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Fig Tree Growing TIMELINE for Proper Fig Tree Care

Updated: Mar 29

Navigate the year with confidence using this essential timeline for growing fig trees. Let this indispensable companion guide be your garden planner, seed starting and planting calendar, and your Farmer’s Almanac of growing fig trees.

The timeline is dedicated to giving you the information that you need at any point during your season, so if you ever get lost, you can figure out exactly the things you should be doing for your fig trees to ensure success. And don’t miss this 15 steps to success companion guide, found here.

Get the beautiful fig tree timeline in poster form here:

For more fig-related content like this feel free to subscribe to the monthly Fig Boss newsletter at the top of the page.

Let's start from the beginning of the season and work our way to the end.

Fig Tree Care in the Spring

Initiating the Season: 30-60 Days Before Last Frost

Begin by completing tasks overlooked during dormancypruning, root pruning, rejuvenation pruning, and applying dormant oil.

To read more about proper pruning, check out this guide for in-ground fig trees, and this guide for container fig trees.

  • Check for scale, borers, and any other overwintering pests.

  • Unwrap and uncover fig trees that are planted in the ground to prevent overheating and mold as the weather warms.

  • Utilize season extension methods such as heated greenhouses or tunnels in cooler climates for an early start.

  • Shield any trees that have left dormancy from frost, maintaining temperatures above 32F.

To read more about late frosts, check out this article.
Here is more information on unwrapping and uncovering fig trees.
To read more about fig trees in greenhouses, check out this article.

Final Preparations: 0-30 Days Before Last Frost

Focus on awakening your trees from dormancy.

  • For trees not yet awake, warm and rehydrated root systems are key.

  • Continue to protect fig trees that are awake from frost.

  • Ensure trees that are awake receive sufficient water, sunlight, and warmth for rapid growth. Use warm water whenever possible. Early efforts provide exponential benefits later in the growing season.

Spring Fig Tree Maintenance: Shortly After Last Frost

Once the danger of frost passes, your trees should be fully awake.

  • Continue to prioritize the maximization of sunlight and warmth with proper fertilization and watering.

  • Transition trees any previously shaded trees gradually to full sun to prevent sunburn.

To learn more about sunburn, check out this article.
And this article will give you all the tips you need for proper fig tree maintenance.

Assess your fig trees:

  • Identify any winter damage and remove any damaged or dead wood.

  • Determine weak points on your tree. Are you seeing a severe case of fig mosaic virus?

  • Consider pruning weak and unhealthy growth.

To learn more about pruning fig trees in the spring, click here.
To learn more about fig mosaic virus, click here.

Apply container trees with 4-8 weekly applications of a well-balanced fertilizer.

  • Stick to a schedule.

  • Cover your micronutrients and consider adding lime, diatomaceous earth, compost tea, and mulch in dry/hot locations.

  • While it's important to stick to a fertilization schedule early in the growing season, be sure to correct any nutritional deficiencies immediately.

  • If you're unsure of what your in-ground trees may need, the best way to figure out any deficiencies is to get a soil test.

To learn more about fertilizing fig trees, click here.

  • Pruning should have been completed by this point, but it’s never too late.

  • Thin the new shoots shortly after bud break if they are growing in disadvantageous positions.

  • These shoots won't receive appropriate levels of sunlight or they'll shade others.

  • Maximizing photosynthesis is what separates the average fig grower from the exceptional.

Check out this article for properly shaping your fig trees.

Stakes are your best asset. Instead of pruning a branch in the wrong location during dormancy, have the foresight that you can stake it instead into a new position. This will lead to more and earlier ripening fruits.

Check out this article for properly training your fig trees.

Repotting and planting can be accomplished at any time given the right circumstances, but this is a great time to do so.

Propagation and Repotting Fig Trees: 15-45 Days After Last Frost

As trees experience increased sap flow and metabolic rates, it’s ideal for uppotting and planting. Start propagation techniques like outdoor rooting, grafting, and air layering, taking advantage of the warmer soil temperatures.

Check out this detailed guide on repotting fig trees.
And this detailed guide on propagating fig trees.

Continue with regular fig tree maintenance and care:

  • Fertilize container trees every 4-8 weeks with a balanced formula.

  • Thin new shoots that grow in less than ideal positions after bud break.

  • Stake branches, as needed, to optimize sunlight exposure.

  • Uppot and plant whenever conditions are appropriate.

Fig Tree Care in the Summer

Evaluate Your Fig Trees: 2 months after your last frost

By this point, you should be seeing most of your fruit set. If not, evaluate your tree on these criteria:

How much sunlight does your fig tree receive?

Without proper sunlight, as the fig tree is growing new leaves, the fruit buds will not set.

Read up on the sunlight requirements for fig trees, here.

How much did you prune your fig tree during dormancy?

Excessive winter pruning can throw your tree into hormonal imbalance encouraging growth and discouraging fruiting.

Read about how to keep your fig tree small with proper pruning here.

Is your fig tree healthy?

Check the roots for root rot and root-knot nematodes. Assess your tree’s severity of fig mosaic virus and consider rejuvenation pruning.

Rejuvenation pruning can be critical for your success. Check out more details about this special technique here.

What fig variety are you growing? Does it require pollination?

Fig varieties come in 4 types: Caprifigs, Common figs, San Pedro figs, and Smyrna figs. Only the common figs will produce fruit reliably without pollination. If your fig tree was grown from seed, there’s a 75% chance it’s not a Common fig.

Read about the types of fig trees in this article.

Now that you have fruit set, cease all synthetic fertilizers and organic fertilizers heavy in nitrogen. Excess nitrogen will decrease fruit quality.

Consider summer pruning, pinching, nipping, topping, or what’s called River’s pruning if you want to time a second crop of main crop figs. This technique can also increase your overall production by over 100%.

To read more about River’s pruning, check out this detailed guide.

If not performing River's pruning, consider reducing your watering regimen to ensure a higher brix in your fruits. However, the summer is a critical time for watering fig trees. Higher temperatures bring with it a higher frequency of watering the soil.

To read about the proper watering of fig trees, click here.

Training Young Fig Trees During the Summer:

Top your young fig trees when they’ve developed large leaves and are showing strong and healthy growth. This will enable them to form scaffolds in their first growing season reducing the time to maturity by an entire growing season. Check out this article to learn more.

Lastly, evaluate your fig tree for signs of rust. Prevent severe cases right away by removing leaves with rust. Other important preventative measures can be found in this guide.

Harvesting Figs: 3 months after your last frost

This is when you'll start seeing your first main crop figs ripen.

  • Decrease soil moisture further to keep brix levels high and protect your harvest when necessary. Organza bags, chicken wire, traps, and netting are all great options.

  • Harvest when the fig’s neck is soft or before rains.

  • During post-harvest, consider cutting them in half placing each half skin side down on a tray, and placing them in your refrigerator to slowly dry them. This will concentrate their flavors further.

  • Refrigerate, dry, or preserve your harvest to extend its shelf life.

Don’t miss this article on harvesting figs. We put in all this work till this point. You don’t want to pick them early and ruin your eating experience.
And check out this article on drying figs and this article on how to intensify their flavors in the refrigerator.

Fig Tree Care in the Fall

  • In the fall, it’s best to reduce water in the soil even further to encourage lignification. Pick up and dispose of any fallen leaves to lessen rust issues.

  • Pick up and dispose of any fallen fruits to lessen fruit fly and other pest pressure.

  • This is a great time to do any repotting and planting.

Don’t miss these steps when planting your fig tree.

Pruning Fig Trees & Winter Protection: After a few frosts

The trees are now entering dormancy. Consider lightly pruning to thin out the tree's canopy.

  • Make thinning cuts. Not heading cuts.

  • Remove scaffolds or trunks at the soil level to maintain size, but try to avoid removing too many apical or lateral buds with each cut.

To learn about how excessive and improper pruning can ruin your harvest the next growing season, click here.

  • Put potted trees away in storage no earlier than when you see temperatures in the forecast below 15F. That will ensure they're dormant.

  • Provide a good helping of mulch and water to each tree before placing them in storage.

  • Root prune/bare root fig trees when necessary.

  • Begin indoor rooting of cuttings.

  • Wrap or protect your fig trees planted in the ground in zones 7A and below when the forecast is predicting 15-20F.

To read about wrapping fig trees, click here.
To learn about where to store your container fig trees in the winter, click here.
And read this article for what to do with young fig trees come winter.

Fig Tree Care in the Winter

Midway through dormancy: Take a Break

To be safe, consider watering dormant container fig trees. 4 ounces per tree.

  • During dormancy, it is appropriate to do any bare rooting, pruning, root pruning, planting, or really any task where the top or bottom of the tree is disturbed.

  • Propagation of any kind should not take place until the tree is awake and the daytime high and nighttime low temperatures average is close to 78F.

7,400 views2 comments


Mar 16, 2020

Ross, I am in zone 7A and thinking about uncovering and MOVING a fig tree in my yard to a sunnier spot. Can I do it now or wait until april to move it?


Hi I'm new This sites i want to contract some one to buying fig cutting

ross raddi_edited.jpg
I'm Ross, the "Fig Boss." A YouTuber educating the world on the wonderful passion of growing fig trees. Apply my experiences to your own fig journey to grow the best tasting food possible.
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