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Planting a Fig Tree in the Garden | How to Plant a Fig Tree



Are you ready to add a touch of sweetness and beauty to your garden with a fig tree? Look no further! This fig tree planting guide will provide all the information you need to know on how to plant a fig tree in your garden. From soil preparation to training, we'll cover everything you need to know to ensure the success of your fig tree.

Whether you're a seasoned gardener or just starting out, this guide is the perfect resource for you. So, let's get started on creating your very own fig tree garden!

As always if you want more fig-related content like this, subscribe to the monthly Fig Boss newsletter at the top of the page!

The Best Place to Plant a Fig Tree


When it comes to planting a fig tree in your garden, choosing the right location is key to the success of your tree. The location you select will play a critical role in determining the growth, health, and overall yield of your tree.

  • Sunlight is a basic need for fig trees and it affects the number of figs produced. Choose a location with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day, but the more the better. If your fig tree isn’t fruiting, this is why.

  • Figs love heat and warm soil temperatures. Planting near structures, using plastic, planting higher above-grade in raised mounds or berms, and using boulders, structures or other thermodynamic heat sources can help warm the soil and provide the ideal environment for your fig tree.

  • Fig trees prefer well-draining soil and are adapted to periods of drought. Drier climates produce figs with better flavor and texture and well-draining soil helps prevent root rot, a common fungal problem fig trees are prone to.

  • Fig trees can grow up to 40-75 feet tall and wide but with proper pruning and training, they can be kept smaller at 6-12 feet tall. Use the intended width and size of your fig tree to determine spacing when planting.

  • Fig trees have a relatively shallow and fibrous root system that can grow two times the width of their canopy. They are well-suited to growing in containers or poor soils and are less likely to damage underground utilities or foundations.



Fig Tree Light Requirements


Sunlight, like food and water, is a basic need for any plant, including fig trees. The general recommendation to plant the tree in full sun or as much light as possible is a simplified version of the truth. The amount of sunlight a fig tree receives affects not only the number of figs produced but also if they form at all.

If the required amount of light (which varies depending on the variety and location) is met, you will see the beginnings of fruit formation as new leaves form.

This is why maximizing sunlight penetration into the canopy of your tree is critical. It’s not only important to have your tree in the right amount of sunlight hours and intensity, but you also need a well-manicured tree with proper pruning and care.

For more on the importance of sunlight, click here:


Optimal Temperature Conditions


Figs love heat, especially warm soil temperatures. This helps their metabolism and leads to optimal growth and fruit production. The ideal soil temperature for fig trees is 78°F, so it's recommended to treat them like melons, tomatoes, or pepper plants. The warmer the location, usually the better.

One way to provide extra heat to your fig tree is by planting it near structures. They can provide additional thermodynamic heating and raise soil temperatures.

Removing layers of mulch in the spring, using black plastic mulch, and planting higher above grade like in a raised mound can also help to warm the soil. Using rocks, boulders, or other thermodynamic materials can help raise soil temperatures in the spring and fall to 78°F when it’s a huge benefit.

In the summer, you may want to take measures instead (like applying a thick layer of mulch) to maintain soil temperatures below 95°F if possible.


Fig Tree Soil Type


Fig trees prefer well-drained soil, as they are native to warm, dry climates and are well-adapted to periods of drought. The quality and taste of figs can be influenced by the moisture levels in the soil, with figs grown in drier soil tending to be sweeter and have a more intense flavor.

Think of a fig tree as you would a cactus, as it has the ability to store large amounts of water in its roots, trunk, branches, and even fruits. Excess water can dilute the concentration of sugars in the fruits and lower their quality, so it's important to choose a soil type that allows for proper drainage.

Fig trees also have fibrous root systems that are prone to root rot from anaerobic conditions. Their ability to find water and nutrients through this fibrous root system is unmatched, so consider selecting a site with good drainage.


Fig Tree Spacing


Fig trees are an attractive addition to any garden, however, it's important to understand the size and growth potential of these trees before planting them in your garden.

Fig trees can grow up to 40-75 feet tall and wide, but with proper pruning and training, they can be kept much smaller and more manageable. In general, fig trees can grow up to 20-25 feet tall, but with pruning and training, they can be kept at a more manageable size of 6-12 feet tall.

  • Proper pruning and training can help to control the size of the tree and keep it at a manageable height.

  • Dwarf fig varieties like Little Ruby, Nerucciolo d’Elba, and Verdino del Nord (VR) require almost no pruning to be maintained at 6x6 ft.

  • In colder locations, the winter may be your limiting factor regarding size and spacing.

  • Use the intended width and size of your fig tree to determine spacing when planting.



Fig Tree Root Size


It's also important to consider the root system of a fig tree when planting.

Fig trees have a relatively shallow and fibrous root system that can grow two times in width the size of their canopy, which makes them well-suited to growing in containers or in poor soils. Their extensive root systems have an incredible ability to find nutrients and water even in the worst soils.

The shallow root system also means that fig trees are less likely to damage underground utilities or foundations, making them a great choice for planting near structures. However, it's important to note that fig trees can become quite large and spread out, so it's important to provide enough space for the root system to grow and spread if that’s the intention for your fig tree.

The Best Time to Plant a Fig Tree


Planting the right fig tree at the right time can make all the difference in the success and yield of your fig tree garden. The best time to plant a fig tree depends on various factors, such as your climate and the type of fig tree you want to grow. In general, the best time to plant a fig tree is in the spring or fall.

Spring planting provides the advantage of early growth, which allows the fig tree to establish its root system before the hot summer months. However, planting in the fall gives the tree time to acclimate to its new environment before the winter, reducing the stress on the tree.

It is also important to consider your hardiness zone if you are planting in the fall as your trees may need additional winter protection. When fall planted, they are slightly more prone to winter damage until they get established after their first or second growing season.


How to Plant a Fig Tree


  1. Choose the right location: Choose a location that provides the fig tree with adequate sunlight, well-drained soil, and enough space for the tree to grow and spread.

  2. Dig the hole: Dig the hole twice as wide as the root ball of the tree and the same depth as the root ball. Make sure the sides of the hole are sloped, rather than straight up and down, to help encourage root growth.

  3. Remove the tree from its container: Gently remove the tree from its container and loosen any tangled roots.

  4. Position the tree in the hole: Place the tree in the center of the hole, making sure the top of the root ball is level with the surrounding soil.

  5. Backfill the hole: Fill the hole with soil, tamping down firmly to remove any air pockets. Water the tree thoroughly to settle the soil around the roots.

  6. Add mulch: Spread a layer of mulch around the base of the tree, being careful not to pile it up against the trunk.

  7. By following these steps, you can help ensure that your fig tree has the best start possible and is well-positioned for healthy growth and productivity.



Planting a Fig Tree in Clay Soil


In heavy soils and wet climates, it is recommended to plant fig trees higher above grade to improve drainage and reduce the risk of root rot. This can be achieved by planting your fig tree inside a berm, which involves mechanically building a ridge of topsoil.

The height of the ridge is typically between one and two feet and the width of the top of the ridge is about 15 to 25 inches, forming a truncated pyramidal ridge.

You can also plant in 1-2 ft high mounds as they both provide improved drainage and earlier warming of the soil in the spring. By planting fig trees this way, superior fruit production can be achieved.

Planting a Fig Tree in Sandy Soil


In sandier, well-draining soils, it is recommended instead to plant your fig trees deeper to promote a strong root system. Grow your fig tree first in a container to a 5-foot tall single-stem whip and plant the majority of the trunk below grade.

This results in a strong root system in a short time. Think of a fig tree like a tomato plant, if you bury the stem, you can grow additional roots along the stem to increase the size of the root system quickly.

Growers also plant their fig trees below grade in clay soil to protect them from the cold. Burying the trunk of your fig tree even a few inches below the soil line can protect the tree from damage allowing the tree to reliably resprout after a harsh winter.


Mulching Fig Trees


Mulching is an essential step in the care of fig trees, especially after planting. A layer of organic mulch helps to conserve moisture in the soil, regulate soil temperature, suppress weed growth, and improve soil structure. By adding a layer of mulch, you are also adding organic matter to the soil as the mulch decomposes, which helps to improve soil fertility and overall plant health.

When mulching fig trees, aim for a layer that is 2-3 inches deep and spread it out in a circle around the base of the tree, being careful not to pile the mulch up against the trunk of the tree. Good mulching materials include leaves, bark, woodchips, straw, or compost.

Mulching after planting is especially important because it helps to reduce stress on the newly planted tree and encourages a strong root system to develop.

Fig Tree Water


Proper watering is crucial for the successful establishment of a fig tree after planting. Watering helps to settle the soil around the roots and prevent the roots from drying out. It also helps to activate the microbes in the soil, which can enhance soil fertility and improve the overall health and growth of the tree.

Immediately after planting, it's important to water the tree thoroughly, making sure to soak the entire root ball and surrounding soil. This initial watering should be followed by regular watering, making sure to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.

For more on watering fig trees, click here:


Transplanting Fig Trees


Transplanting a fig tree can be a tricky task, but with proper preparation and care, it can be done successfully. Transplanting allows you to move your fig tree to a new location that provides better-growing conditions or simply gives it more room to grow. Here are some tips to help you with the process of transplanting your fig tree:

  1. Timing is Key: The best time to transplant your fig tree is during its dormant season, which is usually in late fall or early winter. This allows the tree to become established in its new location before the growing season begins and lowers the stress placed on the tree when transplanting.

  2. Choose the Right Site: When choosing a new location for your fig tree, consider factors such as sunlight, wind protection, and soil type. The site should receive at least 6 hours of sunlight per day and be protected from strong winds. It should also have well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter.

  3. Prepare the New Site: Before transplanting, prepare the new site by digging a hole that is twice as wide and just as deep as the root ball of your fig tree. Remove any grass or weeds from the area, and add compost or well-rotted manure on top of the soil to help improve its fertility.

  4. Digging Up the Tree: When digging up your fig tree, be careful not to damage roots unnecessarily. The more roots that you preserve, the better. Start by digging a trench around the tree, about a foot away from the trunk, and then gently lift the tree out of the ground using a shovel or spade.

  5. Moving the Tree: Place the tree in a container or wrap the roots in burlap to keep them moist during transport. Move the tree to its new location as quickly as possible to minimize stress on the tree.

  6. Planting the Tree: Once you have moved the tree to its new location, place it in the prepared hole, making sure that the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. Fill in the hole with soil, tamping it down gently to remove any air pockets. Removing any air pockets is critical. Do not miss this step and take your time! Water the tree thoroughly to help it settle into its new location.


Fig Tree Soil Needs


Fig trees prefer well-draining soil with a balanced pH between 6.0 and 7.5. They also need a variety of macronutrients and micronutrients, like the standard NPK, and trace minerals like calcium, magnesium, sulfur, and zinc. A soil rich in organic matter and compost can provide the necessary nutrients for optimal growth and fruit production.

To read about fertilizing fig trees, click here:


Fig Tree Soil Amendments


In addition to the primary macronutrients of NPK, fig trees also require a variety of micronutrients to grow and thrive. These include calcium, magnesium, sulfur, zinc, copper, iron, and many other trace minerals.

  • A well-balanced fertilizer that includes these micronutrients can be found at major retailers. However, for optimal growth, it's recommended to add certain micronutrients in higher quantities, such as magnesium, calcium, sulfur, silica, and trace minerals from sources like rock dust or greensand.

  • Magnesium and calcium, found in lime, are essential for fig trees as they are found in high quantities in fig leaves and fruits.

  • Sulfur, supplied through gypsum, is necessary for the synthesis of certain amino acids, vitamins, and enzymes that are required for growth, improves overall health and vigor and is necessary for the production of chlorophyll.

  • Silica has several benefits for fig trees, such as improving plant structure, fruit quality, and resistance to diseases like Fig Rust.

  • Trace minerals can be supplied through organic fertilizers, compost, or mineral-rich amendments like rock dust or greensand and are important for overall tree health, fruit quality, soil fertility, and resistance to diseases.

  • Incorporating these soil amendments on top of your soil after planting can lead to a healthy and vibrant fig tree, with improved growth, fruit quality, and resistance to diseases.


Fig Tree Soil pH


The pH of the soil is a measure of its acidity or alkalinity, and it affects the availability of essential nutrients for plants. The optimal soil pH for fig trees ranges from 6.0 to 7.5.

The pH of the soil can be easily tested and should be before planting by using a soil pH meter or a soil test kit from a garden center or online retailer. If the pH of your soil is too high or too low, soil amendments can be added to adjust the pH to the desired level.

Adding sulfur can help to lower the pH of the soil and make it more acidic. On the other hand, adding lime can raise the pH of the soil and make it more alkaline.

Hard Pruning Your Fig Tree


Pruning fig trees after planting is a crucial aspect of ensuring the health and longevity of your fig tree. While it may seem daunting, it's important to remember that hard pruning, or rejuvenation pruning is a technique that can significantly improve the overall health of your tree from the very beginning of its life.

By removing weak and diseased growth, the tree can produce more vigorous and healthy shoots from healthier buds. This, in turn, will lead to a tree that performs to its full potential and provides you with a bountiful harvest of sweet and delicious figs.

Fig Mosaic Virus (FMV) is a concern for fig tree health, but it's not something to worry about if you take the right steps. FMV can be found in most fig trees, but the intensity of the virus can be lessened through proper pruning. Rejuvenation pruning is a technique that removes infected growth and encourages healthy shoots to grow from the roots. By pruning your fig tree regularly, you can ensure that it remains healthy and productive for many years to come.

You can read more about the importance of rejuvenation pruning, here:


So, don't be afraid to prune your fig tree after planting. It may seem like a sacrifice in the short term, but it will pay off in the long term with a stronger, healthier tree that provides you with a bountiful harvest. Start your fig tree off on the right foot and reap the benefits for years to come.

For detailed information on training fig trees, click here:


How Long Does it Take for a Fig Tree to Fruit?


One of the most exciting aspects of growing a fig tree is the prospect of enjoying its sweet, juicy fruits. But when can you expect to harvest your first figs? The answer to this question depends on several factors, including the variety of fig trees you have planted, the climate and growing conditions, and the time of year when the tree was planted.

Typically, fig trees will begin producing fruit the first year after planting. Even 6 months from just a cutting with no roots.

How Long do Fig Trees Live?


The lifespan of a fig tree can vary greatly depending on various factors such as the species, environment, and care it receives. Some fig trees can live up to 100 years or more, while others may only live for a few decades. However, with proper care and maintenance, you can extend the life of your fig tree and enjoy its sweet and delicious fruits for many years to come.

One of the keys to a long and healthy life for your fig tree is to plant it in the right location and provide it with the necessary sunlight, water, and nutrients. Additionally, regular pruning and training can help to keep your tree healthy, promote new growth, and prevent disease.

Conclusion


Planting a fig tree in your garden can be a rewarding experience if done correctly. Choosing the right location, preparing the soil, and planting at the right time are crucial steps in the process. Regular maintenance, including proper pruning, will ensure that your fig tree stays healthy and produces a bountiful crop of fruit. The life span of a fig tree can be decades, even centuries, with proper care.
Furthermore, incorporating companion plants into your fig tree garden can enhance the overall beauty and health of your garden. Whether you're an experienced gardener or just starting out, a fig tree is a great addition to any garden and will provide delicious and nutritious fruit for many years to come. So, why not start your own fig tree garden today?

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Valya
Valya
Feb 10, 2023

Wonderful information. Thank you so much, Ross.

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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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