Growing Backyard Figs

Growing your own figs is an easy way to start into home fruit production. Add these simple tips to an easy-to-grow crop and you're setup for success.

Grow Your Own

Growing figs in your backyard has lots of benefits. Of course, the fresh figs themselves are first and foremost. It’s nearly impossible to buy fresh figs in some areas of the country, so growing your own may be the only way to get them. Then there’s all of the recipes in which not only the figs, but also the fig leaves can be used. Plus, figs grow well in difficult places (hot and dry in particular) providing a bit of shade and an attraction for wildlife. Although I’ve cultivated¬†and sold fig trees for more than ten years, I don’t claim to be an expert in producing figs. I do, however, have some experience growing them.

Growing your own figs is an easy way to start into home fruit production. Add these simple tips to an easy-to-grow crop and you're setup for success.


The first fig tree I purchased, I had to transplant from one area of the yard to another after a year’s growth. It promptly died. Then it re-sprouted from the roots and grew well but did not produce fruit. Then it died again due to an extra cold winter, and re-sprouted; this time fruiting quite well but very late. Then a late freeze killed it again and it grew back without fruiting until the second year which was a fairly nice harvest. This spring, ambrosia beetles killed it as it was attempting to emerge; and it re-sprouted from the roots again. Now it is taller and fuller than it has ever been and is threatening to produce a decent late crop of figs. Over the years I’ve learned a lot, and still have a ways to go.

Lessons Learned

The repeated cold damage is a reminder that figs are not truly hardy for my zone 7 yard. They are particularly sensitive to early and late freezes during the transition into and out of dormancy. Though they have shown an amazing ability to bounce back from the damage, cold protection, such as wrapping the trunks, is in order during these difficult times.

Here are a few things to consider when growing figs:

  • Cold sensitivity means that new fig trees should be planted in late spring to allow time during the long hot summer for them to establish a deep root system before winter. This breaks one of the cardinal rules of southern landscaping, where the generally accepted practice is to plant trees and shrubs in fall.
  • The nearly indestructible fig has a few pest problems that growers should be aware of as well. Ambrosia beetles are preventable by minimizing stress (cold protection, irrigation during drought, etc) and using pyrethrum as a preventative when they are active. Birds can devour figs as quickly as they ripen, but can be stopped by covering the plant with bird netting. Ants, wasps and hornets love the ripe fruit as well, and losses may be avoided to a large extent by frequent harvesting.
  • Figs require little pruning, although some training is helpful early on to ensure a strong branch structure. Tip pruning may be helpful in controlling rampant shoots, simply cut them back by 25-30% of the previous season’s new growth. Prune as needed in late winter or early spring before the leaves emerge.
  • Propagation is easily done at pruning time. Six or ten inch sections of branch tip may be placed in a starter bed to root out for a year, then transplanted to a permanent site the following spring. Also side shoots, or suckers, when removed may be used to start new plants. Mound layering is also an effective way to create rooted shoots for eventual removal and transplant.
  • If you are in a climate colder than zone 7, consider growing a fig bush in a container. ‘Celeste’ is reputed as the most cold hardy variety, and features a petite growth habit; making it a great choice for the north.

Growing your own figs is an easy way to start into home fruit production. Add these simple tips to an easy-to-grow crop and you're setup for success.

Figs are a great place to start into home fruit production. They are productive, resilient, and extremely rewarding.

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22 thoughts on “Growing Backyard Figs

  1. I live in Southern California. I bought a dwarf Brown Fig and I have had it planted for 4 yrs. but the thing is when the fruit does come on I get only the size of my thumb or a little larger. I water it about once a week and fertilize it once every three months. What am I doing wrong. I thought I would get larger fruit.

  2. I live in New Zealand and have a 3 year old fig tree in my garden. I was having trouble with the fruit ripening and someone suggested I cover the root system with black weed mat as it would warm the roots. Half of my figs have ripened so I assume this helped. Next I have to try pruning it as it is getting a bit too large for the place I have planted it

  3. I have a 20″ fig tree waiting to be planted out. I was hoping to plant in half wine barrel container. Can that be a successful growing condition?

  4. I live in central Florida… my fig bush is weird looking!!! Has a really weird bark and barely puts out leaves.. and very little fruit… I’d like to send you a picture… is there a website I can send it to???
    This is my email:
    we moved here a few years ago and just bought this house… with the fig tree…
    I’ve had fig trees all my life and just eat off the tree… but this is one I don’t know what to do with!!!
    Please help!!!!

  5. Hi I have a fig tree and it has fruit but the fruit never grow. What why the tree have a lot of small fruit but never grow. Please help. I live in Puerto Rico in the coast area

  6. Hi there,
    I bought a fig tree and transplanted to my back yard and still the same not growing for almost 4 years now ,,,,I DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO…help please

    1. Kamal,
      My first fig, after initial planting, was then moved to a different location a year later. Then it grew very little for several years. At one point I considered removing it. Then I was “gifted” a truckload of hardwood wood chips from a tree removal service that had been working in my area. After letting the pile age for about six months I used it to mulch many of my garden shrubs, the fig tree included. That same year the tree more than doubled in size. My suggestion here is twofold: first, use a liberal amount of organic mulch around the tree; and second, maintain consistently moist soil. The wood chips I used helped to increase the soil water-holding capacity and gradually composted to add trace organic elements to the soil, both of which had been somewhat neglected previously. Good luck and thank you for visiting!

    2. You need to fertilize it or feed it. Mine never produced until I did

      1. I have had a tree for over 20 years. It grows huge each year, dies down overwinter and regrows from roots in the Spring, beautiful Bush, but never any fruit. Any suggestions?

  7. Help! I have a small fig plant that once was hurt by freezing and had to be cut back. It is putting out leaves but no figs. What can I do to encourage growth and fruit?

    1. Jeanne,
      I have found that a late freeze as the tree is waking up can cause it to fruit later than normal. Treat it as normal and you should see some fruit later in the season. Best of luck!

  8. Growing up, we lived in Detroit, MI. Mom bent the tree over far as it would go, covered with blankets, then a tarp. We always had figs! If you get a lot of wind, plant it so it will have a wind breaker. Coffee grounds around the base.

  9. Hi, thanks for a graet homepage!
    I live in Denmark and I have bougth a special danish fig tree (40cm high), which thrives in this climate, and it’s supposed to grow about 3-4m high. My problem is, I just don’t know if it is ok to plant it where I first intended! It is in the most sunny spot in my garden – but it is up against my house wall.. Is that ok? Or will the roots take over? The soil is mixed with sand, and there is a heavy stone patio around the spot. The house is 15cm above the ground, so there is no “hard wall”, that can stop the roots from growing in under the house.
    I also would like to know, which plants/groundcover I can plant around it. The bed is about 60cm deep and 2m wide, so there will be alot of weeds, if I don’t plant other things aswell.

    Have a great fall!
    Regards Louise

    1. Hi, Louise.
      Thanks for checking out our blog! In our mild climate (34 degrees North latitude), figs grow and produce well in a half day of direct sunlight. They are often planted in dappled sunshine under mature hardwood and pine trees, where they seem to thrive. I would give it a go in your sunny spot.

      I have not found the roots to be invasive. Figs benefit from a 8-10 cm layer of mulch over the root zone. I keep a supply of well aged woodchips on hand to topdress the mulch on my figs and other fruits periodically. Mulch insulates from temperature fluctuation, holds moisture and reduces weed competition. I am not a proponent of using ground cover plants to reduce weeds. I have found that weeds invade the ground cover making it more difficult to keep clean than plain mulch. If you feel differently, maybe try herbs like thyme and oregano, or annual flowers like marigold or geranium.

      Have fun!

  10. Do you think I could take cuttings from a mature tree on our property? In the two years as resident I have yet to see a real fig grow to maturity!

    1. Yes, Brenda, you should have no problem taking a cutting of a mature fig. Winter is the typical time of year to do so. Click here for instructions. Thanks for visiting!

  11. Our fig tree has been producing figs in the fall and then the fruit not ripening. We live in central Florida. Any thoughts about how to get our tree back on the right schedule?

    1. Hi, Sandi!
      When figs refuse to ripen, it is due to stress of some kind. Most commonly lack of water or depleted nutrients. Counter these by irrigating the tree during dry weather (an inch of water per week over the entire root zone if it grows in the ground), and fertilizing regularly (apply a liberal layer of compost annually, or if you use a packaged fertilizer follow the instructions on the package). I have also had late fruit set after a particularly harsh winter and just this year we experienced ambrosia beetle damage which killed many stems and delayed fruiting. In these cases, we have to hope the figs ripen before fall weather arrives or they will simply hang on and shrivel up over winter.

      Just curious, do you ever prune your fig tree?

      1. I live in Canada, and are frightened to prune, but will have to do something about it as it is so high and spindly now. It produces an amazing amount of figs though, but hard to reach.

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