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IRVil Propagation of Ficus elastica and Ficus lyrata by Cuttings' *
Richard T. Poole and Charles A. Conover -.
University of Florida, IFAS ,
Central Florida Research and Education Center Apopka ,'
CFREC-Apopka Research Report RH-90-6
Ficus elastica cultivars, such as 'Burgundy', 'Decora' and 'Robusta' ...
are very popular plants for interior use. Growers continue to search for
ways to reduce propagation time, labor costs, and bench space used during
propagation. These plants are propagated primarily by air layering and
tissue culture. The European system of propagation by single eye cuttings
shows promise for the production of single stem plants because it provides
many more cuttings per stem than layering. We conducted several
experiments to examine methods of propagating ficus by single eye cuttings
with portions of the leaf removed or with leaf rolled, and also to
determine potential benefits of fertilizer and various soil mixes.
The two most common methods used to reduce propagation bench space,
taken up by large-leaved ficus cuttings, involve removing portions of the
leaf or rolling the leaf longitudinally and securing it with a rubber band.
Experiment 1 used single eye cuttings of Ficus elastica 'Decora'
placed in 4 inch pots containing Canadian sphagnum peat. Treatments
included removal of 50% of the leaf or no removal, rolling or not rolling
leaves, and 0 or 3 g/pot 14-14-14 Osmocote fertilizer applied to soil
medium surface. Osmocote is a slow-release fertilizer manufactured by
Sierra Chemical Co., Milpitas, CA. Dolomitic lime at 10 lb/yd3 was added
to soil prior to potting. Cuttings were placed under mist in a glasshouse
with 1000 ft-c maximum light and temperatures from 68 to 950F. Shoot
lengths were measured after one month and roots graded on a scale of 0 to 5
with 0 = no roots, 1 = 1-20%, 2 = 21-40%, 3 = 41-60%, 4 = 61-80% and 5 =
81-100% root ball coverage.
Applying fertilizer to propagation pots did not affect root grade or
shoot length one month after initiation of the experiment (Table 1).
Rolling the leaf reduced both shoot length and root grade, but removal of
50% of the leaf had no effect.
Experiment 2, initiated Sept 14, utilized single eye cuttings of five
cultivars of Ficus elastica, 'Robusta', Burgundy', 'Honduras', 'Decora'
'Denmark' and Ficus lyrata (fiddleleaf fig). Treatments included leaving
2, 4 or 6 inch leaf segments or the entire leaf. Cuttings were placed in 3
inch pots containing Florida sedge peat amended with 10 lb/yd dolomitic
lime and received surface fertilizer applications of 3 g/pot 14-14-14
Osmocote. Cuttings were rooted under mist in a glasshouse under conditions
identical to experiment 1. Root grade, as in experiment 1, was determined
after 2 months.
1Adapted from HortScience 19(1):120-121.
Professor, Plant Physiology and Center Director and Professor,
respectively, Central Florida Research and Education Center, 2807 Binion
Road, Apopka, Florida 32703.
Experiment 3 was initiated Mar 17, using two Ficus elastica cultivars,
'Decora' and 'Burgundy', and Ficus lyrata potted in 4 inch pots containing
2 Florida sedge peat:1 cypress savings: pine bark. Soil medium was
amended with 5 lbs/yd dolomitic lime and 14-14-14 Osmocote fertilizer was
surface applied, 2/g pot. Cuttings were placed in cultural conditions
similar to experiment 1. Treatments included leaving 3, 5 or 7 inch leaf
segments or the entire leaf. All rooted plants were repotted into 6 inch
pots containing 3 Florida sedge peat:l sand after two months. Plant
height, root grade, shoot growth, number of leaves, and leaf size were
determined on June 15.
Removing a large portion of the leaf resulted in lower root grades
(Tables 2 and 3). However, there does appear to be some possibility for
removing a portion of the leaf blade to conserve space and still obtain
cuttings with a good root grade. When 4 to 6 inches of the leaf were left
intact on the cultivars 'Burgundy', 'Denmark', and 'Decora', root grade was
almost as good as root grade on cuttings with the entire leaf remaining
Propagation medium had variable effects on plant growth (Table 3).
Growth measurements of 'Burgundy' plants were greater from plants grown in
the 2:1:1 medium, but only root grade of 'Decora' was better, and 'Lyrata'
was not affected. The 2:1:1 medium has more aeration, probably accounting
for the improved plant response. Reviewing the results obtained from
these experiments, we can make the following suggestions....
1. Leaves of ficus single eye cuttings should not be rolled during
propagation. This European practice reduces both shoot and root growth
of the cuttings. Removal of one half of the terminal portion of the
leaf is much easier and quicker than leaf rolling. It saves bench
space and labor.
2. Fertilizer is not needed in the propagating mix of ficus because it has
no effect on root initiation of cuttings.
3. When a portion of the leaf is removed during propagation, a soil mix
with good aeration will promote root and shoot growth.
1. Appleton, J. 1973. Getting Ficus away faster. The Grower
2. Conover, C. A. and R. T. Poole. 1970. Methods of propagating foliage
plants. Florida Fol. Grow. 7(5):1-4.
3. Miller, V. J. and R. T. Poole. 1982. IBA effects on foliage plant
cuttings. Univ. of Fla. IFAS, Agr. Res. Rpt. RH-82-11.
4. Morgan, J. V. and H. W. Lawlor. 1976. Influence of external factors
on the rooting of leafbud cuttings of Ficus. Acta Hort. 64:39-46.
5. Poole, R. T. and C. A. Conover. 1976. Propagation and growth
characteristics of Ficus elastica 'Decora' in Central Florida. Proc.
Trop. Reg. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 20:428-447.
- 2 -
Table 1. Influence of leaf treatments and
propagation of Ficus elastica 'Decora'
cuttings after 1 month (expt. 1).
fertilizer on the
by single eye
Treatment (in) Root grades
No leaf removal .62 2.0
50% leaf removal .74 1.9
Leaves not rolled (regular) 1.2 2.6
Leaves rolled .15 1.3
No fertilizer .70 1.9
3 g 14-14-14/pot .66 2.1
Leaf cut NS NS
Leaf treatment ** **
Fertilizer NS NS
z0 = no roots, 1 = 1-20%, 2 = 21-40%, 3 = 41-60%, 4 = 61-80%,
5 = 81-100% root ball coverage with white, healthy roots.
yNonsignificant (NS) or significant at the 5% (*) or 1% (**)
Table 2. Influence of leaf cut on root grade of Ficus
cultivars by single eye cuttings (expt. 2).
(in) Root grades
Honduras Burgundy Robusta
2 0.3 1.0 0.9
4 1.6 2.4 1.3
6 1.0 3.2 1.8
Entire leaf 2.1 2.6 2.6
SignificanceY L* _L*Q*_ L**
Lyrata Denmark Decora
2 1.2 3.4 0.5
4 2.7 3.7 1.0
6 2.0 3.5 1.2
Entire leaf 3.4 3.5 1.4
SignificanceY L** NS L**
z0 = no roots, 1 = 1-20%, 2 = 21-40%, 3 = 41-60%, 4 =
61-80%, 5 = 81-100% root ball coverage with white, healthy
YNonsignificant (NS) or significant at the 5% (*) or 1% (**)
levels; linear (L), quadratic (Q).
Table 3. Influence of media and leaf cut on the propagation of single eye Ficus (expt. 3).
Ficus lyrata F. elastica 'Decora' F. elastica 'Burgundy'
Root Ht No. green Plant Root Ht No. green Plant Root Ht No. green Plant
grades (in) leaves gradeY grades (in) leaves grades grade (in) leaves grades
Main effects 1 mo 3 mo 3 mo 3 mo 1 mo 3 mo 3 mo 3 mo 1 mo 3 mo 3 mo 3 mo
FSP 2.6 8.5 5.4 4.1 1.4 10.5 3.4 3.5 1.2 7.7 3.3 3.0
2:1:1 2.8 8.9 5.5 4.2 1.8 9.3 3.2 3.4 2.1 10.6 4.4 3.8
3 in 3.2 7.2 5.6 3.8 1.1 3.4 1.1 1.7 1.1 5.5 2.5 2.1
5 in 2.3 8.2 5.5 4.3 1.6 11.8 4.0 3.9 1.7 8.9 3.9 3.4
7 in 2.4 8.9 5.4 4.1 1.9 12.3 4.3 4.3 1.9 9.5 3.9 3.8
Entire leaf 3.0 10.3 5.3 4.3 1.7 12.2 3.8 4.0 2.1 12.6 5.1 4.3
Media (M) NS NS NS NS L** NS NS NS L** L** L* L**
Leaf (L) Q* L** NS NS L**Q** L**Q** L**Q* L*Q* L** L** L* L**
0O = no roots, 1 = 1-20%, 2 = 21-40%, 3 = 41-60%, 4 = 61-80%, 5 = 81-100% root ball coverage with white, healthy roots.
Y1 = poor, not salable; 3 = good, salable; 5 = excellent quality.
"Florida sedge peat and mixture of Florida sedge peat, cypress shavings, pine bark (2:1:1 by volume).
"Significant effects at the 1% (**) or 5% (*) levels; linear (L), quadratic (Q); and nonsignificant (NS).