Fig trees grow best in a spot with plenty of sunshine and access to well-draining, fertile soils. The first step in planting a fig tree is making sure you find this ideal planting spot. Next, you need to consider the time of planting. As a general rule, it’s best to plant figs during their dormant season. However, planting should take when there’s a low risk of cold injury. Usually, this means planting in early spring. Once these conditions are met, all you have to do is dig a hole and place your tree seed or seedling into it.
4 Steps to Plant a Fig Tree in the Ground
It’s best to plant common fig trees during early spring when they are still dormant. This will minimize transplant shock and give them the chance to acclimate to their new setting. Below, we will cover the other major steps needed to plant a fig tree successfully.
Scout the Ideal Location
Fig varieties grow best in regions with mild winters and long, hot summers. A Mediterranean climate is most ideal but warmer climates will work. It’s best to avoid cooler climates at all costs unless you plan on growing indoors. Figs lack winter protection and are ill-suited to freezing temperatures. They also like well-drained, organically-rich soils such as light sandy soil. However, they can tolerate heavy clay soils if the drainage is good.
- Plant your figs in a sunny spot with plenty of sunshine and rich, sandy soil.
- Fig trees flourish when grown in full sun.
- If you are worried that extreme heat may burn fig leaves, plant yours in an area that receives partial shade in the afternoon.
Make sure your fig tree is planted somewhere it can get its 7-8 hours of sunlight per day. Direct sunlight is generally fine because fig trees love full sun. Find a sunny spot. If you’d like, provide a little afternoon shade to protect fig leaves from getting sunburns during late summer.
Soil Preparation and Seed Preparation
Prepare the soil by digging up soil in an area 2–3 times larger than the planting hole. This will loosen the soil, which allows fig roots to easily grow stronger. Skipping this step can cause your young fig tree to struggle.
- Use a shovel to dig your planting hole 2–3 times larger than you need it.
- Backfill the hole with loose soil to improve fig root growth.
- Soak a fig seed in lukewarm water for 1–2 days before planting it
Seeds need to soak in lukewarm water for 24–48 hours before being planted. This helps kickstart the germination process. You can plant the seed without soaking it but it will take a seedling weeks longer to develop without this prep work. You can also skip this step by getting container-grown trees from a reputable nursery.
Dig the Hole and Plant the Tree
You’ll want your planting hole to be about 1 inch deep (2.5 cm) for a fig seed. If replanting potted trees, you’ll want the hole to be 3–4 inches (7.5–10 cm) deeper than the initial planting depth. Transplanting a potted fig tree from its container is fairly easy. However, you’ll need a whole bucket of water to thoroughly soak the planting hole before the tree is placed inside of it.
- Use a garden trowel or shovel to dig a hole for your seed or tree.
- If transplanting a tree, use a bucket of water to thoroughly wet the planting hole prior to planting.
- It’s best to plant fig trees while they’re still dormant in early spring.
You’ll also want to wet your container trees before taking them out of their containers. Gently separate the tree from the native soil of the container. Then place the tree into the planting hole. Carefully backfill the whole in such a way that no air pockets remain. Fig roots don’t generally like air circulation.
Post-Planting Fig Tree Care
If you are growing the tree from a seed, all you need to do is water the soil until it is moist. However, if transplanting figs in containers, there is more to be done. You’ll want to provide a good amount of balanced fertilizer for your freshly transplanted tree.
- Fertilize and water freshly transplanted trees to minimize transplant shock.
- ½ pound (225 grams) of this balanced fertilizer will provide a boost for a newly planted fig tree.
- A layer of mulch will help keep the soil moist and promote vigorous growth.
Generally, ½ pound of fertilizer will be good but check your fertilizer’s product label for the correct amount. Use a balanced fertilizer—such as 10-10-10 or 5-5-5—to properly nourish your tree. Water this fertilizer into the ground until you have moistened the soil. After this, provide a layer of mulch to retain soil moisture.
How Deep Should You Plant a Fig Tree?
A fig seed only needs to be planted 1 inch deep (2.5 cm). However, if transplanting potted fig trees, you’ll want to dig the hole a few inches (10 cm) deeper than the original planting. When you pull your tree out of its container, check the soil line on your tree’s trunk. There should be a visible ring where the soil came up to on the tree. When you replant the tree, make sure that the soil will come up at least 3–4 inches (7.5–10 cm) higher on the trunk when the hole is filled in.
- Plant fig trees at least 3 inches (7.5 cm) deeper than their original potted planting depth.
- Deeper planting will provide more protection and insulation for the fig root ball.
The reason for this deeper planting is to better protect mature plants. This allows for deep roots to grow more quickly and provides better winter protection for the root ball. A late winter frost will have more trouble reaching a more deeply planted root ball.
How Do You Plant a Fig Tree in the Ground?
Planting a fig tree successfully is all about figuring out the right location for mature fig trees to grow. After that, it’s just a matter of preparing the soil and placing your seed or seedling into it. Here are the main keys to remember in planting a fig tree:
- The best time of year to plant is early spring.
- Figure out the best location where your tree can get all the sun and rich soil it needs.
- Loosen the soil for planting by digging the hole 2–3 times wider than the tree’s current container.
- Prepare to grow a fig from seed by soaking the seed for a few days.
- Soak your hole at planting to collapse air pockets around the root ball.
- Fertilize and water your freshly planted fruit tree to kick start its growth.
Fig trees are not too fussy about their planting but you’ll still want to watch out for transplant shock. By loosening the soil before planting, then adding a bit of fertilizer and proper watering after planting you can avoid any negative outcomes. As you move into late spring, your newly planted fig tree will begin sprouting beautiful new leaves.