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Ficus carica, the common fig tree

ficus carica

Ficus carica, the common fig tree, produces either green, black or purple figs.

Ficus Carica Facts

NameFicus carica
Family – Moraceae (mulberry family)
Type – fruit tree

Height – 16 to 32 feet (5 to 10 m)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – ordinary
Foliage: deciduous

Fruit formation: end-spring → early fall  –  Harvest: mid-summer → early fall

Fig fruits are appreciated of course for their taste, but connoisseurs know that it helps deal with stress and troublesome digestion.

Planting Ficus carica

Ideally, Ficus carica should be planted in fall or in spring for colder climates.

Bare-rooted Ficus carica should only be purchased and planted in fall: mid-november to mid-december is best, if it doesn’t freeze.

  • ficus carica plantingFicus carica requires cool, well-drained soil.
  • Ficus carica is indifferent to soil type, but development is slower in poor and rocky soil.
  • A warm and sunny location is almost mandatory if you’re hoping for figs.
  • In cold weather climates, consider planting your trees near a wall, since the added protection will help your plants withstand the cold.
  • Ficus carica are easily damaged in drafty and windy spots.

Pruning and caring for Ficus carica

Although Ficus carica can produce beautiful figs if left unpruned, there are good reasons to prune anyway.

Pruning your Ficus carica will speed their growth and increase fig productivity.

  • Try to prune at the end of winter or at the beginning of spring when tree sap is just starting to flow.
  • Figs develop on new growth and on growth that is one year old.
  • Pinching young branches in March and April is recommended: snip the tip off with you fingernails.
  • For Ficus carica trees that are already well-formed, use a hand pruner to cut the previous year’s growth just above an outward-facing bud.
  • Adding fruit tree fertilizer will increase fig production.

Figs don’t ripen

It is fairly common for figs not to ripen on some Ficus carica.

Fruits appear after flowering, grow to about an inch (a couple centimeters) across, then fall off before having ripened completely.

The cause for this is often quite straightforward, and can be related to one or more of the following factors:

  • Your Ficus carica lack sun, or summer is too short in your area.
  • Your Ficus carica are young and their root system hasn’t yet developed to the point of being able to sustain required nutrient need.
  • Patience is your only recourse in this case, although fertilizing at the beginning of spring can help, too.
  • Your Ficus carica can’t settle in where it is currently placed, perhaps winds are too strong, or the spot lacks warmth. If your trees haven’t grown too large yet, consider transplanting them to a more auspicious place.
  • Last but not least, thin the figs, to reduce the drain on the tree’s resources and favor development of remaining fruits.

Ficus carica doesn’t produce figs

Ficus carica is one of those fruit trees that require a long root development phase before fruits appear.

There isn’t much to do about it: you must simply wait until roots have developed enough.

  • Planting your trees well certainly helps speed root growth and brings fruit-bearing forward in time.
  • It is necessary to water Ficus carica regularly over the first 2-3 years after planting.
  • Patience is often a gardener’s main virtue!

Learn more about Ficus carica

Ficus carica careFicus carica is the scientific name of common fig trees which bear edible fruits. They grow into beautiful shapes and bear amazing fruits.

Fig trees are the only European native member of the genus, and they are considered symbols of the Mediterranean and of Provence in particular, together with olive trees.

Fig trees are also very appealing fruit trees, famous for the delicate and consistent taste of their fruits which are associated to numerous health benefits.

These are easygoing trees, hardy and versatile in that they adapt to most types of soil. Ficus carica is hardy to 5°F (-15°C), and sometimes even colder if the cold bursts are short.

Figs are produced over an extended period of time thanks to continuous flowering, and productivity can top 220 pounds (100 kg) for a single tree!

Did you know that the sap or latex of Ficus carica is very similar to that of certain types of rubber trees?

Smart tip about Ficus carica

Ficus carica is very easy to layer, choose a nice branch and prepare your own layering!

Images: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0: perlaroques; Pixabay: Antonio José Céspedes López, Ilona, Vane Monte
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