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Figs

Figs are the ideal fruit tree for a Mediterranean climate as they relish the long hot dry summers experienced in southern and inland Australia. In cold areas where crops are slow to ripen, grow figs against a warm, north-facing wall to maximise warmth and improve ripening.

Where space is restricted, figs can be espaliered against a sunny wall for example in a courtyard. Compact and dwarf trees are now available that suit small spaces.

Although figs grow best in a Mediterranean climate they also flourish in humid climates.

Growing conditions

Aspect Sunshine and warmth is vital so select a protected, north-facing spot with shelter from cold winds.

Soil Any well-drained soil suits but a neutral to slightly alkaline soil (around 7) is ideal. Keep soil healthy by topping it up with Seasol Super Compost throughout the year.

Climate These are Mediterranean plants that do best in warm, frost-free locations but will grow from cool regions to the subtropics.

General care

Watering Once established, figs are very drought tolerant but benefit from deep watering as plants regain their leaves during extended dry periods. Too much water as fruits ripen can cause it to split.

Feeding and mulching Feed in late winter or early spring and throughout the growing season by applying a complete fertiliser for fruiting plants such as Seasol plus Nutrients Fruit & Citrus. Supplement with a liquid fertiliser such as PowerFeed PRO SERIES Fruit & Citrus every 2 to 4 weeks during the growing period (spring to autumn). Mulch under vines and keep the area clear of grass and weeds.

Pruning Prune figs in winter after harvest to encourage new growth and to maintain trees at a manageable height for netting and harvest. Young plants benefit from early pruning and training to produce trees that have a single trunk and a framework of three to four main branches. Protect young trees from frost.

Watch out Major pests are birds, which can destroy the harvest. Use bird-safe netting as fruit begins to ripen. Alternatively bag some fruit. Fruit fly is also of concern in fruit fly zones so protect fruit with fruit fly baits and lures. Split fruit may also attract European wasps so take care when harvesting overripe fruit especially in autumn.

Poor drainage and air circulation may lead to fungal diseases that attack the leaves and fruit. In sandy soils figs may be attacked by root knot nematode.