The ficus carica is commonly known as the common fig tree. This Mediterranean native is a hardy, drought-tolerant tree that can reach mature heights up to 50 feet with a spread that can outreach its height. This sun-loving tree thrives in tropical conditions but can withstand winter temperatures as low as 10 degrees F. The vigorously growing, deciduous tree produces two crops per year and can live up to 15 years with full, biennial crop production.
Locate a sunny, well-drained planting location for your fig tree. Select a location that receives at least eight hours of full sunlight each day.
Purchase a soil test. Test the soil of the selected area to ensure that the pH levels rest between 6.0 and 6.5, as recommended by the Purdue University Horticulture and Landscape Extension. Make sure to take the soil sample from at least 6 feet below surface level to ensure accurate readings.
Dig up the selected planting area and loosen any compacted soils. Remove any weeds or vegetation from the area to prevent competition.
Plant your fig tree in the late winter. Dig a hole for your tree that is slightly wider and deeper than the spread of the root system. Position your tree in the hole so that the graft union line is approximately 2 to 4 inches below the surface, per the recommendations of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. Spread the roots evenly throughout the hole. Fill the hole with soil while ensuring that all of the roots are covered. Press the soil firmly around the tree and irrigate deeply to promote a good establishment.
Apply a thick layer of mulch around the diameter of your fig tree to protect soil moisture levels and reduce weed invasion. Use a 4- to 6-inch layer of mulch. Keep the mulch approximately 1 foot from the trunk of the tree to prevent root rot.
Irrigate your newly planted fig tree deeply and frequently. Water the tree at least once each week. Adjust the irrigation levels for periods of drought and rainfall to ensure accurate levels. Irrigate mature trees approximately once every two weeks.
Prune your fig tree to develop a good framework, as suggested by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. Develop a single-tree, open-vase frame in areas with mild winters. Promote a multi-trunked framework with a bushy shape in areas with harsh winters to prevent wind and cold injury. Remove any dead or damaged branches or stems from the tree.
Harvest your fig tree only after the fruit have fully ripened on the tree. Remove all of the fruit from the tree during each harvest. Protect your hands with gloves while harvesting to avoid irritants from the fig's waxy covering.