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Fig Tree Light Requirements | Maximizing Sunlight to Form Figs & to Produce MORE

Updated: Feb 14, 2023



If you have a beautiful and big fig tree that doesn’t produce fruit, then I totally understand your struggle to achieve the harvest you deserve. Despite all the care and attention that you give to your tree, it still isn’t producing fruit!

The secret to maximizing the fig yield, however, is much simpler than you might think. It all comes down to one critical factor - sunlight. In this article, I’ll reveal a fig tree’s light requirements and how you can ensure your fig tree receives enough light to form fruits and produce more.

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Fig tree light requirements


A fig tree's light requirements are met when it produces fruit. If your tree is healthy and it isn’t producing fruit, that’s when you know there’s just simply not enough.

Why is this?

  • Every fig variety has a different sunlight requirement based on the fig varieties' genetics and epigenetics.

  • To fully understand the subject, a specific duration of sunlight may not be enough for proper fruit set. What about a specific level of sunlight intensity? The further away you are from the equator, the less intense the sun is.

  • You can see now why a general recommendation regarding a fig tree's light requirements is a bit foolish. My recommendation: every fig variety has a specific duration and intensity of sunlight to produce fruit. For most growers, 8 hours of sunlight per day is plenty, but it's not that simple either.

  • Simply put, you want your fig tree to grow in as much sunlight as possible. Plant your fig tree in the warmest and sunniest location possible.



Do fig trees need full sun?⠀


Not all fig trees need full sun. If full sun is defined as 8 hours of direct sunlight, some fig varieties in specific locations can fruit in 6 or even as low as 4 hours of direct sunlight per day.

The general recommendation is to grow your fig tree in full sun or in as much light as possible, but we as the fig grower can manipulate our fig tree to help it reach more sunlight with thinning, staking, and proper pruning. We can maximize it.

Why isn't my fig tree producing figs?


If you have a healthy tree, the answer is almost always a lack of sunlight. Not only does sunlight affect how many figs your tree will produce, but also whether or not they will form at all.

So what if I just put my tree in more light? Will it produce?


Unfortunately, we cannot go back in time, but it will produce new fruit buds as your tree grows. An increase in light penetration or maximization of light can only affect production going forward as figs are formed at the microscopic level before they become visible.

Eventually, they expand to a larger size eventually becoming visible along the nodes above the leaf scar or where the leaf stem attaches to the branch. If the amount of light required (variety and location depending) is met, you will see the beginnings of fruits in the form of two nodes.

One is a new branch that could grow given a change in hormones or apical dominance, the other is a new fruit.

As the small fruit buds grow and expand, they eventually form into small figs. The bud grows larger and becomes more visible, but to a trained eye those small "double dots" can be identified at a sooner point in time, which is what I believe could enable the technique of pinching fig trees to offer a larger benefit.

What if I can’t move my tree into more sunlight?


This is where sunlight maximization comes in. To maximize the amount of light that the fig tree receives, it is essential to ensure that the canopy is not too dense. Factors such as the density of the branches and leaves on the tree, the number of scaffolds, and their positioning can all impact the amount of light that the tree receives.

A well-pruned tree that has fewer branches and allows light to penetrate the canopy is likely to be more productive in terms of fruit production.

For more on why your fig tree may not be producing, click here:


Pruning for maximizing light penetration


Another technique to maximize light penetration into your fig tree is to strategically prune it in the fall. Pruning is important for establishing the form of the tree and ensuring that the branches are not too numerous or crisscrossing, which can interrupt the future light penetration into the center of the tree.

By opening up the center of the tree and creating more space for the tree to grow, it can catch more light, giving the fruit buds a better chance to form. Therefore, when making pruning cuts, it is important to think ahead and consider what the tree will look like in the future.

By removing excess branches and opening up the canopy, you can maximize the amount of light that reaches your tree and improve your chances of a bountiful harvest.


Thinning for maximizing light penetration


Thinning is another technique that can be used to maximize light penetration in a fig tree. It involves selectively removing branches that are not likely to produce fruit due to shading or being too close to other branches.

By doing this, the remaining branches will have more access to light, allowing them to produce more fruit. Thinning can be done by simply breaking off small, tender growth with your fingers or thumb.

This technique is often used in conjunction with pruning and staking to create an open, well-structured tree that maximizes light penetration and fruit production.


Training Fig Trees


Staking is another effective technique for maximizing light penetration into your fig tree. By staking the branches on a more horizontal angle, you can open up the scaffolds, which are the permanent branches of the tree, and create more space for the tree to grow.

This allows more light to reach the fruit buds and gives them a better chance to form. Staking is particularly useful for branches that are situated in weird places or in areas where they would shade out other branches, causing lower fruit yields.

By staking these branches away from each other, you can open up the center of the tree and get as much light as possible to reach the fruit buds. With more fruiting branches attaining the right amount of light, your tree can produce more fruits, leading to higher production.

For more on training fig trees, click here:


The video below is a great example of how I'm training young fruit trees like the pear tree featured in this video. A similar application is demonstrated, but with slightly different principles because the fig fruits on the new growth. Given that new growth, the sunlight required is exactly what directly impacts fruit bud formation right then and there.


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Eddie Sleem
Eddie Sleem
Aug 12, 2023

Hi - great video interview there with Carlos. Very informative. I’ve watched a bunch of your videos on the importance of sunlight. And how to set your trees up for the best chances of success. But I haven’t seen any material from you on how to create more light in your garden. It’s great Carlos has 11 hours of sunlight in his backyard - and I’m super jealous. But I’m dealing with much less ideal sunlight conditions. I have two large inground fig trees in my backyard (each one can be viewed as 5-8 small trees). I live in Dallas so my season is very long. The figs trees are loving the heat, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen…


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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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