ago I lopped the skinnier and longer of my two cuttings in half. the two half sized ones can now flank the larger one eventually to all be potted together...likely with a vine or two as this thing will be a ready made support. Never trained anything to an elastica before...pretty exciting stuff!

Just out of curiosity,how big was the biggest cutting you've ever successfully rooted?

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 9:53PM
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23" stem + 12" leaf. so about 2 feet trunk only (with 6" buried in the mix).
right now i am still hoping that 29" will root - it has a 6" Y fork, but..i made a mistake of leaving more then 5 leaves : was such a healthy fully leaved branch, i just couldn't. it refused to root after a month in water, just root-nubs. the bottom leaves were wilting. i finally removed them, leaving 5 on top and potted up as is.
was thinking to recut to shorten - but then it'll have to go back in water was weak, decided not to.
it dropped 2 more leaves 2 days after potting up. 3 left. now have to wait what happens next.

you can wrap the bottom trunk in coir, secure with elastics AND put it in water, low level 2-3", with coir inside the bottle, in 100% humidity. the bottom of the coir will wick moisture up to the trunk. you'll have rooting in coir in air. those will be viable, i think, since air roots extend into soil! of course for that you need wide jar opening to pull it out intact.
i am thinking of trying it next.
when i can't get coir matting i just buy basket liners and rip them up. coir matting is thicker though, i split it in 2 layers - double yardage! and use thinner layer to line very small pots.
i am now lining all my pots with coir. roots love it!
by the way, i mix in a bit of rooting powder in water (mix first into paste, then add to water to dissolve) and also peroxide to prevent decay/increase oxigination. also a drop of superthrive, but that will foul up the water faster.
and when i make a bottom cut, besides cutting at 45 degrees i make a 1.5 " vertical slice just on the surface about 1/8" wide - the roots develop along it vertically. i am thinking of making it even longer like 3" next time to see if they go higher.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 11:54AM
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here's a pic of 20" current cutting rooting, the 2nd shot is a close-up of the roots - they do loop around coir. I might detach some of them when I do the next pot-up. but that'll be probably in a month or two, depending on how the others root. the 2nd branch with water roots that I potted in coir/mix 10 days ago doesn't have the roots on the outside of coir yet.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 1:32PM
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That's amazing petrushka. How do you keep the plant upright, to protect the leaves?

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 7:47PM
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That's awesome!!! What a great job Petrushka! Thanks for the tips...


    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 8:38PM
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That's awesome!!! What a great job Petrushka! Thanks for the tips...


    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 8:41PM
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to stabilise the bottles i put them in small garbage bins - 2 to a bin, but one is ok too - just drop a second empty bottle in and it'll stand ok. then dry-cleaners plastic bag on top - dropping loosely to the floor. if you want tighter seal. you can stuff the bottom end into the busket or tie it around. i sometimes put a stationary clip or orchid butterfly clip in the basket edge to lift the bag or secure it. i don't get condensation, but just in case don't want water on the wooden floors.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2013 at 9:05AM
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Love it Petrushka,nice work there! Never really considered the use of a wick in something like that but it sure makes sense!

Here's a look at things so far...there are the very beginnings of roots here in this shot...

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 11:16PM
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Here's the straight on view...

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 11:18PM
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And the vertigo shot from like a half a foot from the ceiling.

So far the only leaf loss was a piece that got broken a bit on the way home...otherwise everything seems okay and healthy looking considering it's only now showing signs of roots at all...I'm really impressed so far! :)

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 11:21PM
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i think if you cover up the top of water container with plastic wrap to create humid environment in the bottle , it'll produce air-roots quite fast.
i have stuck a big piece of coleus into a very long and narrow necked bottle. of course, it's coleus, it had water roots in a few days, but the water level dropped fast, leaving the neck empty - but it produced air roots anyway, 'cause of humidity. and they stay there without the water! not withering.
so it's like water/air-roots.
i also read that putting glass marbles in water helps to accustom roots to 'future' medium and branch them better.
i had rooted an avocado pit in water and then i filled the bottle with marbles. the roots were very happily branching in it for a while, on top of marbles there was no water - but high humidity and the roots were growing there in air. and then i finally potted it up (on a wick of course, so i don't have to monitor it all the time). it did not sulk at all. it was a totally painlees xfer and it started developing buds quite soon.

i also had a problem xferring water rooted gigantic zz plant stem (whole long stem with a rhizome attached). it would produce water roots, i'll pot it up in orchid bark mix, the roots will promptly rot.
rinse and repeat - i am on a 3rd cycle now:). it's me or zz challenge! 3rd time around i added marbles.
right now i xferred it in pure perlite that is saturated with water: the bottom is in water 2 ". so the top of the roots are drier but wet with air pockets. i should be able to see roots thru the plastic in a week, if they don't rot!. then after a few weeks i'll xfer it to a mix with half perlite on a wick as a last stage and see how that goes. and then finally i should be able to wean it off wick.
and by the way - i had sev zz stalks of diff lengths - one was with rhizome, 3 just stems. the stems developed sizable tubers in water! i have not seen any pics of that anywhere!
so now i am very curious if i'll able to retain those tubers thru multi-step xfer to reg medium.

Here is a link that might be useful: 7 and 8 posts - my avocado pic

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 1:18PM
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Plastic wrap does sound like a good idea. No such thing as too much humidity for them right about now,right?

Neat stuff with the avocado,..I've tried those a few times and whereas there's never been a problem rooting them,I tend to take them for granted or something and so generally withing a couple years or so,they dry up on me from neglect.

Wish I knew about water rooting a ZZ a few weeks ago. I went with my usual approach and popped a division in a terrarium and things went south from there. I don't know what went wrong there,..except that I don't know ZZs very well apparently.

BTW...Purp,..if you're reading this...I'm really sorry about the ZZ. You were so kind to surprise me with it,but it seems I failed the poor thing completely. :(

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 8:11AM
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you have a rather large glass bottle - will need too many glass pebbles to fill. however you could make a tube out of plastic narrow bottle,slip it on thru the bottom onto the branch, then into the glass pot. then fill the plastic with glass pebbles and water with water dribbling down. it'll trap some moisture between the marbles to create very humid air-pockets. the air roots should shoot out quite fast. and you should still be able to see the roots . pulling it out though will be problematic , unless you're ready to pot up. then the marbles will just empty down.
your branch is wa-ay too long. what do you plan to do with it, once it's growing? pug it? without any leaves it will die most likely, but your leaves are way up are you going to branch it?
i've tried to root my zz in mostly dry orchid bark for sev months with very slow results AND still some rot going on. until i found out that they rooted in coir matting on the side. very strongly. so i repotted yet again into just coir, pocket wrapping it around roots for all. no other medium to speak off.
but in water i had good roots within 2 weeks! the problem of course is how to transition. with other plants i had no problems. and ficuses are the easiest to transfer. zz turned out to be fussy!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 3:37PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

I've rooted ZZ leaves both in mix & in water, w/ success both ways.

If folks search either here or at C&S (I forgot where I posted it) I showed pix of my ZZ's little green tuber that formed in the water, along w/ a root. The little green thing looked like a green pea & was about that size. Transitioned to mix just fine for me (I think the trick is not to water it much).

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 3:59PM
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You are CRAZY!!!

I ahve never seen anyone root anything that big until It's ok though....


    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 5:38PM
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I got news on my ficus lyrata trio: the biggest 29" has roots on the very bottom, they're sort of in the moist air/water: since I did not water for a couple of weeks, and the bottle was in another small tight fitting container - there was some moisture there locked in. so this is after it refused to root in water for 3 weeks.
so now on my longest leaves have good tonus (before were dropping), so I think I pulled thru. though the roots are only 1" now - a dozen.
the other 2 are doing great: the oldest with roots thru the bottle (pic above) has a fat bud on top, the intermediate has 2buds.
I know rooting leaves in water is no big deal, but if you read above, I was rooting a 30" zz stem with a piece of cut rhizome (which is why I posted here - 'cause it is sort of crazy too). the other stems were cut sev times above rhizome may be 2" total to remove rot - so bare stem. I did it because I found on some blog smbody was able to do it, but it took some time. mine developed these tubers in sev months . but I have not seen any pics anywhere. so here's mine. the tubers are about 1" - 1.5 ". which is pretty large, I think.

This post was edited by petrushka on Thu, Oct 10, 13 at 19:30

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 7:29PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Very nice Petrushka, they look superhealthy (sorry, I apparently missed the mention of 30"). May they continue to thrive for you!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 10:02PM
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Although at the moment I have no way to prove it with pics,I just wanted to let everyone know that the cuttings are all alive and well after all this time.

The roots aren't quite capable of supporting the weight of them yet so I have them leaning against stuff,but in time,..this too shall change.

Pleased as punch to call this experiment a success. :D

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 3:31PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)


Good to see you've defrosted enough to post!

Glad to hear you've had success w/ your experiment, must be satisfying.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 4:08PM
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I just wonder how many other people have tried this type of thing with similar results.

Talk about your shortcuts...assuming the time it takes for the four foot specimen's roots to stabilize isn't an eternity,it's the closest thing to "instant tree" that I can think of.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 4:33PM
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the problem though is that they are very leggy - you'll need to prune them severely for branching after xfer to medium AND growing new roots. so that will take even longer. i think there's like a cut off length after which is does not make much sense. my 22" established much faster then 29" and retained all leaves, whereas 29" dropped all but 2 leaves. now all are doing well still in plastic bottles as above , all on self-watering wicks. the smaller 2 already producing new leaves, even though is still winter. but in my prior experience f.lyrata do make new leaves given good water supply even in winter. by aug they'll most likely double the leaves/height.
my zz are still in pure perlite on water-wicks and finally stabilized. all the ones in bark with coir were xferred in water/perlite too, since they were sporadically rotting even new roots/tubers and i got tired of checking on them. come spring i'll add a bit of bark with charcoal to perlite and see if that succeeds.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 9:29AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Not crazy. There's even a word for really big cuttings, truncheon. I haven't tried any in water, so no comments on that part.

I was given some pieces of morning glory bush (Ipomoea carnea) that were woody, 3-6 feet long. I cut one in half and stuck the top 3-foot piece in a pot that would be coming inside, the rest in the ground. They *were* all alive before the really cold weather hit. The potted one is doing well for being inside.

When I cut canes of confederate rose (Hibiscus mutabilis) to spread them around the yard, I go for pieces that are 3-5 feet, though they are new, non-woody growth. When trimming shrubs, might as well stick pieces in the ground to see if they will take root. Many do, I've had successes with Gardenia, Buddleia, Hydrangea, Prunus, Rose, Ficus carica, Brugmansia, Plumeria.

Doing this in captivity is much more tricky. Well done so far, look forward to some pics.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 11:59AM
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Thanks Purp! I learned a new word today(or jan 10th w/e)! :)

By the by,did you say you have figs in your yard!!? =)

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 8:06PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Yes, F. carica = figs. There's a huge (for a fig) tree in my Mom's yard, a couple in our yard. It's unusual for a yard to not have a fig tree around here. This is Mom's tree a few years ago. It needs an overhaul again, to get back to the shape seen in the pic. The branches are down on the ground again. I really should make more jam to send people up north but when they ripen, it's so hot and mosquitoes love to hang out in a fig tree. (Black walnut tree to left, obviously Ficus is oblivious to juglone.)

How's the truncheon trudgin'?

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 2:33PM
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Have you taken a cutting to plant in your yard yet? If not I totally would if I were you. You gotta have a clone of mom's fig...It's just the right thing to do! :)

Here's an updated on the trudger...I potted the three together in some mix with pine bark and a lot of perlite to improve drainage. No shock from the transplant but the roots were obviously not very happy in the excuse for mix that they were in before. hopefully things are improving in there...I have high hopes. It's staying indoors a bit longer but if we get more days like today,I'll be putting it out soon.

Have a gander...

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 5:19PM
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aren't you tenting it after potting up?
you could try merging the trunks right where the tie is.
it'll make it sturdier and usually it likes it too :).
but i've never done rubber tree, only other ficuses.
if they merge it'll prolly be safer to prune the tallest one like may be halfway between the tie and the bend.
sometimes if it's just one trunk and no leaves at all it might die down. but when the trunks are together - other leaves will still be supporting the growth. ..or so i reason...
if you could branch the tallest one - it would look quite good! you can air-layer the top part as another experiment (more on it later;)).
my 3 'bottled' f. lyrata branches have been planted 2 mo ago together and now started new growth too.
soon i will tape/wire them. the longest Y was not doing too well - lost too many leaves. i almost chucked it, but then i figured it still can contribute to trunk thickness and you need to remove some leaves anyway when merging - they are often in the way.
so i decided to use it after all.
i have taped up/wired my oldest 20yr old trunks a year ago - they seem to be close to merging, but not yet all the way. mature trunks merge very slowly. then i can safely start cutting off big branches again!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 5:18PM
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i want to play it safe and air-layer this nicely branched trunk on my old ficus - below the 1st Y. so it will be quite long. it has no leaves or branches on the lower trunk.
i also dont want to risk it dropping the leaves again, but i want a long trunk. it'll be a standard. but i will fatten it up with 2 more air-layered branches.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 5:24PM
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Tenting Didn't seem necessary after I'd grouped them. Elastica seems pretty tough and so far isn't having a hard time with the hardening off from the humidity treatment each had while they were individually situated in smaller pots. At this juncture I'd say the hard part is over.
Next step is getting the group outside. Been waiting for nights to warm up a bit more after watching the horrid things that have happened to the plants that have gone out too early.
The plan at that point will be to secure a stake in the ground and tie the group to it so the wind won't knock it over.
If and when I get around to inosculatinging them,I'm guessing I'd kinda rub with fine sandpaper or something like that to expose the cambium layers to one another,then wrap in plastic wrap.

Sound good so far?

Open to hints,suggestions,etc.

Speaking that what you plan to do with your lyrata?

Nice work with it by the way,looking really healthy.
A little jealous of ya actually,..lyrata don't seem to get along well in my care for some reason.
Pity too,because those leaves are awesome! They stand out in the garden saying "look at me!",and won't be overlooked even in the company of some of the most exotic of companions IMO.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 4:45AM
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lyrata requires high light for good growth, pref with partial sun both indoors and out. the biggest mistake people make is NOT to give it any sun indoors.
merging branches: bonsai books are best for exact technique. which is where i got my info + some googling.
in a nut shell (be just a page or two?:)):
you can remove very carefully a narrow strip of bark on both sides where they touch. but with latex bleeding i don't do that. just hold the trunks very tightly against each other with soft wire/twisties for preliminary positioning.
it's best if trunks touch solidly over 2-3" and very tightly together. then just wrap wire very tightly around the trunk and check ev few weeks: the wire should be VERY tight, no shifting. bonsai wire is easy to wrap on a spiral - and the spiral will release a bit as the trunk grows, or you can wrap sev individual loops vertically.
on younger thinner branches i spiral, not twist.
when you see swelling start around wire - you can loosen it a bit (if it's twisted), so as not to leave deep wire marks. when trunks merge, they will flatten against each other.
to prevent wire marks it's best to wrap the trunks with grafting tape. duct tape is what i use. fold it upon itself , let it stick together, leaving one sticky end longer. then wrap doubled tape very tightly around the branches and seal the sticky end on top of tape, not trunk. so sticky never glues to the trunk. then you wrap a wire tightly and twist it. i use aluminum bonsai wire. but sev strands of telephone wire will do for smaller limbs.
here's a pic of my bound trunks - been a year. they started to grow together, but not as much as i need,
these are very old 15yr trunks, takes a lo-ong time. young ones can merge as fast as 1-2 months. best to do it when in full growth.
you can use plastic zip-tie too instead of wire. even on bare trunk - but it's very easy to cut into it and it bleeds like crazy! very messy. duct-tape evens the pressure and protects the bark.
of course, if you are cutting into trunk so it bleeds as you wrap - you are binding too tightly. takes a little practice to get a feel for it. bonsai wire is such that it bends very easily at the slightest pressure and conforms to the limb without bruising, but holds very firmly.
the thinner the limbs, the thinner wire you can use.
it's very easy, especially the youngest branches. but they need to be semi-wooded/wooded.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 1:06PM
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That really is a neat trick. After the roots are more developed I'll have to remember that. Thanks much! :)

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 10:36AM
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i wired my three trunks about a month ago - to merge them.
they have started growing well last month.
i did air-layer that huge forked branch - first with small 7oz cup and after i saw good roots - wrapped a larger pot around the small one and then removed the small one.
so the pot is 1 and a half large yoghurt containers, stacked for height. total time 2 months.
don't want to take any chances with this one. after 10 days - saw roots poking out on the bottom and so today i cut it off!
that's a big day for me ;).
here's a pic.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 7:00PM
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Moving right along,isn't it?
I wish lyrata and I got along better. Somehow they just don't do too well in my care,sadly...pity too because they are so striking. Those leaves are just too pretty.

In the meantime I still haven't gotten around to using the tape and wire trick on my elastica group. I may have to look into that today. :)

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 12:02PM
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