Fig trees are members of the genus group of trees known as Ficus. There are two types of fig trees: the caprifig and the edible fig. Caprifig trees are all male and their fruit is inedible. There are varieties of edible fig trees:
The Smyrna variety of fig tree requires pollination to occur before it can produce fruit. If not pollinated the fruit will drop to the ground before maturing. The San Pedro variety of fig tree needs pollination for its main crop when planted in some locations.
The most popular type of edible fig tree planted is the common fig variety which includes, Brown Turkey figs, Celeste figs, Black Mission figs and Brunswick figs. Common figs do not need pollination to set crops and are therefore the easiest for homeowners to grow and care for.
Fig tree types are further divided by the color of the fruit. There are green/yellow varieties and dark varieties.
Fig trees are easy to grow in warm climates. They need to be planted in an area where they will receive full sun, at least eight hours a day. They should be spaced at least ten feet apart from other trees. The average fig tree will grow to be ten feet tall and ten feet wide. If you’re looking for a smaller version it can be grown as a bonsai ficus microcarpa.
Fig trees have a cold hardiness temperature of ten to twenty degrees Fahrenheit. If planted in the north it is recommended that they be kept in containers that can be brought indoors during the winter. Be extra careful in watering a container kept plant as they tend to dry out more rapidly. Depending on how far north you are, covering them with burlap may suffice.
When planting a young fig tree, be sure to place it in the hole with the top of the root ball at ground level. Use rich soil with at least 1/3 humus mixed in. After replacing the soil, mound up additional soil to form a water basin. Water the tree thoroughly and then cover the area with mulch.
Newly planted fig trees must be kept well watered until they have become completely established. After that they should only need to be watered in times of drought. Avoid over watering as a soggy plant will cause the fruit to split. Fertilize the tree every spring just before the new growth begins.
It is not recommended to start a fig tree from seed. Purchasing them at your local gardening center or propagating them is the better choice.
Fig trees are easy to propagate because they root easily. The easiest way to do this is to take leafless cuttings that are about six inches long and the width of a pencil in early spring. Put your cuttings into good quality potting soil in a pot that is lined with newspaper. Stand the pot in a warm, bright area and cover the cuttings with empty two liter containers that have had their bottoms cut off. Do not water the pot again until it is extremely dry. In time you will see leaves growing and the cuttings will form roots.
Wait until the new fig tree has a complete root system before hardening off. To harden off, you need to bring it outside for several hours a day making sure to bring it back inside at night. Do this for at least two weeks until it is acclimated to the new climate. After the young tree is hardened off you can transplant it outside.