Caring for fig trees — with our tips for delicious fruits


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Figs are one of the oldest crops cultivated in home gardens in the Mediterranean region. The striking plants with picturesque growth were already an essential part of the diet in ancient times. From the Ficus carica, originally native to southern countries, today’s varieties were created through breeding and selection. These are characterized above all by a higher frost tolerance. In warmer regions, fig trees can be planted and, with a little luck, large quantities of fruit can be harvested. Fresh figs from our own garden are a pleasure that is indescribable. The aroma is not comparable to the fruits that you can buy. Plant a fig and enjoy the Mediterranean flair of the plant and thetasty fruits.

Useful information LocationPlanting Care Watering Fertilizing Pruning Repotting OverwinteringPests & Diseases FAQ

Interesting facts about the fig tree

Botanical name: Ficus carica
Other names: common fig, fig, fruit fig
Use: fruit tree, container plant
Origin: Asia Minor
Flowers: inconspicuous, green, appear up to three times a year on one-year-old wood, flowers are self-fertile.
Fruit: Collective fruit, can be eaten raw, fruit color from pale pink to red to violet, depending on the variety, juicy and aromatic flesh. Fruit grows mainly on two-year-old shoots.
Ripening time: 1st harvest July/August, partly 2nd harvest in late autumn
Special features:The original varieties had to be fertilized by the fig wasp. The varieties commercially available today are self-fertile. Depending on the variety, location and climate, the plants bear fruit once or several times. There are some varieties on the market that are described as hardy. However, make sure you have winter protection. The taste is best fresh from the tree and the aroma is most intense.

Buy a fig tree

In which location does the fig tree feel most comfortable?

Fig trees prefer a spot in full sun. A loamy, nutrient-rich soil with a pH value of 5.5 to 6 is ideal. The soil can be calcareous and well-drained. Basically, the Mediterranean plants are adaptable and tolerate many conditions. However, waterlogging should be avoided. Very windy locations and light sandy soils are also unsuitable, as a constant water supply is necessary for fruit development. Fig trees thrive best on house walls or bright inner courtyards, where the heat is stored for a long time, especially in autumn.

Our gardening tip: Ficus carica can be cultivated in the ground, especially in a wine-growing climate. In climatically unfavorable areas, a pot culture with sheltered overwintering is one way to grow the fruit.

How do I plant my fig tree in the garden?

When planting out in the garden, keep in mind that fig trees can reach a height of up to 4 meters and a width of 3 to 4 meters. If there is not so much space available, a pruning is possible. Planting out in the garden should be done in spring or summer if possible. This gives enough time to root before winter. Later planting is possible, but the fig tree needs increased protection from low temperatures.

  • Thoroughly loosen the soil before planting.
  • Remove all weeds.
  • Water the wood deeply.
  • Dig a planting hole that is at least one and a half times as deep and wide as the root ball.
  • Put 2 to 3 handfuls of potting soil and Kölle Bio Root Power, the organic natural fertilizer and soil activator, in the planting hole.
  • Then place the potted plant upright in the planting hole.
  • Fill in the gaps with a mixture of potting soil and excavation.
  • Finally, step on the potting soil with your foot to close the existing cavities.

Finally pour in 15 to 20 liters. Our gardening tip: To protect against evaporation and to improve the soil, you can cover the soil around the wood with a layer of mature compost.

How do I properly care for fig plants?

Once planted, the fig plants require little maintenance. Needs-based watering of the young trees in the first few years after planting is essential. Older specimens tolerate dry onesphases better. A layer of mulch can be applied to prevent evaporation. Sowing with annual flowering plants is also possible. Moisture is stored better by mulching and soil life is activated. Once the fig has established itself at the site, the trees will grow luxuriantly and pruning may be necessary if necessary. Caring for fig trees in tubs requires a little more finesse, as the large mass of leaves should provide sufficient moisture in warm phases, but there should never be standing water, as the fig is sensitive to it.

How do I water my fig tree properly?

Freshly planted fig plants will require additional watering depending on the season, rainfall, and soil conditions. It is not possible to state exactly how much your fig needs. The need depends on too many different factors. Needs -based watering is important in the first year after planting. This means that additional watering is required during phases without precipitation. We recommend 10 to 20 liters per tree per watering. Larger amounts are better than frequent small wateringsat a greater distance, because this is the only way to moisten the roots and stimulate them to grow. However, always water depending on rainfall and temperature.

Our gardening tip: The water requirement depends essentially on the number of leaves. The fig tree gets yellow leaves when it comes to waterlogging. Therefore, you should generally avoid them.

How do I properly fertilize my fig tree?

Fertilization of outplanted fig trees

Young plants in the first year do not need any fertilizer if they are planted properly. It is important that the fig plants establish themselves at the location, form new roots and new wood. From the second year onwards, it is advisable to apply fertilizer to figs that have been planted out before they sprout. We recommend organic garden fertilizer for this, an organic NPK fertilizer that can be used for all types of fruit and vegetables. The special fertilizer promotes the soil’s own activity and the formation of humus, which in turn has a positive effect on the planting of the figs. A second maintenance fertilization with organic natural fertilizer can be carried out in early summer. It is important that the wood does not receive large amounts of nitrogen too late in the year, because the tree should mature in order to get through the winter well. The last nutrient application should take place at the beginning of August.

Fertilization of figs in pot culture

Potted plants require more fertilizer than trees in open ground. The nutrients are flushed out more quickly and, due to the limited volume of soil, they can be stored in smaller quantities. Figs that are cultivated in containers need a liquid fertilization with citrus fertilizer every two weeks from May to August. The use of container plant fertilizer in granular form has proven itself.

How do I prune my fig tree?

It takes a few years before a fig has to be cut for the first time. First you can let the main shoot and side shoots grow. By cutting you can influence the size and branching. However, regular pruning, such as with apple trees, is not necessary. Basically, branches that interfere with each other are pruned. Dead branches and frost damage are also removed . The best time for a topiary is in spring. Pruning back before winter would result in frost damaging the cuts. Cut in March if possible, before the leaves sproutthe shaping is complete. It is particularly important for tall trees that you cut them regularly, because if the crown is too dense, not enough light gets to the fruit and ripening is reduced.

Our gardening tip: Never cut in the summer and make sure when cutting that the fruiting mainly takes place on the two-year-old wood. Figs often do not ripen on one-year-old shoots because the vegetation period is too short. You should therefore spare these previous year’s shoots and only cut the branches lightly.

How do I plant my fig tree in a pot and what is the care?

Potted figs impress with the picturesque growth of the sprawling, large leaves. In summer and autumn you can enjoy the sweet fruits even without a garden. With the right care, Ficus carica thrive in containers and large pots. The risk of freezing to death is lower due to the protected hibernation and therefore it is safer in climatically unfavorable regions to actually harvest figs thanks to the tub culture. For hibernation, you should set up the tree in a frost-free and bright place. For pot culture, choose varieties that don’t grow as strongly.

Tips for figs in a jar:

    • Choose a planter that is about two to three times the size of the root ball.
    • Make sure the pot has a water drainage hole.
    • First put a drainage layer on the bottom of the pot.
    • It is best to plant the shrub in high-quality potting soil that stores moisture well but does not become waterlogged.
    • Place the fig in a sheltered spot with plenty of sun from May to October.
    • Keep the root ball evenly moist and fertilize regularly.
    • Hibernation should take place in a bright, frost-free place at temperatures of 5 to 8 degrees Celsius.
    • You can cut large specimens before wintering. There is no danger of freezing back here.
    • In general, pruning is best done in February or March, as with the specimens planted in the garden.
    • Make sure that the plants do not dry out completely in the winter quarters.

Transplanting into larger containers is recommended every two years. The right time for repotting is in spring. Don’t you have space to overwinter your figs but would like to enjoy the potted plant in all its glory next year? Below you can find out more about the plant overwintering service from the company Pflanzen-Kölle. Ficus caria in a pot is not sufficiently hardy and needs to be sheltered.

What is the best way to overwinter my fig tree?

The frost hardiness of planted specimens depends very much on the age of the plants, the variety, the general condition, the fertilization and the location of the garden. Basically, old fig trees are more frost hardy than young plants. But even old wood can suffer frost damage if it is not protected. It is important that your figs are vital, have come through the summer well and have not been fertilized with too much nitrogen. Protect your figs in the garden with special winter protectionor reed mats. Wrapping the entire plant has proven effective, since young shoots in particular are sensitive to low temperatures. If the strongest frost periods are over, you should remove the winter protection in early spring so that it does not sprout prematurely.

What pests and diseases can the fig tree get?

With the right site conditions, Ficus carica are robust and strong plants. Malnourished or weakened specimens are susceptible to disease and pests. There are no typical problems that cause major damage. If the air is dry, the following infestation can occur:

spider mites

Spider mites usually appear in dry summers or when the air is dry in the winter quarters. The affected leaves have silvery spots on the upper side. The animals feed on the leaf juices, so that the leaf growth is inhibited. Webs are visible on the underside of the leaf. Rinse the infested plants regularly and treat them with plant strengthener. These bio-active agents contain natural plant extracts that contribute to the revitalization of the figs.

The Fig Mosaic Virus

Is your fig tree getting yellow leaves? This is how the fig mosaic virus shows itself. With this disease, the leaf turns yellow or gets yellowish spots. Fig plants grown in humid and cool summers are more prone to this. By reducing the amount of water, you prevent the virus and avoid waterlogging.

FAQ – Frequently asked questions about the fig tree

What types of figs are there?

Breeding and selection have resulted in a large number of varieties. There are often figs on the market whose names are derived from a region. Well-known species are the Palatinate fruit fig or the Bavarian fig ®. A reliable variety with tasty fruits is ‘Brown Turkey’, whose fruits are up to 10 cm in size and have a brown skin. Also pay attention to winter protection with so-called hardy varieties.

Is a pruning necessary?

You can have a good harvest even on plants that have never been pruned. With a light crown or a loose structure of the bushes, more light reaches the fruit and the coloring is better. You can prune branches that point inwards.

How are figs propagated?

Fig trees can be easily propagated by cuttings or sticks. For this purpose, shoot tips are either placed in a water glass or in cultivation substrate in spring. It doesn’t matter which method you choose, as roots form quickly. After just a few months you will have young figs that will grow into stately bushes in the right location. Propagation by seed is very rare.

How many times a year can a fig tree bear fruit?

Under good conditions, fruit set can take place up to three times a year. Good yields are obtained in summer from buds planted in spring. In southern Europe, last autumn’s buds bear fruit in late spring. In very warm areas with long summers, the buds of summer ripen in autumn. It is important for the yield that you cut correctly and remove branches that are getting in the way.

Tarte flambée with figs and goat’s cream cheese

Here you come to the delicious recipe on how to prepare tarte flambée with figs and goat’s cream cheese yourself. Enjoy your meal!

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