How to Grow a Fig Tree: Care and Growing Tips

Common Name Fig 
Botanical Name Ficus carica
Family Moraceae
Plant Type  Tree, Fruit
Size 10-30 ft. tall, 20 ft. spread; Dwarf varieties grow 4-10 ft. tall
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Loamy, well-drained
Soil pH Acidic, neutral
Bloom Time Spring, summer
Hardiness Zones 7-11 (USDA)
Native Area Europe, Asia

How to Plant Fig Trees

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Figs are typically sold as either bare root trees or potted plants. Both types of trees are planted using a similar technique. However, if you’re transplanting a potted fig, you may need to tease apart or cut through circling roots before planting to encourage healthy growth.

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When to Plant

While indoor figs can be planted in pots at any time of the year, outdoor trees should be planted in early spring or late fall, when the trees are dormant and the ground is workable.

Selecting a Planting Site

Figs can tolerate partial shade, but they’ll grow and fruit better in full sun. When you’re ready to plant, select a spot that receives at least 6 hours of direct light daily and has rich, well-draining soil, and plenty of space for figs to spread out. Planting figs in a south-facing location can be particularly beneficial in cooler areas.

If you’re growing figs in pots, keep plants on a sunny patio or porch during summer, but move them indoors or into greenhouses before winter arrives. 

Spacing, Depth, and Support

To plant outdoor figs, dig a hole slightly wider and deeper than your tree’s root ball and amend the soil with some compost. Gently wiggle potted figs out of their nursery containers, taking care not to damage their roots. Bare root trees will usually need to soak in water for a few hours before planting.

Position the tree in the center of the planting hole. If you’re working with a bare root plant, heap soil into a low mound in the center of the hole to support the tree’s trunk. Then, evenly fan the roots out around the planting hole. Backfill the hole until it’s mostly filled, and then water well to help the soil settle in.

If you’re growing multiple fig trees together, full-sized figs should be spaced at least 20 feet from each other and buildings. Dwarf trees can be planted a bit closer together.

Fig Tree Care 

Young fig tree in container.

Brian North / Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images

Most fig trees take about 3 to 5 years to fruit, although potted figs may fruit earlier. Providing figs with the right balance of light, nutrients, and water during this time is essential if you want trees to remain healthy and produce a large harvest of future fruit!


Outdoor figs need 6 to 8 hours of direct light, while indoor figs can do well in sunny, south-facing windows. In low light homes, keep figs under a grow light for 8 to 12 hours a day.


Figs can tolerate a range of soils, but slightly acidic, well-draining, loamy soils with a pH of between 6.0 and 6.5 are ideal. Standard potting mixes will work for potted figs, while compost blended into planting holes can help outdoors figs thrive.


Water container-grown and young fig trees regularly with about 1 inch of water per week. Established, outdoor trees may not need any additional water beyond rainfall.

Temperature and Humidity

Figs grow best in zones 8 and up, although cold hardy figs can be grown outdoors in zones 6 and 7 with winter protection. In colder areas, figs should be cultivated as container plants and moved indoors or into greenhouses in winter.

Humidity is rarely an issue with these trees; however, indoor figs may benefit from the addition of a humidifier in homes with dry air.


Fig trees are not heavy feeders and inground plants are usually content with an annual application of compost or balanced fertilizer in spring. If you add compost to your planting hole when transplanting, you typically won’t need to apply fertilizer until the following spring.

Potted figs need more attention than inground plants and should be fertilized about once a month in spring and summer with a balanced fertilizer.


Some figs need insect pollinators, but common figs are self-fertile and self-pollinating plants that don’t need insect pollination or other fig trees to fruit.

Types of Fig Trees

Growers can find a variety of edible fig trees, but it’s important to choose figs that are well-suited for your growing location. Dwarf figs are best for container gardens, while cold hardy figs are more likely to thrive in chilly regions.

  • ‘Brown Turkey’: A versatile fig choice, ‘Brown Turkey’ can be grown in pots or inground gardens and it yields medium-sized, sweet fruits with reddish-brown skins.
  • ‘Celeste’: Relatively cold and heat tolerant, ‘Celeste’ is disease resistant, and produces ultra-sweet fruit with purple skins.
  • ‘Little Miss Figgy’: This dwarf fig only grows about 4 feet high, but it produces large harvests of medium-sized figs with excellent flavor.

Harvesting Figs

Varieties of Figs

Patrizia Savarese / Getty Images

Figs are harvested in late summer to early fall when the sweet and juicy fruit develops its mature color and starts to soften. A tell-tale sign that figs are ready to pick is when the ripening figs droop on their branches.

To harvest, grasp a ripe fig in one hand and the supporting tree branch in the other, and gently lift the fig away from the tree. Ripe figs should be easy to pick!

Figs don’t last long after harvesting and they can only be kept in the fridge for about 2 to 3 days. For longer storage, try canning, drying, or freezing.

Harvesting Tip

Wear gloves when harvesting figs to protect your hands from irritating fig sap, and take care not to damage fruit or tree branches when picking figs.

How to Grow Fig Trees in Pots

Potted and outdoor fig trees have similar care needs, although container-grown plants may need to be fertilized and watered more regularly. Mature trees need 15 to 20-gallon pots to grow, but younger plants can be kept in smaller containers.

Be sure to select a pot with plenty of drainage holes, use a well-draining potting mix, and position your fig in a spot that receives lots of bright light.


The Spruce / Kara Riley

Pruning is generally not needed for fig trees, although you may want to shape young figs by clipping away wayward branches. After that, simply prune away damaged, weak, or broken stems when the trees are dormant in winter and thin out excess fruit as needed to keep branches from breaking.

Propagating Fig Trees

Figs can be propagated in several ways, but the easiest options are layering and rooting stem cuttings.

Layering works best in warm areas where temperatures never dip below freezing. Simply anchor a low-growing fig branch to the ground with landscape staples so the base of the stem is buried in soil and at least 8 inch of stem and leaves are above the soil line. Allow the buried fig branch to develop roots, and then cut the branch from the parent plant.

If you live in a colder area or simply prefer to propagate fig trees from prunings or stem cuttings, here’s how to start:

  1. Using sharp pruners, cut several healthy, 8 to 12-inch stem cuttings from the parent fig in spring when figs are still dormant but the danger of frost has passed. Each cutting should be about as wide as your pinky finger and the stem ends should be cut on a slant near a leaf node.
  2. Add sealant to the cut stem end to prevent disease and dip the end of the cutting in rooting hormone.
  3. Fill a 6-inch pot with potting mix and plant four cuttings per pot with the cut stem ends buried several inches deep. Cover the pot with clear plastic to boost humidity.
  4. Move the cuttings into bright, indirect light and water only when the soil feels dry.
  5. Once the cuttings produce significant new growth, transplant them into large pots or outdoors into your garden if the weather is mild.


In warm areas, outdoor figs need little winter care; however, in cooler locations, you may want to wrap fig trees in burlap and protect their roots with mulch.

Container grown figs can be grown year-round indoors or in greenhouses, but they typically won’t fruit unless they’re subjected to a period of cold. For maximum fruiting, keep potted figs outdoors until a light frost arrives and the tree drops its leaves. Then move the bare fig tree into a cool, dark, and protected spot, such as a garage or basement, and water sparingly once a month until spring.

Common Pests and Plant Diseases

Protecting outdoor figs with fruit protection bags can prevent birds and other wildlife from nibbling on ripening fruit. Figs can sometimes develop diseases like fig leaf spot and rust, but minor pests like aphids, whiteflies, scale, and mealybugs are more common, especially in greenhouses.


  • Figs can be easy to grow as long as you provide them with the right balance of light, water, and nutrients. Growers in cold climates will have better luck by growing figs in containers and moving them indoors in winter.

  • Fig trees typically take between 3 to 5 years to fruit, although potted plants can be harvested a bit earlier.

  • Yes. Fig trees can be grown from seed, but it is a more difficult process than stem propagation and layering and it produces trees that may not have the same characteristics as the parent plant.

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