Fig Trees: Planting, Growing, and Harvesting

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fig trees

Fig trees produce tasteful and delicious fruit, Figs. Figs thrive in warm climates, however, you can grow them in temperate regions as well.

However, in such a case, you will need to provide extra care.

Fig trees thrive in long and hot summers, zones 8 or warmer, though you can also grow them in colder regions.

The common gif tree or Ficus Caria is the most popular species of fig if you want to grow it in your home, as its flowers do not need pollination to produce figs.

Many varieties of fig trees exist including hard cultivators that you can grow outdoors, in slightly cooler climates zones 6 and 7.

Other species of figs do not produce edible fruit or have certain pollination requirements, thus making them too much trouble for home gardeners.

You can either eat them fresh, preserve them or use them in cooking.

Keep on reading to learn more about fig trees in detail.

Planting Fig Trees

You can plant fig trees outdoor without much trouble in USDA zone 8 and warmer.

In warmer zones, where the winter temperatures get colder than 10 degrees Farhenheit or -12 degrees celsius, make sure to choose a hardy fig variety.

You may need some winter protection during cooler temperatures.

Alternatively, you can grow fig trees in large containers and bring them inside during the winter season.

While planting fig trees outdoors in early spring or late fall, the tree goes dormant.

For planting them in a container, grow them in a soil-based potting mix and add fine bark chips to improve drainage.

outdoor tree

Keep your tree in full sun during summers, and make sure to add high nitrogen fertilizers every 4 weeks in the spring and summer moderately.

However, in winter, move the tree indoors and keep the soil moist.

In the case of outdoor fig trees, plant them in the spring or early fall in full sun.

Figs tend to grow in most types of soils as long as it is well-draining and contains plenty of organic material.

While planting them outdoor, space them at least 20 feet apart from your house and other trees.

Moreover, they can put down deep roots if you give them the chance, thus, bear this thing in mind while planting them.

Planting Container grown Gigs in Ground

To plant container figs in the ground follows the steps:

Remove the plant from the pot and remove any circling roots by laying the root ball on its side and using shears to cut through the roots.

Then dig a hole that is a few inches deeper and wider than the spread of roots.

in a container

Set the tree on top of the small mound of soil in the middle of the hole.

Make sure to spread the roots away from the trunk without excessively bending them.

Plant the tree 2 to 4 inches deep than it was originally in the pot, check the color of the trunk to see the original soil line.

Caring for Fig Trees

Water young fig trees regularly to help them establish, while in areas of the dry climate, water them deeply at least once a week.

Unless you are growing them in containers, most fig trees do not need regular fertilization.

However, if your fig tree is not growing much i.e. less than 12 inches in a growing season, you can add 1/2 to q pound of nitrogen supplement.

Divide up the nitrogen into 3 to 4 feedings, and start by applying the nitrogen late in winter and end in midsummer.

Moreover, you can also apply a layer of mulch around the tree to prevent weeds and keep moisture for the roots.

You will need to prune them lightly, during the dormant season, make sure to remove all the dead, diseased, or weak branches to encourage growth.

However, if you have abundant growing figs, you can thin the fruit to encourage larger figs.

Furthermore, in colder regions, bring the containers growing figs indoors and keep the soil moist.

In case the area of your residence receives cold winter, outdoor fig trees can die.

While in the case of hardy varieties, the tree will be likely unaffected. Remove all the dead wood while the tree is still dormant and watch for new growth in spring.

Recommended Varieties

Many gardeners recommend the following types of fig trees to grow. These are:

Brown Turkey or Brown Naples is probably the most popular variety of outdoor trees as it is both prolific and reliable.

Brunswick is a hardy variety that you can grow outdoors in cooler regions.

Moreover, the large, sweet fruit has green skin and yellow and pink flesh and can ripe before Brown Turkey.

Violette de Bordeaux is a hardy fig variety that thrives best in areas like Paris.

fig trees 2

This type produces small purple or black fruits that are sweet, fragrant, and delicious.

Madelene des Deux Saisons, as the name implies this variety translates as “Madeleine of two seasons”.

Moreover, this type produces two crops per season, in June and September and the fruit it produces is round and sweet with delicate pink flesh.

Dalmatie is a hardy, compact variety that is perfect for smaller gardens and it produces large fruits with amber flesh.

Harvesting Tips

When you grow figs outdoor, they are ready to harvest by the end of the summer season.

You can pick the ripe fruit through to the end of September.

The fruits are ready when the stem bend and the fruit are hanging down, and they must produce a drop of sugar at the bottom.

harvesting

Moreover, the skin will be soft and almost squishy and you can split it when squeezing it gently.

Some varieties like Madeleine dex Deux Saisons produce fruit twice a year, in June and September.

The remaining ting, embryo fruit towards the ends of the shoots will over-winter and will ripe in the following autumn.

Training and Pruning Figs

You can fan-train outdoor figs to help manage the growth and create space and light for fruits to ripe.

Train them well against the wall on horizontal wires, tying in the stems to create a fan shape.

In early spring, pinch out half the growing tips on the main frame of the fan, to encourage growth lower down.

Then tie down the new shoots as they appear. However, in late winter, cut out any dead or crossing stems to keep the framework of the tree open.

Moreover, you can prune container growing figs in the same way, by removing dead and weak branches in the later winter and new shoot tips during summers.

It is important to note that fig trees are extremely vigorous, and require annual pruning to keep them in check.

If your tree is growing too large for its space, you can prune it back, however, keep in mind that you will lose the fruit for some time.

Furthermore, do not prune the figs in spring, as it can cause them to bleed sap which can further weaken and kill the tree.

The sap of the figs is an irritant, therefore, wear gloves while handling them.

Pests and Diseases

One of the biggest issue you might face while planting fig trees are squirrels.

Other issues to look out for are root-knot nematodes which are a serious threat to fig trees in parts of the South.

The larvae of these pests can infect the roots, thus inhibiting the ability of the tree to absorb nutrients.

According to a number of gardeners, when your tree is infected by root-knot nematodes, you cannot cure them with chemical treatment.

Moreover, they suggest that pruning the tops to balance the weakening root system may prolong the life of the tree.

However, infected plants eventually die.

Rust is another blight to be aware of. It is a fungus that shows up on the underside of leaves as raised, reddish-brown spots.

Rust is often not fatal, and unless it is an annual problem, spraying the plant with fungicide may not help.

Furthermore, figs are also suspectable to a couple of fungal blights like a leaf and pink blight.

Avoid using any sanitary gardening practices like applying mulch, cleaning away the dead plant material, and disinfecting tools.

Storing the Fruit

One of the important things to know about figs is that they have a short shelf life, thus, make sure to store them in a refrigerator for two to three days.

In order to dry them, wash them thoroughly and then dry them with a towel. Place the whole or in halves on a wire rack, and place the wire rack on a baking sheet.

fig trees 1

Put them in a baking sheet at 140 degrees Fahrenheit over for eight to 24 hours.

However, you can also use a dehydrator, following the same instructions.

You will know they are dry when the outside of the fruit becomes leathery and you do not see any juice on the inside. They should, however, still be slightly pliable.

Store the dried fruit in the refrigerator or freezer in airtight containers for 18 to 24 hours.

Final Thoughts

Fig trees produce lovely, large, beautifully shaped, and generous leaves along with providing shade. Moreover, they are easy to grow and one of the oldest trees known to mankind.

You can grow them in USDA hardiness zones 8 to 10, while also in cooler regions like 6 to 7. The trees are fast-growing and can grow 20 or even 30 feet tall and almost as wide. While its leaves can grow 4 to 8 inches wide and as long as 10 inches.

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