Fig tree- Ficus Carica

Where does the Ficus Carica come from?
The Figtree, also known as Ficus Carica, originally comes from Asia. This plant dates back to the reign of Louis the 4th. It was actually the Romans who introduced the fig into England. Figs are delicious fruits and easy to keep, so this sped up its spread through all of the Roman Empire.

This Ficus does very well in the climate of the Netherlands. The ‘Madeleine des Deux Saisons’ has become our favourite after years of experience. It has a leathery leaf of no less than 30 x 25 cm and quickly shows lots of buds. The Ficus fruits or figs ripen between July and September after which they are edible. You can enjoy a delicious harvest not just once but twice a year. This Ficus produces quite large gold/yellow fruits with sweet and juicy pink flesh. Its fruits will ripen better if you protect the Ficus during the winter. 

The Ficus is a fat grower and get grow up to several metres high if you do not prune it. This southern region tree with its large leaves will be quite protected facing South and can take winter temperatures of as low as -15°C.

What is the best location for this plant?
The Ficus Carica needs a sheltered but sunny location, preferably as warm as possible, so a garden that faces south, and out of the wind is optimal. Always ensure good drainage. It is important to feel the soil first. Is it still damp? Then it does not need watering yet. If the fig tree gets too dry, it will indicate this by drooping its leaves. In this case, it does need more watering.
How do I care for my Ficus?
By putting a Figtree in open ground, we always recommend placing it on a mound so that water can drain away from it more easily. The Ficus is also commonly grown as a pot plant. When the Figtree is grown in a pot, make sure that the pot has plenty of holes and Hydro beads in the bottom of it for good drainage. 
The most important factor is that they are kept dry from September. Moisture from the soil is sucked into the fig plant and stored in its stem/trunk. In heavy frosts this moisture will freeze and make the tree expand. This causes much of its bark to crack many of its stems and branches to split. It is therefore recommended that Ficus trees are protected from frost.

How can I best prune my Figtree?
In February, trim all of its side branches to reduce its ‘skeleton’ by half. In June remove the top of half of the young shoots. In November, prune the fruit bearing branches back to 5 cm. If the fig tree is growing independently in the garden, its pruning pattern will be different. For the first two years, develop the stem by pruning away all branches in February. In the third year, in February prune about half of every branch back to outward-facing bud. Over the years that follow, there is little need for further pruning.
Be careful of the white sap that leaches out of the wounds when pruning your Figtree as this can cause skin and eye irritation.
Is this plant suitable as cut flower?
No, but it does have edible fruit.
  • Winter hardiness:
    Depending on size and age of the Figtree it can survive frosts of -15°C

  • Soil type:
    All soil types

  • Moisture levels:
    Preference for medium damp soil

  • Location:
    Full sun, preference for a sheltered spot

  • Height:
    Several metres high if not pruned. Can grow as high as 8 metres

  • Evergreen or deciduous:
    Deciduous

  • Pruning:
    In the spring

  • Fertilizing:
    Fruit fertilizer

  • Flowering period:
    July

  • Harvest period:
    July – August

  • Edible?
    Yes

  • Trivia:
    The leaf of the fig tree is best known from images of Adam and Eve but in classical paintings, the fig leaf was commonly used to cover male subjects’ private parts.

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