Guide to Growing Figs: A Comprehensive Overview

A Comprehensive Overview

Flavorful Figs

Scent-filled figs are the unsung heroes of fruit kingdoms! The fact that fig trees can grow in both warm and temperate settings may surprise you. Throughout the winter, you may even bring indoor trees the size of patios. Learn about planting, growing, and harvesting figs.

Concerning Figs

Although figs can tolerate colder zones if adequately protected from freezing temperatures or grown in containers and brought indoors, they prefer long, hot summers (Zones 8 and warmer).

The common fig tree (Ficus carica), because its blossoms do not require pollination to produce figs, is the most popular fig species among home gardeners. There are several types of common fig trees, including hardy cultivars suitable for outdoor growth in Zones 6 and 7, which have slightly cooler climates.

Versatile in use, figs can be cooked, dried, or enjoyed straight off the tree. With only 50 calories, a single fig provides more fiber and minerals than most other fruits, nuts, or vegetables.

Health Benefits of Figs

Figs absorb cholesterol, encourage regular bowel movements, lessen the risk of heart disease, control the activities of the liver and kidneys, lower blood pressure, and even prevent certain types of cancer. Moreover, figs are a great source of calcium, which lowers the risk of osteoporosis. Additionally, they contain phosphorus, which promotes bone growth.


In USDA Zone 8 and higher, figs can be planted outdoors without much difficulty. However, make sure to select a hardy fig type if you live in an area where winter temperatures can drop below 10°F (-12°C) for extended periods of time.

Timing of Fig Tree Planting

When the tree is dormant, in early spring or late fall, plant fig trees outdoors. Alternatively, figs can be grown indoors over the winter in large containers.

Fig Tree Planting Guide

Container Fig Trees:

• Grow in soil-based potting mix with fine bark chips for improved drainage.
• Keep in full sun in summer.
• Add high-nitrogen fertilizer every four weeks and water moderately.
• Move tree indoors in winter.

Outdoor Fig Trees:

• Plant in spring or early fall in full sun.
• Space at least 20 feet away from buildings or other trees.
• Consider deep roots when choosing a planting spot.

Container-Grown Trees:

• Remove plant from pot and cut through roots.
• Dig a hole a few inches deeper and wider than roots spread.
• Set tree on a small soil mound in the middle of the hole.
• Plant tree 2 to 4 inches deeper than original pot.

Caring for Fig Trees

• Regular watering is crucial for establishment, especially in dry climates. Avoid fertilization unless growing in containers. Apply a nitrogen supplement for small trees, dividing it into 3-4 feedings from late winter to midsummer.

• Use mulch to prevent weeds and retain root moisture. Trim dead, diseased, or weak branches during the dormant season; minimal pruning is necessary. Encourage larger figs by thinning fruit.

• In colder regions, bring indoor-grown trees inside and maintain soil moisture. Remove dead wood during dormancy in cold winters and monitor spring growth closely.

Fig Variety Overview

• Brown Turkey: Produces abundant medium to large figs, suitable for warm and cooler climates.
• Celeste: Small, sweet, purplish figs, winter-hardy variety.
• Hardy Chicago: Produces purple, medium-size figs.
• King: Adapted for cooler northwest conditions, produces medium figs.
• Kadota: Vigorous, small to medium fruit, rich, sweet, commonly canned.

Harvesting Figs

Harvest figs when fully ripe and fully colored. Additionally, ensure figs are slightly soft to the touch. Consider bird netting for crop protection to preserve your harvest. Wear gloves or long sleeves to avoid skin irritation from fig sap. After harvesting, store figs in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. For long-term storage options, freeze whole figs, dry them, or can them yourself.

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