Are you considering planting a fig tree? In addition to the varieties for the traditional hotter climates, there are some that will thrive even in the Pacific Northwest. This guide is about growing figs.
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Fig trees do best in the southern half of the country, but they can also be grown in protected locations along the Atlantic coast as far north as New York. In colder climates, or for gardeners with limited growing space, growing them in containers is a practical and increasingly popular option.
Root Pruning: In general, fig trees tend to perform better when their roots are somewhat constricted. Once they are in their largest pot, they need to be root pruned once every three to four years. To do this, take the tree out of the pot and cut one-quarter of the roots away to make a root ball before returning it to a pot of fresh soil. Root pruning should always be should be done while the plant is dormant (has no leaves); either in the early spring or late fall.
Water the tree very sparingly (a cup or two) every four weeks during winter storage to prevent the root from drying out. A dormant tree does not need light so don't worry about storing it in total darkness. Plants can be moved outdoors once overnight temperatures consistently remain above freezing.
One tree is usually enough to provide figs for the average family. The most common type of fig trees grown by gardeners are Persistent (or Common) figs. These do not need pollination to set crops. Examples of good overall cultivars to consider for cool to cold climates include Brown Turkey, Celeste, Hardy Chicago, LSU Purple, and Violet de Bordeaux.
By Ellen Brown
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Here are questions related to Growing Figs.
To what height can I cut back a mature fig tree to get it to grow like a bush instead?
By Nancy I
I have a potted fig tree and took it inside my garage, as there will be frost very soon. I have read all the information and will water it 1-2 cups every 4 weeks. Although all the leaves have fallen off, there are several unripened figs left. Should I take them off? I plan on planting it in the ground next spring any tips?
By Marianne D.
What color is a fig on the inside when rips. We have figs getting soft and drooping, but they are white on the inside. Are they ripe?
By Catherine 07/23/2012
There are three types of fig: the green or white, the grey or red, and the black or purple, the white fig is more adapted to cold weather than the others.
I have a fig tree that is approximately 6 years old. Every year I expect it to produce fruit, but have not had any luck at this point. Should I have at least two fig trees? Is there a chemical I should be adding to the soil? I have the tree in a large container and it gets 7 to 8 hours of sun each day. In the winter I take the container to my garage (temperature ranges from 30 to 60 degrees). I introduce the plant to the outside in late March or or early spring. Any suggestions?
By PAT F
By Catherine 06/04/2012
Fig tree are male or female and only a female fig tree will give edible fruits. You should try to identify your tree and check if it is possible to graft fig trees in case your tree is a male fig tree.
By gbk 06/04/2012
First you didn't say where you live but I gather it is up north or what kind of fig it? I grow 3 different kinds of figs but I live in South Georgia. I grow some in containers also as I have to move some of them to the sunny areas as the year progresses.
Sounds like you need to put a large pan at least 4 inches deep with water in it and put your fig tree in there in the spring. I also put Epsom salt around mine to make it put on fruit. Needs more fertilizing in a pot but in small amounts regularly. Good luck.
Can anyone suggest the best variety of fig for this area? I am actually out on the peninsula in Bremerton west of Tacoma. I grew up in the south and love fresh figs. I have tried the larger fruited green figs and they are an OK choice. I would prefer a brown varietal if that is possible in my area. Thanks in advance.
By Dee T. 08/29/2011
Check with your local county extension office. They are associated with the Washington State University which will have some gardens which they test grow to see what works in your area.
My fig tree looks like it has worms. What can I do to treat it?
By Ona from Cape Town, South Africa
By Dorothy 03/14/2010
Add about two tablespoon garlic paste to a jug of water, stir well and spray. Sprinkle wood ashes. Good luck
I have a fig tree in my yard. It has many figs on it, however, summer is almost over and none of the figs have ripened. They are still medium-sized and hard, they would probably need to grow a bit larger, then ripen.
With the end of summer, the cooler weather will be coming in and I'm afraid I will not eat one fig at all! Any suggestions? Also, what do I do with the fig tree after the summer? Do I cut it all the way down and wrap it, or do I just prune it to, say, five feet tall, then wrap it to keep it warm? Thank you!
Hardiness Zone: 7a
Kelly from Long Island, New York
By Lynda (Guest Post)09/07/2008
My mother's fig tree was loaded each year AFTER we began to add used coffee grounds and chopped banana peelings to the soil in the spring, and compost all year long for overall health.
(There are several varieties of Fig trees/bushes. Go to the Library and look through gardening encyclopedias to view what sort you may have and what sort does best for your area/zone.)
In the Fall, we pruned many small branches out, leaving it thin enough for birds to fly through. It always lost all leaves, went dormant in winter in Texas, but returned robust in Spring. It requires a lot of water and never got many pests, except squirrels, and a tiny fly that would sometimes bore the fruit. It got morning and noon sun, but shade in the late afternoon.
It appeared that the secret to having ripe fruit was to keep the numbers of branches to a minimum, and to keep evenly watered, not picking the fruit until it LOOKED and tasted ripe. We never pruned anytime other than Fall.
My fig trees are mature and have plenty of figs, but they are no bigger than a quarter for 1 1/2 months. Why?
Hardiness Zone: 7a
Joe from Port Chester, NY
By Harlean from Arkansas 08/21/2007
I believe this has more to do with the type of fig tree that you have. I have this type also, and a friend who has a nursery said if I want large figs, I should plant a Turkey Fig. I plan to do so this Fall. My fig tree bears all summer, but they are very small figs.
Harlean from Arkansas
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