Sawdust for starting fig cuttings?

I am wondering if hardwood sawdust (no black walnut) would work for starting fig cuttings? thank you

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Pine fines and sand maybe, I wouldn’t do hardwood myself unless aged very well.

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thank you… I got sand. What is Pine fines? I have peat moss. Would sand and peat moss work?

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There is a wide variety of things to root fig cuttings in successfully. Sure, sand a peat moss would work. Do you have coco coir? That was one of my favorites for rooting in a bag, mostly because I didn’t have mold issues and being fairly light and loose it just falls away from the fragile new roots so easily when it comes time to move them from the bag to your next step. If you use it just be sure to squeeze all the water you can out of it after rehydrating.

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Sand and peat probably work just fine. The peat could lead to over-wet conditions if you don’t ration the water.

Pine fines are pine bark ground up into little bits and pieces…it drains well, which is good against root rots, but can lead to problems with getting dry and needing frequent watering.

Also, the pine fines won’t confiscate all your nitrogen like hardwood sawdust would!

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@cis4elk thanks for the explanation. I am rooting cuttings for the first time and have molding issue. Reading your post makes me realize the medium is too wet.

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thanks to all for your help… I just ordered a coir brick. Wish me luck!!

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Coir can be fine, I haven’t used it a lot myself.

I just personally resent those with an agenda that want to force people into using coir when peat would work well and be cheaper.

If I had cheap and local…whatever…that’s what I typically use. It could be peanut hulls, rice hulls sunflower hulls and hulls from cacoa beans even (from Hershey, Pa factory).

Coconut husks from coconut plantations in far away places don’t really seem that “green” in my mind. Using what’s local and cheap makes sense…like using the hardwood sawdust you mentioned…but any media, including sawdust, you have to learn how to use it and succeed…often that’s gained by trial and error…though sometimes from listening to advice and experiences of others. :slight_smile:

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I have no idea how peat works, but I tried coir when someone on here suggested it and it has worked well for me for the last couple years. I should mention that I’ve reused the coir medium without issues, so on a per-use basis it isn’t that pricey. But, I would be interested to hear if people have similar results with peat.

Here is a pic of some (Bryant Park) fig cuttings that I started rooting on 11/17 (note parafilm on the tops).

After one month, all but one of them had lots of roots (that one had a few small ones and I put it back):

Every few days I looked through the semi-transparent bottom, to see when the roots made it that far. I probably let it go a bit long, as a few of them were joined pretty tight and took a bit of work to separate, but I was able to do it without destroying anything (I think…).

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points well taken. I don’t feel folks are trying to persuade as much as just share what has worked well for them. that is one of the things I LOVE about this site… so many people with different experiences willing to share.
I looked and didn’t seem to have a quick easily source for pine fines. The “small” bark I could buy online at a local store seemed too chunky. The hardwood sawdust I have isn’t well cured. It is fresh from my son-in-law who build custom furniture…so nitrogen loss is a concern. I do have some peat moss around for my blueberries but worried about the ph affecting the fig starts. Actually, I worry about the depleting stores of peat moss… kinda… once it is gone…its gone.
My newly purchased fig cuttings are on the way so I needed to decide quickly. Originally, I was planning on rooting them in some regular potting soil but was reading about mold, nats…etc. For me, these cuttings were pretty expensive so I don’t want to lose any.
Yes… this will be an experiment. Might use totally different medium when I get a few more cuttings in Jan.

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Wow! Bob… they look good. I was thinking I could reuse the coir so glad to hear it worked for you. A little pricey but if it can be reused for my Jan-feb fig cuttings and in the future for other misc. cuttings (rhodies, etc), then maybe not such a bad deal. Thanks for the pics… They look GOOD!

I should mention that in addition to the slightly moistened coir (not soggy) and parafilm (on the top half only), I also used rooting hormone on them. I lightly scraped a few spots on each near the bottom and dipped each in the purple rooting hormone (Clonex, I think).

I also left the box in a relatively warm spot. In the past, I used a kitchen cabinet where the under cabinet lighting kept the bottom shelf warm (80-90F). The cabinet was full this time and I didn’t want to re-arrange things, so I left it on blocks, 3-4" over a heating vent.

I’m not sure how necessary each of these things is, but wanted to mention them, so you’d have a complete picture of what I did. A long time ago I used to try to root them in potting soil (without a lot of those other factors) and the results were pretty dismal.

It wouldn’t shock me if peat or sawdust worked too. I think the main job of the medium is to have a bit of moisture and fall away from the roots when needed and without harboring fungus/rot. But, now that I have a way that works, I’m not as anxious to experiment. Maybe I’ll try next year with some extra prunings.

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On the topic of technique, I highly recommend the fig-pop method:
https://www.figbid.com/page/How_to_Root_Using_the_Fig_Pop_Method
If you get your moisture right at the beginning, you rarely have to worry about water until they’re well rooted and growing, fungus gnats are a non-issue, and they don’t take up a lot of space. There’s a standard bag that people like to use, but I’ve had good luck using other skinny plastic bags, like from English muffins. You also don’t need to Parafilm the top (but I sometimes still do). This is the only method I’ve used, and so far I’ve successfully rooted all but one of the cuttings I’ve tried.

As far as medium goes, I’ve just used straight Pro-mix. I think coir would be better, but this is good enough. With fig pops, it honestly doesn’t matter too much what you use since you only add water at the beginning. So long as it’s a reasonably good potting or rooting medium to begin with…

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Back to the original question. I just wonder what would make sawdust different from peat moss or coco coir. I know peat moss is dead organic matter. Would wet sawdust generate heat and is considered active? If so, what makes coco coir inactive?

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Bob… thanks for the ideas. I will put mine on a heating pad but haven’t quite worked out the rest of the setup.

jcguarneri - Thank you. I will look into the fig pop method.

Many thanks to all for ideas!

For rooting cuttings, I’ve found it is better to use media that is inert and as close to sterile as possible to avoid fungus, rot, etc. If you’ve ever put down lots of wood chips for mulch you’ve probably had some nice crops of mushrooms pop up as the mycelium feeds on the dead wood, not something I want going on around my cuttings although I love it around my actively growing plants.

Figs root quite easily, so I usually just wrap the top 1/2 of the cutting in parafilm to keep it from drying out and stick the cutting 2/3 of the length down into a slightly moist pot of ProMix so that an inch or 2 of the wrapped part extends down into the soil. I do large groups of cuttings to give away, etc. and usually have around 95% success doing it this way. The parafilm keeps the moisture in initially, but as the top growth starts I’m not keeping it in an artificially humid environment (like when people tent with a plastic bag) that I have to wean it off of and I don’t have to worry about breaking roots or otherwise shocking the cutting by transplanting it from a starter pot or tub of media. They just stay in their pots and grow fine until I get around to potting them up to bigger pots in late spring of early summer when they are already fairly well established.

This is sort of like the fig pop method I guess, but they’re in pots from the start. I do have to make sure the media doesn’t fully dry out, but that is pretty easy since they aren’t really using much water until they are actively growing so it is just a little evaporation into the room. Also I don’t use any bottom heat and just leave them in my basement which is around 65 or a little more. I actually think the cooler temps reduces the chance of fungus and rotting taking hold and keep the buds on top from growing too early

There are some varieties that are more challenging to root I hear, but I don’t have those so this has worked fine for me. Of course if I just had a single cutting of a given variety, etc. I might try one of the more intensive methods.

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I’ve been using slightly damp pine shavings (the kind for animal breeding) the past few seasons. It works great for pre rooting. It forms a nice callus first more than I’ve seen when using coir.

Here are some results from last year.

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I get pine bark fines at Lowe’s…they’re usually labeled as ‘soil conditioner’… much, much more finely ground than ‘small’ pinebark chips.
I use it extensively in preparing a potting mix for tree seedlings.

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Thank you, Lucky. Have lowe’s near me.

Those fine pine barks are good to mix with peat moss and perlite as soilless potting mix. Good for initial potting after rooting bed. The next level is to add compost and active organic matters.

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