How to Start a Fig Tree


Starting a fig tree (Ficus caria L) can be tedious and requires patience. Fig trees reach a maximum height of 50 feet, with an average height of 10 to 30 feet. Frequent pruning of fig trees reduces fruit production and height. Fig trees grow best in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 7a to 11, in full sun. According to historical records, fig trees date as far back as 5,000 B.C. and are native to western Asia. The majority of fig tree varieties require pollination from insects that enter through a small opening in the immature fig fruit.

Step 1

Acquire a fig tree seedling for your specific growing zone that is from pollinated seed or a self-pollinating variety. Fig trees do not grow well from seed and rarely produce fruit, warns the California Rare Fruit Growers Organization.

Step 2

Measure the height and diameter of the potting container or wrapped root ball of the fig tree seedling. Dig a hole that is three times the dimensions obtained.

Step 3

Remove debris, grass and weeds from the dirt dug from the hole. Mix equal parts of the dirt with organically-enriched potting soil, sand and peat.

Step 4

Fill the bottom of the hole with 2 inches of the soil mixture. Water until the soil mixture is soggy. Allow 10 minutes for the water to absorb before continuing with the following steps.

Step 5

Put on gardening gloves. Extract the fig tree seedling from the potting container or remove the burlap covering from the root ball.

Step 6

Spray a pair of pruning shears with a mild disinfectant spray. Cut off all branches on the bottom 2 inches of the tree's trunk.

Step 7

Place the fig tree into the hole vertically. Align the tree trunk base with the soil line. Lower the tree 1/2 inch. The objective is to plant the fig tree seedling's root ball and part of the trunk into the hole.

Step 8

Backfill the hole half full with the soil mixture, while holding the fig tree at the correct depth. Water the soil mixture. Allow time for water to absorb and drain into the soil.

Step 9

Backfill with the remaining soil mixture. Evenly mound the soil mixture around the base of the tree when you reach the soil line.

Step 10

Cover the mound and ground to the drip line with a 2-inch layer of organic compost mixture.

Step 11

Place a planting stake in the ground 1 inch from the fig tree. Secure the tree's trunk to the planting stake with a tie.

Step 12

Wait 48 hours for the tree to acclimate and the dirt to settle. Provide the tree with 2 inches of water, if no rainfall is present during the waiting period. Begin normal routine care of the newly planted fig tree, after this watering.

Tips and Warnings

  • Wear gardening gloves when handling fig trees to prevent direct skin contact with the irritating, white, milky sap.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Post hole digger
  • Organically-enriched potting soil
  • Sand
  • Peat
  • Gardening gloves
  • Mild disinfectant spray
  • Pruning shears
  • Organic compost mixture
  • Shovel
  • Planting stake tie


  • California Rare Fruit Growers Organization: Fig
Keywords: start fig tree, plant fig tree, grow fig tree

About this Author

Lisha Smith writes for several blogs and has freelanced for six years. She has a Bachelor of Arts from UNC-Greensboro in psychology. Smith has self-published several books. Her areas of experience include gardening, cooking, home improvement, pets and mental health.