Fig Tree

March 24, 2009

The fig tree is very handsome with dramatic big leaves

Today, I would like to recommend the lovely fig tree to you.
I know not everyone likes eating figs (although those who do, adore them), but even if you are not that keen on eating the fruits, the fig tree itself is very handsome with dramatic big leaves and an attractive shape – and you can always make preserves if you don’t like the fresh fruit.
Figs, actually a native of the Mediterranean area, will grow and fruit very well even in the cold English midlands and in a surprisingly wide area of North America.
If you want to grow a fig tree in the warm south, there are many varieties to choose from, of different colours and sizes plus ones that ripen early or ripen late.
If like me you live in the cooler parts of the world, the fig called Brown Turkey is the most reliable.
You may have read that to fruit well, figs should have their roots confined to a smallish area – the gardening books seem to agree on a maximum area of just over 3 feet square (a metre), and a hole lined with stone slabs or slate is often recommended. Speaking for myself, I have better things to do than dig a hole just over 3 feet deep, long and wide (disturbing subsoil and generally making more than something of a mess) and so my fig lives in a very big flowerpot, bought in an end of year sale, that is about 3feet (90cms) deep, by about 2feet (60cms) across.
In the wild, figs generally grow on poor soil and fruit well (the fruits are not as big as those of trees grown for the purpose) – but they do get lots and lots of sun, so my fig, living in a more moderate climate, is fed with tomato fertilizer – which I give it every second time I use it for the tomatoes. I add some to the water for the fig and it seems to do wonders for the fruit. I must say that I also grow a small climbing clematis in the same pot, greatly adding to the visual pleasures of the garden.
If you would like to grow a fig tree – and you happen to know someone who has one, and who is doing a little pruning, shortish stems (about 12”, 30cm) simply pushed into a flowerpot and given minimal care will usually grow away within two or three months – but you do then need the patience to wait for a year or two for your figlet to crop in any quantity!
Equally if you decide to shorten one or two straggly branches of a fig which you own (they need no other pruning) you can take cuttings to give to friends.
My present fig tree is a great grandchild, so to speak, of the one which grew in an old greenhouse belonging to my first house.
As always,
Happy horticulture,