A fig tree is an ideal plant for growing indoors as they are such a versatile plant and a good choice for beginners.
Whether you live in a northern or southern climate a fig tree will do just fine and the climate in your house will be perfect for them.
If you have a south-facing window in your apartment or a sunny conservatory on your house your fig tree will thrive.
Fig trees will thrive even if you don’t have much direct sunlight as all they need is 6-8 hours of light daily and they will grow just fine.
Figs are one of the simplest plants for indoor gardens and that’s why I’ve written this complete guide on how to grow a fig tree indoors.
To grow a fig tree indoors use a 5-gallon container and position it somewhere that gets at least 6 hours light, the more light the more fruit it will produce. Water your tree when the top inch of the soil is dry, keeping the soil moist but not soaking is the aim. Use a slow release granular fertilizer.
What variety of fig tree is best for growing indoors?
There are many varieties of fig trees that are suitable for growing indoors.
If you want to eat figs make sure you choose a variety that bears fruit and not one of the many ornamental varieties.
Fig trees are good for decoration in relatively low light rooms and have the bonus of producing fruit.
An outdoor fig tree can grow to over 18 feet tall however, this can be controlled for indoor trees by careful pruning or even simply keeping it in a small pot that will restrict the size it grows to.
The most common fig tree grown indoors is the Negro Largo, other varieties you could look at would be the Petit Negri, Violet De Bordeaux, Black Jack, Osborn Prolific or a dwarf variety like the Little Ruby or any one of the many small fig tree varieties that are suitable for growing indoors.
Should I grow a Fig Tree from seed, cutting or buy a young tree?
If you grow a fig tree from a seed the disadvantage is you cannot tell whether it will turn out to be a male that produces un-edible fruit or a female that produces edible fruit, also it can take between 2-6 years for a fig tree to be mature enough to produce fruits.
Many people choose to grow fig trees from a cutting from a mature female tree, the advantage of this is you know it will grow into a female tree that produces delicious fruit, however, it may still take years for your tree to bear fruit.
If you decide to buy a young tree the advantage is that it will be close to or already mature enough to produce fruit.
How to germinate fig seeds
To grow a fig tree from seed you should put your seeds that you have gathered from a fig in a bowl of water for 2 days. The seeds that are viable for growing will sink to the bottom and the seeds that are barren will float to the top.
Put the viable seeds in a container (i use a plastic takeaway container) with a lid that is half full of soil and sprinkle a thin layer about ¼ of an inch on top of them and give them a good soaking.
Leave them somewhere warm that receives daylight until they sprout which can take up to a month. When the roots are about an inch long it’s time to transfer them to a pot.
How to grow a fig tree from a cutting
To grow a fig from a cutting you should first take some cuttings from a female fig tree.
When you are taking cuttings you have to remember which end of the twig would be in the ground and which end will grow up.
To do this I cut straight across the top end that will eventually start to grow and I cut the bottom end that will go into the ground into a point.
I use the fig tree cuttings in water method as it is the simplest and most successful method I have used for rooting new fig trees.
You need a sealable plastic bag, half fill up the bag with water so that the bottom half of the twigs will be covered.
Put the twigs in the bag and stand them somewhere warm that gets daylight, you want to leave the bag slightly open at a corner so that some air gets in.
If you’re lucky after 2 or 3 weeks roots should start to grow, when the roots are about half an inch long that’s when I transfer them into a pot with soil.
What sort of pot should I use for a fig tree?
The advantage of planting a fig tree in a pot is that it helps your fig tree put its energy into fruit production.
This is because the roots will be quick enough to fill up the pot and when that happens all the energy goes into the tree producing fruit instead of root growth.
I choose a 5-gallon pot that is about 18 inches in diameter with drainage holes in the bottom and this size of pot will mean your fig tree will grow to about 5 or 6 feet tall if you prune it properly, which is about the biggest I want my tree to grow in my apartment.
What’s the best soil for fig trees in pots?
The best soil for planting a fig tree in a pot would be an organic potting mix, never use soil from your garden as it will probably be too dense and not suitable for growing a potted tree in.
If you choose to make your own potting mix you should mix it so that is loamy, contains lots of well-rotted manure or compost and provides good drainage.
One organic mix you could use would be 1 part sand, 1 part peat moss and 1 part ground bark and then put a layer of compost across the top once your fig tree is planted in the pot.
How much light does a fig Tree require?
A fig tree grown indoors will require at least 6 hours of bright indirect light each day. Plants require light just the same as humans require oxygen.
If your fig tree doesn’t get enough light you will notice the effects of yellowing of leaves, brown spots and leaf drop.
Simply position your fig tree at a window and that should be good enough to get it the required light and if you have a south-facing window or conservatory that would be perfect.
If you fear your tree won’t get enough light you can always top it up with an LED grow light, I’d recommend putting it on a timer.
The more light your fig tree receives the more fruit it will likely produce.
You may only want to use an LED light during the winter months if you don’t get that much bright light in your area during the winter months. You should check out my full articles on cheap Led grow lights that work and the best Led grow light strips.
How often should I water my potted fig tree?
A lot of this depends on your local climate, if you live in a hot climate you will have to water it more often (possibly daily) than if you live in a cooler climate.
If your fig tree is not getting the correct amount of water, either too much or not enough, the leaves will turn yellow and drop off, also it will produce less fruit.
To check if your fig tree requires watering stick your finger into the soil and if the top inch is dry then it needs to be watered.
Give your tree a good soaking until the water begins to drain out the bottom of the pot then leave it to dry out again.
The idea is to keep the soil damp but not permanently soaking.
What sort of climate is best for indoor fig trees?
There are so many different varieties of fig tree that there is one suitable to practically every climate, make sure you choose a variety that is suited to your local climate.
A fig tree will thrive if you have a minimum temperature of 50-54 degrees Fahrenheit (10-12C) that is why it is suited to growing indoors as most households don’t drop below this temperature.
Fig trees originate in humid climates so you should give the leaves a regular misting with water to keep it humid, especially during the hot summer months.
What is the best fertilizer for fig trees in a pot?
The best fertilizer to use for an indoor fig tree would be either a liquid fertilizer or a slow release granular organic fertilizer.
Make sure you do not overfeed your fig tree because that will result in excessive leaf growth and that will take the energy away from fruit production.
I normally use a slow release granular fertilizer and apply it once in the spring just when growth starts to happen and again in the middle of the summer.
When the figs have grown on your tree do not use any more fertilizer simply allow your figs to ripen.
How to prune an indoor fig tree in a pot
You should prune your fig tree at any time during the dormant phase when it has stopped growing for the season.
I normally cut the stem at the top as I don’t want my indoor fig tree to grow into an 18-foot tree.
Cut off any old wooden branches as they produce less fruit compared to fresh growth and cutting off the old wooden branches encourages fresh growth.
I only leave 3 or 4 branches that are the main branches on my tree and remove any suckers that are growing out of the soil.
How to pollinate an indoor fig tree?
In the wild fig trees rely on pollinating insects like bees to spread pollen around and pollinate them.
Indoor fig trees obviously don’t have insects to help with the pollination so, for this reason, I would recommend selecting one of the many self-pollinating varieties.
The advantage of this is you only need one fig tree and not a pair and also you don’t have to do anything to encourage your tree to pollinate, it will take care of that itself.
When to pick figs from a potted tree
The first thing you will notice when your figs start to ripen is the color will start to change from a green color to a brown or purple color for most varieties.
When your figs are ready to harvest they will start to hang down more when it is ripe and ready for harvesting.
Even figs that stay green when ripe will start to hang down like this and you will notice them bending at the stalk where they are attached to the tree.
You can also check if your figs are ripe by giving them a feel, unripe figs will be firm but when they are ripe they become soft.
How to store freshly picked figs
Figs are one of the fruits with the shortest fresh life and may only last a day or 2 if left on a countertop.
To extend the life of your figs you should put them on a tray or plate then cover the tray or plate in a sealable plastic bag and put them in the fridge.
Figs stored in a fridge can stay fresh for up to a month.
If you want to further extend the life of your figs then the best option is to freeze them.
To do this you should wash your figs then dry them off with a paper towel and put them on a tray lined with a baking sheet so they are not touching and then in the freezer for 2-4 hours.
Doing this means your Figs won’t all freeze together into one big clump of figs.
Once your figs are frozen on the tray you should take them out and put them in a sealable freezer bag for long-term storage.
What to do if your fig tree stops producing fruit
If your fig tree stops producing fruit, there are many reasons that could be causing this to happen.
The first thing you should check is how much water your fig tree is getting as too much or not enough water could be a reason for your fig tree to stop producing fruits.
In extremely hot weather you may have to water your fig tree twice a day to keep it healthy.
Another reason for your fig tree to stop producing bigs may be the fertilizer you are using.
If the fertilizer you are using is too high in nitrogen this may stop your tree from producing fruits.
Using a fertilizer that is too high in nitrogen will cause lots of lush green growth and branches to happen rather than that energy going into fruit production.
To counter this you should add some phosphorus to the soil and that will counter the excessive nitrogen.
To grow a fig tree outdoors
Whether you can grow fig trees outside depends on your climate.
If the temperature in your area drops below 10 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter months you should plant your tree in a container so that it can be moved somewhere indoors out of the frost and cold conditions.
If you are planting a fig tree outdoors then the best time to plant it would be in the spring or early fall when it is still sunny so that the roots have time to grow into the soil before the cooler weather starts.
When choosing a spot to plant your fig tree make sure you choose somewhere that has good drainage as figs don’t like to be in standing water.
Ideally, you should plant it somewhere that has plenty of organic matter mixed in the soil although outdoor fig trees will do well in most types of soil.
Common fig tree problems and how to solve them
Fig trees are one of the most versatile trees for growing but like all trees, they can suffer from disease and fungus.
If your tree becomes infected then the quicker you act to get it sorted, the easier it will be.
Here are some of the problems that can affect fig trees:
Root-knot nematodes – Root-knot nematodes are tiny little worms that live in the soil. If your fig tree becomes infested with root-knot nematodes it will stop growing and have a stunted unhealthy look. It is hard to diagnose this problem by just looking at your tree so if you suspect your tree has this infestation you should take a sample of the soil and have a specialist lab look at it.
Fig Rust – Fig rust is a fungus that will first appear on the leaves of your fig tree. It will first appear as brown spots but as it progresses it will turn leaves yellow until they eventually die and fall off. This fungus only appears in areas where the air is too humid, to help prevent this when you are watering you should only water the soil and not the leaves on the tree. To treat this use a fungicide containing copper sulfate and lime and prune off all the infected areas.
Anthracnose – Anthracnose is a disease of the fruit and foliage of the fig tree and it will cause the fruit to rot and drop off. It will first appear as small sunken and discolored areas on the fruit and the leaves will become gray, often with pink spores of the disease showing in the middle. To treat this disease you will have to prune off all infected fruits leaves and branches and hope that cures the problem.
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