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Fig

Fig trees can be grown in pots or containers (in fact, in northern Europe and cooler regions, they almost always are). In milder climates they grow freely in the garden, but it is also possible to trellis them on a facade as espalier fruit. They are beautiful as ornamental plants ~ with their big leaves and mythic fruit ~  and can quickly cover large wall surfaces. After hard winters or frost damage, they will need a thorough pruning.

Lat.: Ficus carica

Fig-tree with fruits
Fig-tree with fruits

To Thrive... Where to find...

Figs need well-drained, limey soil, and well-draining water (no waterlogging!) For regular yields the location should be sunny and protected from wind. They flourish best in wine-producing regions. Figs can also thrive in areas peripheral to (that is, colder than) viticulture regions, 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 fig tree is treated as a shaped tree when trained against a facade. Fig trees grow to 3 - 5 meters. Flowering and pollination are complicated; self-fertile cultivars are therefore recommended. 1 to 2 harvests per year, the main one in July / August. Diseases and pests aren't a problem, but water is essential -- without enough water, the figs will fall off. Fertilising does more harm than good, especially before harvesting. Pruning is done after the harvest; follow the instructions provided in specialized literature (readily available online).

Climbing Supports for the Facade

See the table below 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 guage trellis is sufficient. Fig trees can also simply be planted as small bushes in front of the house. 

 

With their upright and bushy growth, it is rather difficult to train figs into symmetrical / geometric shapes; that's why they are grown in a free "fan shape" on an espalier. Regarded as a shaped tree when grown on an espalier, the trellis should be chosen accordingly, with main axes every 25 - 40 cm. The meshes of the cable trellis should be rectangular; in the case of cable systems designed to accommodate square mesh, modifiy the axes of the trellis as needed.

 

Suitable wire rope trellises?

Click on the image to see a list of trellis forms for fig

Wire rope trellises for fig

Please click on the graphic illustrations for details!

   = suitable              = of limited suitability              = unsuitable