Grow figs from seed

Fig Propagation

  • Sexual Propagation
  • Asexual Propagation
    • Cuttings | Grafting | Layering | Micropropagation

Sexual propagation
Although it is possible to grow fig from seed it is not recommended unless breeding new cultivars. Plants grown from seed are not guaranteed to have the same traits as either parent. Additionally, only some seeds will produce female trees with edible fruit while the others will produce male fig trees with small inedible fruit.
Figs contain many small fruits and seeds. Viable seeds can be separated from inviable seeds by floating them in water. Viable seed will sink and can be germinated. Seeds that do not sink to the bottom are inviable and should be discarded. Fertile seeds can be germinated by spreading them on flats of moist soil mix or sphagnum moss (Hartmann 2011).

Asexual propagation
Fig is most commonly propagated by cuttings to ensure that new trees are female and “true to type”, with the same traits as the tree from which cuttings were collected. Shield- or patch budding, or cleft- or bark-grafting techniques can also be used to topwork an existing orchard (Morton 1987).

Cuttings
Fig plants are commonly propagated by cuttings. Dormant cuttings of 2- or 3- year old wood, or basal parts of vigorous first year shoots with a heel of two-year branch at the base, should be used for propagation. Cuttings should be ½ to ¾ inches in diameter and eight to twelve inches long (Morton 1987). For best results cuttings should be prepared in early spring well before bud break. Grow cuttings for one or two seasons (12-15 months) in the nursery before transplanting to a permanent location (Morton 1987). Occasionally two cuttings can be set in one location to ensure establishment if one does not survive (Hartmann 2011).
Grafting
The fig can be budded onto existing rootstock to change fruit varieties. Fig can be topworked by inserting t-buds into vigorous 1-year-old shoots on heavily pruned trees, or patch-budded onto older shoots (Hartmann et al. 2011). Cleft- or bark-grafting can also be used to topwork existing varieties.

Layering
Although commercial plantings should utilize nursery stock, propagation by ground or air layering can be successful in figs. Layering should be done in early spring using one-year old branches to ensure sufficient rooting my midsummer (Hartmann 2011).

Micropropagation
Fig shoot tips and nodes have been successfully micropropagated using several techniques. In general, roots can be propagated from shoot tips by placing them on semi-solid propagation material with IBA. Nodal explants can be propagated by placing them on propagation material with BA (Bapat and Mhatre 2005). Each fig variety may require different concentrations of growth hormones for successful propagation.

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Growing Figs From Seeds

I am delighted to finally share with you how to grow figs from seeds. When my experiment on growing avocado plants from seeds was a success two years back, I started dreaming of planting many fruit trees. One of it is fig.


One of my many fig plants.

Come now… I share with you how to grow figs from seeds and how I take care of them.

My mom introduced me to the world of figs a few years ago. Initially, we only eat dried figs. Later on, we are able to find fresh figs at higher-end supermarkets. I love eating figs as they are sweet and delicious. And I prefer fresh figs over the dried ones. In Malaysia, fresh figs are quite expensive. So what can I do about it? Plant my own lo. That was before I found out there are local fresh figs for sale but then their price range is similar to imported ones. Even more reason to plant my own now. No?

So one day, I decided to experiment with planting figs from seeds in Malaysia. I used two kinds of seeds; from fresh figs and from dried figs.


This is the sneak peak photo of my baby figs plants that I shared here. I promised to write a post about them if they survived. Well, some didn’t make it but those that did are growing up great.

There are 2 pots in the above photo. One of the pots were germinated from seeds of fresh fig and another from dried fig. Although I’ve forgotten which is which, at least I know (and you know) figs can be grown from fresh and dried figs.


Fresh fig and dried fig. Taken recently.

How to harvest seeds from fig and germinate ’em?
For both fresh and dried figs: Carefully remove the seeds (they are so tiny!) from fig. Rinse seeds with water in a sieve (has small holes) to remove the slimy bits. Let the seeds dry for a couple of days. They are ready for germinating.


Index finger: fresh fig seeds
Middle finger: dried fig seeds

Make several small indents in the soil. Place one seed in each hole and cover with soil. Give love and be patient in waiting. Once the fig seedlings are about 5-6 cm tall, you can transplant them to their permanent location be it on the ground or pot.


Growing bigger.

Taking care of fig plants:
Figs are easy to grow and take care of. Here are some of my tips:

Soil: A mixture of black+red soils. I use organic 6 in 1 soil + red soil.

Water: Water daily unless the soil is wet or it’s raining. Water on the soil and not at the leaves.

Sun: Full sun from what I read. However, my figs do better in partial sun. When I started, I had them under full sun, but they developed rust on the leaves. So, I placed them all in the shad with morning sun and they are thriving albeit very rarely little rusty leaves here and there.

Fertilizer: I don’t use fertilizer anymore. While fertilizer is not the same as compost, I apply homemade ‘compost’ every few days to 1-2 weeks. My homemade ‘compost’: dried leaves, branches, kitchen scraps like egg shells, tea leaves, ground coffee, rice water, citrus rinds, banana peels, etc. More on my compost making here + plants’ vitamins.

Pruning: Every once in a while, when the branches are growing taller or bushier, give them a few trims. This is especially true if you want to keep the fig short in height and especially if they are grown in pots.

Diseases and pests: I’ve encountered only one fig disease which is fig rust. It’s a fungal and can be quite a problem in Malaysia’s wet and humid weather. The rust on the leaves looks like real rust. Due to this problem, my potted figs were re-homed from outdoor to our car porch which is shaded and yet still receive morning sun and rain if the wind is strong. Make sure to pick out the affected leaves as the rust can spread to other leaves. To prevent rust, also make sure to water on the soil surrounding the fig plant. Try not to wet the leaves. One pest problem I have is ants. They climb the fig branches and make housing there. So what I do is use water to wash the houses away. If that doesn’t work, I will prune the affected branches. Don’t worry, fig produces new leaves very quickly.

Love: Positive affirmation and thoughts. The universe (everything) listens!


Figgy!

Can figs that are grown from seeds bear fruits? If yes, how long does it takes?
I bet this is the most important question of all. The reason why we do what we do; plant figs to reap the rewards.

From what I’ve read, some figs need pollination (wasp: blastophaga psenes) to bear fruits while some don’t. Fig cultivars that don’t need pollination can still bear fruits. This is because they are self-fertile. However, they don’t produce seeds unless there are wasps nearby. Meaning, you will have the flesh (syconium) but without the seeds, if I’m not mistaken. Then there’s also the case of male trees with female flowers and female trees with female flowers. Caprifigs (male figs) are inedible and yet useful for pollinating other figs, again if I’m not mistaken. So yeah, it’s a long confusing story. Please search the internet for more info.

In short, figs grown from seeds may or may not bear fruits and if it does bear fruits, they may or may not be edible. They are difficult to judge unless you know the sex of the tree (male/female) and types. That’s why like avocado, many prefer to get grafted or cuttings of figs. You know the tree it was grated/cut from and therefore less chance of failure. For me, I planted lots of figs to up my chances (like avocado). Haha

Figs can take anywhere between 2 to 6 years to bear fruits. I’m very hopeful!


Fig plant grown on ground. Just a small space.

As of writing, I have 7 fig plants. Of the 7 only one is grown on the ground at a small narrow area (also in car porch). The rest are in pots. They are 2 years old. As for their species/cultivars, I’ve no idea. But I’m very sure they will bear fruits. 🙂 Even if they are not able to bear fruits (touchwood), I would still like to keep some as fig leaves have interesting shapes and very pretty. I sometimes decorate my home with figs branches that I pruned, but usually I dried them and make compost. Haha

Beauty!

I’ll update this post if there’s any good news.

Please share with me if you know more about figs ya.

Growing Figs – How to Grow Figs

How to Grow Figs – A Guide to Growing Figs

Figs

Hardy varieties of figs will easily grow throughout the UK right up to the north of Scotland.

An ideal plant for container growing, their fruit is produced by fruit buds that appear the previous fall which do not flower or need pollination. Root growth restriction encourages the fruiting, so if you wish to plant your fig outside, use some manner of restricting the root size such as setting the potted plant into the soil, or grow it in a smallish box, or ‘box in’ the root area with pieces of slat or patio stones.

Recommended Fig Varieties

  • The most popular variety in the UK is Brown Turkey, which is reliable and reasonably hardy.
  • Brunswick is well-flavoured and more tolerant of colder, wetter UK growing conditions
  • Violetta is the earliest cropper of sweet figs and will tolerate up to -20C winters

Fig Pests & Problems

  • Greenhouse grown figs can suffer from red spidermite so regular misting with warm water is recommended
  • The plant itself is hardy but the growing tips, where the fruit is produced, can be damaged by frost. Protect with fleece.
  • Birds and squirrels adore figs so netting the outdoor plant is highly recommended

Cultivating Figs

  • Fig trees can reach an average size of 3m (9′) high and up to 4m (13′) in width. They fruit mostly on branch tips so keep this in mind when pruning.
  • Outdoor figs prefer a sheltered, sunny position such as a south facing wall
  • Soil should be slightly alkaline with lots of well rotted manure and compost, and well drained.
  • Restrict the root growth to encourage fruiting. Create about a two foot square ‘box’ in the root area with bricks, slabs or slates and leave the bottom open for drainage. If you are wall training your figs, install support wires prior to planting
  • Container grown figs, use a base compost such as John Innes No. 3, four parts compost to one part grit, and slow release fertilizer in pot one size larger than the original. Repot every two years and root prune a little before replanting. If a larger pot is needed, use only one size larger than the current size.
  • Water all fig plants well during the summer
  • Feed with a liquid tomato feed as the fruits develop. However, if the tree seems vigorous and produces a lot of lush foliage, cut back on the feeding or you’ll have no fruit.
  • Lightly prune in the spring and in the summer pinch out new growth at five or six leaves.

Harvesting, Eating and Storing

  • Harvest time is usually in late summer. The skin should bes soft and splits when gently squeezed
  • After the initial crop, figs will sometimes produce a second fruiting which, if successfully overwintered, will produce an early crop. In their milder Mediterranean home they can produce up to three crops a year.
  • Wonderful eaten fresh and sun-warmed from the tree.
  • Fresh figs can be stored unwashed in zipper seal bags in the fridge for up to one month. Wash only when ready to eat. Check the bag regularly and remove spoiling ones.
  • Figs can be dried, used in jams and chutney, or preserved in brandy.

Further Information on Figs

Recipes Using Figs

  • No feed items at this time. Please check back later.

Fig Seed & Plants

  • Figs from the Allotment Shop

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