Of ancient culture, the fig tree is well known in Europe. Several growing techniques are used to create and maintain fields of fig trees. The time period, the planting method and the needed care are instructions to be strictly followed. Different treatments help to address potential threats to your plants. When rampant, the canker, ringworm and fly will be treated with preventive care, such as Bordeaux mixture. 

A very hardy fruit tree, the fig tree is found in warm regions, but can adapt well to temperate climates if specific growing methods are followed. In addition, it can grow on any type of soil and does not require much moisture.

How to grow a fig tree? 

To grow the fig tree, it is essential to have a good knowledge of its environment and requirements. In fact, the fig tree requires a lot of attention. Initially, the fig grows in clumps, meaning in groups of several closely spaced shrubs. But it is possible to obtain a single large fig tree by cutting the other young fragile stems. This pruning, called “in goblet shape,” will give a tree that has only one trunk. Should you choose the second option, you will need to remove, on a very regular basis, all other shoots growing nearby. Given that the fig tree’s healing process is very slow, it is advisable to wait until spring to eliminate other branches. Depending on the growing location, different varieties are available. If you are in the south, you are advised to make your choice among the following species: Alma, Magnolia, Green Ischia… These species are not very cold-resistant and can be planted from October to April. Be sure to thoroughly water them as they have huge water needs. Planted in the fall, they grow faster than those planted in the spring because of the dew that gives the soil extra weight. However, if you’re in the north, other fig varieties are advised. Your choice may be among the English Brown Turkey Fig, the Celeste or the Brunswick, as each of these species is very hardy. It is recommended to grow them in early spring.

Maintaining a fig tree 

Besides regular watering, it is important to provide the fig tree with protection from the wind. Regarding pruning, this tree’s care depends on the frequency at which it produces fruit. Figs that can bear two crops per year are only slightly pruned to air them out, as they carry flowers on almost all of their branches. Those that produce fruit only once a year can be more heavily pruned by removing lots of branches. Shape pruning conforms to aesthetic objectives. Regarding the clump, it is advised to maintain the shrubs to a manageable size by regular pruning. Care should be taken to cut the branches and shoots off in spring, as to have trunks that grow in clump harmoniously. To obtain a single fig tree, cut off the other trunks and regularly remove surrounding shoots.

Fighting off the fig tree’s enemies  

The ringworm, canker and fly are the fig tree’s most common ennemies. To protect your fig trees against canker, they must be treated with Bordeaux mixture, without losing much time to seal open wounds. Bactospeine-based products and insecticides bearing the mention “for garden use” are very effective against ringworm. To prevent fly invasion, treat fig trees with insecticides at least one month prior to maturity. Browning, yellowing and leaf drop are due either to lack or excess of water, spindrift burns, or mineral deficiency. Dead or diseased wood must be removed to prevent the trees from being overloaded.

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Published in Orchard by Alexander on 04 Jul 2011