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Figs

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Botanical name: Ficus

Plant type: Fruit

USDA Hardiness Zones: 8, 9, 10, 11

Sun exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun

Soil type: Any

Bloom time: Spring

Figs are a delicious treat that has tropical and subtropical origins. They thrive in areas with long and hot summers, though they can also be grown in containers. Figs can be eaten fresh from the tree, preserved, or used in cooking.

Planting

  • The common fig tree is the best choice to plant because its flowers are all female, meaning that they do not need another tree to create the fruit.
  • For container fig trees, grow them in soil-based potting mix and add fine bark chips. Keep the tree in full or filtered light. Be sure to add a high-nitrogen fertilizer every 4 weeks and water the tree moderately. It is important to keep the tree moist during the winter.
  • For outdoor fig trees, plant the tree in the spring in full or partial sun. Fig trees can grow in any type of soil as long as the soil is well-drained and contains plenty of organic material.
  • For container-grown trees, remove the plant from its pot and remove any circling roots by laying the root ball on its side and using shears to cut through the roots.
  • Dig a hole that is a few inches deeper and wider than the spread of the roots. Set the tree on top of a small mound of soil in the middle of the hole. Be sure to spread the roots away from the trunk without excessively bending them.\
  • Plant the tree 2 to 4 inches deeper than it was originally in the pot (check the color of the trunk to see the original soil line).
  • Space the tree about 20 feet away from any buildings or other trees.

Care

  • Be sure to water the young trees regularly to help them become established. In areas with dry climates, water fig trees deeply at least once a week.
  • Unless grown in containers, most fig trees do not require regular fertilization. However, if your fig tree is not growing much (less than 12 inches in one growing season), you can add 1/2 to 1 pound of nitrogen. Divide up the nitrogen into 3 to 4 feedings. Start applying the nitrogen in late winter and end in midsummer.
  • You can also apply a layer of mulch around the tree to help prevent weeds and keep in moisture for the roots.
  • Fig trees require little pruning. During the dormant season, be sure to remove all dead, diseased, or weak branches to encourage growth.
  • If you have an abundant growth of figs, you can thin the fruit to encourage larger figs.

Pests

  • Nematodes
  • Leaf spots
  • Rust
  • Thrips
  • Twig dieback

Harvest/Storage

  • You should harvest figs when they are fully ripe. The figs should be fully colored and slightly soft to the touch.
  • When picking figs, wear gloves or long sleeves because the sap from the tree can irritate your skin.
  • Figs are very perishable. Store figs in the refrigerator; they will keep for 2 to 3 days.
  • For long-term storage, you can freeze figs whole for later use. Another storage method is to dry the figs. You can also can your own figs.

Recommended Varieties

  • 'Brown Turkey', which produces abundant medium to large fruits. This type works best is warm climates.
  • 'King', which is well adapted for the cooler conditions found in the northwest. It produces medium fruit that are sweet and rich in flavor.
  • 'Kadota', which vigorously produces small to medium fruit. Its figs are rich and sweet, and it is the most commonly canned fig.

Recipes

Wit & Wisdom

Figs are an excellent source of potassium, dietary fiber, and calcium.

You can't grow figs from thistles.

Comments

I live east of the metro

By vicki bouzos on May 14

I live east of the metro Phoenix area in the valley. Temps range from 30-70 in winter and up to 116 in summer. About 2 1/2 years ago I planted a calamyra fig tree which was about 5 feet tall. It had only 2 skinny branches and the trunk was about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. The leaves drop in winter and e come back healthy in the spring- each year there are figs but they never ripen and the tree has not grown at all. I water every third day at a slow/moderate trickle for 1 1/2 hours and feed every 2 weeks with organic fruit tree fertilizer. Please tell me what I'm doing wrong and why the tree won't grow or the fruit ripen. Thank you.

White there are many fig

By Almanac Staff on May 15

White there are many fig trees that don't require pollination to produce fruit, the Calimyrna figs do require a specialized wasp to pollinate the flowers to get fruit.

The tree never gets flowers

By vicki bouzos on May 15

The tree never gets flowers but it does have fruit right now- many figs but they don't ripen. It has produced fruit every year but they never ripen.

If the fig grows fruit but it

By Almanac Staff on May 18

If the fig grows fruit but it doesn't ripen, this is usually due to stress.  The common reason for stress is lack of water (especially in high heat). Another common reason is that it's not getting enough nutrients (food). Ample water and fertilization should help.

Hi, I transplanted some

By fraktol on May 8

Hi, I transplanted some suckers and they are doing well, but I can't seem to find any information on how big a fig tree can grow. The parent plant is just over my head, and I have no idea how old it is.

A common fig tree can grow 10

By Almanac Staff on May 8

A common fig tree can grow 10 to 30 feet tall. You can prune the tops of the branches when the tree is dormant to keep it shorter and bushier.

I just planted a brown turkey

By Pamela Osburn

I just planted a brown turkey fig. It has a lot of leaves and is about 1 ft.
I live in North Alabama and I'd like to know when this tree will produce figs.

A fig tree take a while to

By Gocat

A fig tree take a while to start bearing fruit--at least 4 or 5 years. A Brown Turkey Fig is a great variety.

When should we expect our

By Christopher Ptatt

When should we expect our four foot tall one year old fig tree to start showing green buds and leaves here in Asheville, NC?

Everything else in the yard is greening up, but no signs yet on the fig tree at all.

Thanks very much,
Chris

You're right. The fig trees

By Almanac Staff

You're right. The fig trees often leaf out by April. Normally, fig trees should leaf out when your deciduous trees do the same. This assumes your fig tree has proper siting--in a very sunny location which receives 8 hours of sun a day. South-facing is preferable. Otherwise, it will leaf out later than everything else. If there was any leaf damage by frost, it may leaf out much later.

Kadota Fig leaves with large

By Kathy Rosinski

Kadota Fig leaves with large dried up brown spots curling and falling off.
I just planted the tree about a six weeks ago (I'm in San Jose Ca, Zone 9). Initially leaves and even one fruit grew and the plant seemed to flourish. For about two weeks now I noticed dry brown spots on a few leaves, causing leaves curl up and eventually fall off. Lost about half a dozen. Any suggestions what could be causing this?
I'm watering weekly, and the tree does not seem to be overwatered. The exposure is to the west, and in April, the sun is not a likely culrprit of "overheating". I have not noticed any insects. What could it be? Help!

I've had a Brown Turkey fig

By Karin Grecu

I've had a Brown Turkey fig for about 5 years in a half whiskey barrel container in zone 9, California. 2 years ago I had a crop of 40 figs, almost none last year and this year's spring crop just all dropped off (maybe I didn't water enough when it got warm). It also has never put on more than an inch or two of new growth per year. Would it do better in the ground? Do I need to prune it more? The branches all looked good, so I didn't feel the need to prune much this year. Fertilize more? I expected that in year 5 I'd have a much bigger tree and much more fruit.

Hi Karin, I'm not an

By J Klee

Hi Karin, I'm not an authority on fig growing as I had the same problem a few years ago. Initially I read that you don't need to do much for potted fig trees. So I never fertilized. But then read if you don't have at least 12 inches of growth each season you should fertilize. The past 2 years I have been using a 5/10/5 fertilizer and growth has improved however not enough. I purchased "Growing Fruit" by Alan Buckingham a few months ago and plan to try his suggestion "Keep them well-watered during the spring and summer, and feed with high-potash tomato fertilizer when the fruits are ripening." I live in NY and plan to give this a try this growing season. Good luck with your fig tree.

Hi Karen, For container grown

By Almanac Staff

Hi Karen,
For container grown figs we recommend to add nitrogen rich fertilizer in 3 to 4 feedings per year. First application should be in late winter and end with the 4th application in midsummer.
See our planting/care advice above for watering and other growing tips.

What do fig trees eat and

By Jessica Martin

What do fig trees eat and what eat them? What are their adaptions?

Hi, I live in southern

By MSoto

Hi, I live in southern California, have plenty of sunshine, and have a Fig tree in a small container that I would like to plant in my lawn on the west side of my house. I have 30 feet of lawn between my house and the street is that enough room for the roots to grow without it being destructive to my house or the curb?

Thanks for your help!!

Yes, that is enough room.

By Almanac Staff

Yes, that is enough room. However, you should not plant the tree within 25ft of a septic tank or its drainage field.

Hi, i was given a fig

By TSJ

Hi, i was given a fig tree/bark. well it look like a stick, no roots, just a few plant leaves on it, so i know it still living, my question do i leave it in water so it coulds root, then plant in soil, or do i plant in soil right now so the stick/bark could start rooting.

thanks Tricia

hello, I brought my dwarf fig

By kellie brown

hello,
I brought my dwarf fig indoors (garage/basement)this winter. This year Connecticut had the coldest winter in recorded history! when do I start placing it outside? there are already new leaf buds on the branches. until last frost i assume I am bringing it indoors overnight.

Hi, Kellie: It sounds like

By Almanac Staff

Hi, Kellie: It sounds like it's so far, so good with your fig -- congratulations! One thing about figs is that in finicky ways they can be just as fragile as they are hardy, so it's always best to take things slowly in springtime when hardening them off. Use the Frost Dates calculator under Gardening above to find the likely date of your last frost. Start putting it outside on mild days, out of the wind, for 1 hour a day during the fourth week before frost. Two hours during the third week before. Three hours during the second week before. Four hours during the last week. You don't have to do it every day -- just when it's nice out. If you just sense that it's too cold, keep it inside -- don't "go by the book." Thanks for asking!

How long does it take for a

By Clemis Jamison

How long does it take for a fig tree to die if you destroy the roots?

Hard to say. A fig tree will

By georgewilson

Hard to say. A fig tree will keep sending out new roots and suckers. They root easily. Too bad you can't give the tree to someone. I hate seeing good trees killed. If you need to get rid of a fig tree, cut it down. You'll need to cut it down to a stump about three feet tall and rock the stump loose. Or, you can drill holes in the stump, fill them up with the stump killer and then the tree will stop trying to grow back. But if you want to avoid chemicals, cut the tree to ground level and cover the stump with leaves and water and plastic and the stump will crumble within the year.

I have a 4-5 yr old,in the

By SR-L

I have a 4-5 yr old,in the ground 2-3 years Fig tree which was an air-root tree off the Mother tree in same community garden in SF, CA. It was in a bucket about 1 1/2 yrs before being given to me. The community garden wants me to remove the tree, as it shades the neighbor garden in morning. It is a spectacular Brown Fig/maybe Mission Fig producer which I started Espellier training 1 yr ago but it just wanted to grow up toward sun, no matter how I had pruned it, in years past. HOW CAN I PRUNE IT AND EVENTUALLY TRANSPLANT IT WITHIN NEXT 4 MONTHS? Especially how to prepare roots for the inevitable transplant? The garden is about 200' elevation on Potrero Hill in SF.

It's best to transplant the

By Almanac Staff

It's best to transplant the tree when it is dormant in early spring. The root ball that you move needs to be able to support the tree. Measure the diameter of the trunk. For every inch you need a foot of root ball. If the trunk is 4 inches the root ball needs to be at least 4 feet wide. You can prune the tree before transplanting so that it's easier to move. Make sure to keep the root ball moist during the move and water the tree often after you have planted it in the new spot.

Additionally, to help reduce

By KateT

Additionally, to help reduce shock, you can make cuts in the soil with your spade around the rootball, now, in order to prepare the tree for the more disruptive cutting later. Here's what you do: You determine the necessary size of the rootball. Then, you cut one spade width into the root zone; then skip a space. Repeat this all the way around the desired rootball. The tree, having just had some of its roots severed will begin to form new roots at the cuts, while still having the support from its existing, uncut, roots. When you move it, the new roots that it has formed at the cut locations will be ready to support the tree while the freshly-cut roots recover (Just make sure you don't re-cut the previously cut roots.) As with any transplant, water fully and deeply at transplanting and once a week thereafter until it becomes established. Cheers!

I live in New Mexico have a

By Jeannine L

I live in New Mexico have a beautiful fig tree full of fruit. The problem is the figs are not ripe and it is October. Is there anything I can do to shelter them until they get ripe?

Bought a house and kept

By Terri Maher

Bought a house and kept cutting back this "bush" for about five years until someone said it was a fig tree. Let it go this year and it is full of green fruit. How do we know what kind of fig, and what to look for for ripening. I read that some can be green and still ripe. This is all new to us.

You are lucky to have a fig

By Almanac Staff

You are lucky to have a fig tree. Squeeze the fruit gently. Fully mature figs feel soft and may have small cracks in the skin. Ripe figs start dropping and are easy to separate from the tree.
 

I was gifted with a black

By K. Burns

I was gifted with a black mission fig tree in norther New England. The tree, obviously, must stay in a pot indoors. What kind of care does it need, and how and when do I go about transplanting to a larger pot? When should I fertilize it? I have it in a southern exposure window. I tried to move it once and all of the leaves dropped!

I have a fig tree that is 8

By JC Tate

I have a fig tree that is 8 years and full of fruit but the figs fall off before they ripen

Some fig varieties will drop

By Almanac Staff

Some fig varieties will drop fruit prematurely in hot weather, regardless of the quality of plant care. Or, there are certain fig plants that requires cross-pollination by a special wasp or they don't set a good crop. You may want to bring a sample to your local cooperative extension or local nursery specialist.

what color should the figs be

By wbudgell

what color should the figs be when they are ready for picking?

Figs are harvested when

By Almanac Staff

Figs are harvested when they're almost fully ripe.  The ripeness really depends on the variety of fig that you are growing.  For example: ‘Black Mission’ figs should be light to dark purple rather than black and should yield to slight pressure. ‘Calimyrna’ figs should be yellowish-white to light yellow and firm.

There is a fig tree on my new

By SaraAnt

There is a fig tree on my new property, I'm not sure what kind. It is mid-July here in Vegas and they have turned from green to dark purple and are soft to the touch. Assuming it was ripe I cracked it open and the inside was seedy and light colored (greenish-yellow), I scraped my teeth along the insides but it was very bitter and drying, similar to an unripe nut. I have never had a fresh fig before but am pretty sure they taste better than this! Any ideas?

Reply: I believe your tree

By Gibson

Reply: I believe your tree needs deep watering to plump out the individual figs.

SaraAnt, We're not sure where

By Almanac Staff

SaraAnt, We're not sure where you live or your zone, but here is a page with fig varieties which might help you identify your tree: http://www.treesofjoy.com/fig-varieties-collection

I live in Florida and have a

By John Korothy

I live in Florida and have a fig tree in a pot. It's about 5 or 6 yrs. old. I get good fruit which ripen and get soft, however, when picked they don't have much flavor. Can you tell me what to do? Thanks

It could be the variety that

By Almanac Staff

It could be the variety that you are growing: Some varieties have a richer flavor than others. Or, it might be that you are giving it too much water, which can sometimes affect the flavor. If you think that might be the case, cut back on the water a little.

We have a (4) year old brown

By Bernadine James

We have a (4) year old brown fig tree that put in a lot of growth with plenty of figs but they are seeming not to ripen. We added 13-13-13 and fruit tree stakes in early spring.what do you thing went wrong, we get rain often.

If the fruit are not reaching

By Almanac Staff

If the fruit are not reaching maturity and ripening properly, the usual reasons are excess fertilizer or drought. It sounds as if you are watering. A fertilizer of 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 is ample. Also, you mentioned lots of fruiting. If plants are excessively vigorous, the usual solution is to stop fertilizing them. 

I have been given a root and

By valentina

I have been given a root and branch and leaves of a 50 year old spring fed Callatli white fig
(prounced properly?)
As I am moving in two months I have put it into a trash container which has holes in it. Lots of sand an good fertile soil.

Question. It lived in the same area @2,000 feet we are at 4.000 -2,000 feet further up. As I am moving to another part but down to two thousand feet should this matter during the summer months? or shall I move it to a friends garden at ground level and hose feed it?
I can get stream water very easily.
It sit next to the Magnolia tree which is early monrning sun and until mid day ish then the sun goes over the house so it may get a little over head but no afternoon sun after 4pm.
I have a well five feet down where the roots can stay cool but no sun.
I really want to make this work out-
Anybody?

We are not familiar with this

By Almanac Staff

We are not familiar with this perticular fig variety. Most fig trees prefer full sun. Plant the tree in a spot that has about the same climate as the parent tree has.

I live in Escondido, CA

By Katie Rodriguez

I live in Escondido, CA (Inland from San Diego) My fig tree is beautiful and has small fruit BUT it is growing sooooo tall. Can I top the tree and shape it a bit without damaging the fruit???

All the old growth on my fig

By Keith Coon

All the old growth on my fig tree seems to die off each year and new growth starts from the root system. Is this normal? I can't remember the variety that I planted. I live in west central Missouri. The fig is planted in the ground. It has plenty of sun, water and drainage. It has been in the ground about five or six years. Is there something I can do to prevent the old growth from dying?

I live in zone 6 and plan to

By James Xenophon

I live in zone 6 and plan to grow my fig trees in containers that I will bring into my greenhouse during the winter until or unless they get too big. When container growing, how big of a container should I plan on and does the size of the container affect the size of the tree or fruit?

Grow fig plants in half

By Almanac Staff

Grow fig plants in half whiskey barrels or other large, suitable containers of about 30-gallon size. Casters on the containers
are helpful for the time when you need to move the fig plants inside. Certain cultivar grow better in containers than others. Try the ‘Petite Negri' fig plant.
To grow figs in a container, make sure that the soil is loose and well-drained with lots of compost or well-rotted manure; You can lighten heavy soils by incorporating a soil-less growing mixture containing perlite and/or vermiculite. Also be sure to water more often; as the fruits form, the plants need 2 to 3 gallons of water each day.
After fig leaves drop in the fall, shape your plant by removing suckers and heading back long branches. You can move into a protected area such as a garage the tree should go dormant.

My kadota fig tree produced

By Sherri California

My kadota fig tree produced figs the first year I planted it. It did not flower or produce figs last year, and there is no evidence of flowering this year. What could be wrong? We live in the high desert of Southern California, excellent soil, partial shade.

Fig trees do not usually

By Almanac Staff

Fig trees do not usually produce a good crop of fruit until the third or fourth year after planting.

I've had 4 fig trees in

By Johnsun

I've had 4 fig trees in containers for 4 years, never seen them fruiting...

Anybody can help me please?

What kind of figs are you

By Almanac Staff

What kind of figs are you growing? Some varieties require male and female plants to produce fruits.

hi, i want to start farming

By hemant patel

hi,
i want to start farming for figs and main for drying fruit and sealing so i am looking for full help on that

thanks

hemant

How are the figs harvested ?

By jay hudkins

How are the figs harvested ? , by hand or with clippers. The most common way.
Thank you ! jay

When figs are ripe they

By Almanac Staff

When figs are ripe they separate easily from the tree by twisting and lifting them upwards. No clippers needed.

Good Info on picking, storing

By David S.

Good Info on picking, storing and preserving. My tree has gone wild this year. Picking 4-5 per day. In Sacramento CA. Brown something variety. Giving bunches to friends and neighbors, but going to start freezing and making jam.

Make fig jam!! When I make

By LindaFP

Make fig jam!! When I make it, I can't keep any "in stock!" Good with sweet -- butter, biscuits, bread, etc. and fabulous with savory -- meats, cheese, etc. Go to pickyourown and use their instructions -- the jam is easy to make, makes a great gift. I have a Black Mission Fig and in a good year can harvest 50 pounds. Lots of jam.....but I always run out.

Just moved into a home with a

By Georgia Giles

Just moved into a home with a nice big Fig Tree, here in S.C.'s Piedmont! When will they ripen & how do you dry them? All tips for a large yield w/little damage from Birds appreciated! Txs, granny g

Most fig varieties have two

By Almanac Staff

Most fig varieties have two harvests during the year. One in early summer and one in late fall. You can dry figs by cutting them in half and using your oven or a dehydrator or putting them outside in the sun. At a temp. around 120 degrees the figs will take about 10 to 12 hours to dry in the oven.

Hi, I appreciate the info.

By Lou Eberhart

Hi, I appreciate the info. about figs, however, you didn't state a specific time/month/season of the year to start looking for ripe fruit. I am in zone 9 (so. central calif.), so I am guessing 'ripe' would be in late June maybe (as it gets very hot out here starting in may!) Thanks

Wherever you live, you judge

By Almanac Staff

Wherever you live, you judge the ripeness of a fig by skin color and flesh firmness. Fall crops do best in your area--generally September/early October. ‘Black Mission’ figs should be light to dark purple rather than black and should yield to slight pressure. ‘Calimyrna’ figs should be yellowish-white to light yellow and firm. It's best not to wait until the fig has softened if you wish to avoid bird and weevil damage. Get the fruit as soon as it is harvestable. Unfortunately, figs do not ripen further once harvested and will only keep a few days in the refrigerator.

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