Fig Trees lend an exotic presence and the flavor of tree-ripened fruits to the home garden. With extra care to provide winter protection you can succeed in growing a fig tree even in northern climates.
Growing Fig Trees
Many people prefer the taste of fresh figs even more than that of the dried fruit. By learning how to grow a fig tree you can enjoy large harvests of this unusual fruit right from your own back yard. You may even be able to coax two crops of delicious figs from your trees each season.
The first step is to select the best location in your yard for planting the fig tree. The ideal position will offer full sun, a southern exposure, and provide protection from prevailing winds and late frosts. Planting alongside of a brick structure or stone wall will give the fig plant a convenient barrier to the weather and allow it to absorb heat radiating from the stones or brick.
Sources and Varieties of Fig Plants
Purchase your fig tree from a local nursery or for better selection order from a mail order supplier specializing in tropical fruits. If you have a neighbor growing fig trees you can easily propagate a fig plant from cuttings, or by air layering.
Popular varieties include: Brown Turkey, Hardy Celeste, Italian Golden Honey Fig, Violette Black, Green Ischia, Black Mission, Desert King, Kadota White, and Osborn’s Prolific. Do your homework before purchasing to ensure the variety selected will grow well in your climate.
Planting Fig Trees
Plant the fig tree in average soil mixed with compost, but do not add manures. Figs are not heavy feeders, and over fertilization results in lush leaf growth at the expense of fig production.
One trick that you may want to employ is to dig a hole about three feet deep and line the bottom with bricks or pot shards. This serves to restrict the roots and prevent the formation of tap roots. Figs seem to respond well to this treatment, but it is not a necessity.
Growing Figs in Containers
The plants take well to growing in containers, which also makes it convenient if you have to move them to a protected area during the winter.
For winter protection, potted figs can be placed in an unheated garage or storage area. Move them after they drop their leaves and go dormant. They will not require light or much water while in dormancy.
Winterizing and Protecting Fig Trees
To winterize an in-ground tree, insulate the base with leaves or straw and wrap the branches with blankets, quilts, canvas, carpet, or carpet padding. Next, wrap with a layer of clear plastic, or cover with a clear plastic bag.
Another trick to provide winter protection is to actually dig the plant up and lay the entire fig tree on the ground. Then cover with a piece of old carpeting, a layer of soil, and a thick covering of leaves or straw. When spring arrives simply uncover the tree and plant it upright.
Even without going through the effort to winterize your northern grown fig tree it may survive if you planted it in a sheltered location. If cold weather does destroy the tree, all is not lost as new shoots will frequently sprout from the roots to reestablish itself.
Other Related Vegetable Gardening Posts: