Growing a fig tree from seed may not be as simple as buying from a local nursery, but the satisfaction of watching your own fig tree grow from seed is very rewarding.
Fig trees will thrive as long as proper growing conditions are met. The seeds must be germinated in an adequately humid environment and provided ample nutrients to thrive. The seedlings must be transplanted into pots and then into the ground when the time is right.
From germinating seeds to harvesting fruit, keep reading to learn all you need to know about planting fig trees from seed!
Before deciding to plant a fig tree from seed, there are a couple of things to consider.
Fig tree seeds can be unpredictable. It is impossible to know if they are male or female so you could invest your time into a plant that doesn’t produce edible fruit.
The only way to identify a fig tree as female or male is to wait until it bears fruit. A female fig’s flesh will contain seeds, while a male fig’s flesh does not contain seeds. These trees may take up to five to seven years to produce fruit.
When harvesting seeds from fresh fruit, it is important to remember that the seed will not grow into the same variety as the tree it was harvested from. For these reasons, many gardeners choose to purchase fig trees from a nursery or cultivate trimmings themselves from an existing tree.
Planting Fig Trees from Seeds
Planting fig trees from seeds is more difficult than buying them from a reputable nursery, or cultivating them through trimmings from other trees.
But seeing all your hard work grow into something sweet and beautiful is so worth all the effort! You can harvest the seeds from the fresh fruit yourself or purchase fig tree seeds, whichever you prefer.
Let’s walk through the process of harvesting the seeds from fresh fruit to transplanting and caring for your growing fig tree.
t Harvest fig seeds from fresh fruit. Slice the fig in half, scoop out the seeds and pulp, and place it in a container full of water to soak for 24 to 48 hours.
Viable seeds will have sunk to the bottom of the container, leaving the goop on top ready to discard.
Retrieve the viable seeds, which have already absorbed enough moisture to crack, and begin germinating.
Fig seeds will need a humid, warm environment to germinate.
To create this environment, prepare a planting medium for your fig tree seeds. To create the perfect medium, you can use peat, perlite, fine volcanic rock, or a sterile seed-starting mix.
Add the mixture to a pot and moisten it. Mix your seeds with some horticultural sand and strew them around the surface of the pot.
To increase humidity, top the pot with plastic wrap and put it on your sunniest windowsill. As long as you can see condensation on the inside of the bag, the seeds have plenty of water.
The plastic bag can be left on until the seeds have sprouted or until you no longer see condensation on the top, at which time the plastic should be removed to water the seedling.
When germinating fig seeds, it is important to use the appropriate medium, like one of the ones mentioned above, rather than just traditional potting soil because this increases the risk of mold or mildew forming.
The seed will germinate within two to eight weeks if the environment is humid and warm. Once you can see two sets of leaves and your plant is a couple of inches tall, it is time to move them to pots!
You can use regular potting soil when preparing the soil for your transplanted fig tree. This is because the plant is through the germinating phase, and the concern of mold or mildew has decreased.
The soil needs to be kept damp for a few weeks, but be careful not to drench it.
To optimize humidity levels, try misting the plant with water, but there shouldn’t be any standing water on the leaves or in the soil.
Fig tree seedlings are ready to be transplanted into larger pots when they have four leaves each. Bring them inside during any freezing temperatures.
I suggest planting each fig tree somewhere it can receive at least six hours of full sun. Because fig trees grow in tropical rainforests, the plants are accustomed to mixed lighting.
Once your plants are around six months old, you can start feeding them diluted houseplant food to maintain nutrients. Don’t feed them during winter months when they are dormant. Resume feeding during the summer.
After the last frost of the spring, transplant the seedlings into the ground at your prepared location. These trees, once mature, are hardy in cold climates down to about 20 degrees F (and lower for some varieties), but they need to be kept inside during cold temperatures for at least the first year after planting.
The spacing of the fig trees should depend on whether you prefer the tree to branch out into more of a bush form or to grow up rather than out. If you want them to be well-divided, try transplanting the seedlings ten to twenty feet apart.
As they grow, fig trees need about 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water per week. They will need plant food, proper soil, and regular watering.
Water the plant at least once every two days or when the soil feels dry
These plants are known to take over the garden, so prune your fig trees to prevent their infestation. The roots can even bust through cement!
Once a fig tree has matured, it requires little-to-no upkeep other than pruning seasonally. They can grow up to thirty feet tall and have leaves up to ten inches long.
Fig trees can be moderately difficult trees to plant from seeds, but they will keep producing for up to two-hundred years, so if you’re looking for a family heirloom, they might be worth the trouble!
Where to Buy Seeds
Suppose you would rather skip the process of harvesting seeds from fresh fruit. In that case, multiple varieties of fig tree seeds are available for purchase online, including Black Mission, Golden, Brown Turkey, and Honey.
Don’t forget it will take up to seven years for you to determine the plant’s sex, which impacts whether the fruit is edible. Also, remember seeds harvested from fresh fruit will not produce a plant that is identical to the parent.
Purchasing seedlings from a nursery is the best bet if you want to make sure it will produce edible figs or if you’re looking to plant a specific fig tree variety.
Benefits of Planting Using Seeds
Fig seeds are moderately easy to germinate for an experienced gardener, although they take a varied amount of time to complete the germination process.
Planting these trees from seeds increases genetic diversity because you never really know what you are getting (If you want to ensure you are growing a specific variety, you’ll want to buy a seedling from a reputable source).
When harvesting seeds from fresh fruit, it is important to note that the tree will not be the same species as the parent tree. But you might find a delicious fig variety.
Fig trees are adaptable to many different climates, and their fruit provides an array of health benefits to those who enjoy it.
Planting a fig tree from seed is beneficial because these trees produce a lot of fruit, which can be used in recipes, eaten fresh off the tree, or frozen for up to 18 months!
Challenges of Planting Using Seeds
Growing a fig tree from a seed is a bit more challenging than cultivating it by cutting it from another tree. For this reason, planting a fig tree from a seed is recommended for more experienced gardeners.
Fig trees can be invasive, depending on the variety. The roots spread widely, and the tree bushes outwards when provided proper space.
Pests and Diseases
The biggest concerns for fig trees are pests.
Nematodes are attracted by the sweet scent of the fig and can stunt the plant’s growth. A stunted tree won’t grow properly or produce much fruit, but you can get rid of this pest with nematicides.
Other pests that may prevent your fig trees from growing properly are carpenter worms, sap beetles, spider mites, and fig tree borers.
To keep more pests away, spraying the leaves of the tree with insecticides will suffice.
Fig tree borers are a little more challenging to prevent and almost impossible to control if they get past your defenses. To deny these critters access to your precious figs, encase the lower portion of the tree in netting.
Give It A Try!
Whether you harvest the seeds from fresh fruit or purchase the seeds at a local co-op or online, growing your own figs is possible!! These fruits are well-known around the world and date back to ancient civilizations.
Figs are the perfect cure for your sweet tooth without any of the unhealthy side effects of other sugary treats.
Planting a fig tree from seeds has some challenges, but it is a worthwhile process that produces bountiful fruit for many years. Love figs? Keep reading to learn everything about fig trees – including different varieties, and how to grow and care for them.