There are many advantages to planting fig trees in containers. Foremost it gives the gardener in climates too cold to grow them in the ground the opportunity to grow this interesting tree. Fig trees can become very large and their root systems are expansive. Growing the tree in a container will keep the tree manageable and give you more options for placing the tree in the landscape. The disadvantage to container growing is that the tree will need to be watered and fertilized more often than if it were in the ground.
Mix equal parts of compost, well-rotted manure and potting soil to create the growing medium for your tree. Planting should be done in the spring. These trees should be planted 3 inches deeper in your container than they were planted at the nursery. Place enough soil on the bottom of the container to bring the tree to this level.
Place the tree in the container and fill in around the root ball to within 1 or 2 inches of the top of the container. This will give you room to water the tree without washing out the soil. Tamp down firmly and water the soil until the water is running out the drain holes. Add more soil if the watering caused it to settle.
Water the tree every other day for the first two weeks. This will help the roots establish themselves in the new container. Then water when the top inch of the soil starts to dry out. This could mean every day in the summer and only once a week in the fall. Reduce watering during the dormant season to once every other week. Never allow the soil to be soggy or completely dry out.
Set the container in an area that gets full sun. If you live in an area that receives frost or freezes in the winter, move your tree to an unheated garage or shed before the first frost. Place the tree near a window to receive as much sun as possible or install fluorescent lighting for the tree.
Mix equal parts of white latex paint and water to paint the trunk and branches of trees that may be burnt by the hot afternoon sun. This will happen more frequently in the South than in the North.
Apply a complete balanced, slow release fertilizer as soon as you see new growth on the tree. Follow manufacturer’s directions on how much to use.
Place a 2-inch layer of rotted leaf mulch over the soil in the container. This will help to retain moisture while adding nutrients to the soil as the water leaches it in.
Prune off any dead or damaged branches at any time. Prune to shape and keep the size down in the early spring just before the new growth begins. Cut off all suckers or very low-growing branches. Make sure all cuts are back to a bud or the trunk, so as not to leave open wounds on the tree.