growing figs from seed

canadianplantFebruary 1, 2012

I am finding some very conflicting information in regards to growing/collecting F carica seed.

I have seen seed available, so that is not the problem. The problem is the fact that some sources state that THEY DO NOT NEED A POLLINATOR AND REGULARLY PRODUCE VIABLE SEED. This is contrary to everything I thought I knew about figs. Im aware that its possible the proper wasp has made it to the US, but theym being "Self fertile" to some degree, is a new one to me.

Also, I read that its more then possible, to get some dried figs, and use the seeds from them to germinate.

Can anyone here clarify this?

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The BIG issue is that figs (F.carica) do NOT reproduce
TRUE from seeds! You may get lucky; but the chances
of getting the same/similar (or a better) seedling
off the parent(s) are very remote (say, 1 in a 1000?).

Known GOOD figs can ONLY be TRULY propagated though
vegative means (e.g., rooting-cuttings or grafting means).

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 1:41PM
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That is perfectly fine! Im planning on trying then outdoors in my zone 4 yard, and am expecting to kill some in the process (not intentionaly of course!)

Im also not talking about ordering some F carica seeds online. Im talking about harvesting from my potted fig, or possibly trying some dried figs from the store. From what i always thought, that was not possible, because I dont have the proper pollinator wasp up here.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 2:13PM
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I now know that I missed your main point!

Somehow and very rare, fig seeds can be vaible without
any caprification whatsoever!
There is a scientific name for that which I do nor remember.
I know nothing about the subject, but I recall
seeing some previous posts/threads about it.

Hope more expert(s) do chime in...
Good luck.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 2:33PM
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samuelforest(5b Montreal)

If you are interested, I have a live cutting ( rooted with leaves ). If you want to buy it exchange it contact me, I live near Montreal. It's a kadota fig tree.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2012 at 9:43PM
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The technical term for seed production without pollen is apomixis. There has been one reported case with a Celeste, that I know of. Search for apomixis or apomictic at F4F and you will find more info and links to some research that is behind a pay wall but the abstracts are hopeful. Some varieties seem to do it more than others, and pollen from other Moraceae species is also supposed to increase the rate at which it happens. There is a chance that during cellular division there could be mutations in the seeds genes so they would not all be true clones. It is a rare thing to happen, but also a rare thing for people to try and do because of the common opinion about fig seeds, so it could be more common in the future.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 6:58AM
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First thing is first. I realized that I should have posted my sources....

Here is the one stating that states Fcarica does not need the pollinating wasp.

(im not sure how reliable this is)

Here is the one stating that figs can begrown from seed, from dried fruits:

(this is from purdue, so im going to have to say it is reliable! )

Thanks for the lead hoosierbanana!

I did a bit of searchng, and I found this:

" Ficus carica has 2 sexual forms, the "male" caprifig and female tree (edible fig). The caprifig is monoecious [i.e. with separate male (staminate) flowers and separate female (pistillate) flowers. It is functionally male because it produces pollen. Edible figs contain only long-style female flowers. Since functional male trees are hermaphroditic, Ficus carica is usually considered gynodioecious rather than dioecious"

From what I can gather, I think it depends on if you have a "male" or "female" tree, although, that source seems to state they are either or.... Looks like im going through the rabbit hole!!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 11:04AM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

Ever since I read about "new" figs that you can name yourself, the topic of germinating seeds interested me. Also, FREE fig trees! So, I Googled, and found out if done like the below (copied and pasted from the link url), it takes 7 - 10 days. I can't wait till my figs get ripe to try this! Or maybe I'll buy some fresh ones at the farmers market!

How to Germinate Fig Seeds

Things You'll Need

2 to 3 fresh ripe figs
Slotted spoon


1. Soak two or three fresh, ripe figs in a bowl of clean water for one to two days. Use your fingers to break open the figs, exposing the seeds and pulp. Return the figs to the water for an additional one to two days. Scoop out any pulpy material that floats to the top; any viable fig seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl. Pour the water in the bowl through a strainer and spread the seeds on a paper towel to allow them to dry slightly.

2. Combine equal parts peat moss, perlite and finely ground volcanic rock to create a coarse, well-draining growing medium in which to germinate your seeds. Pour the growing medium into a 4- to 6-inch-deep tray with drainage holes in the bottom.

3. Mix the fig seeds with 1/2 cup of wood ash or fine horticultural sand. Distribute the mixture evenly over the surface of the growing medium in the tray.

4. Water the seeds to settle them into the growing medium and encourage them to germinate.

5. Place the tray in a location that receives four to six hours of bright sunlight per day. Water, as needed, to keep the growing medium evenly moist; the seeds should germinate and sprout in approximately seven to 10 days.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to Germinate Fig Seeds

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 12:27PM
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Hi canadianplant,

Although gorgi is very knowledgable about figs (I've seen earlier posts), and even against what might seem to be impossible odds, I wish to encourage you in your pursuit of seed-grown fig trees. Figs have been around for a milion years, so somehow, they must have gotten by just fine before we growers came along. This is why I believe that figs must be able to reproduce in nature under simple conditions.

It would be wonderful to behold if you indeed carry this experiment forward, and please make regular posts regarding your results! It will be Fig Class 101 for the rest of us.

The key of course is not that you get a pretty fig tree, but that you get a bunch of ripe, yummy figs from a seed-grown tree. Here is such a great opportunity. Please post your exact techniques, and pictures are a real bonus, if you would upload them occasionally.

Exciting to see this.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 9:18PM
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Your Own trees in your location,can't supply live seeds unless you live where the fig wasp lives,or trough apomitic way.
Apomitic fertile seeds,from your tree could happen,but they are very rare occurrences,yet this is the only viable way to get a decent fruit producing tree.
Store bought fruits seeds:Forget about them producing fruiting trees,because:
Cauducous male caprifigs are used to pollinate female fig trees in California ,Turkey Grece etc!
Those cauducous male caprifigs ,will give to the new seedling the undesirable (Gene), of dropping of fruits at the point of half grown,when not pollinated by the wasp.
Also the fruits from commerce are usually Smyrna Type Females,which are themselves cauducous,(will drop fruits without pollination).
____So When a Smyrna type Female fig is pollinated by a cauducous caprifig,none of the seedlings are persistant(will keep fruits without pollination),I mean none zilk,etc,it doesn't matter how many thousands of seedlings you are going to grow.
____When a common type Female fig pollinates with a Cauducous caprifig the seedlings will be:
1/3 males, mix,some persistent and some cauducous
1/3 Females ,Cauducous (need polination to persist)
1/3 Females,Common,persistent,but Usually all are inferior to mother plant in Quality

The information on the internet are sometimes not complete and confusing,yet Summary,the above information is what I could gather to be true,so if you insist on growing from seeds grow seedling from "Common fig seeds" ,only,and not from store bought Smyrna fruits.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2012 at 8:57PM
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stepandfetch(NC 7B)

"The BIG issue is that figs (F.carica) do NOT reproduce
TRUE from seeds! You may get lucky; but the chances
of getting the same/similar (or a better) seedling
off the parent(s) are very remote (say, 1 in a 1000?).
Known GOOD figs can ONLY be TRULY propagated though
vegative means (e.g., rooting-cuttings or grafting means). " this logic, if seeds are germinated, a fig tree of greater qualities than the parent trees can be produced, because the genetics are nearly guaranteed to change in some way throough the next generation if the reproduction cycle is allowed to proceed? It's an interesting thought

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 12:29AM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

What I find to be appealing is that you DON'T get a fig the same as the tree you took the fig from. You get a NEW variety, and that is the intrigue and the pleasure of growing from seed.

Of course, Herman, this wouldn't work on store bought figs, but would work on country produce fairs where people bring their own fresh produce to sell. We have those every weekend around here, and come August/September, there will be a ton of common figs.

Personally, I'm looking forward to this new adventure, and plan to name my NEW figs after each one of my grand kids!


    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 9:09AM
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Yes it will work on Common type figs like Mission.
You will get many seedlings of Mission,from a Breba fruit(polinated).
Only Breba fruits are Female fruits the main crop are Mule,they do not pollinate.
------In Fact That is WHY there are so many Mission cultivars thaT ARE DIFFERENT ONE FROM THE OTHER.
Some are good tasting some are inferior tasting,and that is because people grew them from seeds and then sold them to Large Nurseries,as Mission Figs but they are Seedlings of Mission not Mission figs.
I can say I finally have a Genuine Mission,after I grew about 5 different ones.
Of course the Genuine Mission,is a superior cultivar with good resistance to rain,disease,and excellent taste,qualities that the Seedling don't have.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 9:35AM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

Jon, at Encanto Farms AKA Figs4Fun, found a seedling growing under a coffee plant. It was a fig. He grew it, tasted it, and named it Strawberry Latte. This is a wonderful new self pollinating varietal, and I don't think anyone should discourage the adventurous spirit in those that wish to try growing figs from seeds.

I buy lottery tickets every week. Do I win millions? No. But you never know...........


Here is a link that might be useful: Encanto Farms

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 2:05PM
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Suzi knows the magic. I'm with her. All we are saying, is give seeds a chance.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 10:00PM
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I agree with folks that it is about what could be in the chances of seedling outcomes. Any hybrid plant will offer the same issues of random differences from the parent.The ease of have many rooted cuttings from a solid performer tree is always possible for those who wish to stick with proven vs chance.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 10:33AM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

Jackhva, right! Take a chance! Buy a raffle ticket! But don't stick your neck in the mud and expect anything more than you expected.

What interests me is what Herman said that the seeds should come from Breba. Too late for that. Do I need to wait a year to try this, or... NAH, I'll try main crop figs!


    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 7:04PM
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I think seeds are very exciting. But am not interested in taking big risks growing trees that are not likely to produce good fruits ever because there are already enough good figs to reward my time and money. I do however want to try and "clean up" varieties with FMV, and establish a breeding program for the Northeast.

I have mulberry cuttings saved which I will flower in water, collect the pollen, and blow it into main crop figs that I want to clone because they are affected by the virus.

I would also like to cross the best varieties for the Northeast with a persistent male caprifig in order to get a persistent male with half of its genes from Sal's or Gino's Black etc. This male would then be back crossed to the original mother, or another good mother, so that the seedlings will have 3/4 superior genes. Repeat... We cannot know how many excellent varieties were grown from seeds selected from superior figs and how many were selected from wild trees because that information was only known by the ancients. I do think somebody figured it out at some time in history and the practice was abandoned once suitable varieties were found, or still happens without the whole world knowing.

Of course I would love to start with a male that had favorable characteristics for the Northeast, such as early ripening, tight eye, cold tolerance, and soil adaptability. Because the genes of the original male will always be there, no matter how many generations and crosses between known good varieties. Sadly, that information is not available. I think Condit started with Gillette, but moved to others because they were better producers of pollen; a major oversight IMO, because pollen production is not a characteristic being selected for.

The LSU Program seemed to be a huge success for the South, and also a huge loss of promising caprifigs for future breeding.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 5:53PM
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hoosierbanana :You are nso right about I Condit oversight,and if you read his books you will find out many other situation where the program took the easy way out!.
One example is the way that the scientists worked the cuttings they received from Great Britain collection.
They grafted the received scions in multiple numbers to established caprifig trees many varieties on one tree.
In doing so,every scion grew in a Branch that took in all the diseases the other scions on that tree had.
After they fruitted the cultivars that wore considered of interest were kept and from cuttings taken from those branches that grew from those scions,they formed individual trees.
Every tree that was imported from Europe was now different than the tree in Europe.
The Difference :They were loaded with multiple kinds of viruses due to the way the scion were handled.
Now days it is said that acaria fici spread the disease and so forth.
I doubt.
That collection was man made contaminated,more than any sucking mites could do.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 8:45PM
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oldvt(none 5)

I started 70 seedlings last spring,the trees that are not good will be root stock. Rex

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 7:02PM
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