Debbie Roland, Master Gardener
Figs grow as a multi-trunked tree and can reach 20’ tall. In more tropical climates they will thrive as a single trunk tree. They have shallow roots and grow well in areas that have mild winters. Many people have success with fig trees in their yards in West Texas.
The trees should be planted in late winter or early spring. They must be planted in well drained soil in full sun. If possible, plant on the south or east side of a building to help protect from cold weather. Trees should be planted 16’ apart.
Dig a hole deeper and wider than necessary for the root system. Place the tree in the hole and pack several times during the filling process. Water the tree after planting. Do not fertilize at planting. Cut back the dormant trunk by a third to compensate for root loss during transplanting.
Figs can withstand varying degrees of subfreezing temperatures, depending on the variety, the amount of moisture in the soil and the trees’ level of conditioning for the cold. If you expect a freeze, be sure to water the trees a few days before hand. Young trees are more susceptible to cold than older, mature ones.
If you already have a fig tree or know someone who does, you might try propagating yourself. They are one of the easiest fruits to propagate. Cuttings should be taken when the plant is fully dormant. Each cutting should be 6 to 10 inches in length and ½ to 1 inch in diameter. Place the cutting in a moist paper towel and put in a plastic bag for ten to fourteen days. Plant the cuttings in pots to encourage root and shoot formation.
Figs bear their first crop in late spring but many varieties produce a later crop in late summer through fall. Figs must ripen on the tree and once picked perish quickly.
Credit: Jim Kamas, Monte Nesbitt and Larry Stein, Extension Fruit Specialists, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
Please contact the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700 for more gardening information.