Fresh, roasted, dried, stewed or preserved, figs are delicious. They are available to buy from late summer, but can be expensive and are not always top quality. Luckily, growing your own is easy! They are small trees, reaching a height of 6m, with a 5-6m spread, and can be planted in a pot or the ground. So get into the garden and start giving a fig!
You can buy figs as bare-rooted stock or in pots at the nursery. The perfect time to plant is during the autumn and winter, so the trees can establish themselves while it’s cold.
They will tolerate a wide range of climates, but fruit best in areas with a relatively dry summer and little to no frost during winter. Young trees are susceptible to frost and should be protected during their first and second winters. However, once established, fig trees are frost hardy.
Plant in full sun, in a spot protected from strong winds.
Fig trees will grow in almost any type of soil, but it must be well-draining for best results. Before you plant, you should enrich the soil with compost and manure, which will encourage strong and healthy growth. If growing your tree in a pot, use a good-quality potting mix such as Yates Premium Potting Mix.
Did you know...? Figs make great pot plants, just cut them back in winter to keep them compact. To train into a standard ‘lollipop’ shape, remove the lower branches.
Dig a generous-sized planting hole for the tree, twice as wide as the root ball and a little deeper. If your soil is strongly acidic (below pH 6), add a little lime to the soil as you backfill. Water the new tree thoroughly, spread a layer of organic mulch over the surface and water again.
Make sure young plants are well watered, especially during hot, dry periods.
In spring, apply a complete slow-release fertiliser such as Osmocote Plus Trace Elements Fruit, Citrus, Trees & Shrubs. During the growing season, you can also feed with a high- potassium fertiliser, like Yates Thrive Soluble Flower & Fruit, to promote fruit production.
For juicy sweet figs, let them ripen on the tree. Pick as soon as it is ripe in late summer, otherwise spoilage and souring will occur. No matter what variety you grow, wear gloves when harvesting, as the sap in the stems can be a skin irritant.
More fruit, less space...
You don’t need a large garden to grow figs. They’ll happily grow in small spaces, such as a pot or small, contained garden bed. This restricts the spread of their roots, which most plants don’t like, but it encourages fig trees to be more fruitful as well as limiting their size. To ensure your crops survive, you can cover the tree with netting, as birds are quick to swoop in on the sweet fruit.