Figs

Figs are a delicious treat that thrive in warm climates but can also be grown in more temperate regions with a bit of extra care. Here’s how to grow a fig tree in your garden!

With an age-old reputation as a sustaining and nourishing food, figs are friendly to the digestive system in either fresh or dried form. Dried figs are a rich source of fibre, iron, potassium and calcium, making them a useful food for people with high blood pressure. Weight for weight, a fig contains more fibre than most other fruits or vegetables, so they’re great for your bowels and your cholesterol levels. They’re also high in polyphenol antioxidants, which can make them a valuable food for cancer prevention. The instant energy they provide and their ability to prevent cramps make them ideal for athletes, too.

Eaten raw, whole, but sometimes peeled. Excellent for marmalade, jam, various desserts, biscuits, pies, cakes etc. Figs can also be used in savoury dishes.

Established fig trees should bear 180-360 fruits per year, to give 6-12kg per tree (sometimes more)

Growing

Although figs can tolerate dry conditions they need plenty of water during the growing season to produce large succulent fruit. Plant your tree in full sun, preferably on warmer North to North-East facing slopes. Trees will need shelter to prevent wind damage to the lush canopy and fruit. The fruit dislikes rain and may split. Figs generally grow in warm, relatively dry climates. Trees may require a small amount of winter chilling (cool temperatures during winter) to ensure good flowering in spring

Soil

Figs will not tolerate waterlogged soils for more than a few hours. They should be planted in well-aerated and well-drained soils. Fig trees are very vigorous and perform extremely well in deep soils. Heavy clay soils are ideal for figs as these do not stimulate too much growth. Adequate water is needed during fruit and foliage development in spring and early summer.

Planting

Figs have been an underrated fruit in New Zealand in recent times and yet they fit well into the modern garden, especially if they are grown in containers where a very restricted root zone makes them more manageable and fruitful. Container culture tends to shorten the internodes (stem length between leaves) and therefore maximize fruit production.

Pruning

Fig trees can grow quite large and will need pruning to prevent shading of fruit, which delays ripening. Limiting the tree size will also ensure that fruit are easy to harvest. If grown in containers keep the plant pruned at manageable size

To produce high quality fruit, fig trees need to be well maintained and cared for after planting. By nature the root systems are very inquisitive so be conscious of the proximity of plumbing and services if planting them in the ground.