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Fig trees can be grown in pots or containers (in fact, in Germany and cooler regions, they almost always are). In milder climates they can be grown directly in the garden or on a wall as espalier fruit. They are beautiful as ornamental plants-- with their big leaves and exotic fruit--  and can quickly cover large wall surfaces. After hard winters or frost damage, they will need a thorough cutting.

(lat.: Ficus carica)

Fig-tree with fruits
Fig-tree with fruits

Requirements / Sources of Supply

Figs need well-drained, limey soil with no stagnant water. For regular yields the location should be sunny and protected from wind, and they flourish best in wine-cultivating regions. Figs can also thrive in peripheral (that is, colder) viticulture climates climates, but hard winters (severe frost) can easily destroy all the fruit. Fig trees can be found in garden centres or ordered online.

Characteristics and Pruning

The growth habit of the fig espalier falls in the category of shaped/trained tree. Fig trees may grow up to 3 - 5 meters. Pollination is complicated; self-fertile varieties will take care of that problem. There will be one or two harvests a year, the main one being in July / August. Diseases and pests aren't a problem, but constant watering is a must --without water, the figs will fall off. Fertilising does more harm than good, especially right before harvest. Pruning is done after the harvest; follow the instructions provided in specialized literature (readily available online).

Climbing Supports for the Facade

See the table at the bottom of the page for the wire rope trellises on which an espalier fig can thrive. Choose a medium, heavy, or even massive trellis. If the fig tree is kept small, an easy style trellis is enough. Fig trees may also simply be planted as small bushes in front of the house. 


Fig trees have an upright and bushy growth; it's difficult to train them into symmetrical shapes -- that's why they are grown in a free "fan shape" on an espalier. The are generally regarded as shaped trees when grown on an espalier... and the trellis should be chosen accordingly, with main axes every 25 - 40 cm. The meshes of the cable trellis should be rectangular rather than square; modifiy the shape of the trellis as needed.

Suitable wire rope trellises?

Click on the picture to see a list of suitable trellis designs.

Wire rope trellises for fig

Please click on the graphics to see a detailed view of each design!

 = suitable              = sometimes suitable              = not suitable