Growing fig trees has become a popular hobby for gardeners and homesteaders and it’s not hard to see why. These attractive plants add beauty and diversity to the garden, are easy to grow, and produce plenty of delicious fruit.
If you’ve been wondering how to grow a fig tree you’ve come to the right place.
Keep reading and you’ll learn about growing a fig tree from start to finish. I’ll show you how to choose the right fig tree for your climate and goals, where to plant it, how to care for your tree as it grows, and more.
Soon you’ll be enjoying your own delicious homegrown figs!
Choosing the Right Fig Tree
You can grow fig trees pretty much anywhere, as long as you choose the right variety.
Since they’re native to Mediterranean regions and the middle east, many fig tree varieties do best in areas with long, warm summers and short, mild winters.
But luckily for gardeners who live in colder areas, there are also varieties that can handle long winters.
Plus most fig varieties can be grown successfully in containers, so there’s really no limit to where you can grow them! Container figs can be kept outdoors during the summer and brought inside when the weather gets cold.
Types of Fig Trees
Fig trees come in four main types: Caprifigs, Smyrna, San Pedro, and Common fig trees.
Caprifigs don’t bear fruit. They only produce male flowers. They can be used to pollinate other varieties, but they don’t produce their own figs.
Smyrna trees only produce female flowers. They need to be pollinated by a Caprifig to produce fruit.
San Pedro fig trees are sort of a hybrid between a Smyrna and a Common fig. They produce two crops each year. The first crop doesn’t require pollination, while the second crop does.
Common fig trees don’t require any other trees for pollination, making them a popular choice for home growers. As the name suggests, this type of fig tree is the one most commonly grown by gardeners and homesteaders.
So which fig tree is right for you? For most home growers, a common fig tree variety is the most practical choice.
Within that, what variety you choose is largely dependent on your climate and goals. For example, are you looking for a large tree or a more compact variety? Choosing a variety is one of the most important parts of learning how to grow a fig tree, so take your time thinking about what your gardening goals are.
These next two sections are all about different fig varieties and why you might consider each one.
Fig Varieties for Warmer Climates or Container Growing
These varieties can be grown outdoors year-round in USDA hardiness zones 7-10. In other zones, grow these fig trees in containers and bring them indoors for the winter.
Beer’s Black Fig trees produce medium-sized fruit with a sweet, rich flavor. The trees are medium to large, growing between 10 and 20 feet tall.
Black Mission is one of the biggest varieties of fig trees, growing up to 35 feet tall and 35 feet wide. They’re a great choice if you have a lot of space. Even if you don’t, they make excellent container plants producing a prolific crop each year.
Italian Honey figs are heat and drought-tolerant making them a good option for warmer areas. They’re also resistant to deer.
Fignomenal is a compact variety that only grows 28 inches tall. They’re perfect for containers but also do well in the ground.
Little Ruby produces bite-size figs that are super sweet. These small trees grow to around 4-6 feet tall with a 4-6 feet wide spread.
LSU Purple figs have soft, sweet fruit with glossy purple skin. The trees are pest-resistant and disease-resistant.
Cold Hardy Fig Varieties
If you want to learn how to grow a fig tree that can handle the cold, check out one of these varieties!
Celeste fig trees are both heat tolerant and cold hardy. They grow well in zones 6-9.
Chicago Hardy figs are one of the most popular varieties of cold hardy figs. Once established, the plants are also drought-tolerant and heat-tolerant.
Desert King is one of the hardiest fig varieties available. If you live in a northern area and you want to plant a fig tree in the ground, you should definitely take a look at Desert King!
Deciding How to Grow a Fig Tree
Once you’ve chosen a variety, the next step is to decide how you want to grow it. There are several methods for planting fig trees. Each comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
Growing a Fig Tree From Seed
Starting from seed is not the most common way to start growing a fig tree but it can be done and it’s one of the cheapest ways to do it.
Fig seeds for planting are available online from places like Amazon. It takes about 3-5 years for a fig tree planted from seed to start producing fruit.
You may be wondering if you can take some fig seeds from a grocery store fig and plant them to grow your own tree. The answer is yes, you can, but the variety that grows won’t be true to the variety the seed came from.
If you’re interested in trying this method, here’s how to do it. Cut open a fig and scoop out the seeds. Put them in a glass of water and leave them to soak for a day or two. After soaking, discard any seeds that float. Seeds that sink to the bottom are viable and can be planted right away or left to dry and plant later.
Propagating a Fig Tree From Cuttings
Growing a fig tree cutting is simple and doesn’t require a lot of time or supplies. Select a healthy branch that’s a little thicker than a pencil and cut an 8-12 inch section. For the best chance of success, take several cuttings.
Dip your cuttings in rooting hormone powder and plant them in potting soil. Keep the soil moist and watch for growth.
The hardest part about how to grow a fig tree from a cutting is figuring out where to get the cuttings.
If you already have a healthy fig tree in your yard, gathering your own cuttings is a great way to start growing more fig trees on the cheap.
If you know someone with a fig tree, you can probably get a cutting from them. If neither of those options works, you may want to go with the next method, which is to purchase a young fig plant.
Purchase a Young Tree or Seedling
This is the easiest and fastest way to start growing a fig tree though it’s also the most expensive. Fig trees can run you anywhere from around $30 to over $150.
But while a young plant may be more expensive than planting seeds from a fig you found at the store, you’ll know exactly what variety you’re getting and you’ll be able to harvest fruit much sooner.
Young trees start producing fruit in as little as 1-2 years.
Your local garden center or nursery may have fig trees available in the spring, or you can order them online from places like Stark Bro’s.
Choosing the Right Location
Where to plant a fig tree is one of the most important steps in learning how to grow them. In the right location, your fig tree is set up to thrive right from the start.
Find a Sunny Spot
Fig trees like plenty of sunshine, so choose a location that gets at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day. They tolerate partial shade, but you’ll get more fruit if the tree has full sun. If you can, it’s worth it to plant your fig tree in a sunny spot!
Ensure Good Drainage
Proper drainage is crucial for maintaining a healthy root system. If you’re unsure about drainage in your yard, take a look at the ground the next time it rains. Notice where the water has a tendency to pool and where it flows away.
If you can, avoid planting a fig tree in an area that tends to puddle. If that’s not possible, amend the soil to improve drainage.
To improve drainage in existing soil, add plenty of organic matter like shredded leaves, grass clippings, compost, or well-aged manure.
Allow Plenty of Room
It’s important to make sure your fig tree has plenty of room to stretch and grow. Check how big your variety will get to decide how much space you need to allow for your tree. Keep in mind both the height, the spread, and the root system.
Growing Fig Trees in Containers
Learning how to grow a fig tree in a container is not much different from learning how to grow them in other ways.
Many fig varieties do well in containers, and it’s a great choice for gardeners in any growing zone.
To go this route, choose a large growing container that holds 15-20 gallons of soil. This size is big enough to allow your tree to develop a strong root system, but it’s still small enough to move around easily.
To make it even easier to move around, you can put the pot on a rolling plant stand with casters
Like when planted in the ground, fig trees in containers need adequate drainage. Make sure your container has several large holes in the bottom to allow excess water to drain out.
Preparing Your Garden for a Fig Tree
Clear away extra plants to make room for your fig tree, and make sure the soil is ready. A bit of preparation goes a long way in growing a happy and healthy fig tree!
Fig trees do best with slightly acidic soil. A soil pH between 5.5 to 6.5 is ideal but many varieties can tolerate a more alkaline soil with a pH up to about 8.
How to Grow a Fig Tree
Once the garden is ready, it’s time to plant your fig tree!
How to Plant a Fig Tree in the Ground
Loosen the soil by digging a hole around the area where you want to plant your fig. The hole should be three times as wide and about the same depth as the container the plant is currently in.
Remove the fig tree from the previous container and place it in the hole. Figs can be a bit sensitive to transplanting so be gentle with the roots.
Once the tree is in the hole, fill in all around it with soil and press it in gently. Water thoroughly and you’re done!
How to Plant a Fig Tree in a Container
Choose a large container and fill it with a high-quality potting mix like Miracle-Gro. Make a hole in the center, and plant your fig tree. Remember to be careful of the roots. Fill in all around the plant with soil and press it down gently. Water thoroughly.
Provide extra shade while your potted fig is getting established. Transplanting stresses plants, and a lot of heat can stress them further. After a few weeks, you can keep the pot in full sun.
Fig Tree Maintenance and Care
Regular watering is essential while the fig tree is getting established. Once the plant is growing strong, you can reduce watering to about once a week or every other week.
Water deeply with about an inch or two of water each week, and then wait for the soil to start getting dry before watering again.
Once established, many fig varieties are drought tolerant, so it’s fine to let the soil dry out a little between watering.
Regular pruning keeps your fig tree healthy and increases fruit production. Once or twice each year is usually sufficient.
Even with cold, hardy varieties, providing some winterizing protection during the harshest winter weather is a good idea.
Container figs can be brought indoors. In-ground fig trees can be wrapped, covered, or protected in other ways depending on the variety and size.
Pests and Disease
Keep an eye out for any signs of trouble from pests or diseases. If they’re spotted early, many problems can be treated and resolved quickly before becoming major issues.
Wrapping up How to Grow a Fig Tree
Growing fig trees is a great way to add functional beauty to your garden or yard. These attractive plants are not only pretty to look add, but they produce delicious fruit that can be used in so many ways!
For more information on how to grow a fig tree, don’t miss our Fig Trees page on the website. There you’ll find tips on growing and caring for fig trees and profiles on different varieties of figs. You may even find a new favorite!