With their lush, exotic-looking leathery foliage and succulent fruits, fig trees create a striking feature in the garden! Thriving in sunny, sheltered positions, figs will grow successfully in large containers or garden borders, with varieties bred to achieve heady heights or petite patio pot perfection.
Where is the best place to plant a fig tree?
Although figs thrive in the Mediterranean climate, they can happily grow in UK gardens as long as you pick a sheltered and sunny spot.
Growing a fan-trained fig tree against a wall will help produce the most fruits, as your plant will benefit from the heat of the wall during the night. Plus, you won’t need to stake your tree against winds.
How to plant a fig tree in the ground
Fig trees can be planted at any time of year when the ground isn’t frozen. Bearing in mind the mature height and spread of your fig tree, pick a sunny, sheltered spot in the garden and dig a planting hole about twice the size and depth of your plant’s nursery pot. Fig trees with restricted roots put more effort into fruit production, so line the planting hole with old paving slabs or rubble. Next, carefully remove your plant from its pot, place hold it in the planting hole and gently spread out the roots whilst refilling the hole and gently firming the soil around it. Make sure your tree is planted to the same depth it was in its nursery pot.
How to plant a fig tree in a container
Fill a 30cm wide pot with free-draining potting compost such as John Innes no. 3, place you fig tree in the centre and gently firm down the compost around it. Make sure your tree is planted at the same depth it was in its nursery pot. Leave a few centimetres at the top clear of compost to help with watering. Water well and place in a sunny and sheltered area.
How to care for fig trees
Spring – Remove any horticultural fleece and move any indoor plants back outside, Add a mulch of well-rotted compost or manure around your plants every year to keep the soil fertile and to suppress weeds. Pot-on container-grown plants every two or three years and top-dress any plants that are too large to move with fresh compost.
Summer – If grown in a container, your fig tree needs to be kept moist and will benefit from a weekly feed with tomato food as soon as the fruits start to form. You may also feed trees grown in the ground and remember to water them well during dry periods.
Autumn – Monitor container-grown plants for waterlogging and raise them up on feet if necessary. The fig fruits are ready to harvest during August and September each year. Ripe fruits begin to hand downwards and will feel soft.
Winter – Fig trees are hardy in most of the UK but their developing fruits are not. As the budding fruits are held on the plants throughout the coldest months, your plant will appreciate some protection in order to provide a bountiful harvest next summer:
- If your fig tree has been grown in a container that can be moved, it is advisable to move it to a shed or greenhouse before the first frosts, moving it outdoors again once all risk of frost has passed
- Larger plants and those grown in the ground should be wrapped in horticultural fleece or draped with a floating film crop cover.
When to prune a fig tree
Fig trees don’t have to be pruned but doing so each year will keep vigorous plants to a more manageable size and improve fruit production. Warning: the sap of figs is an irritant, so wear protective gloves! Prune your plant by removing dead branches in late winter, plus any undesirable and crossing branches. If you plant is becoming too large you can prune it back hard but this will lead to a loss of fruit the following summer.
What are the best fig trees to grow in the UK?
Best fig tree for a patio pot
Fig ‘Little Miss Figgy‘ is a naturally dwarf variety and a perfect patio fruit tree. Shortlisted for RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year 2021, this petite plant produces two crops per year on plants reaching 180cm tall and 120cm wide.
Best fig tree for a large container
‘Brown Turkey‘ is self-fertile and has been bred to perform in UK gardens. Available as bush or standard trees, this variety is excellent for growing in large containers where it’s mature growth (potentially 3 meters tall and 4 meters wide if unpruned) can be contained.
Best fig tree for a smaller garden
Fig ‘Dalmatie’ is one of the hardiest cultivars that’s highly productive and self fertile, offering some of the largest fruits with rich amber-coloured flesh and a fabulous flavour. With a neat and compact habit, plants reach 250cm tall and 200cm wide, making them the ideal choice for smaller gardens where space is at a premium.
Best fig tree for a large garden
Despite its modern look, fig ‘Panachee‘ is a traditional variety dating back to 1668 with very unusual striped green and yellow fruit. Reaching a mature height of 3 meters with a spread of 4 meters, this ‘Tiger Fig’ makes a dramatic feature in the garden – especially when fan trained against a wall.
Now you know how to grow fig trees!
We hope you find our guide to growing your own fig trees helpful. For more information, head over to our fruit tree hub page to find top tips on preventing disease, growing exotic fruit and much more. Share your images with us on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #YourTMGarden.