Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

How to Care For a Brown Turkey Fig Tree

Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

Brown turkey figs have a purple-brown exterior and strawberry-colored flesh. They are sweeter than green figs and quite juicy. This cultivar is among the most cold-hardy and grows throughout the southeastern United States, as well as California and Hawaii. They can recover from frosts and continue bearing fruit, a quality that adds to their value in temperate areas. Brown turkey figs and are best eaten fresh, rather than canned or dried.

Give your brown turkey fig tree plenty of room to grow and full sun exposure. California Rare Fruits Growers note that fig trees average 10 to 30 feet.

You may train your fig tree to a central leader--one main trunk with branches shooting off from the trunk--but the fig's natural form is more bushy. In the winter, prune back any long branches to the length you desire and remove any inward growing or crossing branches. Keep the center open to encourage fruit production.

Water the young tree regularly, about three to five times a week or more often in especially hot and dry conditions. In winter, you can water once every two weeks. If your fig leaves begin to yellow, your tree needs more water. However, note that there will be natural leaf yellowing and leaf drop when the tree goes dormant in winter.

If your fig tree grows less than one foot a year once it begins producing, fertilize it with 1/2 to 1 lb. of nitrogen, broken up into four applications from March to late July. Once it achieves the growth, discontinue fertilizing. Excess fertilizer can reduce the quality of your fruit.

Protect the tree from frost if necessary. Brown turkey figs are hardy to 10 or 15 degrees F but they can still receive damage. If you anticipate a cold temperature, string Christmas lights through the tree's branches. Then wrap the tree in burlap and pin the fabric together with safety pins. Plug in the lights to help insulate the tree during low temperatures. Remove the burlap and Christmas lights when the danger of frost passes.

Pick the figs as soon as they ripen for the best taste. Ripe figs will feel soft and have a bend at the neck. Cut the figs off using a knife. Brown turkey fig trees produce two crops: a small one in the spring and a main one in the fall.

Garden Guides