Title: Growing figs in Florida
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00084623/00001
 Material Information
Title: Growing figs in Florida
Series Title: Circular, Florida Cooperative Extension Service ; 311A
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Krezdorn, A. H.
Publisher: Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: May, 1972
Copyright Date: 1972
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00084623
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 226965994

Full Text

rcular 311 A


Growing Figs

In Florida




A. H. Krezdorn
Chairman, Department of Fruit Crops

The edible fig is not as widely grown in Flori
as in some southern states. However, it is a popu
dooryard fruit and some figs are grown for loi
The edible fig, Ficus carica, is a member of t
large Moraceae family that includes many of t
beautiful glossy-leaved trees grown in central a
southern Florida and throughout the tropics.
also includes the common mulberry and Osa
Specialized cells in the plant produce a lat
that contains ficin, a protein decomposing enzyi
similar to that produced by papayas. When t
latex comes in contact with the skin, the fi
causes a dermatitis or skin irritation that makes t
use of gloves advisable when working with
harvesting figs.
Figs seldom attain tree form in Florida becat
they are occasionally frozen to the ground, causi
them to sucker from the base and form a bush. T
lateral spread of roots is extensive and, in certE
soils, the roots are quite deep. A profusion
fibrous roots occurs close to the soil surface, whi
makes deep cultivation undesirable. Shoot grow
is vigorous and the wood soft. Terminal grow
may continue into early winter and fail to matui
Such growth is very susceptible to cold damal
The large, distinctive leaves have a pubescence th
is very irritating to the skin.
The fruit is produced primarily in leaf axils
new growth. Fruit of some varieties is also prc
uced on leafless wood formed theprevious seasc
The fruit is unique, being derived from a hollc
receptacle with flowers borne on the inner wal
At the apex of the fruit, there is an opening knot
as the eye. Insects and water enter through this e
unless it is tightly closed.
Based on flowering and fruiting characteristic
figs can be placed into 4 categories caprif
Smyrna, common, and San Pedro. Caprifigs a
inedible and produce only staminate (male) flowe
They are useful only for the pollen producE
Smyrna types bear only pistillate (female) flow<
and require pollen from the caprifig to develop aj

Common types, the only kind recommended for
orida, produce only pistillate flowers but they are
irthenocarpic (do not require pollination to
velop and mature fruit). San Pedro types bear 2
ops of figs, as do some varieties of the other
pes, and produce only pistillate flowers. Figs of
e first crop, borne of the leafless wood, do not
quire pollination. Figs of the main crop, borne on
w wood, will not produce mature fruit without

Florida gardeners sometimes obtain figs of the
nyrna or San Pedro types from California. Since
orida has neither caprifigs nor the special
g wasp that is needed to transfer the pollen
om the caprifig to the_ Smyrna and San Pedro
rpes, fruit of these types fall before ripening.
ven varieties of the common type sometimes shed
uit prior to maturity. This may be brought on by
excessive heat or drought. Heavy infestations of
nematodes may also cause premature fruit drop.
hen some varieties of figs are frozen to the
found, they do not produce fruit on the extremely
gorous new shoots that arise following the damage.


From the standpoint of adaptability, there are
several desirable characteristics but no variety has
em all. A closed eye prevents entrance of the
ied fruit beetle and water. A long peduncle or
it stem allows the fruit to droop and prevents
e entrance of moisture through the eye. Green
kin color at maturity results in less bird damage to
e fruit. Some varieties fruit on the vigorous wood
produced following severe freeze damage.
When purchasing fig trees, one is occasionally
nisled because some varieties are sold under several
lames, and in some cases the same name has been
yven to more than one variety. In describing
varieties adapted to Florida, the name commonly
sed in this region is given, .and synonyms are
included in parenthesis.
'Celeste' (Celestial, Blue Celeste, Little Brown,
3ugar). This is the European variety, Malta, and
the most widely grown fig in the South. The fruit
s small, purplish-bronze to light brown in color, and
the eye is tightly closed. The fruit droops at
maturity and ripens from mid-July to mid-August.
'Celeste' does not bear fruit the season following
severe freeze damage.
'Brown Turkey' (Everbearing, Harrison, Ramsey,

Lee's Perpetual, Eastern Brown Turkey, Brunswick
This variety rivals 'Celeste' in popularity. The fru
has a medium open eye, is of moderate size, ha
bronze colored skin and ripens from late July unt
late fall if growth conditions are satisfactory. Th
extended fruiting period has resulted in the name
Lee's Perpetual and Everbearing. It will fruit
following severe freeze damage.
'Green Ischia'(Ischia Green, White Ischia, Ischi
Verte). This variety is not widely grown but it
green skin color and closed eye are desirable
characteristics that make it worthy of wider tria
The fruit does not ripen until late July or earl
August and its fruiting season is short. It does no
fruit the season following a severe freeze.
'San Piero' (Thomson, California Brown Turkey
This variety has no common name in Florid;
Florida gardeners sometimes purchase Brown Tu
key from California nurseries and get San Piero 1
mistake. The fruit is very large with an open e5
and a purplish-black to purplish-bronze skin colo
The fruit does not droop at maturity and sours an
splits badly.
'Magnolia' (Brunswick, Madonna). This is tl
commercial canning fig of Texas and is fairly cor
mon throughout the South but uncommon in Flo
ida. The eye is open, the skin is bronze colored ar
the peduncle is short. The fairly large fruit has
lopsided appearance. Fruit matures from mil
July to late August. 'Magnolia' bears fruit followil
severe freeze damage. Its value as a fresh fruit
lessened by tendency to split and sour.

Cultural Practices

Planting. Bare rooted figs can be set out an3
time during the dormant season. Late winter i
preferable as this reduces the possibility of freez
damage. Container-grown plants should be set ou
in early spring, after the danger of frost is ovei
Pruning. Little pruning is needed other than t
maintain the desired bush size. If the plant i
straggly, it may be cut back to cause branching
Only 3 to 5 trunks or leaders should be kept an
the sucker growth cut out annually. Following
freeze damage, damaged portions should be cut ot
If the apparently undamaged growth puts bt
extremely weak growth, the tree should be cut bat
to short stumps' and a new 'bish 'devel6pe
Moisture Supply. Figs require le, q'uanitities c
wafer during the fruiting sebuonbirt ti not tolerate
excessively wet soils or poor drainage for pr(
tracted periods. Shallow cultivation to eliminate

eeds and weekly irrigation in periods of drought
*sult in optimum fruiting.
Fertilizers. Little is known about the specific
*rtilizer needs of figs. Observation indicates that
key respond to fertilizer application much as other
uit trees in Florida. The heavy Florida rainfall
id extended growth period of figs suggests the
application of small amounts of mixed fertilizers
)out once a month during the growing season.

Fig Pests

Birds. The primary pest of figs in Florida is
irds. They are especially fond of the darker
alored fruits. To minimize the problem, ripe figs
lould be harvested early each morning.
Insects. The primary insect problem is the dried
uit beetle or sour bug that carries souring or-
misms through the eye into the fruit cavity.
wantingg varieties with closed eyes, and removing all
uit as soon as it is ripe are the only methods of
rntrol. Figs with open eyes should be picked just
rior to maturity and preserved. Beetles sometimes
-tack weakened limbs. Damaged portions should
e removed and tree vigor restored through proper
Diseases. Fig rust stands out as an important
)liar disease. The leaves take on a rusty brown
appearance, become distorted and fall. Premature
opening and reduced tolerance to cold result. The
disease can be controlled with a 5-5-50 Bordeaux
:opper sulfate, lime and water) spray applied every
to 3 weeks from June through August. It is im-
ortant to spray the undersides of the young leaves
)r this is where infection takes place.
Anthracnose sometimes causes sunken black
)ots on the fruit but is not usually serious. Vari-
us other fungus diseases such as web blight,
read blight and pink blight may damage the
wigs where figs are crowded with other plants, or
I excessively wet areas. The problem is generally
ylved by removing adjacent shrubbery for better
ir movement.
Nematodes. Nematodes are minute worms that
attack the roots. They become so severe in the
eep sands of central Florida that figs cannot be
successfully grown without special measures. Where
lay subsoils are present, the damage is greatly
!ssened. Grown next to buildings, the roots pene-
rate the soil under the building where nematodes
re fewer and conditions for root growth better.
[eavy organic mulches also lessen nematode dam-
ge, A preplanting treatment with one of the

nematicides is helpful, and new nematicides th
can be applied to growing plants are available.
The edible fig can be grafted onto sever
inedible species of tropical types that are nemato
resistant. These include Ficus racemosa, F. coccu
folia and F. gnaphalacarpa F. racemosa has loi
been called F. glomerata in Florida and is still so
under that name. Trees on these rootstocks can n,
be successfully used in areas colder than the citr
region of central Florida because of their sensitive
to cold.


Homeowners frequently want to propagate the
own trees. This is easily done by cutting dormar
wood into 6- to 12-inch lengths. Use wood up t
%-inch in diameter and avoid weak, slender growth
Make the basal cut directly below a node or join
In late winter, the cuttings may be planted in an
well-drained soil. About 1" of the cutting is leI
above the soil level. Care should be taken to kee
the soil only moderately moist not wet. Leaf
shoots also root well under intermittent mist and a
marcotts or air layers.
Figs can also be propagated on rootstocks usin
the chip bud, patch bud, side graft or inlay graft
The chip bud and side-graft are preferred when th
diameter of the wood is %1 inch or less, the patcl
bud for stocks from /2 to 11/ inches and the inla3
graft for larger stocks. The heavy flow of late)
from the cuts made in the stock does not hindei


(Acts of M.y 8 nd June 30,1914)
Cooperative Extension Serm IFAS. Universty of FIonda
and Unlted State Department of Agriculture. Coop.erng
Jo N Busby. De

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs