Green Ischia (Verte) Fig

Diary of Fig Tree Bonsai

Never having figs before, we're jumping right in based on some recommendations and reviews received for the best tasting figs.  We picked three types of fig trees for the bonsai collection and hopefully these will be excellent producers in bonsai form.

The perfect pH for growing fig trees is a soil pH of 6.0 to 6.5, but we haven't amended our alkaline soil much and they are doing really well. When thinking about how to grow figs, you should know that they should be protected from cold winter winds and direct winter sunlight.

Figgers International:  

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Our Fig Trees:  

Black Madeira UCD (JF&E Zones 8-10), Black Mission (Zones 8,-9), Bourjassotte Grise (BayFlora Zones 6-10), Celeste (Celestial, Zones 7-9), Chicago Hardy (Zones 5-10), Desert King (Zones 6-10), Ischa (Verte, Zones 6-10), La Goccia D'oro (Zone 6-10), Lattarula Honey (Zones 6-9), Olympian (Zones 6-9), Panache Tiger (FourWinds Zone 8-10), Peters Honey (FourWinds 6-10), Triana, Black (Zone 6-10 ), Triana, White (Zones 5-10), Violette de Bordeaux (Zones 5-10), White Marsielles (Zones 6-9).

Figs purchased as tissue cultures from, unless otherwise noted.

Our Cutting Grow Outs:

Lets Get Growin

SUN: Minimum 7 hours day light daily.
WATER: Consistent watering.  Check the top 1-inch for moisture and water when slightly dry.
SOIL PH: 4.0-7.0
FERTILIZER: Slow release tomato fertilizer applied during the beginning of growing season

Fig Cuttings

2018-11-20 New Cuttings And A Little Over My Skis

Things were promising until the weather started cooling and the air became much drier.  The new buds shrank up and an ant nest was built in an Oro pod.  Six cuttings were brought inside, cleaned off, wrapped in parafilm and treated for ants.  The cuttings are still green, so there is still hope.

The new cuttings were also treated similarly; wrapped in parafilm, stuck in a pod and grouped together in this glass bowl. 

The three that popped their buds and sprung a few leaves included an Italian Honey, Bordisotte Blanca Rimada and the name favorite, Fig De Parfum.  We still have at least one of each of the priors brought in; Oro, Col De Dama Blanca and Bordisotte Blanca Negra. 

Bordisotte Blanca Rimada, Italian Honey, Fig De Parfum
The new additions are JH Adriatic and Borjasotte Blanca Negra. Received three each, so hoping for
at least 50/50 odds on these as well.

Along with the cuttings, some new fig tree orders are on the way Bourjasotte Grise, Black Triana, White Triana, and La Goccia D'oro aka Drop of Gold. These were purchases from BayFlora and 

Bordissot Blanca Negra, Italian Honey,
Coll de Dama Blanca

2018-10-28 At Least 50/50 Cutting Survival Predicted

Following the 'new method' of starting the fig cuttings,  we got some friendly advise to cover the top cut part of the cuttings so they don't get dried out.  I don't really like the look of the parafilm, but did follow the advise.  Following that, the cuttings seem to be retaining more moisture and looking green and growing some small buds.
Oro, Fig de Parfum
Alternatively, some people use beeswax (although may not be as breathable as parafilm) to cover the entire exposed (above soil) cutting - mixed results.  Other creative choices are liquid electrical tape, wound care cover for trees, wood glue, or even just paint.  

Even with early misstep, the cuttings seem quite resilient and are determined to at least pop a bud, and hopefully eventually sprout a leaf.  We are hopeful :D
Bordissot Blanca Rimada
I think next time we are going to try the wood glue - so we don't have to worry about the parafilm untying or getting blown off by a storm.  It also should look much tidier.  These plastic wraps really grate on me for some reason.

Kind of funny to look at the difference from when they arrived to how they are doing now, it looks like they lost quite a bit of moisture and a bit of growth setback.

2018-10-16 New Cuttings Arrived
Oro, Bordissot Blanca Negra, Bordissot Blanca Rimada,
Fig De Parfum Cuttings

The first time we tried cuttings, we got some 'Black Madeira' cuttings from a known eBay scammer (see list of scammers here).  Two of the three molded, and one is hanging out still. Nothing new on it.

We tried a second set of cuttings that were generously gifted for a newbie to learn on, which are the Colle de Dama Blanca and Italian Honey.  These were set up differently and are starting to bud up.  This is a good sign, but too bad it is close to fall.

The process we used here in the low desert during late monsoon is wiping down the cuttings and spraying them with hydrogen peroxide to remove anything that may cause problems.  While we are cleaning up the cuttings, we soak some large jiffy pods in water and get them fully expanded.

Coll de Dama Blanca Cutting
We scrape the bottoms of the cuttings to show some green only about the length of the jiffy pods.  We then jam the cuttings into the jiffy pods and put them in a large planter that is on an automatic watering system.  The planter is tented with mosquito netting to allow light in, but prevent direct sun on the cuttings.

The large planter allows for regular moisture, but great drainage.  The pods can retain some necessary moisture but allows the unnecessary moisture to drain away and prevent rot or mold.

Cuttings get temporary tags with taped labels until they are proven growers.  Then the tape is removed from the tag and stamped permanently.

Black Madeira Fig Tree, With Figlet

2018-10-12 Black Madeira Arrived, With Figlet!

The Black Madeira arrived today.  It is surprisingly large.  I wasn't expecting a tree this big, or to have a little figlet to boot!

This tree was purchased from Just Fruits and Exotics.  Back and forth emails with them about the pedigree of the tree and we were assured it is a UCDavis Black Madeira fig tree.

UC Davis BM

For curious people, there is a lot of controversy over what is or is not a black madeira fig tree, and what can or cannot be legitimately sold under a black madeira label.  Some people like to create uncertainty to maintain claims of having their own one and only black madeira.  Here is one post showing the difference between closely related varieties: Figs4Fun

As with all fig trees, the leaves don't help with a complete identification until mature and the final determination is based on the fig.   Hopefully this figlet hangs on and we can verify the pedigree soon! :)  And too bad it is so close to fall...

The listing was for a 1 - 3 foot tree, and this one is probably taller than three feet if the planter pot is counted.  It is a little taller than the light switches.  Being on the fig high, we ordered a few cuttings of some Oro, Borgisette Blanca Negra and Borgisette Blanca Rimada from Hershell & Dave on the FB What The Fig Group.  Something about the striped or unusual figs,  I guess.  I'm beginning to have a collection problem.

In any case, we'll be able to try this one out next spring or summer for sure!  Really looking forward to trying one in this flavor profile : intense dark berry.

2018-10-05 More Fig Trees
Tiger Panache Fig

Seems we have neglected updating the fig trees and I need to get something nice and original, like MountainFigs to show the varieties and flavor profiles.  Fig growing and cultivation has become much more interesting after learning about the flavor varieties.  For now, we have a list and one not so great tasting fig this season.

A general lack of experience and knowledge about figs makes it a bit difficult to get organized to start with.  What does and doesn't taste good is palette subjective and environmentally dependent.

Peter's Honey Figs

2017-05-13 A Tree Full Of Figs

Peters Honey is hanging on to gobs of figs.  Panache ditched all of it's figs.  All the other fig trees are so tiny, we won't expect anything for a few years.

We won't bore anyone with pictures of tiny fig cuttings in large pots.  Not much to see here.

These figs should be ready 70 days after starting, so maybe we can try our first figs around the end of June.  That would make this timed like a breba crop, if they mature that quickly, but they all look like they started on new growth.

2017-05-07 More Figs
Cordon Espalier Fig Trees

Feeling pretty confident about having fig trees, but not yet really knowing what fresh figs taste like, we went ahead and purchased several other varieties of fig trees to help bolster our espalier plan.  Thinking about growing them low to the ground like this espalier style in the photo to shade the ground in the warmer summer months.

The added varieties include:  Lattarula Honey (dwarf) x 2, Violette de Bordeaux (dwarf), White Marseilles (dwarf), Desert King and Black Mission fig.  These are all tiny starter plants and will be producing in two years minimum.

Panache Tiger Fig Fruit

2017-04-12 Lots Of Fruit Starts

Peters Honey Fig Fruit
Exciting!!  We have some little fruit buds on both the Peter's Honey Fig and the Panache Tiger Fig.  We bought some store figs last year and they were pretty bland. My son tells me these figs are super sweet varieties that are sure to please.

Hopefully this flush of fruit will ripen on the tree and we can eat them. All the earlier fruits before dormancy fell of and we had none.  :(

Peters Honey Fig
2017-03-05 New Growth

So, it is really distressing when you don't know that your plants are not evergreen and the leaves turn colors and drop off.  I was kind of sweating it over our mild short winter here when that exact scenario happened to all of the fig trees.  I'm not sure why I didn't know they would go dormant.

I am now happy that the fig trees are getting new growth and the Peters honey fig is again, growing a new fig.  I haven't had an opportunity to eat one yet.  The previous figs dropped off, maybe because they were never pollinated.

I'm really looking forward to trying these out and some of the other figs out when they get some mature fruits.

Ischia Verte II

2016-10-01 Replacement II Arrived

We received the second replacement for Ischia Verte.  It looks really good!  Third time is the charm, I guess.  This one has three trunks, pretty thick and adult formed leaves. 

Peter's Honey Fig
Honey is doing well and the fig is hanging in there.  I'm not sure what happens to a fig if it is not pollinated, but we may find out.  One lonely fig in the backyard may not garner much attention from the fig wasp population.

Panache is doing really well too.  New growth showing up and
Panache Tiger Fig
the leaves look to have a really nice color.

The acclimation location is south-facing, and gets the morning sun.  The figs hang out with the other tropicals in a small grouping on the patio for grow out and training.

Ischia Fig No 2

2016-09-22 Replacement Arrived

Good news and bad news. The Ischia fig replacement arrived... broken :(

These are normally packed really well but this time the stick that keeps the tiny trees from bouncing around broke through the box top and the tree got mashed anyway.

2016-09-17 Growth Buds
Peter's Honey Fig Bud

Today, after checking out Peter's Honey, I noticed two different types of buds.  One is certainly a leaf bud. Having never seen a fig bud, I'm guessing because it looks different that it is a fig bud.

Peter's Honey Leaf Bud
Posting pictures of both to help see how these are different. These are small buds, the details captured with a macro lens on my phone.

What looks to be the fig bud has a stout little stem that props it up and away from the branch terminals.  The leaf bud is right between the branch terminals, and located one segment up from the fig bud.

I know nothing about this - just making educated guesses at the moment.  It would be nice to get some immediate gratification with a breba fig.  The normal fruting time for Peter's Honey is summer, but the breba crops are reported to be very sweet tasting as well.

2016-09-16 Arrival Day

Green Ischia (verte) fig seedling

We received the Green Ischia (Verte) fig tree today. It seems very unhappy as a young seedling.  Perhaps it was too wet, or too dark, or too hot when it was shipped. I really don't know.  I'll be keeping an eye on it and see if it improves at all without watering.

Panache and Peter's Honey figs
We received Panache and Honey yesterday, and they are quite big. Almost as big as I need for an imperial size tree.  These two are approximately 18 months old.  Safe to say we have about 920 days to fresh figs.

These were shipped from Four Winds Growers and were packed really well.  Hopefully they don't get finicky over transplanting and die off.  Again, we need to find some pots for these guys to live in for grow out.

If Ischia doesn't make it, I'll probably just stick with the remaining two.  Based on photos, Ischia is probably grown from seed, may be a month or two old. It is a safe bet that if Ischia does produce fruit, it will be about 1400 days off.

Green Ischia (Verte)  

Green Ischia is light green on the outside and strawberry red on the inside.  Green Ischia can be eaten raw or dried, grown in USDA Zones 7-10.  Green Ischia originated from Spain.  Green Ischia fruits in July and August, and may extend to fall.  This fruit has a closed eye on the bottom, making it resistant to rotting.

Panache Tiger Fig


Second is the Panache Tiger Fig.  This one is selected because it is the one my son recommended based on how sweet it is.  It is his favorite.

Panache is sweetest when the temperatures are regularly over 95 F.  This is perfect for our area!  Panache figs do not produce a 'breba crop'.  This fruit develops on the tree between August and November.  USDA Zones 7-11.  Panache is great for eating fresh, but can also be canned or made into preserves.  Panache is another closed eye variety.

Peter's Honey Fig

Peter's Honey 

Peter's Honey Fig is a yellow skinned fig with light coloring on the inside.  The interior coloring has been described as amber and this image shows a pink-ish coloring.

Peter's Honey is regarded as a delicious fresh-eating fig, but is also used for drying.  Peter's Honey originated from Sicily.  This is another variety that requires heat to ripen.  This is a boon for Southern gardeners.

Peter's Honey grows in zones 7-11, and has a somewhat closed eye when the honey obstructs the opening.

So, this rounds up the marketing information about the figs.  When we get them and start growing them into great specimens of fruit-bearing goodness, we can relate more expertly for our area.  Our first arrival is expected the end of September, 2016.  This will be the Green Ischia.