Growing fig trees could be fun and beneficial if you know when to grow and how to grow fig trees. Native to the Mediterranean and Western Asia, it has been cultivated since ancient times and is now widely grown throughout the world, both as fig fruit trees and home decor.
The fig is the edible fruit of Ficus carica, a species of small tree in the flowering plant family Morceau. Even if you don’t have a sweet tooth, you might benefit from including figs in your diet. Many home gardeners in North America are focusing on fig fruit production due to the delicious figs and health benefits.
What to Know Before Planting Fig Trees
It’s fairly easy to grow fig trees, but there are a few important things to remember before planting one.
Here are a few points that can help you in planting and growing fig trees successfully.
If planting your fig tree in a container, be sure it has adequate drainage holes to allow the soil to release any excess water.
Fig trees can grow in a variety of soils, but they need a site that is free of root-knot nematodes and stones. So, try to make sure the soil is smooth and healthy before planting a fig tree in the ground. Using compost can help loosen the soil and condition it for your new tree.
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For good fruit crops and vigorous growth rate plant fig trees in full sun. I planted mine in full sun and the first year it did great – then we had what we in Texas called Snowmaggedeon where temperatures got colder than ever here and I thought I had lost it.
The following spring it was gone but I couldn’t bear to pull it out. This spring I saw a little life and now it’s 4′ tall and flourishing with a ton of fruit on it, as well.
Moral of the story: Be sure to protect the roots with hay and/or a 4-6″ of mulch in the winter cold. Most figs are hardy in zones 6-10 depending on the variety. So, be aware of the cold tolerance before you plant in the ground.
Restricting the root span of a fig tree is helpful in getting a full harvest of figs. When a fig tree’s roots aren’t restricted, it can lead to leaf drop, dead branches, and smaller trees.
One way to restrict fig roots is to plant in a large pot, where the roots will grow within the pot.
When planting a fig tree in ground, to restrict the root span you can plant it “in” a barrier that is about 2ft on all sides. You can dig your hole (in a square) and place your barrier – like boards on all 4 sides 2ft away from the tree, so as to make a box for it to grow within, but in the ground.
Planting a fig in the spring is the best approach in colder climates, but it’s good to wait until all danger of frost has passed before planting. Planting in the spring or early summer will give your heat-loving fig a chance to sink roots and fill out in the current growing season.
You can also plant your fig in the fall. In regions with hard frosts, plant fig trees about six weeks before the dormant season. (the earlier, the better).
Ways to Grow Fig Trees
Growing figs from cuttings is the easiest way to start a fig tree. They need broad-based shade and as much sunlight as they can get.
If you want your cuttings to mature quickly, make sure the cutting comes from the main branches of a healthy fig tree and your garden shears are razor-sharp and have either tiny pots or huge modular cell trays available. This should be done in late summer.
Be sure to cut at a slant at the bottom of each cutting. Some growers use a rooting hormone, but you can do it without, as well.
Fill a small container or cell with compost for each cutting. Place the pot in a bright, shady area away from direct sunlight. Keep the compost moist and the pot from drying out. The roots will begin to grow about four to six weeks after placing your cuttings.
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As soon as your fig plants have grown for a few months, you can move them outside. If you took winter cuttings, late winter or early spring (March/April) is a great time to move them. If you took summer cuttings, November is a great time to do this. Pick a day that’s partly cloudy but not too cold.
Prepare the soil in the planting area by digging a hole twice as large as the roots fill the hole with compost or well-rotted organic waste mixed with soil.
Place the plant in a bowl of water and soak it. You can add mycorrhizal fungi to the roots after you’ve planted the tree. Firm up the soil and ensure the soil is moist.
Ensure the borders you added in (if restricting the roots) are slightly elevated above the earth with very young trees, and make sure to keep the soil moist in this stage of growth.
Watering is particularly necessary during the growing season, and it needs to be done regularly. Hydration is vital to your fig tree’s success.
Growing figs from seeds involves a mystery because even if you saved your own seeds, you may not end up with the same variety fig tree.
Also, fig trees are male or female. Male trees produce small fruit that you can’t eat. So, if you save seeds, you won’t know if you’ve planted a male or a female tree… So, the only way to know what you’re getting variety and sex, is by replicating a plant with a cutting from it.
Before planting seeds, it’s recommended to soak the Fig seeds in a glass of lukewarm water for a day two. Healthy and mature seeds will remain at the bottom while immature seeds will float on the water.
Do you have fig trees? Do you have any advice you’d like to share? Please leave it in the comments below, we’d love to hear about your fig tree growing experiences.