This Week’s Guest Blogger is Julie Woodworth the Outreach Manager of Gardener’s Path a website full of gardening advice

Whole Small Guide on How to Grow Fig Trees

With origins in the Asia Minor, there is a good chance that the fig might just be the oldest cultivated fruit in the world. Evidence suggests that as at 10,000 years ago, cavemen already planted figs right outside their caves. 

Growing figs is perhaps one of the easiest gardening tasks to undertake particularly if you know exactly what you’re doing. They can be grown in the ground or in containers making it suitable to all gardeners depending on preference. 

If you are new to gardening, you would need some essential knowledge to help you succeed. Specifically, on your path to successfully planting your figs, there are a number of factors to consider as well as steps to take and we would be covering those bases in this article. 

Let’s dive right in.

Selecting a Fig Tree Cultivar 

Fig trees are known to thrive in areas that have long and hit summers (zone 8 and warmer). For them to be grown in colder zones, they would need to be grown in containers and properly insulated to prevent the effect of freezing temperatures. Another option would be to keep them indoors. 

The common fig tree (Ficus carica) is the most popular cultivar that gardeners subscribe to, and this is because of a singular reason – to yield figs, the flowers do not necessarily have to be pollinated. 

Also, there is a range of varieties of the common fig tree comprising certain cultivars that are hardy enough to be grown outdoors in cooler climates (Zones 6 and 7). 

This makes it very easy to work with. Other fig species either require specific requirements in order to be pollinated such as requiring a particular wasp to carry out the pollination or they simply do not produce edible fruit. This makes it quite a hassle to grow them. 

In North America alone, there are over 200 fig cultivars with varying shapes and colors. However, selecting the variety that is perfectly adapted to your climate is essential.

For instance, varieties like Chicago, Brown Turkey or Celeste are suitable for colder regions. Also, going for self-pollinating species is advised compared to those that demand a special requirement for pollination. 

Planting a Fig Tree

Planting a fig tree is not all that difficult. Basically, there are two options available for you. You could either plant directly or plant one that has been grown in a container.

The option to go with typically depends on the temperature conditions of your region. If you stay in a zone with very low temperatures, making use of a container initially is advised. 

Planting Directly 

When you want to plant directly in the soil, you should look for a location that has fertile and moist soil. This would help the fig tree grow faster and aid its eventual development into a spreading tree with a massive amount of leaves. 

If on the other hand, you want a tree that would produce more fruits and fewer leaves, you would need a “fig pit” to constrain the fig roots. A fig pit is simply a large pot that is buried and prevents fig roots from extensively spreading, thereby forcing it to channel its energy from producing foliage to making fruits. 

This process also helps to ensure a large fruit size and nice flavor. 

To get this done, you would need to dig a large hole and then line it with 24-inch paving slabs on all sides so that you end up with a sunken cube-shaped pot. 

Afterward, fill about 8 inches of the pit from the bottom with broken bricks or rubble in order to recreate its natural habitat of rocky subsoil. 

Next, the fig pit’s side slabs should extend to about 2cm above ground level. This would prevent the tree’s root from finding a way to extend and then spread outside of the pit. 

After doing this, fill the hole up with gravel and regular garden soil in the ratio 50:50. You can then go ahead to plant your fig plant. 

Planting from a Container 

To plant container-grown trees, the first step would be to take the plant out of the container and then get rid of any circling roots by placing the root ball firmly on its side and then cutting through the roots with shears. 

Afterward, dig a hole that would fit the plant while allowing for a gap of a few inches in both depth and width – this is to allow the roots to spread. Place the tree on a small soul mound in the middle of the hole while making sure that the roots are spread away from the trunk without excessive bending. 

For depth, ensure that it is planted at least  2 to 4 inches deeper than it was in the pot. To confirm this, a great way would be to check the color of the trunk and note the original soil line. 

Care of Fig Trees 

After planting comes caring for the tree if you want it to survive and thrive. Figs typically require a spot that is sunny and sheltered from winter winds. 

During the growing season, a good practice would be to mulch the trees with adequate compose and then apply foliar sprays of seaweed extract on a monthly basis. 

In the event of a drop in temperature up to 10 degrees or it gets a lot colder than usual in your area, you can protect your cold-hardy figs outdoors with straw placed in a cylindrical cage of hardware cloth. Plastic is discouraged as it can cause overheating. 

Apart from these, regular care such as ensuring that they have adequate nutrients is required for them to do great. 

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