Plant of the month: The fig tree | Home & Garden

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fig trees, Ficus caricaare part of the huge ficus genus that includes about 850 different species. There are thousands of different cultivars around the world. The fig originated in the Middle East around 11,000 years ago, making it one of mankind’s oldest cultivated crops. They are beautiful trees with huge dark green lobed leaves and a striking gray trunk.

The fig fruit itself consists of many small flowers that are found inside the fruit and are pollinated by the fig wasp. In our climate, fig trees can produce fruit twice a year, in spring and summer. The easiest cultivars to find in our area are ‘Black Mission’ and ‘Brown Turkey’. Most cultivars do not require a second tree for pollination and are self-fertile.

They like full sun, but will require deep watering every five to seven days during the hottest part of summer to look their best and produce fruit. The exception to this are young trees in their first year or two after planting – they may need watering every two to three days in the summer. Figs don’t mind rocky soil, but prefer a pH closer to neutral (our soils are alkaline), so adding compost or worm castings every two to three months will help keep the soil looking its best. taste. They are fast growing trees, especially when well watered.

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Fig trees produce deep roots that will damage nearby structures, so plant them away from walls, walkways and houses. The trees need well-drained soil, so be sure to remove the caliche before planting. Roots don’t like standing in water. Figs are sensitive to overwatering, which causes all the leaves to turn yellow.

Supplementing the soil with organic matter (like the compost or worm castings mentioned above) should be enough to meet their needs. If you notice your tree hasn’t grown much in the last year, you can supplement with organic fertilizer three times a year until the growth rate returns to normal (about 1 foot per year).

Figs are deciduous and shed their leaves for the winter, so they won’t need a lot of water during this time. Reduce your watering in the fall to avoid new growth which will be susceptible to frost damage. The silvery gray trunks are beautifully shaped and are ornamental even when the tree is dormant. They require no pruning, unlike other fruit trees, and have an attractive natural shape. They can suffer frost damage with particularly cold winters; in this case, do not prune until all danger of frost has passed.

For more information on care and cultivation, see this post from the University of Arizona Extension Office.

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Do you have any gardening topics you would like to see covered in the Tucson Garden Guide? Email me at dheusinkveld@tucson.com with your suggestions and questions. Thanks for reading!

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