A Complete Guide to Growing Figs
Not too many people consider figs as a backyard plant, but growing figs is actually quite easy if you live in the right climate. In the United States, figs can be grown in the warmest USDA zones, down to around zone 8. Figs need two things to grow--the first is warm weather and the second is lots of sunlight. A fig tree needs at least eight hours a day of sunlight to produce fruit.
Growing figs is possible in the southern and western portions of the U.S. Figs come in many varieties though most of us only think of figs as the type you find in the middle part of a cookie. Figs are not terribly particular about the type of soil; just remember that they must be placed in a spot that is sunny all day long. An ideal spot would be the south side of a building.
Figs should be planted in spring while they are still in the dormant stage. It is always best to start with a small plant. If your fig plant was grown in a container, you can place it in its new home just as it is, but if you have a bareroot fig, you should remove the top fifty percent before planting.
Don’t prune your figs the first year, but in the spring of the second year, you can prune down to around four strong shoots, which you should choose to be leaders. After this you can prune back every spring before the fig tree starts its growth for the new year. Figs should be cut back by about one-third each year. Remove any shoots or branches that have died.
It is also possible to take a cutting from a fig plant. It should be in the 8-10 inch range with year-old wood. Suckers can also be planted right into the soil to start new fig plants. As for watering, fig trees should have in the neighborhood of one inch of water every week. They should not need any fertilizing unless for some reason the plants just refuse to grow in your location.
When growing fig trees, mulch in the summer to keep in moisture and in the fall for winter protection. They require a hefty four to six inches of mulch. Figs are ready for harvest when the fruit starts to droop. They also produce a milky-type liquid right before they are ripe. Some people who suffer from allergies might find this white secretion bothersome.
There are really very few diseases or pests which bother fig trees. The two biggest frustrations are that your plants fail to yield fruit or that they grow fruit and you have to battle with birds to harvest it. Birds love to eat figs. That’s why it is best to pick you figs before they get too ripe. You can cover the trees with nets to keep birds off the fruit.
Often people think their fig tree is just not going to produce any figs but you have to have a lot of patience with figs. It can take as many as three to four years before a tree sets with fruit. For others, sometimes the figs either do not ripen or the figs drop off the plant prematurely. If your figs fail to ripen, you may be fertilizing them too much. They require little fertilizer.
In the southern United States, the cultivars Celeste and Brown Turkey are the most popular ones. Celeste will always drop some fruit just because it is one of the plants characteristics.