Sunday, July 3, 2011

Ficus benghalensis & religiosa seedlings

I've always been fascinated by figs. The genus includes anything from small creeping vines, to many edible varieties, those used commercially for rubber, and many houseplants. As such, I ended up purchasing some seeds on ebay from India. I went with Ficus religiosa (The Sacred Fig or Bo-Tree) and Ficus benghalensis (Indian Banyan Tree) both of which can grow epiphytically initially.

I chose the Ficus religiosa because of the lovely leaves and generally light (almost white) bark. Then went with the Ficus benghalensis exclusively because of it's well known extremely vigorous growth habit. My long term goal is to grow both into small house plant trees. The summers in Southern Ontario often see temperatures of 25C or higher and have high humidity. I figure both trees will be very happy outdoors in the warmer weather.

Ficus benghalensis seedlings

I planted the seeds about 2-3 weeks ago after soaking the seeds overnight. The soil is a mix of compost and clay loam. I added a few wood chips and some shredded coconut fibre. I figured this would help encourage some fungal growth which would be beneficial to seedlings expecting a moist forest environment. I did end up noticing growth over about 1/4 of the soil surface. The seeds were just sprinkled over the soil surface (allegedly the need light to germinate). Each container has a lid which I've kept closed most of the time and receives about 2 hours of direct sunlight each day. The first sprouts popped up within less than a week.

Ficus religiosa seedlings

They seem to be doing well, although the Ficus benghalensis is a bit slower to get going. Thinning and transplanting them will be interesting but hopefully I'll have little healthy trees within the next few months. I also grabbed a fig fruit from a local nursery. It was the most DELICIOUS I've ever tried. Of course I saved some seeds. The fruit may not be as good but I'll see what happens...


  1. Just saw your tweet re: transplanting (I'm very, very rarely on Twitter).

    I didn't have anywhere near the number of seedlings to separate that you do, so I'm not sure my experience could help. I had them in vermiculite, and when they had about four real leaves, I took them out as gently as I could and stuck them in individual 3" pots with regular potting mix. I want to say about 2/3 survived, but it's been long enough ago that my memory is not necessarily to be trusted.

  2. Maybe I'll just try splitting them into little clumps and then cull them down as they grow a bit bigger. I've lost a few to damping off. I moved them to a window with more sun in a cooler room. Apparently that was a bad idea. I've reduced watering a bit and they seem to be alright now.


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