When Fig Trees Grow Leaves & What To Do Once They Appear

Picture of a big fig tree in crete

Fig trees are commonly found in California if you live in the states and can be found in the Mediterranean and other Mediterranean climates. If you have a fig tree or are just plain ol’ interested, did you know there are certain things to do when fig trees grow leaves?

Fig trees typically grow leaves in the spring, which signals the end of the dormant winter period and allows the tree to prepare for another cycle of producing fruit. Once leaves appear you’ll want to fertilize your fig tree, pick the figs regularly, and make sure not to overwater your tree.

But before we dive any deeper into talking about cultivating fig trees and their fruits, we should discuss a bit more of the specifics about when fig tree leaves grow and just what to do when they appear!

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When Do Fig Leaves Grow?

So, when exactly should you expect to see fig leaves appear?

Fig trees generally grow leaves in the spring after their long dormant period during the winter. Once your fig trees actually shows leaves, it will soon be ready to begin the process of producing figs!

That being said, fig leaves can appear anytime between early and late spring depending on weather patterns, temperatures, and other environmental factors. 

What To Do Once Fig Leaves Appear

Fig on fig tree between the leaves

So, your tree has finally had its leaves emerge for the spring.

What’s next? 

You may be wondering what special things to watch out for or how to make sure that your tree produces as many figs as possible. The truth of the matter is that general maintenance is actually the best thing that you can do for your fig tree. 

Fig trees are not high maintenance trees. You barely need to prune them, they are resistant to many pests, and they don’t have an exorbitant need for water. When it’s all said and done, there aren’t many special steps that you need to be aware of here.

Here are a few steps that you can take in the spring and summer seasons to support your fig tree and ensure that it can produce the delicious fruit that we know and love.

1. Fertilize Your Fig Tree

Topping our list is the task that typically starts us off- fertilization. 

This is such an efficient, cheap, easy, and sustainable way to make sure that your tree thrives while you sit back and enjoy the literal fruits of its labor. 

Notice how we didn’t say your labor because this step is so easy.

Fig trees do best with a high nitrogen fertilizer that you should apply every month or roughly every four weeks.

According to Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, high nitrogen fertilizers can come in a range of forms, like Nitrate, Ammonia, and Urea.

What on earth do any of those things mean? 

Essentially, these are three forms of getting your tree nitrogen that all happen to have different properties and uses. 

Determining what is best for your tree is going to depend on your goal for it. Do you want a nitrate form that dissolves into water, ammonia that is injected into the soil surface, or urea that can be added into the soil and then washed further down by the water? 

Any of these high-nitrogen fertilizer options work, and ones like this Maximum Green & Growth- High Nitrogen 28-0-0 NPK fertilizer can be cheap and simple to use. 

Additionally, the option above has a quick and slow-release formula that allows nutrients to enter the soil at different stages, which can end up being hugely beneficial for your tree. 

Let’s back up for just a second, though. Are you wondering what those numbers followed by NPK mean

We know that we sure had some questions after our first time seeing that, so let’s explain:

NPK values are a way to note on fertilizer packaging how much of a certain element they contain. NPK stands for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium and so 28-0-0 is certainly a high-nitrogen fertilizer as nitrogen is its main ingredient. 

Hopefully, that makes a little more sense now!

2. Avoid Overwatering

Remember, this species comes from the Mediterranean and Southeast Asia and now also lives in other similar climates like California. So, a ton of water is not something that your fig tree will require. 

Thanks to its longevity in temperate yet dry climates, you can realistically expect to water your fig tree every 10-15 days. 

If this makes you nervous, or you’re worried that you won’t be able to make a routine out of this, you could set up an irrigation system to lightly water your fig tree at intermittent rates. 

Something like this Flantor Garden Irrigation System could be all you need to easily and light-handedly water your fig tree without breaking the wallet, or your watering schedule for your other plants.

3. Pick The Tree’s Figs

If you have a lot of figs being produced, they may begin to become smaller, drier, or even less flavorful. 

To maintain fig production at the rate and the quality that you prefer, you should be regularly picking your ripe figs to make way for new, equally large, and delicious fruits to be produced. 

With 20-60 figs per year being grown by mature trees, you can be sure that you’ll have plenty to go around. If you aren’t selling your figs but are accumulating too many at one time that needs to be picked to make way for more fruit, share with a neighbor or friend. 

You’ll be a hit!

Speaking of production, there are other things that you can do to make sure your fig tree remains healthy and able to produce great fruit, year-round. 

No, the tree won’t produce figs all year but there are ways throughout all seasons that you can work to best maintain your tree!

How To Properly Grow Your Fig Tree’s Leaves Long-Term

Figs on the branch of a fig tree

Those steps to care for fig trees during their fruit-bearing season are important, but how should you care for your fig tree in the long term?

Proper care begins with location and ends with regular maintenance, and we want to help you be equipped to handle both sides of that spectrum, as well as all of the in-between. 

So, without further adieu, let’s get to step one of how to care for your fig tree throughout the year.

Plant Your Fig Tree In Hardiness Zone 8 Or Above

The fig tree is a temperate species and, being native to Southeast Asia and the Mediterranean, it needs to live in a location that supports its needs.

The ideal location for a fig tree is a sunny one, with lots of warmth. 

USDA Hardiness Zones 8 and above are perfect for the fig tree. 

If you are new here, let’s dive into what exactly a Hardiness Zone means, for a moment.

The USDA has defined different Hardiness Zones across the country that are used to gauge the minimum temperature range that a region is likely to experience. 

From there, growers everywhere can work to determine what plants will work best in a given Hardiness Zone. 

These zones are broken up into 10-degree intervals, and then further divided into 5-degree intervals. 

According to the USDA, fig trees do best at Hardiness Zone 8 or above, for example, Zone 8a signifies an average minimum temperature of 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit. 

While this is the lowest possible temperature, during winter months, that a fig tree could survive in, these trees prefer a much more temperate range that hangs around the 60-80 degree Fahrenheit mark. 

You can learn more about fig trees in our article: 4 Best Soils For Potted Fig Trees!

Plant Your Fig Tree In Late Winter To Early Spring

All this talk about what to do after your fig tree grows leaves, well here is something you should do beforehand. 

You’ll want to plant your fig tree in the late winter or early spring when the ground is no longer frozen but your fig tree has not yet had its leaves emerge. 

This will mean that the tree is still dormant and in the prime stage of its yearly cycle to be relocated into the earth, wherever you so choose to plant it.

Allow Your Fig Tree To Get Direct Sunlight

During those summer months especially, as the fig tree produces the majority of its fruit, you’ll want to keep it in direct sunlight as much as possible. 

That’s something else to consider when planting your tree, are there other trees nearby that might tower over it? A building that may block too much sun? 

Sunlight is very important for the productivity and wellbeing of fig trees, so a good rule of thumb is to plant your tree about 20 feet away from other trees and any buildings that may happen to be nearby. 

This will also help prevent any issues with roots getting tangled into foundations, there not being enough nutrients in shared soil for two trees, and other issues that are brought about by proximity that is too close.

Add A Layer Of Mulch To Your Fig Tree

You can apply a layer of mulch around the base of your fig tree as a way to help the soil below retain moisture and nutrients, without having to fertilize or water as much. 

Mulch also provides nutrients to sandy soil so, in regions where your soil is nutrient deficient, you won’t have to worry as much about whether or not your fertilizer is enough.

What Is Special About A Fig Tree?

Focus on a fig tree in spring

Fig trees can produce 20-60 figs per year upon reaching the semi-mature age of around four years old. You can take advantage of this growing season by taking action and helping your fig tree maintain its health and productivity throughout the spring and summer months.

Fig trees never technically ‘blossom’ although they produce fruit: the fig! So how does that work?

Well, the fruit itself is the blossom. 

We bet you didn’t know that a fig is technically an inverted flower. How’s that for edible floral products? 

It’s a bit more complex than that, as we’re sure you could attest to if you’ve ever tried a fig. 

Once the flower matures, the fruit of the fig is much different than it was early on in its growing period. All that will be left of the ‘flower’ will be the inner portion of the fig with its gritty texture and unique appearance.

Why Are Figs Important?

Fig on fig tree between the leaves

Here are just a few of the reasons that figs matter, and why you may care about them, too.

The Oldest Domesticated Crop

It is thought that figs might very well be the oldest domesticated crop in the world, older than grains and many other ancient crops.

The Harvard Gazette confirms this idea and suggests that archaeobotanists found evidence that fig trees have been domesticated for as long as 11,400 years in the Near East

Also, as a side note, let’s go back to the job position of archaeobotanist- how cool! So, how do we get that job?

Anyway, figs as a domesticated crop have now been proven to predate wheat, barley, and other ancient staples. What an incredible thing to consider next time you look outside at your own fig tree.

Want to learn more about fig trees? Check out our article 13 Tips For Planting A Fig Tree (Plant And Soil Guide)

That’s A Wrap!

Fresh figs fruit  hanging on the branch of tree

See what we did there?

Okay, well, bad jokes aside that is pretty much it for today. 

Thanks for sticking with us and learning about when fig leaves appear and just what to do once that happens.

It might be tricky to grow a fig tree if you aren’t in an area with the proper environment, but otherwise, your process will be a great learning experience.

Remember these few things that you should always do to care for your fig tree:

  • Plant in sunlight
  • Plant away from tall structures and trees
  • Fertilize
  • Don’t overwater your tree
  • Pick the fruit regularly
  • Add mulch

Again, realistically you won’t have to do too much to have a successful, productive fig tree in your midst. 

So, sit back and enjoy the ride!

We thank you for reading and, as always, hope that this piece helped build your knowledge as you navigate your tree journey. 

See you next time!

If you enjoyed this article, you can check out our other articles about fruit trees like 7 Best Fruit Trees for Rocky Soil (And How to Plant Them)!

References

Soliman, S. S., Alebidi, A. I., Al-Obeed, R. S., & Al-Saif, A. M. (2018). Effect of potassium fertilizer on fruit quality and mineral composition of fig (Ficus carica L. cv. Brown Turky). Pak. J. Bot, 50(5), 1753-1758.

Stover, E., Aradhya, M., Ferguson, L., & Crisosto, C. H. (2007). The fig: overview of an ancient fruit. HortScience, 42(5), 1083-1087.

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