Everything You Need to Know About Growing Fig Trees

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Figs have captivated our imaginations for centuries, with their unique taste, health benefits, and even their use as clothing in ancient times. But growing your own fig tree can be just as exciting as enjoying the fruit itself. The fig tree, known scientifically as Ficus carica, is a small to medium-sized deciduous fruit tree that is both ornamental and edible. In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about fertilizing and caring for a fig tree.

Fig Tree Fertility FAQs

Does My Fig Tree Need Fertilizer?

Absolutely! Just like any other tree, fig trees benefit from added fertility. However, fig trees prefer a leaner soil rather than overly rich fertility. To meet their preference for acidic soil, you can use acid-loving fertilizer or add Soil Sulfur or Ammonium Sulfate at the base of the tree. Mulching with pine bark arborist mulch is another helpful practice as it not only adds organic matter but also acidifies the soil over time.

What is the Best Fertilizer for a Fig Tree?

For the best results, use a general-purpose, slow-release, and preferably organic fruit tree fertilizer with a composition of 8-8-8 or 10-10-10. It is important to avoid over-applying fertilizer, as too much nitrogen can promote excessive leafy growth at the expense of fruit production. Additionally, fig trees thrive in slightly acidic soil conditions, so choose a fertilizer that helps maintain the appropriate pH level.

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When Should I Fertilize My Fig Tree?

When planting a new fig tree, enrich the soil with mild, slow-release fertilizer and provide regular waterings during the first few months to aid establishment. For established trees, it is best to fertilize in the spring or split the application between early and late spring. Avoid fertilizing after the fourth of July to prevent late-season growth that may not harden off properly before winter.

How Often Should I Feed My Fig Tree?

Consider adding an organic slow-release fertilizer if your fig tree is growing in sandy soil or if its vigor and leaf color indicate the need for additional nutrients. Light fertilization can be applied once or twice a year, but be mindful of not forcing excessive new growth too late in the season. It is always best to observe your tree’s needs and avoid using fertilizer as a cure-all for stress symptoms.

Fig Tree Care

Fig trees are known for their adaptability to various locations and growing conditions. While they thrive in sunny, dry areas with rocky soil, they can still be grown in a wide range of environments. Providing at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day is essential for optimum fruit production. Although fig trees can handle drought, they still benefit from moderate and consistent moisture for a healthy crop. Ensuring proper drainage is essential, whether planting in the ground or a container.

Fig Tree Pollination

Fig trees have a fascinating relationship with tiny wasps of the Agaonidae family, which help with the pollination process. The fig itself is not a fruit but a swollen stem part that ripens from pollinated flowers. Most fig varieties no longer require wasps for pollination and have been bred to have closed or sealed eyes. Closed-eye figs are highly sought after, especially in humid regions, to avoid insect and disease issues that can affect open-eyed figs.

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Fig Tree Harvest

Fig trees typically yield one or two crops per year. The breba crop, which develops in the spring on last year’s shoot growth, is followed by the main crop on the current year’s shoot growth, ripening in late summer or fall. Determining the ripeness of figs involves observing characteristics such as drooping of the fruit, softness to the touch, and even the presence of dew at the eye.

Pruning Your Fig Tree

The ideal time to prune a fig tree is in late winter or early spring, depending on the variety. Pruning while dormant minimizes sap bleeding from cuts made during the growing season. Key pruning practices include removing competing leaders, weak branches, crossing or rubbing branches, and old growth. Creating an open canopy allows for better air circulation and sunlight penetration, which aids in fruit ripening. Pinching off new growth branches can redirect the tree’s energy toward fruit production.

Delicious, Healthy, and Ornamental

Growing your own fig tree offers not only a bountiful harvest but also the opportunity to enjoy the many culinary possibilities figs have to offer. From fig jam to salads, baked goods, and desserts, the versatility of figs is endless. High in essential nutrients and fiber, figs bring both delicious flavors and health benefits to your table. At Nature Hills Nursery, you can find a selection of high-quality fig trees to add a touch of uniqueness to your garden.

Happy planting!

Ames Farm Center