Figs are a delicious treat that thrive in warm climates, but can also be grown in more temperate regions with a bit of extra care. Here’s how to grow a fig tree in your garden.Figs thrive in areas with long and hot summers (Zones 8 and warmer), though they can also be grown in colder zones if grown in containers and properly insulated from freezing temperatures or brought indoors.
The common fig tree (Ficus carica) is the most popular species of fig for home gardeners because its flowers do not require pollination to yield figs. Many varieties of the common fig tree exist, including hardy cultivars that can be grown outdoors in slightly cooler climates (Zones 6 and 7). Other species of figs either do not produce edible fruit or have very specific pollination requirements (such as needing to be pollinated by a certain type of wasp), making them too much trouble for home gardeners to grow.
Figs can be eaten fresh from the tree, preserved, or used in cooking.
- Figs can be planted outdoors in Zone 8 and warmer. In zones where winter temperatures get colder than 10°F (-12°C) for periods of time, figs are best grown in containers and kept inside for the winter.
- Plant fig trees outdoors in the early spring or late fall, when the tree is dormant.
- For container fig trees, grow them in a soil-based potting mix and add fine bark chips to improve drainage. Keep the tree in full sun in the summer. Be sure to add a high-nitrogen fertilizer every 4 weeks in the spring and summer and water the tree moderately. In the winter, move the tree indoors and keep the soil moist.
- For outdoor fig trees, plant the tree in the spring or early fall in full sun. Fig trees can grow in most types of soil as long as the soil is well-drained and contains plenty of organic material.
- You should harvest figs only when they are fully ripe, as they will not continue to ripen off the tree. The figs should be fully colored and slightly soft to the touch.
- You may need to invest in bird netting to protect your crop; figs are a favorite of birds and squirrels.
- When picking figs, wear gloves or long sleeves because the sap from the fig tree can irritate your skin.
- Figs are very perishable. Store figs in the refrigerator; they will keep for 2 to 3 days.
- For long-term storage, you can freeze figs whole for later use. Another storage method is to dry the figs. You can also can your own figs.
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