How To Keep A Fig Tree Small

Fig trees produce delicious, healthy fruit, so it's no wonder many gardeners want one in their yard. What do you do if your fig tree becomes larger than you can handle? We have researched this question and found a solution.

To keep a fig tree small, you will need to prune it once a year during the dormant season. Cutting the main branches in half will help keep your tree in shape and encourage new growth.

Limiting a fig tree's root growth can also help keep it small. You can do this by putting a young fig tree in a pot instead of planting it directly on the ground. Make sure you use moist soil and water the tree regularly.

Keeping a fig tree small requires consistent maintenance and dedication. That's why in this article, we will discuss all you need to know about what to expect when taking care of your fig tree. Read on to find out!

 A collage of fig trees, pin, How To Keep A Fig Tree Small

How To Keep A Fig Tree Small

Senior man cutting common fig tree branches with lopping shears in his garden - backyard

There are a few ways you can keep your fig tree small. The most common way is to prune it regularly to reduce foliage and branch growth.

Pruning Your Fig Tree

fig tree (Ficus carica) in pot with white background

A young fig tree should be pruned by pinching out young shoots during the dormant season before new growth begins to emerge.

Mature fig trees need to be pruned in multiple seasons. In early spring, you should select four to six of the strongest branches growing from the main trunk and prune away the rest of the other branches.

Additionally, you should remove branches that are growing less than a 45-degree angle from the main branches and make sure to stagger the main branches around the trunk to distribute them equally across the tree.

Make sure to do most of the large-scale pruning during the dormant season to reduce sap bleeding, as cutting the main branches may cause excess bleeding that will weaken or kill the tree. The winter weather will help limit the damage.

In early summer, pinching off the tips of branches that have five leaves will divert the tree's energy from growth to fruit production, helping keep the fig tree small.

Limiting Root Growth

Fig tree in Salento at sunset

Another way to keep your fig tree small is by limiting its root growth. You can do this by growing your young fig tree in a pot or container instead of directly planting it in your yard.

You should use small pots, about five to seven gallons, for your young tree and change your pot once the tree is too big for the container.

For mature fig trees, use 15- to 20-gallon pots, as this promotes an ample root system without excessive root growth.

Once every couple of years, you will need to do maintenance by removing the tree from the pot and pruning the roots with a sharp knife. You should gently cut away 20% of the roots and soil from the outside and bottom of the rootball.

Then, you can re-pot your fig tree using a soil-based compost and set the tree about an inch lower in the pot. Make sure that your pot has grits so that the tree can breathe properly.

You should make sure that your pot does not become frozen because this may damage the roots and kill your fig tree. Check for signs of freezing between December and March.

Can I Cut The Top Off My Fig Tree?

Large African sycamore fig tree

Fig trees are resilient plants, so cutting the top off the tree will be fine as long as you do it in the dormant season. However, pruning more than 25% of the whole tree may harm it.

Be careful not to over-prune. Over-pruning can affect your fig tree's fruit production for the following year, the fruit grows on the preceding year's branches.

Finding the right amount of branches to remove will keep your tree healthy.

What Happens If You Don't Prune A Fig Tree?

picture of a big fig tree in Crete

When not pruned regularly and properly, a fig tree won't be able to develop a healthy crown. It can become prone to diseases and produce less fruit. The tree may grow irregularly with unequal distribution of branches and foliage.

Unpruned fig trees also have shorter lifespans than regularly pruned ones.

Do Fig Trees Like Full Sun?

Ripped fig on the tree. Selective focus.

Fig trees are grown in areas with long, hot summers, such as Zone 8 and other warmer regions. This means that fig trees like to have as much sunlight as possible, so keep your tree in full sunlight in summer to get the best results.

Fee trees can also be grown in colder areas as long as you properly insulate them from freezing temperatures.

You can do this by covering your tree with burlap and spreading mulch, or other insulating materials, around the base of your trees to keep the roots warm.

Keep in mind that fig trees like to stay dry, so avoid placing your tree in places where it may be vulnerable to floods and standing water. Don't overwater the tree and make sure that it's properly drained.

Is There A Dwarf Fig Tree?

The fignomenal is a dwarf fig tree variety that grows about 28 inches tall. Even though it has a compact size that is perfect for container growing, it can produce a prolific amount of fruits throughout the year, even indoors.

It's also self-fertile, meaning, you won't need another fig tree for its pollination. It can simply produce fruits by itself.

This fig tree variety requires full sun, nutrient-rich soil, good drainage, and even watering. You will need to increase irrigation and apply slow-release fertilizers during its active growth in spring, but you can keep it drier in fall and winter.

The small size of the dwarf fig tree helps reduce maintenance. It doesn't require pruning. Since it can be kept in a container, you can just put it indoors whenever the weather gets too cold outside.

The fignomenal dwarf fig tree is found to be hardy in Zones 7 to 9. Plus, if you plant it directly in the ground in Zone 7, the tree will benefit from winter mulch which will protect the roots.

How Big Does A Fig Tree Get?

Fig trees can grow to be 15 to 30 feet tall and wide. But the size depends on environment, care, growing conditions, and variety. Different varieties will have different sizes, and the environment can affect the growth of your fig tree.

How you care for the tree will also affect its growth rate. For example, if you regularly prune your fig tree, it might not grow very tall. Lack of proper care for your tree can negatively impact its health and slow down growth.

How Fast Do Fig Trees Grow?

farmer planting fig tree

Fig trees naturally grow at a rate of 12 inches per year. A tree may reach a maximum height of 15 to 30 feet tall, depending on the variety. You can increase your tree's growth using the following methods:

  • You should plant your fig tree in an area with minimum to no shade in order to get proper sunlight.
  • Remove plants 25 feet around your fig tree in order to avoid competing for nutrients.
  • Provide an inch of water during the growing season.
  • Feed your fig tree with nitrogen-rich fertilizers. But take note that too much will reduce fruit growth, so apply fertilizer only when you observe a lack of growth.

If your fig tree grows too quickly, it might result in weak cold hardiness. The tree will become more vulnerable to cold weather, which might result in its death. So it's better to let it naturally grow than try to speed it up.

What Is The Lifespan Of A Fig Tree?

figs ripening on a fig tree

Fig trees can live for more than 200 years and even longer, depending on their soil and cultural conditions.

But since fig trees begin to bear less fruit when they're 30 to 50 years old, commercial farmers typically replace the trees at these ages.

The yield may reduce when a tree reaches this age, but a fig tree may still produce fruit when it's over 100 years old. So don't worry about replacing your fig tree, because it can provide you with fruit for many years.

In Closing

Fig trees are fast-growing, low-maintenance trees that you can grow in your backyard. You can also grow the trees in small spaces and pots.

We hope you learned what you needed to know all keeping your fig tree small. Remember that proper maintenance is what's most important in order to keep your fig tree small while still getting fruit.

Since you have made it this far, here are some related articles for you to read. Keep on gardening!

Where To Plant A Fig Tree?

Can You Grow A Fig Tree From A Fig? [Even A Dried Fig?]

How To Prune A Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree [6 Steps]

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