Tips for Growing Fig Trees in Containers

March 5, 2009

The previous entry touched on advantages of raising fig trees in the backyard, along with a few reasons that make this plant a great option for home gardeners looking to add more fruits to their line up of vegetables.

Following are a few tips to help you get started with incorporating fig trees in your backyard by growing them in simple and convenient containers and pots.

Planting Stock: Fig trees grow and bear fruit quickly so don’t pay a premium to obtain large starter or mature nursery plants. I’d rather save the cash or purchase more fig trees by choosing younger, smaller sized planting stock. If you have a friend or neighbor who is growing figs, another option is to take cuttings and propagate new plants that way. Local nurseries sell fig trees and they are also available through mail order and the Internet.

Fig Containers: Plastic, clay, even wooden planters or half barrels will do fine for potting up fig trees. Porous materials such as clay will dry out quicker and require more frequent watering. Also, be careful with black or dark colored pots that may absorb too much heat and stress the plants. Smaller containers are okay for young trees, but move up to 15 or 20 gallon containers to accommodate the trees as they grow and increase in size.

Potting Soil: Use a light potting mix, but not an overly rich one to plant your fig tree in. Incorporate amendments such as sifted compost, vermiculite, worm castings, perlite and even builder’s sand to lighten the mix and ensure that it will drain well. Your choice of a lightweight mix will also make things easier when it is time to move the container to shelter during winter.

Great Surroundings: Find a warm spot with plenty of sunlight for your potted fig tree to soak up. The plants are ornamental and tropical looking, making them an attractive addition to the patio, deck, or even a balcony. A sun room or unheated greenhouse can be a great location for your fig tree provided that there is plenty of ventilation during the heat of summer.

Feeding Your Fig: Figs are not heavy feeders, so select a slow release organic fertilizer that is high in phosphorus and low in nitrogen to use when feeding your containerized fig trees. Bone meal is one commonly used organic source of phosphorus for garden plants.

Watering the Trees: As mentioned earlier, the type of container used can influence how often your fig tree will need to be watered. Your climate and high temperatures can also create the need for more frequent visits with the watering can. Provided the container has good drainage, over watering potted figs shouldn’t be much of a concern for you.

Pruning and Training: Fig trees are thought to enjoy having their root system somewhat constricted, but potted trees may still need to be root pruned once every three years or so. Whenever you root prune be sure to prune the top growth also to balance the foliage to the reduced root structure. Even in a container fig trees can easily reach well over seven tall and grow almost as wide.

Winter Protection: In cold climates DO NOT leave your potted fig tree outdoors in the winter. Fig tree roots that would survive the winter if planted in the ground may not be as fortunate when over-wintering in an exposed container. Moving the plant into an unheated building or garage will allow you to maintain the tree’s shape and encourage earlier fruiting. Water the fig tree sparingly once every three of four weeks during winter storage. The dormant tree does not need any light and can be stored in a total darkness.

Choice Fig Varieties: You may have to do a little research to identify a fig variety that will grow best in your growing region. My friend Bassem grows over a hundred fig trees in his Pennsylvania backyard and provides detailed information on a large number of fig varieties on his website at Trees of Joy.

I’ve encountered fig trees that just refused to bear fruit for one reason or another, so be prepared to start over and move on with a new selection if necessary. Overall fig trees are very easy to grow in the backyard garden, and if you’ve never tasted a fresh fig you are in for a delicious treat!





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{ 109 comments… read them below or add one }

Shreela March 8, 2009 at 4:57 am

Any hints on what to do about neighboring ducks raiding the figs in the morning?

Lori March 10, 2009 at 1:03 pm

Try putting netting over the tree. A friend who has traveled the Middle East says that works.

kookster March 10, 2009 at 1:29 pm

what an interesting idea. I had only thought of peach/apple and all your standard trees. but overwintering a tree that isn’t native to our climate…interesting to say the least.

Ken August 21, 2009 at 2:12 pm

When I bring my fig indoors for the winter (when it is dormant) what will happen? Will the leaves turn yellow? fall off? In the Spring will leaves come back along the trunk? only on the top?

Kenny Point August 21, 2009 at 6:48 pm

Hi Ken, the leaves will die and fall off as the fig tree goes dormant. In the spring the leaves will regrow along the branches and new woody growth.

Ken August 24, 2009 at 8:04 am

Thank you. Thank you for your reply. The tree is in its second growing season, 3 feet tall with no branches. My concern is that each year new leaves would sprout only on the top. Can I expect branches next year along the trunk?

Ahmad October 8, 2009 at 9:59 am

Ken, I planted a Fig tree in a large pot.I bough it online and it came bare root stick. I thought I was taken. But within couple of months the tree was full of branches and leaves and by August was full of Figs. So your tree should branch out quickly. Mine is about 24 inches wide from a lonly stick and it branched all the way from top to bottom and some came from the root.

Lessenor December 4, 2009 at 6:46 pm

just planted a fig tree in pot. should i cut the leaves or leave it on.

Kenny Point December 5, 2009 at 9:12 pm

Hi Lessenor, there’s no reason to cut the leaves off of your fig tree so just leave them on.The leaves will die and fall off naturally as the tree goes dormant during the winter.

John Brunton May 23, 2010 at 1:52 am

Can anyone offer help? I have been growing a Fig in a 20″ pot It has over the last 2 years flourished. The problem is that although it produces lots of fruit they all drop off at a rudimentary stage of growth. Can anyone offer advice.

Joyce June 13, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Can anyone offer help ASAP? We live in So. California and last year planted two dwarf fig trees in 16″ pots. Both have lots of little figs. They were looking healthy with lots of new growth. However, recently, the Mission Fig has several leaves turning yellow with brown spots. The second fig tree (green with stripes), the leaves are curling. Does this mean the pots are too small, over or under watering? Please Help!
Thank you!

Notify via email and online if you wish.

Kenny Point June 14, 2010 at 11:14 pm

Hi Joyce, I wouldn’t panic but would keep a close eye on the plants. Yes, it could be related to over watering, or it could be related to under watering but you are in the best position to figure out your watering pattern and how dry or waterlogged the containers are. Fig trees are pretty tolerant of their roots being confined so the pot size would be the least of my concerns, but can you carefully slip it out of the pot to see just how root bound it is? Also have you been fertilizing the plants at all?

Margaret Schoener June 19, 2010 at 7:24 pm

I have a new fig tree this year which is putting out figs already. When I went to water it today, it had a lot of small black flying bugs all over the leaves. Do you know what they are and what I should do to get rid of them? I don’t like using pesticides so something organic or natural would be good. I did turn the hose on them to get them off, but not sure that did a lot of long term good. Thanks.

Barbara Green June 30, 2010 at 2:30 pm

My sister lives in New Mexico and it get’s hot in the summer time and cold in the winter. She wants to know if a fig tree can live in that environment.

Kenny Point July 1, 2010 at 10:50 am

Hello Barbara, I’m not sure how suitable your sister’s climate is for growing fig trees and the only thing that I can suggest is to try growing one in a container where you can somewhat control the conditions by watering as needed and moving the plant to a shaded location during the hotter months and a protected location during the colder periods. Good luck and be sure to let us know how well the fig tree does in Mexico.

MO July 2, 2010 at 12:42 pm

Planted a fig tree about 3 years ago, but the leaves are dropping of it has 3 fig on it.
Does it need repotting?

Kenny Point July 2, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Yes, it could need repotting if you have been feeding and watering the plant adequately. Just slip it out of its container and take a look at the root system to see how constricted and twisted the roots are, and repot if necessary.

Evan Doukas August 8, 2010 at 10:48 pm

For everyone who is having problems with figs dropping off at immature stage…This means it is the type of figs that need pollination or else they drop off. Pollination is very tough because its done by a special “fig wasp” that is only found at certain specific areas of the world. You can try searching that on Google.

Evan Doukas August 8, 2010 at 10:49 pm

So has anyone had any luck getting fruit from an indoor fig tree with no cold/dormant season? If so please let me know. I’ve been wondering about this for a while…

Kenny Point August 9, 2010 at 9:05 pm

Hi Evan, I have seen figs producing fruit in a greenhouse and you could probably even get them to produce in a sun room but I have never known a fig to yield fruit when grown as a house plant.

bruce August 13, 2010 at 5:50 pm

My relative in Canada grows figs inside with no dormancy, which produce many fruit. Very hot south facing windows though.

Lou grottano August 16, 2010 at 10:08 am

I have a fig tree in a container for the last four seasons. It bore fruit each year. This year (I thought) was the same. It had maybe 100 or so figs. I water it religiously and have it in a nice sunny spot. I did notice towards the middle of July, several leaves were turning yellow and the figs were drying out and falling off. I went on vacation (my son did all the watering for me along with the sprinkler system) and found the tree to be finished, I thought, i won’t try and revive it,I don’t have the time. I have several others growing. I cut it down and found the roots to be so entwined and thick in this very large plastic pot. Then i came on here and read, i should have root pruned it. I need to know how you root prune a seven foot tree in a pot that is almost 3 foot tall . can you help me with this so i don’t make the same mistake twice, thank you

Bruce August 18, 2010 at 6:23 pm

The fig I described above as fruiting indoors, grew in an apartment, so I guess it would be considered a “house plant”, although as I said, it was in a large south window.

Janet August 25, 2010 at 12:14 am

I have a fig tree that I planted about 5 years ago. Knowing nothing about fig trees, I thought it would produce delicious fruit after about 2 years. And it did, but was disappointed in the amount of fruit. Not enough to me. However, for the last two years, the green fruit appears in more numbers, but they fall off the tree before maturing into that delicious fruit. I don’t know why? I live in Birmingham, Alabama, and it gets pretty hot here. Could that be the reason?

Janet September 4, 2010 at 7:15 am

I have a one year old dwarf black fig tree in a container that has grown 7 feet tall over the summer. I live in MN and it is now time to bring it into my 4 season sun room. When do I “top” the tree? It seems to have a thin trunk that is beginning to bow in spite of stakes.

Kenny Point September 5, 2010 at 9:25 pm

Hi Janet, I usually prune my fig trees in the spring while they are still dormant. Does your sun room get cool enough for the tree to go dormant or does it continue to grow after you move it indoors? I move my fig trees into an unheated garage during winter where they are protected but allowed to remain dormant and rest over the winter months.

Jamie September 6, 2010 at 11:09 am

When would be the best time to re-pot my fig tree. This is the 3rd year I’ve had it. I move it outside in the summer and bring it inside in the winter. When will it start producing fruit?

Kenny Point September 7, 2010 at 9:06 pm

Jamie, I would re-pot the tree in late winter or early spring while the tree is still dormant but you can re-pot them at any time if you are careful. I have had fig trees begin to produce fruit during their second year of growth.

Lizann September 8, 2010 at 6:12 am

I started two fig trees from cuttings about 5 years ago. they are planted in large containers & grew very well [about 8 ft tall now]…however, neither tree has ever produced fruit. They seem to be healthy in every aspect except no fruit. Can anyone tell me what to do to get them to bear fruit? Do I need to graft them with a fruit-bearing tree?? What is it I’m doing wrong? I am stummped! These trees where started from a tree at our old home [with sentimental value] the people who bought the old house removed the tree [sadly]…so I don’t want to start over, I desperately want to enjoy THESE trees, and get them to fruit. Please help.

Kenny Point September 8, 2010 at 8:58 pm

Hi Lizann, did the tree that the cuttings were taken from bear fruit? Five years should be plenty of time for the trees to start producing fresh figs. Grafting them onto a different tree probably would not help. What type of climate or area are the trees growing in and is it the same as the original fig tree? Have you been fertilizing them and what type of fertilizer did you use?

jean September 17, 2010 at 7:42 am

I have a tree that was given to me this summer in a pot. It is rather tall (over 5′) and flourished “OK” (it got lots of leaves) but bore no fruit. I want to make sure I don’t loose this plant over the winter, but quite frankly, it is a bit too big for me to just drag into my basement. I live in Massachusetts. Would it be OK to wait until it drops all it’s leaves and then drag it to a corner in my backyard and cover it or wrap it in something? What would you recommend? I probably could drag it into the basement only if I cut off all its branches… that sounds rather brutal, though.

Kenny Point September 19, 2010 at 8:11 am

Hi Jean, yes you could cover and wrap your fig tree to protect it over the winter. Just be sure to provide enough cover and insulation for the winter conditions where you live, especially since your fig tree is in a pot and the root system is more exposed than it would be in the ground. I wouldn’t place it in the basement unless your basement is unheated since the tree needs to go dormant over the winter months. I place my potted figs in an unheated garage but an unheated shed or other structure would work also, depending on your climate.

Lizann September 21, 2010 at 7:47 pm

Hi Kenny,
Yes, the cuttings that I started both these trees from came from a tree that was producing LOTS of fruit. [TONS & TONS of figs! ]
But I’ve never fertilized these new trees. There was fertilizer[supposedly] in the potting soil I used…. After that, I wasn’t sure what kind to use for figs. I never had a potted fig before, and the original tree that was growing in the ground, never required any fertilizer at all. It just grew like a weed and produced tons of fruit with no effort on my part. So I guess I figured the potted one would be just as hearty.

So do you think simply adding fertilizer would make the potted ones produce figs?

Kenny Point September 22, 2010 at 8:20 am

Lizann, I would try feeding the fig tree and watch to see how it responds. Look for an organic citrus fertilizer if you can find it, otherwise use a balanced organic fertilizer and feed the tree once a month from spring through summer but cut back as summer winds down and don’t feed at all during the fall or winter months. Good luck, potted plants generally do require more care in the form of regular fertilization than the same plants would if grown in the earth.

Lizann September 27, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Thank you Kenny,

I will try your suggestions!
I hope your right, because I really miss all the wonderful figs I used to have from the “mother tree”. :-)

Best wishes – Lizann

Joe M September 29, 2010 at 8:29 am

I have a fig tree in a half barrel now for the past 4 yrs and i only get 5-6 figs the past 2 yrs?
What could be the problem?
It gets enough water and i have also given it fertizer as recommended?
Help

Kent October 4, 2010 at 10:30 am

I am thinking of getting a green ischia fig. I live in Ohio near Lake Erie. I would like to keep it in a pot and on the patio in the summer and down in my basement green house during the winter. 75 degrees F and T5 6500k lighting for 12 hours a day.

Two questions: How do I keep the tree from getting too wide, and does it need to go dormant?

Thanks in advance.

Kenny Point October 4, 2010 at 5:48 pm

Hi Kent, I usually have more difficulty getting my fig trees to grow wide and bushy rather than tall and narrow. If you don’t prune them at all they will typically grow more upright and branch out the more that they are pruned.

Fig trees don’t have to go dormant but that is the only way that I have ever grown them and can’t offer any advice on how healthy the trees will be if they don’t go through a period of dormancy. Here’s a link to a thread on Garden Web where there was some debate over growing fig trees without dormancy.

Randy October 19, 2010 at 9:33 am

I live in MN and have a 2 year old fig tree in a pot that has grown to 7 feet. The first year I wintered it in a sunny window in my kitchen with good results. This year it is too big. Can I set it in my unheated garage to go dormant and if so when should I do that? Before the first frost? How cold can the plant get before it dies.

Kenny Point October 19, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Hi Randy, I would leave the fig tree outside until after it has gone dormant. A frost will not hurt the tree but you don’t want to leave it exposed into the winter, especially since it is in a container. I don’t move my trees into the garage until late November, by then they have usually lost their leaves and gone dormant but haven’t been exposed to bitterly cold temps.

Joe M October 20, 2010 at 8:33 am

I wrote a question on 9/29 and still no resonse?Help!

bruce October 20, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Joe M

This is the internet, not the help desk at a nursery and nobody is gettting paid to serve you, so harbouring expectations about a reply within a certain time period is unrealsitic. That being said, have you tried the GardenWeb.com site ?

Kenny Point October 20, 2010 at 9:35 pm

Hello Joe, I’m not sure what area you are growing your fig tree in, but it could just be a matter of having a variety that isn’t best suited for your area. Or it could just be an unproductive tree. You’ve given it time to produce, consider trying another variety that is recommended or others are growing successfully in your region.

eric November 14, 2010 at 10:08 am

a friend of mine just give me a fig tree from Syria its about 2 feet high in its container, i am wondering if i can store it in a shed for the winter but im wondering if its too cold and also im kinda worried about fumes from mower and other tools, whats my best bet i cant store it inside the house cause our cats will ruin it…. we live in new jersey so winters can be rough..what next

ed November 20, 2010 at 10:17 am

eric, if you haven’t seen it, go to this website for answers to your questions about fig trees. http://www.figtrees.net/
I have brought potted fig trees indoors for 3 winters now – I keep them in my unheated basement. I try to give a quart of water once a month but usually forget. One thing I intend to do this year is cover them with a black trashbag. I’m hoping this will prevent them from budding before it is time to put them outdoors. My trees now need a good root trimming as the roots are taking over the containers leaving little room for soil. The website talks about all of this. I live in Connecticut and am getting figs. My trees are closer to 3 feet than 2 but produced about 20-30 figs each this year.

Kenny Point November 24, 2010 at 10:15 pm

Hi Eric, if the shed is the best area that you can provide to over winter your fig trees than it is better than nothing. I wouldn’t worry about the fumes from the mower too much. In addition to Ed’s suggestions, you could also wrap the fig tree, container and all inside of some warm insulating material inside of the shed to help protect it even better during your harsh winter. Or surround it with a wire fence to keep the cats off of it. Good luck.

william addy January 24, 2011 at 2:08 am

I am from South Carolina and brought some cuttings back to Thailand with me. So far I have had 15 cuttings rooted. They rooted at different times. I have about 5 more that I hope will root. I brought them back on November 7th and do not know if they will survive the heat and the monsoon season. During all the rain I will try and keep them from getting so wet. I will try and keep you up to date as they progress in there growing. Thanks, Bill.

Amily April 28, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Hi there,
I’m in Canada. I keep my container inside the house. I usually water them once every 1.5 or 2 weeks.
It’s 3 year old fig tree in a large container. There are some figs on each branches however, smaller figs began to falling off other than that leaves and large figs are fine. Leaves are still in healthy green color. Large figs are still growing but only the smaller figs are filling off. Can you let me know what happend to my fig tree?

sharon felten May 1, 2011 at 8:53 am

How do you prevent sunburn on the leaves when bringing the trees outside in the spring? They are in our sunroom for several weeks and when the leaves are big and green we try putting them outside a little at a time but they always end up getting burned.

Kenny Point May 1, 2011 at 10:19 am

Hello Amily, the fig tree may be thinning its crop load because it has more fruit than it can handle. If the large fruits continue to grow then I wouldn’t worry about losing the small ones. Do you move the tree outdoors during the summer or leave it inside year-round… I was just curious about that?

Kenny Point May 1, 2011 at 10:55 am

Hi Sharon, you have to gradually expose the tree to outdoor conditions. The first day just leave them out for five or ten minutes. Then over the next week or two leave them outside for a longer and longer time until they are fully acclimated.

Randi May 3, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Hi. My neighbor gave me a fig tree that was planted in their backyard for the summer to winter last year. It was dug up last winter and put in a pot. I stuck it in my garage all winter with no water or anything. Much to my delight, when I took it out of the garage a couple weeks ago, it had a few buds on it. It’s really nothing more than a foot and a half seedling really which brings me to the reason for this email…I’ve noticed that many of the buds are turning into, not leaf buds but fig buds! I’m worried that these figs may stress out this very tiny tree! Don’t they need more leaves than figs to make food and survive? The tiny tree has just a few small branches from its main trunk and these “buds” are only located at the very ends of the 3 branches. I’m wondering if maybe I should “prune” some of the fruit off so it can get stronger?
Thank you!!

Ahmad May 4, 2011 at 6:57 pm

Randi, I wouldn’t touch it. The first year I got mine it carried around 18 figs and it was fine. The tree will leaf out well eventually, just keep it fed and watered and plenty of sun.

Randi May 5, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Thank you, Ahmad! What is the suggested fertilizer? I like to use malorganite but couldn’t find any ifo on using it with a fig tree in a container.
Thanks again!!

mike May 5, 2011 at 2:28 pm

I live right on the border of zone 5 and 6. Last year I planted San Piedro figs. They grew quickly and abundantly in this area. For winter, I wrapped them in straw, burlap, insulation, and plastic. I forgot about mice!!!! I think fig trees are hardier than most folks realize. I wouldn’t worry about the climate too much as long as you keep the critters out.

Amily May 5, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Yes i move the tree outdoor in summer time and leave inside of the house in Winter.

Recently I found out my fig tree leaves started to have brown dots and soon half of leaves became light brown now. I’m just wondering is that a sign of having not enough water?

Amily May 5, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Or is that due to the suddent enviornment change?, I just moved my fig tree outdoor about 2 weeks ago. (The outside temp is about 6-15 degree)

Amily May 5, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Hi Randi,
Before I bought my fig tree (in container), the previous fig tree owner already fertilized it. I won’t need to do it until next spring comes. So i have no idea what kind fertilizer the fig tree needed however she suggested me to ask people who works in nursery.

Ahmad May 5, 2011 at 10:40 pm

To be honest, I used the same fertilizer I use for my citrus plants plus I add some bone meal once a year. In the Missouri winter I put it in the Garage in mostly dark area. I took it out this year Mid April and kept it close to the house in the sunny area and it is doing well. I brought it in couple of times when the forecast said temps below 40 but it is fairing well. This is its third year, Last year we had a severe storm the shredded the leaves and the tree did not recover the rest of the season. This year I am keeping in a protected sunny area. It is now around 6 feet tall and I put 2 posts in the corner of the container and tied the tree to it to keep the soft wood from breaking. I am looking forward to some figs this year.

Kenny Point May 8, 2011 at 7:51 am

Hi Randi, I agree with Ahmad and wouldn’t worry about the fig buds. My trees often push out figs before or at the same time that the first leaves develop in the spring. Those early figs may not mature but I leave them alone and let the tree decide how to take care of them.

bernadette May 28, 2011 at 11:02 am

I just potted a fig tree from my sister’s fig tree which is enormous and puts out hundreds of figs. Its only a stick at this time, I keep it watered along a sunny wall. When should I expect to see some leaves, figs?

David June 16, 2011 at 11:34 am

Hi, I have “Dwarf” fig tree in a large pot on my deck. It is 3 years old. it is about 6 foot high and 6 ft diameter. It has never had a single fruit on it. I have at least a dozen fig trees in my yard, most have fruit on them. I bring it into my garage (unheated) in the winter. It is very “stragaly” – is that a word? and I would like to prune it drastically to make it easier to move into the garage and make it “Bushier”. Will that hurt it? How much can I cut it back without killing it?
Thank you.

Susan June 16, 2011 at 11:32 pm

I have a small fig tree that I bought at Lowe’s. It is a Chicago Hardy Fig. It’s about two feet tall. Should I re-pot it right away? How soon should I fertilize it and with what kind of fertilizer. I plan to leave it in a pot on my balcony and bring it into the garage in the winter. Do I need to treat it with any sort of spray for insects, etc.? Thank you.

bob July 4, 2011 at 10:38 am

I have a fig tree in a container the fruit have set, over the last week leaves on the tree are turning brown and falling off. What can I use to correct the problem, not using chemicals?

sharon July 11, 2011 at 4:39 pm

I had a fig outside for several years and it would die back to the ground each year and spout new growth from the middle. I dug it up last year and split it into several pots. I didn’t take them in over the winter and one of them did return, again growing new growth from the center. My question is, does the new growth need to over winter in a protected state to produce fruit. As many years as I have had it I think I only saw one fig. The leaves are healthy and grow pretty vigorously but they are always first year wood. Does the fruit only appear on second year wood as on raspberries?

Petros Tsoukalas July 19, 2011 at 9:45 am

My fig tree is 3 yrs old & it has beautiful green leaves but does produce fruit. What could be causing this?

helen maree July 20, 2011 at 7:52 am

Hi
My fig tree is old.When the fruit starts to come they fall off.
Do we need to prune it?

Please advise many thanks
Helen

Evan Doukas July 29, 2011 at 9:36 pm

To Petros (my fellow Greek fig lover) and Helen–I think I could answer both your questions at the same time. It starts with a question for you though…What is the source of your fig trees?

Basically, both your issues sound like its from a non self-producing plant. There are 2 diff types of figs. 1 are the type that don’t need pollination, the other need pollination. The ones that do need it require the fig wasp–a tiny insect that is the only one capable of pollinating your figs. This wasp only exist in those countries of origin, or some areas of California, etc. The flowers are actually inside each fig. The wasps go in and do their thing. If this does not occur, the figs fall off prematurely.

Let me know what the story is with the origin of your plants, and I might be able to tell you more from there.

Evan

Evan Doukas July 29, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Sharon-

Its usually the current (first) year’s growth, BUT figs don’t produce easily if returning from die-back until more established again.

I would protect them.

Bringing them in your house might be too warm (you want a dormant season, but not too cold), so do you have a garage or cool basement?

Sharon July 30, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Yes, I wasn’t aware that you could bring them in without a sunny window to sit them in, which there are really only two of in our house and come winter are jam-packed with plants already. But plenty of space in the basement. When do you put them to sleep? We live in nj. Thanks.

Evan Doukas August 1, 2011 at 10:50 am

Yea, I’m originally from NY. The zone is very questionable over there–right on the border of too much, especially if you don’t have them in a perfectly protected southern-exposure spot, or if you have them in pots. Basically, it would actually be a negative thing to bring them into a nice sunny window in the winter because figs need a dormant period to produce fruit, etc. It could be complete darkness–it doesn’t matter. The best situation is a cool/cold spot that gets at least below 50 degrees, but not less than the teens, especially for a potted plant. If your basement is pretty cool/unheated, that should be perfect. Otherwise, an unheated but attached garage or something of that nature.

As far as putting them to sleep, you can try leaving it outside in the fall when it gets colder but not crazy cold yet. The plant will naturally drop its leaves (begin entering dormancy) and then you can bring it to your spot. That how I would do it. Also, over the winter, be sure to water it once or twice.

rachel August 14, 2011 at 6:54 pm

I just have been looking over the discussion topics and don’t see any mention of growing figs in a dessert climate. I live in Las Vegas and would like to try one or two on my patio, it gets fairly full sun for 4-7 hours depending on the season. Does anyone have any tips on a good variety and basic care? Also – should I take it in during the winter? despite most peoples impression it can be quite cold here during the winter for a number of months but will likely freeze only a couple of times.
Thanks

Kenny Point August 15, 2011 at 7:59 am

Hi Rachel, I’m not familiar with your growing climate but I would give it a try and maybe provide a bit of shade during the hottest periods. If you have an unheated space I would place the plant there for the winter but would not bring it into the house during winter. Good luck!

Ahmad August 17, 2011 at 8:07 am

This year I got my first tasty and very sweet figs from my 3 year old fig tree in a container, about 21 inches wide container. First year I got cold July and August no ripining 2nd Year a hail storm shredded the thing. This year the 100+ degree temps in Kansas City almost killed it until I moved it to the shade and kept watering. I also fed it better with one of those fruit tree spikes. A full spike is too much so I cut it in half and stuck it in. Had plenty of Figs but only about 10 were anygood. Looking for next year. I am thinking about sticking the plant in the ground. It suppose to be hardy to 10 below and If I wrap it and protect it from direct wind it should be OK in Kansas City area. What do you folks think?

mike August 17, 2011 at 9:29 am

Ahmad, I live in the same area so I know what you’re talking about with the heat. Last year my plants were in the ground, this year in pots. If you plant them, be sure to really wrap them well. Mine survived the cold I believe but the mice got to them. Maybe some mouse poison around the plant would have made a big difference.

Ahmad August 17, 2011 at 9:41 am

thanks Mike, Thinking about some burlap and hay to insulate it then place 4 inches on much around the base sprinkled with mice poison. I am thinking about putting it under a much larger tree facing the south west. It will get plenty of sun but in the heat the big tree will give it some shade..

Kenny Point August 17, 2011 at 9:50 am

Ahmad, you will need to insulate and wrap the fig tree for winter protection. I planted one out into the ground this spring but all of my other fig trees remain in containers for the convenience and to eliminate any chance of branches dying back during the winter. My potted fig trees are kept in the garage during winter.

Lou September 5, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Hello ! I’ve had an Italian fig tree for 2 years now in a large pot. However the tree hasn’t grown much. I transplanted it once in a wooden smaller half wiskey barrel. It has NOT beared any fruit at all. I did trim off some of the pot bound roots. Still no fruit. I am watering several times a week since it drains well from the wooden barrel. It is also located in a sunny south facing location. Help, what am I doing wrong ?

Kenny Point September 5, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Hi Lou, here’s a link to a comment that Joy left on another thread that may be helpful to you: http://www.veggiegardeningtips.com/fig-trees/#comment-197346

Beverly November 7, 2011 at 8:48 pm

I have been trying to root a branch from a fig tree and it is starting to root, my question is: Can I leave it in the water thru the winter months and then plant it outside in the spring? Needs an answer soon, it’s starting to get cold outside. Thanks!

Ahmad November 14, 2011 at 8:09 am

I would trim most leaves off it then snip the bottom and hit it with growth/rooting hormon and put in in a light soil until it roots well, keep it moist and in a sunny area. After it roots and looks like it is holding its own and few leafs appear transplant it into a pot in a nice sunny area until it sets well. In late spring put it outside and watch go crazy.

Barb Keeler November 16, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Beverly, put it in the ground asap and as gently as you can, try to not break the roots. Water-started roots are delicate. Plant it slightly deeper than the highest root, as the soil will settle. Water it and bring it in to your garage or cool room. Don’t encourage winter growth, let the roots and plant get cozy in a safe, secure place. It will naturally go dormant for winter. Water sparingly after New Year’s eve until you put it out in spring. I hope you did not follow Ahmad’s directions, they are for unrooted cuttings. Next time, read Kenny’s directions for taking fig cuttings. He roots his in pots, not water.

Lessenor November 29, 2011 at 2:37 am

It is suppose to be spring in this corner of the world. A few weeks into what is supposed to be Spring, I took my potted fig out of the shed. A few weeks later we started getting great Summer days but lousy frosty nights. I unfortunately left my tree outside hoping that it would just be a once-off. It happened to be an ongoing thing. Will this effect it from producing fruit? it still has nice leaves, it’s just that some of them are dropping and I am starting to get distressed over this! Pleaaase tell me what to do?

Lynn December 29, 2011 at 3:57 pm

I live in FL and have a brown fig tree..it is abt 5 ft tall and has only one main trunk with no off shoots…it has abt 6 green figs on it. I would like the fig tree to grow wider…how and when do I prune it so it will grow wider? It is now almost Jan here and the tree has not lost it leaves or gone dormant. Thanks, Lynn

Elenora January 5, 2012 at 6:50 pm

I have a fig tree that lost all of it’s leaves and it is now flourishing with about 7 figs thus far. The problem is that two of them (the figs) have large brown spots on them, One fell off last week with a brown spot. I am not sure how to control this so that the other figs are not affected. I have watered sufficienty (i think) and have fertilized. Not sure what is wrong. Is there such a thing as a a “easy to care for Fig tree”. I grow other things in my garden without problems but this fig tree is a challenge.

Kenny Point January 11, 2012 at 7:59 am

Sorry, Elenora, I don’t know what the problem is with your fig tree. They are typically pretty care free plants for me but sometimes a particular variety just isn’t productive whether it’s climate related or not and I will simply try a different fig variety if it does not produce or remain healthy over time.

Victor February 19, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Kenny, I live in Brooklyn, NY and my small back yard is next to a corner house – and is protected on three sides. I have had a potted (terra cotta) Black Mission Fig tree (Monrovia) for the last 6 years and it has been producing fruit for me in late summer. I have been bringing the tree/pot into my basement every year (Late Fall, after all the leaves have fallen off and it is getting colder closer to lower 30s). Seems like the advice is not to leave the fig tree in container pots outside in winter…At this time (Late February) the tree is starting to bud (both new leaves and tiny figs are starting) as it has done every year around this time (I only water it once a month when it is in the basement). Seems like this year’s NYC winter is a bit milder, so my questions:
1) Can I bring it outside now?
2) Seems like I could actually get an earlier crop of fruit if I get it sunlight now that it is budding? In years past, I waited for “official spring, and the figs stayed green and hard…never ripening in my basement
3) Is there anything I can do to insulate the container/tree in case we get sub freezing nights? (the Monrovia label states that its hardiness is 0-10 F)
4) The tree is about 4-4.5 feet high, trunk about 1.5 inches thick, 5 main branches: should I try to get the trunk to thicken? how do I do that? By pruning back the branches? When?

Thanks!
Victor

Ahmad February 20, 2012 at 8:16 am

I live in Missouri and my figs are comming out with fruit also. The average temp is aroung 50 degrees during the day but will drop to freezong during the night. I wouldn’t recommend taking them out for another month at best. Although the weather has been nice, the nights do get cold and you don’t want it to freeze.

pamela lewis June 5, 2012 at 10:24 am

Hi I bought a fig tree last year and it was full of shoots. It is indoors and in a pot but for some reason it looks like it’s dead even though its been watered. Do they go to sleep or what else could be ailing it? Thanks Pamela

Lou June 8, 2012 at 6:47 am

Hi,
i have several fig trees that i started from 2 year old wood of another tree and all are doing well. This year i trimmed one of them and from the bottom i pulled a stem coming up thru the surface and along with it came a root system. I quickly put it in water. All the leaves died but new ones are coming up. I did put a weak mixture of miracle grow in the water. i t seems to be doing well. My question is: what do i do next? Is there a time frame that i should keep it in water or should i go ahead and plant in in a large pot?

bruce June 8, 2012 at 3:27 pm

not sure if it is “the” cause, but I know they need a lot of light if you are going to overwinter indoors and keep it active as opposed to letting it go dormant (i.e. in the dark with little to no water)

barb K June 8, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Pamela, your note concerns me. At this point in the season, unless you are Down Under, your fig should be coming out of winter dormancy. The sooner the better, as midsummer approaches. Break a twig, see if it indeed has expired. Figs do lose all leaves over winter, but by now it should be leafing out. Best of luck. Do not despair, try another variety with the knowledge you have gained.

Norm August 24, 2012 at 9:59 pm

I would like to grow a small fig tree outside between my porch and a retainer wall. Most are too large for the space available. A 6 ft. tree would be ideal. What variety would recommend? My preference would be for dark figs with sweet dark centers. I have seen some information that the Black Jack fig is small. Keep in mind that I live in the Central Texas Hill country where it often gets to 100 degrees in the summer.

Norm August 24, 2012 at 10:00 pm

I would like to grow a small fig tree outside between my porch and a retainer wall. Most are too large for the space available. A 6 ft. tree would be ideal. What variety would recommend? My preference would be for dark figs with sweet dark centers. I have seen some information that the Black Jack fig is small. Keep in mind that I live in the Central Texas Hill country where it often gets to 100 degrees in the summer.

Tom Conn September 2, 2012 at 11:44 pm

I’ve been overwintering figs in my basement here in Kentucky for three years. I grow mine in 20 gallon rope handle tubs. Once in the basement, I enclose the tubs in plastic garbage bags. In March when I see them begin to sprout I move them outside and cover them on nights that it freezes. My only propblem this year was ants entering the figs, LSU Gold in particular. Mine are very thirsty during the hot summer days and I let them sit in about an inch of water. I don’t know what I’m doing right, but my trees produce good crops of figs.

Lesley Dowden April 3, 2013 at 9:37 am

We bought a small fig tree with one stem staked. While attempting to transplant, the stem and small roots were separated from main root. We went ahead and planted it anyhow. It is in shock. I was thinking about taking the steam and putting it in a smaller container and hoping for the best, then taking the main root and loosing it up and planting it. Before I do this I’d like to have advice, thanks. Should we leave this in sun or shaded while we wait and see. lesley

Norm Lenz April 3, 2013 at 11:09 pm

Figs are easily started from cuttings. In my experience, smaller cuttings actually start more easily. I would do as you are thinking. I predict that both will result in fig trees if you plant them in 3 gallon pots using good potting soil. Keep them in bright shade and moist – not wet. You will probably see signs of new leaves in only a month. Don’t make the mistake of transplanting them too soon. Give them time to develop a reasonable root system. I suggest about 3 months.

Kenny Point April 4, 2013 at 5:57 am

I agree with Norm and would also try to make a second fig plant out of the situation. Keep it watered and shaded until it gets through the transplant shock. Good luck!

Ellen Stein April 4, 2013 at 1:29 pm

I bought a young potted fig tree (unknown variety) last spring, which grew happily in my very small, walled Philadelphia backyard. It survived the winter outdoors in its pot, and I would now like to transplant it into a bigger pot.

The pot I am thinking about has no hole at the bottom. Can I put a layer of gravel in the bottom and use it as is, or should I make a hole?

Norm Lenz April 19, 2013 at 2:27 pm

It’s probably a good idea to transplant it to a larger pot. Also, I would suggest a drain hole in the bottom. A drain in the bottom of the pot will prevent roots rotting if you accidentally overwater or if a heavy rain fills the pot with water.

tara May 13, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Hi Kenny,
I bought a medium sized indoor fig tree about 6 months ago. She lives in a pot with no drainage hole near a sunny window in Socal. I have noticed a few problems over the past couple of months that have worries me. : (

3 weeks ago two of the bottom leaves turned yellowish and fell off. I started watering more and no addtl leaves have fallen off.

This AM I noticed that the new leaves that just came out have small reddish brown spots on them. also a couple of the leave have brown dry spots near the stem.

thanks!!
Tara

Norm Lenz May 13, 2013 at 9:29 pm

Just a guess, but, your fig is probably suffering from too much water. Sometimes, the humus in the soil will begin to rot or mold and cause stress to the roots when there is no drainage from the bottom of the pot. In these conditions, the soil can become too acidic. The roots need to breathe. If your think I’m right, the solution could be to take it outside, make a drain in the bottom of the pot or transplant to a pot with a drain. Outside, it can get more sun and a natural breeze. Do not water for awhile. Then, after the soil has become fairly dry, flush one time with lots of water. Let the water run out of the bottom of the pot so that the PH of the soil becomes more neutral. Then, water only when the soil feels relatively dry to the touch. The drier soil will let more air to roots. It could take several months to stabilize the soil and the plant health. You can put a catch tray under the pot when you bring it back inside. Try to water it just enough that a hint of water shows in the catch tray when you water – about every 10-14 days.

Rob Britt July 20, 2013 at 4:44 pm

we were lucky enough to move into a house that has a mature fig tree (brown turkeys) in our back yard. months and months worth of harvest from mid summer to early fall. We want to container plant a tree so we will continue to have figs whenever we end up moving. Thanks for the tips!

Susan July 28, 2013 at 2:23 pm

I have a 2 year old lemon fig tree. It has produced fruit this year but after much research cannot tell when to harvest the fruit. Do they not turn brown/ red in color when ripe? Or do they stay green? Help!

Kenny Point July 29, 2013 at 6:14 am

Hi Susan, there are different colors of ripe fruit depending on the variety. There is usually some color change and you can tell they are ripe as the fruits will become soft.

Peter Lawrence February 5, 2014 at 5:54 am

Hi – I live in the Midlands of England I have just come across your great website and have a question regarding the small figs that are left on my Brown Turkey Fig tree that is in a container in my back garden. Should I leave these small figs on the tree or should I remove them? I can’t seem to find any information regarding this yet I remember some time ago (I can’t remember where I heard this) hearing that these small figs should be removed yet I thought these were the fruit that will mature the following year. I hope you can help me with this.
Thankyou
Peter Lawrence

Kenny Point February 6, 2014 at 10:21 am

Hello Peter, I’m not sure if you are referring to fruit that failed to ripen during the summer, in that case those figs will not survive the winter and can be removed. Many fig varieties produce an early crop of breba figs and that may be what you are thinking about. Good luck with your fig trees, do they have to be protected during the winter months in your climate?

Peter Lawrence February 14, 2014 at 4:56 pm

Hi Kenny – Thankyou very much for the information. I think they must be the small figs from last season that did not have time to ripen although I am not certain. I think I will leave them where they are and see what happens. I have had the tree for around eight years now and have never given it protection in the winter. It is in a large container placed quite near to the wall of the house so it does get a certain amount of protection from it’s placing.

Noeule February 15, 2014 at 11:10 am

Peter,
I will start by saying that I’ve never grown figs in containers or anywhere except in Texas, USA.

The figs left on my trees at the end of summer will stop growing, dry up and turn hard. These figs will never finish maturing. My trees will loose all their leaves during the winter and become dormant. I trim them back heavily in late winter so they will regrow from a primary trunk, or two, cut back to only 3 feet from the ground. This seems to stimulate lots of new growth in the spring that produces new fruit. So, like Kenny above, I am guessing that these are figs that failed to mature by the end of last season. I think you could pick them off or let them heal off on their own.

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