How to Plant & Care for Dwarf Fig Trees

Overview

Figs are a sweet addition to your home garden. The fruit can be eaten fresh or dried, or used in baking and preserves. Dwarf fig trees begin to bear fruit at 2 to 3 years old but may take a few years to reach full production. With regular pruning, you can keep your dwarf fig at a manageable 6 fete tall, and dwarf figs are adaptable to container culture.

Step 1

Dig a hole deeper and wider than the root system. Add planting mix if the soil is very heavy and dense.

Step 2

Remove any broken or dried roots and place your dwarf fig tree upright 2 to 4 inches deeper than it was planted in the nursery. Try to keep the root ball intact to keep root damage and stress to a minimum.

Step 3

Crumble soil around the tree's roots, packing soil down as you go to avoid air pockets. Water to encourage the soil to settle around the roots.

Step 4

Prune branch tips to develop lateral branches and reduce stress if the tree has not been pruned before transplanting.

Step 5

Keep a careful eye on water management. Fig roots often grow close to the soil surface and may easily dry out. Afternoon leaf-wilting is a sign that your fig tree needs more frequent watering, particularly in warm weather.

Step 6

Mulch around the base of your fig trees to help retain soil moisture and discourage weeds.

Step 7

Prune your dwarf fig tree annually during its first three growing seasons to train it to the shape you want.

Step 8

Prune only to stimulate new growth or keep your tree at the proper size after the first three seasons. Figs can develop fruit on the previous year's growth, so remember that heavy pruning will cause your tree to produce lighter crops the next year.

Step 9

Perform any necessary pruning after you've harvested the main crop in early autumn.

Step 10

Remove all dead or weak limbs during the dormant season.

Step 11

Fertilize figs grown in containers three or four times a year with a fruit tree fertilizer; figs grown in the ground do not usually need regular fertilizing and too much nitrogen can cause poor fruit quality.

Step 12

Cut back watering in the fall to slow your tree's growth and encourage dormancy to minimize the chance of damage from the cold.

Step 13

Mulch over the base of your tree to protect the crown from killing frosts if you live in an area where the temperatures will consistently drop into the teens.

Step 14

Cover young trees with polyester frost blankets to protect them from a killing frost.

Step 15

Prune any frost-damaged branches only after the last frost in spring and do not remove frozen branches until the tree has had a chance to grow.

Step 16

Allow figs to ripen on the tree, but pick them as they ripen because fruit left on the tree may spoil or attract insect pests.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not overwater your fig trees if your area has heavy soil and poor drainage. This will push the oxygen out of the soil and cause damage. Whitewash your fig trees after heavy summer pruning with interior white latex paint mixed with equal parts water to prevent sunburn. Sunburn can also be prevented by waiting to prune your trees until autumn. Wear gloves and long sleeves when harvesting figs to prevent skin irritation from the fig latex which is appears at the points where you remove fruit from the tree.

Things You'll Need

  • Potting soil
  • Pruning shears
  • Mulch
  • Large container if potting
  • Polyester frost blankets
  • Fruit tree fertilizer
  • White interior latex paint

References

  • Four Winds Growers: Fig Tree Care

Who Can Help

  • Bay Flora: Fig Trees
Keywords: dwarf fig tree, fig, prune fig tree

About this Author

Lynn Mansfield is a freelance writer living and working in Minnesota. Her work has appeared in online sites and publications such as theWAHMmagazine, for parents who work at home, and eHow. She is an active member of Absolute Write and Writer's Village University.