Lost Figs: Where are they?

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Lost and Found

Chances are that your figs are not in the lost and found at the police station. Knowing when the figs will grow and whether or not they’re being stolen or eaten by natures bugs and other critters is essential to being a backyard gardener.

  • Lost? Maybe the neighborhood kids or your landscapers are sneaking through your yard and eating your figs.
  • There’s no guarantee that you’ll see figs growing on your transplanted tree for the first 2-3 years.
Lost figs transplanted tree
Soil Filled Into Hole

If you see figs, you’re either lucky or the person who supplied a fig tree to you did everything as right as possible to ensure fig production. But there can be margins of error. If you don’t see figs within the first 2-3 years, be patient and hope to see figs the next year. A friend said to me one day that when he doesn’t insulate his fig tree from the winter frost, he doesn’t have figs that year. I only follow this rule for the first year I plant the tree and leave it alone for the following Winter seasons if the tree is at least 5ft tall or the trunk is more than 3 yrs old. I like a thick trunk.

  • If you’ve had your fig trees for a while and you’re just not seeing figs growing, then here are steps to follow to force the tree to grow figs the next year. These steps will not guarantee fig propagation, but it’s a worthy experiment that has worked for me and other people.

Forcing Fig Growth

  • Follow the pruning procedures at item 6 in Outside Living.
  • When the tree begins to grow be sure to cut back any growth that wants to emerge from the base of the trunk.
  • While the new growth begins to emerge from the existing branches, only allow 6 leaves to grow from each branch. Beyond this point, pinch (clip) off the additional growth. This will force the tree to redirect energy from growing limbs to growing figs. Check on the limbs periodically because the tree may start to grow new branches at the base (armpit) of the leaf stems. If so, pinch these off. You’ll scratch your head thinking.. “But figgiriggi said not to prune during growing season.” For this situation, we’re not concerned about that. The pinched ends will dry quickly and then seal themselves off by the following day.
  • Check on the tree for new growth about once every 4 days.
  • Keep an eye out for rounded green bumps. Figs begin to emerge as small ball forms on very short stalks. Baby figs can be confused for leaves, but carefully compare the bumps with how the leaves form. Leaves form almost immediately at the base (armpit) of the leaf stems. Figs also form at the same location. If you’re not sure if you see a fig or not, wait another 4 days and then you’ll know.
  • You’ll have to tend to this for the entire growing season. It gives you an excuse to observe your tree when the neighbors see you out in the yard, otherwise they might think you’ve lost your mind.

If you give up, hopefully you won’t. Go to a nursery or online and buy new fig trees (Paid Link).

2 thoughts on “Lost Figs: Where are they?

  1. Hi, is it self pollinating? I am in Turkey, Izmir, Egean regean. I have a fig tree, that did not produce fruit one year. What they told me to do is, find a male tree, get 2 or 3 male fruit hang them on the tree. Fig need a special fly ( Blastophaga psenes) for pollination. May be you have what they called partenokarp tree, which does not need pollination from male tree. I have to do this every other year. I don’t have much knowledge about gardening, just learning. And curious about air layering about other fruit trees, for example apricot tree. Do you have any experience on other fruit trees?
    By the way, i lived in Auburn, Al for a long time. And i’ve seen a lot of fig trees around.

  2. Brown Turkey fig trees are technically not self pollinating, since pollen isn’t necessary for production. They are as you say ‘partenokarp’ trees. Parthenocarpy is the English term I’m more familiar with, which translates as parthenos for virgin and karpos for fruit. This translates as a fruit that is produced without fertilization. In this regard, they produce a fruit without a fig wasp (Blastophaga psenes) catching pollen from a male fig. If you can get a cutting from a parthenocarpy tree such as a Brown Turkey, you can graft it onto your tree. Or just replace your tree with this variety without the trouble of grafting.

    I am unfamiliar with air layering other fruit trees. However, here is a useful link to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension service that has instructions you can use to follow a traditional technique on air layering. https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/earthkind/landscape/air-layering/

    Parthenocarpy reference: https://www.thesmartergardener.com/persimmons-and-parthenocarpy/

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