Shrubs & Trees

Growing a fig tree in the UK

For the past five years, I have been caring for a wonderful fig tree (Brown Turkey) in my south-westerly facing courtyard garden in a 12inch pot.

Fig tree

Brown Turkey (Ficus Carica)

For the past five years, I have been caring for a wonderful fig tree in my south-westerly facing courtyard garden. Every year it has produced a reasonable crop of tasty figs in late August and has demanded very little care and attention.

This may surprise many keen gardeners, but my tree, which is now 6 foot high is nested in a small 12-inch terracotta pot! Figs grow naturally in semi-desert conditions were there is very little top soil and actually prefer a constricted root ball. If the roots are not constrained, they will produce vigorous growth and very little fruit.

Due to this level of root restriction, it is important to ensure that your fig doesn’t lack in water. As with any plant, tree or shrub, don’t leave it to the point that the leaves wilt before you water as this will cause the tree stress and it will not flourish as well as it could.

Fig trees will benefit from a sheltered but sunny spot (bring them undercover during a severe winter) and can be fanned out for optimal effect using wire or trellis work. It doesn’t produce obvious flowers: the actual fig flower is inside the fruit! You won’t need to worry about pollination either as none pollinated fruits still ripen to a good size. Indeed, it is very difficult to pollinate a fig as you will need the flowering branch of a wild fig to do so.

June is a good time to prune your fig, cutting the branches back to 4 or 5 leaves stations from the main trunk. Try and keep the crown as open as possible, removing inward facing shoots and branches.

By James Middleton

An obsessive gardener since 1982. Day-time job - web designer and developer and University lecturer.

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