Propagating Ficus

By May 3, 2017 No Comments


In spring the temperature starts warming up, and this increase in warmth encourages trees to encourage new buds.   This change in temperature during spring time is the right time to propagate cuttings starting new trees.

This is the topic we will be discussing in this blog: how to propagate ficus using the green house effect for more success.

The Green House effect

It is not the first time that I used a plastic bag to create a green house effect, and 10 days ago I experimented with some ficus propagation to illustrate this blog.  Here is the result after 10 days.

Two cuttings placed in a Green House effect.  The pot was kept in the shade.

Two similar cuttings without the Green House effect, also placed in the shade and in a humid place.

The end result speaks itself stressing that the green house effect offers better results.

How does the Green House effects works?

Professional growers use green houses to plant their crops on a large scale.  The idea behind the green house is to keep constant warmth inside the green house even in winter to encourage growth.

Extreme cold and heat for a long period of time will stop the plants and trees to grow, and that is why trees does not grow during the dormant season, ie, in winter time.  On the contrary, plants and trees will be encouraged to grow if kept in a temperature controlled green house.

A green house is a space in the open fields covered with glass or transparent plastic. were crops will be planted through the whole year.

How it works:

  1. Sunlight passes through the glass converting it to heat.
  2. Warmth is trapped inside behind the glass or plastic cover.
  3. Ventilation will help in controlling the temperature on hot days.
  4. Misting is also used to control the temperature inside while providing the right moisture.
  5. The heat inside the green house is also absorbed by the soil and water releasing warmth slowly maintaining a constant warmth between day and night.
  6. Protects crops from the elements and pests.
  7. Controls the amount of water crops will receive by blocking the rain.

The green house effect

For bonsai we do not need to have a large space turned into a green house, but we might need a simple green house effect.  This is carried out by a simple translucent plastic bag big enough so that the pot with it’s bonsai tree can fit.  Can it be more easy than that?

Let us compare a green house to this translucent bag.

The translucent bag permits sunlight to pass through which is then converted to heat.  This heat will keep the inside warm enough.  Every few days the bag needs to be opened to maintain a controlled temperature and kept in a shady area to prevent over heating the bonsai tree on hot days.  The same heat  will transform the water inside the soil and provide the right moisture.  The enclosed heat inside the bag will maintaining constant warmth.  Watering is not an issue since this moisture created inside the bag will keep the soil moist, thus watering is controlled.  So this simple bag has created a miniature green house effect bag.

Propagating ficus cuttings

One way to start a bonsai tree is by propagation, although this takes long years to  become a bonsai.  This should not encourage the bonsai enthusiast, because apart from starting a new tree, one will learn how the process of starting a bonsai.      Buying a ready trained bonsai hides a long and interesting process, and by propagating new trees, one will learn from this long process.  With every year passing, the tree is changing and offers new challenges to the enthusiast to maintain it in good health and also to train it.

Pot preparation. A mixture of compost and pumice placed in a pot and watered.

Collect some cutting. In our case 20 ficus tiger bark cuttings.

Defoliate the cutting keeping the last 1 or 2 leaves to encourage the flow of sap.  The lower larger leaves were defoliated not to strain the cutting since for the time being there are no roots.  If not defoliated, nature will do it by letting the leaves to fall.

Dip the defoliated cuttings into a rooting hormone.  This will encourage new roots to emerge.  Be careful not to inhale this powder.

Using a chop stick do a hole in the soil mix.  Place the cutting in the soil and add some pressure to remove any air pockets.

Once all the cuttings are planted, put the pot in a transparent plastic bag.

Close the bag.

Do not worry about any water droplets formed inside the plastic bag.  Heat inside and water from the soil inside the bag will create those moisture droplets, maintaining moist inside the bag and in the soil.  So no need to water.

To prevent the cutting from dampness, open the bag for 10 minutes daily once moisture droplets are formed inside.  Increase the time the bag is opened every day.

Remove the bag completely once you see that the bugs are looking healthy and have a vigorous color.  Leave the cuttings in a shady area for around 6 to 8 weeks, then slowly introduce to sunlight.  By this time, tiny hair roots have started to develop.

Martin Abela

Author Martin Abela

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