Fig Tree Tips

The common edible fig grows on a tree that stays relatively small so it can be grown next to buildings and in home gardens. Since it is native to the Mediterranean region, it tends to prefer warm temperatures and at least eight hours of sunlight, but fig trees can also grow in areas where cold winters prevent most other tropical plants from surviving.

Allow Room for Roots

Plant the tree in an area where it can grow a good root system. Healthy fig trees have roots that extend 50 feet out from the base of the tree, usually close to the surface. In situations where the tree is next to a building, the roots will descend almost 20 feet to collect nourishment for the plant.

Provide Good Drainage

Plant the tree in an area where it will have good drainage and can grow in a pH of 6 to 6.5. The type of soil is not as important, since figs can grow in a variety of different mixtures, from part clay to gravel soils. Make sure you are able to provide a good amount of water, especially in sandy soil.

Harvest Twice a Year

Plan on harvesting two crops from your fig tree once it has been well established in its site if you live in subtropical climate. The first harvest in May is often not very suitable for saving since the fruits can be small and sour. The second, larger crop in the late fall around December usually produces sweet figs that are worth saving. Plants grown in temperate zones will have one harvest of good fruits in early July.

Prune in Early Spring

Prune your fig trees in the early spring before you see any signs of growth, but just after the freezing nights have passed, if you are in a temperate area. Cut the plant back to about four main stems; each of them should only be about 4 feet high. Don't worry about damaging the fig tree, as it will grow vigorously as soon as the ground has warmed to about 70 degrees F.

Winterize in Late Fall

Protect your fig tree from the freezing temperatures of winter by wrapping it in burlap and a water-resistant cover in the late fall. Let the cover fall straight to the ground and secure it with stakes as opposed to gathering it around the trunk. This will allow the heat of the soil to rise under the covering, protecting the tree. A heavy mulch will also prevent root damage during severe winters.

Keywords: fig tree care, planting a fig tree, pruning a fig tree

About this Author

Based in Maryland, Heidi Braley, currently writes for local and online media outlets. Some of Braley's articles from the last 10 years are in the "Oley Newsletter," "Connections Magazine," GardenGuides and Braley's college life included Penn State University and Villanova University with her passions centered in nutrition and botany.