Pop Quiz: Which country produces the most figs? The answer? Turkey. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be growing sweet, delicious figs right in your Pacific Northwest backyard.

Choosing a Site for Growing Figs

Figs should be planted in a full sun location. Figs can be planted in the ground, or even in containers.

Fertilizer for Figs

Fig trees grow satisfactorily in moderate soils without fertilizer. If growth is unsatisfactory, an application of nitrogen is needed in the early spring. Don’t fertilize in the summer.

Training and Pruning Figs

Figs can be trained to be either a bush or a tree. The bush form is easier and more practical in the Oregon climate because of frequent winter freezes. To achieve this size of plant, remove 1/3-1/2 of the annual growth each winter. Pruning in the winter will help prevent the tree from suckering, or growing shoots from the base. Remember to keep the center of your fig tree open. This will allow it to get more sun and produce higher quality fruit. Fig trees can be pruned severely and kept small – as low as 5 feet. When pruned this way, the early crop is sacrificed. Figs planted in containers are also restricted in growth.

Fruit Bearing and Harvesting

Some varieties bear small fruit that ripen in the summer as well as the fall. They bear fruit continuously over a period of 6 weeks. Remove any unripe fruit in the late fall. For the best flavor, figs should be picked until the fruit wilts at the neck and bends over the stem. If any milky latex develops at the stem end when the fruit is picked, it has not reached its full ripeness.

Winterizing Fig Trees

All varieties are killed to the ground by temperatures at or below zero degrees F. At zero to ten degrees F., hardy varieties will be injured only on the ends of the branches. Trees more than three or four years old will grow back from the buds below the ground. It is wise to wrap your tree to protect it from the cold if you live in an area where temperatures fall below ten degrees Fahrenheit. To help your fig harden off for the winter, irrigation should be shut off after September 15 each year.

Looking for a fig tree or some help with your figs and in the Portland or Vancouver metro area? Come visit us at our Portland garden center. We look forward to helping you out!

A lifelong Oregon resident, Drake has been passionate about plants since childhood, beginning with propagating and growing flowers at his grandfather’s nursery. He opened Drake’s 7 Dees in 1974, while earning degrees in Business and Horticulture from Oregon State University. He later expanded into the design/build side of the industry, allowing him to combine his passion for plants with his love of family by maximizing the quality of family time spent outdoors.

Drake is co-founder of the Oregon Landscape Contractors Association and is a Landscape Industry Certified Manager (LICM)—a designation that less than two percent of landscapers have attained. Additionally, Drake serves on the Board of Directors for the Portland Japanese Gardens, widely regarded as one of the seven best Japanese gardens outside of Japan.

Drake is married to former Oregon Speaker of the House, Lynn Snodgrass. Together, he and Lynn received the Farm Bureau President’s award in 1999 for their service and dedication to agriculture in the state of Oregon. Drake and Lynn have two wonderful daughters, two talented son-in-laws, and seven grandchildren. In his spare time, Drake enjoys camping, water and snow skiing, reading, and of course, gardening.