About 5 or 6 years ago, I purchased a little fig tree at a flea market. I have blackberries, and grape vines, so a fig tree would be a great addition to our home garden. Somewhere I had gotten the impression fig trees were bushes. Nope, that little fig tree is now about 10 feet high. I’m glad I planted it, (and the next year a second one), but wish I had researched a little more on how to grow a fig tree in the home garden. I would have chosen a different location.
I planted it at the edge of a little patio, at the corner of a garden area. It began to provide too much shade, and I had to relocate some flowers, but a fern found a great home underneath it’s limbs. This fig tree is the oldest, and is about 6 years old. It has born fruit each year for the last 3 years, but they were few and small. This year it is absolutely full, and the figs are sweet and delicious. I pick them off as they ripen, and eat them right off the tree. My plans for fig jam may not happen at this rate.
Why Plant Fig Trees in the Home Garden?
- Easy to Grow, Low Maintenance. Plant in the spring in well drained soil. Fertilize with a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10 or 8-8-8. Too much nitrogen will result in lush green growth, but little fruit.
- Hardy in zones 6-10. Any cooler, and you can plant in a container, and bring inside in the winter. Planting in a container will also limit the growth. Fig trees can get as high as 35 feet, so choose the right place to plant.
- Want more fig trees? Take an 8-10 inch cutting in the spring, one that has several buds on it. Place in a pot filled with good soil, leaving two to three buds sticking above the soil. Water well for the first few weeks until roots are established. Allow to grow for one year until it is ready to transplant into a hole that is twice as wide as your container. Fertilizer and water well.
- Pick a variety for your area. There are over 700 varieties, but some will not bare fruit, and are used to pollinate other varieties. Choose one of the common figs such as Brown Turkey, or Celeste. Chicago Hardy is a good choice for cold climates. Some varieties such as Celeste bare smaller fruit, but will give you fruit twice a year, in the Spring and late summer. The common fig varieties do not require a second tree for pollination, so one is enough for a small fruit garden.
- Pick as the fruit ripens, or you will turn your back and the birds or squirrels will have gotten them! They are ready when the green fruit turns color and the fruit starts to droop. They ripen fast! I have checked one in the morning, and it was ready by that evening.
I think a fig tree is a great addition to the home garden. You will be rewarded with a sweet, delicious fruit, that can’t be matched in the supermarket. You will need to use them immediately or store them in the coldest part of the refrigerator for no more than two days. You can make a great jam with them, use them sliced in salads, or in other recipes. They may also be frozen either whole or sliced in the freezer for up to a year. Take my word for it, straight from the tree is best.