Tips to Grow Figs in Ground and in Pots

Mulch Power: Fig cultivars will grow as bushes or trees, depending on easy pruning of the soft wood. Fig trees prefer a sweet soil or growing medium. If the ground (or growing medium in pot) is acidic (typically smells sour) it can be amended with lime to sweeten. Fig roots spread near the surface seeking air, water, and nutrients. Thoroughly mulching fig trees in ground can help supply these vitals in summer, while providing weather protection for the crown and roots all year.

Ground Protection: In cold growing zones, cutting the tree to the ground post dormancy and burying the crown under layers of wood chips, leaves, or dirt will provide maximum protection for the crown and roots, though fruit may struggle to ripen before frost on new growth the following year. Training or pressing low limbs flat to the ground in fall, or trenching in ground, then layering with chips, leaves, or dirt can preserve wood to aid in growth and fruiting come summer. Even mature fig wood can be killed by prolonged temperatures around -10 °C / 14 °F so maximum use of earth’s natural heat through winter is vital for bushes in ground. In cold growing zones, potted trees need their own protection in garage, cellar, or living space.

Pot Tips: Fig trees can grow as large as any other tree if the roots are not constrained by pot or if the top is not killed by cold. Dozens of figs can be ripened on trees in pots of 12 to 14 inches (5 to 7 gallons) with drainage holes for excess water. The growing medium may consist of bark mulch amended with lime. Fine mulch or peat moss and compost can be mixed in if additional moisture holding capacity or nutrients are needed. Drilling a handful of thumb-sized holes in a ring toward the base of a pot, then partially embedding into mulch or loose earth can provide the tree access to nutrients, water, and air from the ground all summer. However, if the ground is too nutritious, excess limb growth may result in less energy devoted to fruit production. Sheering off roots with a spade in fall prior to winter storage is well tolerated by the trees, a simple form of root pruning. Fig trees can also be grown successfully in self irrigating planters.