Growing Figs Background

GROWING FIGS

FIG TREE CARE

Low maintenance and drought tolerant once established

Fig trees are easy to grow! The fruit can be eaten fresh or used for cooking and baking. Figs are low maintenance and drought tolerant once established. Fig trees are adapted to a wide range of climates and soil types and are great in containers. They can be kept to any size with regular pruning.

planting

Choose a location with at least 8 to 10 hours of sunlight

To plant your fig tree, dig a hole deep enough to cover the root-ball. We recommend digging a hole in a cone shape and planting the tree to the center of the cone. In heavy soils, mounding to 12 inches above soil line is recommended. Tamp (pack) down soil several times while backfilling the hole to avoid air pockets. After planting, water the tree to settle the soil firmly around the roots. Make a basin for future watering.  Do not apply fertilizer at planting time.

When transplanting, check for roots collecting at the bottom of the pot. Gently loosen up the roots at the bottom to help them quickly extend into the surrounding soil.

When planting in a container, select a well-draining, premium potting soil mix with added bark such as our Primo Potting Mix. This mix is 2 parts potting soil and a 1 part bark.  

Choose a location with at least 8 to 10 hours of sunlight, always favoring the morning sun. Certain varieties of figs such as Black Mission can be very sensitive to freezing. Young trees can be particularly susceptible to cold damage. Be aware of impending cold weather and even delay planting until after predicted last freeze.

watering

Once established figs require little water

The number one reason for fig loss in the first 2 years is poor draining soils. Become familiar with how your location drains and mound to 12 inches above the soil line where drainage is poor. Figs are quite drought tolerant once establish but water management in the first 2 years is critical.


Good water management includes regular irrigation and mulching to get tree established. Regular irrigation on established figs helps to improve size and juiciness. Once established figs require little water.

pruning

Figs can be held to any height with regular pruning

Unpruned fig trees can spread 25’ or more. Figs will produce a thick dense canopy with little pruning. Figs can be held to any height with regular pruning. They make an ideal plant for espalier or as a patio container plant.


Many varieties bare an early crop called a Breba crop, usually in early summer. The later crop called a main crop comes in late summer to early fall.

fertilizing

Fig trees require minimal fertilizing

In general, fig trees do not require regular fertilizing. Excessive applications of nitrogen can have a negative effect on fruit quality. The one exception is for figs grown in containers, which should be fed three or four times a year with a balanced fruit tree fertilizer.

cold weather protection

Small young trees are particularly sensitive to cold

Fig trees are most susceptible to cold injury when going into dormancy. Small young trees are particularly sensitive to freeze and care should be taken to protect or delay planting until all danger of frost has past. A mature tree when totally dormant can withstand much colder temperatures. However, this varies by variety and care should be taken to select varieties that are suited to your area. Some varieties of figs can withstand temperatures as low as -10 degrees


More information on overwintering figs in extremely cold climates can be found by this link: http://figs4fun.com/Overwintering_Fig_Trees_Biggs.pdf


After freeze damage occurs, give the tree ample time to grow before removing the frozen limbs. Prune frost damaged branches in the spring once the threat of heavy frost has passed.

harvesting

Allow figs to ripen on the tree

Some varieties of figs can bear two crops per year. The first crop, known as the breba crop, is produced in the spring on the previous year's growth. The second, main crop is produced in the fall on that year's growth.


For best quality, allow figs to ripen on the tree, and pick as they become somewhat soft. Some areas such as the southern seaboard of the United States deal with on-the-tree spoilage or souring caused by microorganisms in the fully ripe fruit. These organisms are usually carried into the open eye of the fig by insects, particularly the dried fruit beetle. Frequent harvest and the removal of overripe, spoiled figs can greatly reduce spoilage problems. Selecting varieties that have a “Closed Eye” will easily deal with the problem.

fig mosaic

Results in yellow mottling of the leaf but does not effect fruit quality

A common concern with domestic figs is the presence of the virus Fig Mosaic. Fig Mosaic Virus results in yellow mottling of the lea and often deformed leaves. It is spread by the eriophyid mite Aceria fici. This mite is present everywhere figs are grown and with one bite can transmit the virus. It is very hard and costly to control this insect and as such not many nurseries that propagate figs choose to. While thought to have an effect on overall crop production this should not impact the quantities desired by a typical home gardener. This appears to be most severe on a few select varieties such as Black Ischia and Adriatic and other less popular selections. The Black Mission is often referred to as being severely affected however, our years of experience do not show this to be the case. 

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