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Fig Trees


Figs will crop reliably in the UK given a sunny sheltered spot, ideally against a south or west facing wall.  Where conditions are less favourable they should be grown under glass.
Figs are vigorous and therefore benefit from root restriction in order to stay compact and fruitful. Without it, they are likely to grow so vigorously that they often produce little or no fruit. They should crop well in the ground if planted in soil in a  root control bag or pot sunk into the ground, or in a free-standing container above ground.  The pot will need to be at least 40cm (15in) diameter with drainage holes at the bottom.  A fig in a pot above ground will need potting on into a slightly larger pot at least every 2 years.
Plant your fig as soon as possible after receipt. Should weather conditions be adverse (i.e. if the ground is frozen or too wet to plant), leave the bush in its pot in a sheltered spot until your soil is in better condition.
For best results thoroughly dig over the soil before planting and mix in some well-rotted garden compost.
Soak the pot in water for 1-2 hours before planting. Dig a hole large enough to accommodate the container or root control bag, making sure the top 2.5cm (1in) of the container or root control bag is above ground level. Apply rootgrow™ mycorrhizal fungi directly to the roots before planting - this will help the plant to establish quickly. Firm the soil around both the fig and the container or root control bag and water-in thoroughly. Protect from frost during its first spring.


Keep the soil around the bush moist throughout the first growing season. In later years watering should rarely be necessary, figs are amongst the most drought-tolerant of plants. Figs grown in free standing containers above ground will need regular watering, usually daily in summer, they should not be allowed to dry out.


If unpruned a fig will naturally develop into a large bush or small multi-stemmed tree, though with a limited amount of pruning and training it can be grown along a wall or as a patio standard. Just trim it back to control its size or shape as required at any time during spring or summer.  If in growth the cut stems will ‘bleed’ milky sap, but this will stop fairly quickly without causing the plant harm.  To maintain the compact 'mophead' shape of a standard fig, trim back to the desired shape and size twice a year: at the end of winter and then again in midsummer.  Do wear gloves and cover up while working with figs, contact can cause skin irritation with sunlight.


Most garden soils contain sufficient nutrients for a fig to grow healthily, though a high potash top-dressing such as Fruit Feed applied in spring can be beneficial. Avoid high nitrogen fertilizers (such as chicken manure) which stimulate growth rather than flower bud and fruit formation.  Figs in pots will need regular feeding during spring and early summer.

Cropping Habit

Figs produce two to three crops each year but only one crop usually ripens in the UK climate. The pea-sized embryo fruitlets formed in the autumn need to overwinter to produce a crop of figs the following summer. The figs produced in spring and early summer do not get enough good weather to ripen properly, remove them in late autumn.

Winter Protection

Embryo figs can be damaged by frosts in colder areas or in a severe winter. Protect branches with fruitlets in winter by wrapping them in horticultural fleece.  In very low temperatures add straw, dry grass or pipe lagging inside the fleece. A fig in free-standing pot may be moved to a frost free place such as a cold greenhouse, garage or garden shed, or if to remain outside, protect the root system by lagging the pot in bubble wrap or sacking.

Pests & Diseases

Figs are generally trouble free. Any chemicals should be used strictly as per the manufacturers instructions.

Further Information

For further information refer to RHS Growing Fruit by Harry Baker. Useful information can also be found on the RHS website.