The fig tree is a fruit tree of the genus Ficus, although it has its origins in Asia, it is currently cultivated almost everywhere in the world. This is a tree with a long history, Egyptologists assure that 4500 years ago, the Egyptians already cultivated fig trees. Its years of history include many secrets to its successful cultivation. In this publication we will dedicate ourselves to deepen everything about the fertilizer for fig tree, how and when to do it, what fertilizers to use, as well as some general tips about its cultivation.
Keep in mind that there will be many variations between one fig plant and another, be it by its species (there are more than 1000), its age, climate, etc. The tips that we will develop below do not cover each and every one of the situations, they can be something general. That is why you must apply them responsibly and understand what you do.
Table of Contents
1. What do the three numbers mean on the label of a fertilizer?
If you’re just starting out in this gardening world and have never used fertilizers intensively, you’re probably wondering what those three numbers mean on any fertilizer package. Don’t worry, it’s something we’ve all asked ourselves at some point.
If you’ve ever stopped to compare between two or more different fertilizer bags, you may have noticed that each one features a different combination of these three numbers. Some are 10-10-10 others 20-10-15, and therefore an infinity of combinations. Let’s start by saying that these three numbers are known as the NPK values.
Don’t panic, understanding what NPK values are is very simple. They represent the value of the three nutrients that plants use. These are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and end in potassium (K).
Specifically, what the number represents is the percentage of each nutrient in the fertilizer bag. Let’s take an example so that you understand better. If the mix is 10-5-10 and the bag weighs 10 pounds, that’s 1 pound of the total is nitrogen, 0.50 pounds of phosphorous and 1 pound of potassium.
Simple right? Well now if we can start to get fully involved with the fertilization of your fig tree.
2. How to grow your fig tree
Generally speaking, the Huguene can be said to be a strong plant, capable of growing in places where many other fruit trees could not. Although in this article we will study fertilization in depth, we will take a moment to give some general advice to cultivate this fruit in a good way.
The most efficient way to reproduce a fig tree is by cuttings. When selecting the stake to reproduce, note the following:
- Be sure to take the variety of fig tree you need, it is very easy to confuse between one variety and another.
- Preferably take basal cuttings, this because they generally tend to have more resistance.
- Correctly observe the plant, always look for a healthy and strong branch.
- The right time to cut the stake is when the fig tree has lost its leaves, during the winter.
- The stake should be between 20 and 40 cm long, make the cut about 2 cm above a knot.
2.2 Pest control
Fig trees can be susceptible to pests that can hinder their productivity. Common pests include fig beetles, fig mosaic virus, fig rust mites, and fig wasps. Quick harvesting of ripe figs, setting traps, and using organic insecticides can control fig beetles. Preventing the spread of fig mosaic virus involves removing infected trees. Horticultural oils and pruning help control rust mites. For fig wasps, planting both male and female fig trees is crucial for proper pollination. Regular monitoring and maintenance of tree health are vital to effective control of pests on fig trees.
When reproducing the fig tree by means of a stake, two ways can be followed. The first is to place the stake in a pot, take care of it for a year and, in the following spring, perform the transplant. The second is to place the stake directly on the ground, thus avoiding transplanting.
Both forms are equally valid, the second is highly selected for large plantations, thus saving the transplant work. If you are planting one or two fig trees in your garden, it may be best to choose the first option, as you will take better care of the cuttings in a pot.
The water needs of the fig tree are not great, surely it is among the fruit trees that best adapt to arid climates. The time when you need more water is during the production of your fruit.
As a general rule, it can be said that with 600-700 liters of water well distributed throughout the year, the fig tree will develop correctly. While you need more water in the summer, too much can be very damaging. You should always make sure not to puddle the soil during watering.
Once transplanted, the fig tree can take about two years to bear its first fruits. Even so, the total production of the plant will arrive around the fifth or eighth year.
The harvest is done manually, depending on the system with which the plant has been formed, the harvest can be more or less complex. You should always be careful, since in the cuts the fig tree emits a whitish resin that tends to irritate the skin a lot.
As we said before, the harvest can be quite complicated depending on the system with which we form the plant. Not to mention how extremely difficult it can be to harvest a plant that has never been pruned.
The pruning requirements for this fruit are not great, but it is essential to carry out training in its early years. And then perform an annual maintenance pruning.
The ideal pH level for proper growth of a fig tree is between 5.5 and 6.5. Ph levels that fall outside that range can lead to poor plant development, as well as reduced ability to access nutrients.
The ideal soil for a fig tree must be able to hold water, but at the same time it must be drainable enough not to remain constantly wet. Retention will help in the production season, where water requirements are greatest. The ability to drain is a detail that helps prevent root problems, especially fungi or rot.
3. The best fertilizer for fig tree
In general, it can be said that one of the nutrients that the fig tree needs the most is nitrogen. Adequate amounts ensure good growth and production. Other nutrients that can be good when fertilizing are phosphorus and potassium.
The use of slow release balanced mixes is recommended. This prevents nutrients from being released over a long period (8 to 12 weeks), avoiding possible damage from excess nutrients such as nitrogen.
3.1 Soil fertility
Although it can be guaranteed that applying nutrients like nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus to the fig tree during fertilization is a good thing, it is not a rule that should always be applied.
Something that greatly influences fertilization is the characteristics of the soil. Therefore, it is always good to conduct studies before planting your fig tree. This study will provide essential guidance when scheduling possible fertilizations.
A very common example is adding lime to soils that have low pH levels. Failure to carry out the relevant studies could have serious problems in the development of the plant in the future.
Therefore, it is good to carry out soil studies with some regularity (every one or two years), this will give us greater security on how to carry out fertilization. Keep in mind that both lack and excess of nutrients are harmful to the fig tree.
If you are reading this post, you will probably be interested in learning about fertilizing these other plants.
3.2 Most suitable fertilizers
In case you point out that your fig tree isn’t developing as strong as it did in other years, with slow growth and somewhat pale leaves, it may be a good time to fertilize. A nitrogen rich fertilizer can be of great help (eg manure or natural compost). Keep in mind that this can also help the development of fruits, which can reach a larger size but at the same time may lose flavor.
Another very common case in which a fig tree may need fertilizer when planted in very sandy soil. Rapid drainage not only prevents water retention, it also does not retain nutrients.
When you are not sure of the characteristics of the soil where you planted this fruit tree, the use of a general-purpose fertilizer can come in handy. It can be one with an 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 analysis.
In addition to the many special fertilizers that are marketed, we can list the following that can be used on this fruit:
- Fertilizer for citrus.
- Fertilizers of mineral origin.
- Fish emulsion.
- Blood meal.
- Fertilizer for general use for vegetables (oranges).
As you can see, there are many options, but it is always advisable to be cautious, carry out tests with low amounts and follow the instructions in case of fertilizers for commercial use. It is better to place less than to overshoot and kill the plant.
3.3 Homemade fertilizer for fig tree
On this website we always like to delve into fertilization with homemade fertilizers. This since they are the most natural and cheapest way. And at the same time it allows you to reuse part of the organic matter that you produce at home.
Let’s see below some of the best homemade fertilizers that you can use on your fig tree.
- Compost: Compost is a nutrient-rich organic material that serves as an excellent fertilizer for fig trees. Create your own compost pile using kitchen scraps, yard waste, and other organic matter. Once the compost is fully decomposed and resembles dark, crumbly soil, apply a layer around the base of your fig tree. This will provide a slow-release source of nutrients, improve soil structure, and enhance moisture retention.
- Banana Peel Tea: Banana peels are rich in potassium, an important nutrient for fruit development. To make banana peel tea, simply chop up several banana peels and place them in a container filled with water. Let the mixture steep for a few days to extract the nutrients. Then, dilute the tea by adding more water and use it to water your fig tree. This homemade fertilizer can help promote healthy fruiting.
- Epsom Salt Solution: Epsom salt, which is composed of magnesium and sulfate, can be beneficial for fig trees. Dissolve 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt in 1 gallon of water and use this solution to water your fig tree. Magnesium helps with chlorophyll production and overall plant health, while sulfate aids in nutrient absorption. Apply this solution sparingly every four to six weeks during the growing season.
- Fish Emulsion: Fish emulsion is a natural fertilizer made from fish waste and carcasses. It is high in nitrogen, which promotes vigorous growth. Dilute the fish emulsion according to the instructions on the product and use it as a foliar spray or apply it to the soil around the fig tree. This homemade fertilizer can provide a quick boost of nutrients for your tree.
When using homemade fertilizers, it’s important to apply them sparingly and avoid over-fertilization, as excessive nutrients can damage the plant. Always water the fig tree thoroughly before applying any homemade fertilizer. Additionally, regular soil testing can help determine if any specific nutrient deficiencies need to be addressed.
4. Fertilizer for fig trees in pots
Although the cultivation of potted fig trees is not the most common, it is something that is usually done. Either to keep the plant for a while before transplanting or for decorative reasons, some choose to grow fig trees in pots.
Although there are not many differences regarding the fertilization of fig trees grown in the ground, let’s see some tips for growing in pots.
4.1 Four guidelines for fertilizing fig trees in pots
- Choosing the Right Fertilizer: Selecting the appropriate fertilizer is crucial for providing the necessary nutrients to your potted fig tree. Look for a balanced, slow-release fertilizer specifically formulated for fruit trees or container plants. These fertilizers typically contain a balanced ratio of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), along with trace minerals. Avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers, as they can promote excessive vegetative growth at the expense of fruit production.
- Fertilizer Application: Fig trees in pots should be fertilized regularly during the growing season, typically from spring to early fall. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer packaging for the recommended application rates and frequency. As a general guideline, it’s best to divide the total recommended amount into multiple smaller applications throughout the growing season, rather than applying a large dose all at once. This helps ensure a steady and balanced nutrient supply.
- Timing and Frequency: Begin fertilizing your potted fig tree in early spring, when new growth starts to emerge. Apply the first round of fertilizer at this time to support the initial growth spurt. Follow up with additional applications every four to six weeks until late summer or early fall. It’s important to note that fig trees benefit from a period of reduced fertilizer application during winter dormancy.
- Additional Nutrient Considerations: Apart from the primary macronutrients (N, P, K), fig trees may also benefit from additional nutrients such as calcium and magnesium. Calcium helps prevent disorders like blossom end rot, while magnesium supports chlorophyll production and overall tree health. You can use specialized fertilizers or amendments that contain these nutrients or incorporate them through organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure.
Remember to always water your potted fig tree thoroughly before applying fertilizer to prevent potential root burn. Regularly monitor the foliage and overall growth of your fig tree to assess its nutrient needs and adjust the fertilization accordingly. By providing the right balance of nutrients, you can promote healthy growth, strong root development, and abundant fruiting in your potted fig tree.
4. When to feeding fig tree
If we must talk about when to apply fertilizer to fig trees, we must necessarily differentiate by the age of the plant.
When you have just transplanted the seedling (in an inactive season like fall / winter), you should not apply any fertilizer. You can start fertilizing with the first buds of spring.
In the case of already established plants, you must divide the fertilizations into doses that are divided throughout the year. Start by applying in the first days of spring. It will be during the summer when you may need larger portions of nutrients, but you can extend your application during the fall, stopping applying in winter.
5. How to fertilize fig tree
Although I don’t want to be repetitive, it is important that you understand that fertilization should be spread throughout the year. Applying large amounts together can give more nitrogen than necessary, creating major problems.
For small plants, 1 to 2 years old, you can feed it with one ounce of fertilizer per month. While in older trees that amount can increase, reaching up to a third of a pound per foot in height. Always keep in mind that these are genreal measurements, which must be adapted to the reality of your plant.
Among the problems that excess fertilizer can bring are problems in the ripening of the fruit. If you notice such a problem on your fig tree, you can try reducing or even eliminating fertilization.
Not always the problem in the maturation is due to the excess of fertilizers, it can be the lack of irrigation or the lack of potassium. The application of fertilizers rich in potassium and phosphorous will greatly help production. The first assures a good maturation, while the second helps a good development of the inflorences.
6. Fertilizer for fig tree video
To end the video, we have decided to select a good video to help you more graphically understand everything seen so far. I have no doubt that this video on fig tree feeding will be useful. (Creator of the video Enlightenment Garden channel).
We have reached the end of this article, I hope it has been helpful and you know a little more about fertilizer for fig tree. 🙂