How to Grow Figs
**With soft, luscious fruit that is prized for preserves and fresh eating, it’s worth the work for this plant!
**Figs have been increasing in popularity, and there are many gourmet meal-recipes available out there that use figs, so why not grow them yourself and show off at a future dinner party?
**With protection, figs can be grown in cooler climates. Southern fig varieties do not need a pollinator, while California figs do need a pollinator.
**Plant figs in the spring as soon as the soil can be worked after the last frost.
**Place figs where they have plenty of room to achieve their final size. A space 15 feet wide and high is the minimum needed.
**Heavy yearly pruning, which is necessary when you put a large plant in a small space, causes poor fruiting.
**They need at least 8 hours of sunshine per day to ripen the fruit. In cold areas, plant figs on the south side of your house. Try to avoid early-morning and late-evening winter sunshine.
Propagation/How to Plant:
**Figs have a wide-ranging root system. Dig a hole at least 3 times as wide as the rootball.
**Begin training the plant to a bush form by cutting off the upper 1/3 of the fig at planting time. Doing this will force new sprouts to come out near the ground. When the new sprouts have grown 18 inches, cut off the tips to induce even more sprouting.
**Figs respond better than most fruit plants to regular applications of fertilizer. Spread 3 cups of 8-8-8 (like this) under the canopy of a well-established plant in March, May, and June. Use ½ the amount for younger plants.
**Regular watering during fruit swell (July through harvest) is important.
**Do not allow grass to grow under the plant because it will compete for available nutrients and water.
**If your figs grow vigorously but develop few fruit, do not fertilize for six months.
**Avoid heavy pruning at all costs. It is better to prune monthly in the summer to avoid shocking the plant back into juvenile growth. Remove the tops of vertical sprouts when they are two feet long. Encourage horizontal branches since they will bear most of the fruit.
**Few insects and diseases affect figs. Birds are the most annoying pests. Some people grow figs tall and let the birds get the tall, hard-to-reach figs and the people can get the lower figs. The only real way to prevent loss of the crop is to cover the plants with netting. Remove the netting immediately after fruiting.
**Unlike other fruits, figs will not continue to ripen when picked. You must pick it only when it is perfectly ripe. Overripe figs are better than non-ripened figs, as overripe figs are very sweet and if you pick too early, the figs will be starchy-tasting.
**Figs come in many different colors, so it is difficult to go by color (especially in your first year of harvest) for when it is ripe. The best way of knowing when to pick a fig is how it hangs from the tree/bush and if it is soft. A ripe fig will hang/droop from the branch and will be soft when you squeeze it.
**Pull the fig from the base of the stem to avoid bruising your ripe fruit. Either eat them in the next few days (store in your refrigerator) or freeze or dry immediately.