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How to Grow Figs

A guide to growing Figs in gardens, allotments

and containers

Figs

Family/Latin Name

Moraceae - Ficus Caria

Type of Plant

Deciduous Shrub

Suitable for

Gardens,  Large Containers

Recommended Tree Forms Fan
Jump to:-    Tree Sizes  |  Yields  |  Pruning   |  Pests & Diseases 

 

Growing Figs - Details

See also:-  Fruit Growing Glossary  |  Tree Forms  |  Container Growing  | Buying Plants

 

Site and Soil

Prefer full sun. Best planted in sheltered positions preferably fan trained against a south facing wall. Southern UK only - Not suitable for cooler climates except in greenhouses
Tolerant of most soil types provided they are well drained
Suitable for containers

Space required

See table below

Yield

See Table below

Time between planting  and harvesting

2 year olds - Produce in 1 year

Planting Time

Plants supplied in pots:  Best - March - April

Number of trees needed for pollination Self fertile  - 1
How to plant - Open ground against a wall



Figs harvest  best when their roots are restricted. Growing in a pot is a natural restrictor however when planting in open ground, it is best to use artificial means to restrict their roots.

Fix the supports and wires to the wall before you plant the tree.
Dig a large hole about 60cm sq/2ft sq by 90cm/3 ft deep. Line the sides of the hole with paving or concrete slabs, the tops of which should be about 5cm/2" above the surrounding soil level and place a 30cm/12" layer of rubble or gravel in the bottom.

Half fill the hole with soil, mixing in a general fertiliser,  stand the tree in the hole about 22cm/9" away from the wall, spreading out the roots and tilting the plant slightly towards the wall,  then fill in the hole with soil, slightly rocking the tree between each spadeful so the earth falls between the roots, firming gently as you go, until the hole is filled to the same level as the surrounding soil. Water in well.

  How to plant - in containers Container size +45cm/18" wide x +45cm/18" deep.  Good drainage is essential so make sure there are plenty of drainage holes in the bottom of the container. Place a 2.5cm/1" layer of stones or crocks in the bottom and cover with enough soil or compost so that when you place the tree in the container, the original planting depth (which you should be able to see on the stem of the tree)  is 5cm/2" below the top of the container. Fill the container with soil or a loam based compost to the original planting depth. Firm well and water in.
Aftercare In Open Ground - Some pruning will be necessary (see below) Apply a mulch of well rotted manure or compost once a year in  spring and a supplement of a balanced fertiliser in March will be necessary. Once the fruit start to swell give a high potassium liquid feed every 14 days until the fruit begin to ripen. Keep trees well watered as the ground near walls often dries out quickly.

Containers - 
Some pruning will be necessary (see below). Apply a mulch of well rotted manure or compost during the first  year in  spring and a supplement of a balanced fertiliser in March . Once the fruit start to swell give a high potassium liquid feed every 7 days until the fruit begin to ripen. In subsequent years, it is best to carefully remove some of the soil from the container and replace it with fresh compost. Do this carefully so as not to damage the roots. Keep the containers well watered.

General -
Protecting  from birds with netting once the fruit start to get bigger and from frost with garden fleece from November to May is a good idea if the winter is very cold.
  Harvesting Fruit for eating are best left to completely ripen on the tree when they should be very soft, hanging downwards,  and sometimes have a drop of nectar exuding from the eye which may start to split.. Harvesting usually takes place between August and September. Be very gentle as fruit bruise easily. They should come away from the tree with little effort.

Fig Tree Dimensions

Expected Yield Per Mature Fig Tree

Fan Height: +2m/6ft  Spread: + 4m/12ft
    Fan 9-13kg/20-30lb

For a complete guide to and explanation of the various fruit tree forms click here

How to Prune Fig Trees

Figs bear fruit on the last seasons growth so correct  pruning is essential in order to keep enough of the current year's growth to provide sufficient fruit the next year so you don't end up with a tree which is bearing fruit at the tips of the stems but none on the middle of the stems.  It should also be noted that in the UK, although plants may produce  fruit twice in one year, once in the late summer and once in Spring, only the fruit which start emerging in the summer will overwinter and go on to ripen the next year in August-September

Two important consequences arise from this:-

1. The fruit which started emerging in the summer will need protecting against frost throughout the winter and spring. These will be very small - about the size of a small pine nut.
2. In order for the tree to produce decent fruit, it is desirable to remove at least some of the embryo fruit which emerge in the spring

Correct Pruning CutIn April  cut our all diseased or frost damaged  wood and thin the remaining shoots by cutting every other shoot back to 1 bud. Aim to have a spacing of about 22cm/9" between the shoots.  Tie in in un-pruned shoots. In mid June prune the new seasons shoots back to 4 or 5 leaves. This will encourage new shoots to form which will bear fruit for next season. In July  start tying in the new shoots. Always make pruning cuts no more than 6mm¼" above a bud. Slant all pruning cuts away from the buds as in the diagram on the right, to prevent  water  being channelled towards the bud which will cause problems.

Fig Pests & Diseases

Relatively free of diseases and pests however bird can be a problem. Net plants or use cotton

 

 

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