The best way to Plant, Develop, and Care For Fig Timber

I love to pick and eat figs straight from my tree, and I am pleasantly surprised at how easy they are to grow. Figs embody a sweet, delicate taste of summer. These delicious fruits are native to the Mediterranean and central Asia and hardy in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 7 through 10. These small to medium-sized trees thrive in hot summers and tolerate mild to moderate winter weather. 

The common fig (Ficus carica), also known as the edible fig, is a member of the mulberry family (Moraceae). You can incorporate these attractive trees into your edible landscape or use one as a small accent tree in a sunny landscape. Mature trees are capable of producing hundreds of tasty fruits each summer. Enjoy them fresh or dried. Make them last longer by freezing or preserving them. If you love to eat figs, you will love to grow your own!

These trees are low maintenance and easy to grow in your home landscape. You may be quite surprised to discover how many different varieties of figs you can choose from. With dozens of interesting cultivars available, it may be hard to choose one!

Keep reading to learn more about the fabulous fig tree and how you can grow your own sweetly delicious, delicate fruits.


A lush fig tree stands prominently in the foreground, its branches stretching gracefully towards the sky. In the backdrop, orderly rows of various trees blend harmoniously into the landscape, adding depth and texture to the scene.

The fig tree belongs to the Moraceae family and blooms in spring with green flowers.

USDA Hardiness Zone

7 – 10

Soil Type

Rich, Well-drained

Watering Requirements


Suggested Uses

Edible landscape, container garden, wildlife habitat


Rust, leaf spot, fermented fruits, aphids, spider mites, mealybugs, root-knot nematodes,

Natural History

A close-up of vibrant foliage and fruits, illuminated by the sun's golden rays. The figs showcase a striking blend of green and purple hues, enticing with their juicy ripeness under the warm daylight.Fig trees are native to several regions, including Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

Edible figs are native to central and southeastern Europe, the Middle East, and western Asia. In their natural habitat, they can become quite large, reaching 30 feet or more, and grow in a variety of sunny habitats. 

This is one of the earliest cultivated fruit trees and has been grown as a human food source for centuries. Over this time, breeders have produced many interesting fig cultivars with slight variations in fruit characteristics, tree size, and cold hardiness.


A compact tree with lush green foliage basking in the warm sunlight, its branches stretching outward gracefully. Behind it, a rustic brown stone wall provides a timeless backdrop, enhancing the natural beauty of the scene.They have a small to medium-sized stature and deeply lobed leaves.

Fig trees are small to medium-sized trees or large shrubs. They have a rounded, many-branched form. The leaves are broad and deeply lobed, with a somewhat rough feeling from the tiny stiff hairs that cover each leaf. 

When broken, the leaves and stems exude a sticky, white latex material that can cause contact dermatitis and skin irritation in sensitive people. Wash exposed skin after handling raw figs and their white, sticky sap. To avoid getting the sap on your skin, wear gloves and long sleeves when harvesting fruits and otherwise working with these trees. 

Blooms appear in the spring, although you won’t see anything that looks like a flower. The flowering parts are actually inverted, appearing instead as small, firm, green fruits. Wild figs are internally pollinated by a fig wasp, but most cultivated figs do not need a pollinator because they are self-fertile. The fruit then develops as these inverted fruit-like flowers grow into the sweet and tasty fruits that we eat. 

Many varieties produce two crops. The first is known as a “breba” crop because it is brief and light, sometimes with just a few figs, sometimes with a few handfuls of fruits. The subsequent second crop is the main crop of fruits and this crop can be quite large. Fig fruits range in size from about one to three inches across.


If you already have access to a mature fig tree, the easiest way to propagate it is by taking stem cuttings. 

Stem Cuttings

A black seedling tray displays stem cuttings of a fig tree, each adorned with leaves, promising growth. Resting on rich brown soil, the tray symbolizes the beginning of a journey towards lush foliage and fruitful harvests.Take 8 to 10-inch cuttings from mature trees in late winter.

In late winter, take an 8 to 10-inch cutting from a mature fig tree. Not all cuttings will root successfully, so you might want to take a few stem cuttings at the same time, even if you ultimately just want one. Set the stem cuttings approximately ⅔ deep, with one healthy bud above the soil surface.

Use a large pot filled with high-quality, well-drained soil, and keep the soil moist until your cuttings root and start to grow new leaves. If successful, your cuttings should grow quickly through the summer and be ready to transplant into a permanent location by fall.


White pots hold young fig saplings with deeply lobed leaves. The sunlight highlights the intricate patterns on the foliage, casting a warm glow over the greenery, creating a serene and nurturing environment for growth.Prepare the fig tree planting site by digging a hole larger than the root mass.

If you bought a tree from a nursery, you probably have a small, potted fig tree. If you purchased online, you probably have a bare-root tree. You know your tree needs plenty of space, sunlight, and rich, moist, well-drained soil. So, the first thing to do is prepare the site where you want to plant it. 

Prepare a hole a few inches larger than the root mass of your plant. Carefully remove your plant from its pot and spread the roots into the hole. Refill the hole around the plant with high-quality soil. Then, immediately water the soil all around the plant, allowing the soil to settle and thoroughly moisten the roots, not just the top layer of soil. Keep your fig well watered for the first few weeks to help ensure that it starts growing well in its new location.

How to Grow

As long as you live in a favorably warm climate, fig trees are remarkably easy to grow in a sunny location. They prefer nutrient-rich soil that is moist yet well-drained. An established tree is easy to care for and produces an amazing amount of fruit each year.


A young fig sapling displays its potential as it stretches skyward, adorned with deeply lobed leaves. In the blurred backdrop, a diverse array of trees hints at the rich ecosystem where the sapling takes root and grows.Optimal sunlight exposure is essential for compact growth.

Fig trees require full sun with at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day. Those grown in light shade (four to six hours of sunlight) will still grow well but won’t be as compact or produce as many fruits as trees growing in full sun.


Water droplets cascade delicately onto the lush, green leaves, reflecting the vibrant sunlight. Each droplet forms a tiny, sparkling jewel, adorning the foliage with a mesmerizing display of nature's elegance and beauty.Maintain soil moisture during dry spells.

Fig trees like moist soil. They will be somewhat drought tolerant after they are well established, but in their early years, give them some extra watering to help keep the soil moist during dry spells. 


Two hands tenderly cup brown soil, fingers gently caressing its texture, fostering growth. In the backdrop, blurred earth extends, hinting at the nurturing environment awaiting seeds' embrace and the promise of flourishing life.Rich soil high in organic matter benefits figs by providing nutrients.

Figs benefit from rich soil that’s high in organic matter. The organic matter not only adds nutrients but also helps hold soil moisture. Soil pH should be neutral to slightly acidic. 

Climate and Temperature

A fig tree stands gracefully, adorned with lush leaves, creating a verdant canopy. Its slender branches reach out delicately, while its leaves boast deep lobes, adding texture and character to the tree's natural beauty.Edible fig varieties generally thrive in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 7 – 9.

All edible fig varieties should perform well in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 7 – 9 although there are a few fig cultivars that exhibit wider temperature tolerance, including cold hardiness in zone 6 or summers in zone 10. 


A close-up of a fig tree reveals its intricate veiny and deeply lobed leaves, while red-violet and green fruits hang from its branches. The warm glow of the sun gently bathes the tree, enhancing its natural beauty. Fertilize annually with a balanced fertilizer to ensure optimal growth.

If you have naturally fertile soil, your tree should grow well without supplemental fertilizer. Your tree will appreciate some added soil nutrients if it is growing in average or low-fertility soil. If needed, fertilize annually with a balanced fertilizer, and be sure to follow the application directions on the product you are using.


A compact fig tree featuring vibrant, lush leaves, creating a verdant canopy. The glossy foliage glistens as it captures and reflects the warm sunlight, adding a radiant glow to the garden scenery.Maintenance involves harvesting fruits and occasional pruning.

Figs are medium-maintenance trees. One of the most enjoyable things about maintaining your fig tree is harvesting the fruits. It will perform perfectly well without any extra pruning, although there are times when pruning is desired.

Prune your trees to remove any dead and diseased branches, and prune to maintain desired size and shape. Add mulch around the base of your tree to help preserve the soil moisture, enrich the soil, and keep weeds at bay.

Garden Design

A young fig sapling flourishes, its tender leaves reaching for sunlight, promising future fruit. Among its companions, an array of verdant and earthy tones mingle, forming a lively ecosystem around the burgeoning fig tree.Planting requires ample space and sunlight due to its sprawling growth.

No matter how you want to incorporate a fig tree into your landscape, you’ll need to find a full-sun location with plenty of space around it. Large fig trees tend to have a well-rounded and somewhat sprawling appearance, and you will want plenty of space to walk around your tree when you’re harvesting fruits.

These trees also develop a broad, shallow root system, so don’t plant them too close to a house or other structure where the roots can cause interference.

A fig tree is an ideal choice for your edible landscape. You can easily grow it (mid-summer harvest) in the same landscape as other edible shrubs, such as blueberries (early summer harvest) or persimmons (fall harvest), for a long season of delicious, home-grown fruits.

Are you short on space? Grow a fig tree in a container! This is a fabulous way to grow an entire fruit tree in a very small space and still get plenty of fresh, local, home-grown fruits. All you need is a large container with good drainage holes, high-quality potting soil, and a sunny location. If you are in a cooler climate, container-grown figs can be brought inside to a cool location for the winter and replaced outside the following spring. Some smaller cultivars are ideal for containers.


There are a vast number of fig cultivars available in the nursery trade. Different varieties will display fruits with varying sizes, colors, and flavors. Choose larger varieties to fill larger spaces and smaller varieties for more limited areas and container gardens. 

Brown Turkey, Ficus carica ‘Brown Turkey’

A purple 'Brown Turkey' fig fruit hangs delicately from a branch, showcasing its ripeness and luscious texture. Surrounding the fig are green leaves, adding a touch of freshness to the scene. ‘Brown Turkey’ is a popular and easy-to-grow cultivar.

The ‘Brown Turkey’ fig is a very popular cultivar bred to be hardy and easy to grow. This large, bushy plant can grow 20 to 30 feet tall and equally as wide. You can prune your fig tree, however, to help maintain a more attractive and manageable size. ‘Brown Turkey’ figs are large and relatively firm, making a wonderfully easy-to-eat snack. 

‘Chicago Hardy,’ Ficus carica ‘Chicago Hardy’ 

A close-up of a green 'Chicago Hardy' fig fruit, accompanied by veiny leaves. Sunlight cascades over the fruit and foliage, casting a radiant glow, enhancing their natural beauty and inviting allure.The ‘Chicago Hardy’ fig features dark purple fruits with dark red flesh.

The ‘Chicago Hardy’ fig is best known for being more cold-tolerant than many other figs. If offered some heavy winter mulching, it can overwinter as low as Zone 5. If growing in a container in a cooler climate, bring in your ‘Chicago Hardy’ for the winter to give it extra protection from the cold. The dark purple fruits have attractive dark red flesh.

‘Celeste,’ Ficus carica ‘Celeste’

A close-up of two figs from a 'Celeste' tree hang, one purple and the other green, against a backdrop of leaves. Their rich hues stand out against the blurred greenery, creating a picturesque scene of ripening fruit.A cold-tolerant fig cultivar known as ‘Celeste’ produces small, exceptionally sweet fruits.

‘Celeste’ is a widely available cultivar that produces an abundance of small fruits. These fruits are exceptionally sweet, with a purplish-green skin and light pink flesh. ‘Celeste’ is cold-tolerant down to Zone 6 and makes a handsome tree for any landscape. 

‘Brooklyn White,’ Ficus carica ‘Brooklyn White’

A 'Brooklyn White' fig tree in close-up, revealing green fruits nestled amidst lush foliage, promising a bountiful harvest. Bathed in sunlight, the delicate figs gleam, hinting at the sweetness waiting to be savored.This is a cold-hardy variety with green skin and amber-yellow flesh.

The ‘Brooklyn White’ fig is another fairly cold-hardy variety, at least down to Zone 7. This green-skinned fig has amber-yellow flesh and ripens in late summer. ‘Brooklyn White’ produces two crops of delicious fruits, one light crop early in the season and a heavier, more prolific main crop later in the season. The fruit flavor is said to resemble strawberries.

‘Little Miss Figgy,’ Ficus carica ‘Little Miss Figgy’

A close-up of ripe red-violet figs dangle gracefully from slender branches, showcasing their luscious hue against a backdrop of green foliage. The vibrant fruits nestle amidst a lush gathering of leaves, creating a picturesque scene of nature's bounty.This variety is an ideal choice for container gardening due to its small size.

‘Little Miss Figgy’ is one of the smallest varieties, growing to only six feet tall. This tiny tree can still produce a super-abundance of fruits for its size. The fruits are fairly firm, with a reddish-brown skin and dark red flesh. If you want to grow a fig tree in a container, this little fruit tree is an ideal choice. 

Wildlife Value

A fig tree stretches upwards, its lush canopy of green leaves casting shade below. The tree stands amidst a diverse forest, surrounded by companions of various shapes and sizes, creating a harmonious woodland tapestry.Figs attract various local animals that wait for ripe fruits before consuming them.

People aren’t the only ones who like to eat figs! If you grow a fig tree, you will be sharing your crop with the local fruit-eating birds and probably a few mammals as well.

Most animals will wait for the fruits to start to ripen before digging in for their share of the bounty. Deer and rabbits won’t eat the leaves, but deer may occasionally take a bite of fruit, though it doesn’t seem to be a favorite food for deer. 

Common Problems

Figs are typically very trouble-free plants to grow. The biggest challenge you might face is that, if you don’t harvest all the fruits promptly, these trees can get a bit messy. Even if you can’t eat all the fruits at once, it’s best to go ahead and harvest all ripe fruits because they ripen quickly and soon ferment, attracting insects and falling to the ground. 


A close-up of a lobed fig leaf reveals intricate vein patterns and a textured surface. Rust spots dot its edges, hinting at the passage of time and the leaf's exposure to the elements. A fungal infection called rust causes rusty-colored spots on leaves.

Rust is a fungal infection that affects the leaves, primarily in late summer or early fall. The leaves will develop rusty-colored spots on the undersides and eventually turn brown and fall prematurely from the tree.

If your tree shows signs of rust, remove and dispose of fallen leaves and severely infected leaves to help prevent further spread. Rust is typically not fatal, but repeated exposure can weaken plants.

Leaf Spot

A close-up of a leaf exhibits distinctive leaf spots, appearing as dark blemishes across its surface. The blurred background offers a lush glimpse of surrounding greenery, enhancing the leaf's intricate details and natural context.This disease manifests as dry yellow and brown spots on trees.

Leaf spot is a fairly common occurrence but generally won’t kill your trees. Leaf spots may be caused by either a bacterial or fungal infection.

You may notice dry yellow and brown spots on your trees, and severely infected leaves will die and fall off. Most leaf spot diseases won’t kill your plants, but you can help prevent further spread by removing and destroying infected leaves.


A close-up of soil-covered roots, intricately intertwined, revealing a network of life underground. The roots show signs of distress, plagued by the presence of nematodes, indicating a struggle for survival beneath the surface.Avoid replanting figs in the same location if infected by nematodes.

Root-knot nematodes are one of the most problematic diseases. The nematodes will weaken the roots and eventually kill the tree. Root-knot nematodes can be identified by digging up some smaller roots of your tree and examining them closely.

If infected with these nematodes, you will see that the roots have patches that are bulging and galling rather than uniformly thin roots. If you have had root-knot nematodes at one site in your yard, do not attempt to plant another fig tree in the same location. You can treat areas that have been infested in temperate seasons with beneficial nematodes.

Fruit Fermentation

A woven basket, filled with ripe purple figs, sits elegantly atop a wooden table, showcasing nature's bounty. Scattered around it are more figs, creating a colorful display against a backdrop of blurred, lush green foliage.Leaving fig fruits on the tree past peak ripeness leads to fermentation.

Any fig fruits left on the tree past peak ripeness will quickly begin to ferment. Fruit fermentation, also known as fruit souring, will cause any overripe fruits to smell and taste unpleasantly fermented.

The best way to prevent fermentation and souring is to pick all the fruits as soon as they are ripe, even if you can’t eat them all at once. Fermented fruits will also attract many undesirable insects to your trees.

Insect Pests

A colony of aphids clusters on the underside of a leaf. Try removing aphids with a direct blast of water from the hose.

You may also find aphids, spider mites, and mealybugs on your tree. Most of the time, these pests can be removed with an occasional blast of water from a hose. However, if you find they aren’t removed after a couple of water blasts, you can use neem at dawn or dusk to treat them. A light misting is all you need.

Frequently Asked Questions

Many fruit varieties require cross-pollination to set fruits, but figs do not. Most fig species and cultivars are self-fertile and will produce plenty of tasty fruits as a single tree. You can, of course, grow two trees and enjoy twice as many fruits.

Figs are perfectly delicious when eaten fresh from the tree, but there’s a limit to how many figs a person can eat all at once. Fresh-picked figs will store well in the fruit drawer of a refrigerator for a few days. If you have a food dehydrator, dried figs that are stored in an airtight container will last for several months. Store some figs in your freezer and use them to make smoothies. For a zesty-sweet treat, make a batch of fig pickles. For sweet summer preserves, make a batch of whole canned figs or fig jam. If you still have more figs than you can eat, offer them to your friends and neighbors!

There are a few fruit-eating birds that will hang out in your tree and sample the fruits. Fortunately, fig trees are incredibly productive and you will still have enough for you and the birds. You can try to deter the birds by hanging reflective ribbons or pie plates on the branches. As these shiny objects twirl and move in the breeze, they may be useful to help keep some of the hungry wildlife away.

Final Thoughts

Anyone who loves figs should consider whether planting a fig tree is an option for their landscape. If you can grow a fig tree in your yard, you will be richly rewarded with an abundance of these tasty little fruits.

These productive trees have a long history of human cultivation, and for good reason. They are easy to grow, require minimal maintenance, and produce large quantities of sweet and juicy fruits. What’s not to like about that?

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