Figs can be grown in either a sheltered bed or in containers.
Plants can be grown all year under glass, this longer growing season, may ripen young figs (formed in spring) in the same year.
In the more northern parts of the UK it is advisable to grow in containers.
This method allows for the plants to be placed under cover for winter to protect the embryo fruit.
Another benefit from growing in containers is it provides the root restriction necessary to achieve healthy and productive growth.
When purchasing plants, select plants with three or four branches coming from the stem about 400mm (16”) from the base.
In late winter, these can be cut back by half to develop a compact framework.
Remove crossing and frost-damaged shoots to maintain an open centre.
Prune back over-long and bare branches where necessary to 50mm (2”) to encourage new shoots.
Pot new plants up into 300-400mm (12”-16”) filled with loam-based compost (equivalent of John Innes No.3),
Ensure there is adequate drainage.
Repot established plants every two to three years, including trimming thicker roots as necessary, before potting into the same or slightly larger pot.
Move pots outdoors after danger of frost is past.
Place in a warm sunny location and water plants freely in the growing season.
Do not allow plants to dry out or this will affect fruit development.
Feed weekly, alternating with a high-potash liquid plant food and a balanced feed.
Pinch back shoots to five or six leaves to promote fruit formation.
Figs develop through summer and are ready to pick when they turn soft, hang down and split near the stalk ends of fruits.
Place pots under cover for the winter months.
Open bed culture:
Prepare by digging a hole 600-900mm (2’-3’) diameter and of a similar depth against a south-facing wall or fence.
Fork over the base, add a generous layer of rubble for drainage, line the sides with bricks, paving slabs or a bottomless plastic barrel to prevent root spread.
Insert plant, and fill hole with excavated soil, adding bonemeal and well rotted manure as you proceed.
Remove all frost-damaged, bent and crowded shoots from established trees.
Stop young, fruit-bearing growths at four leaves.
Surplus shoots can also be removed at this time.
Tie new shoots of recently-planted figs in to support wires to form a fan or espalier framework.
No pruning is required in the first year.
Where established plants have produced excessive new growth, thin these out to prevent overcrowding, then tie the remainder in to support wires.
Take care to give each of the shoots plenty of room to allow for further development and ripening of the wood.
It is on the tips of these shoots that the fruits will develop in the following year.
Propagate by layering, (severing the layers from the parent plant 12 months later).
Alternatively, take 100-150mm (4"-6") heel cuttings of semi-ripe wood.
Insert singly in 75mm (3") pots of equal parts (by volume) peat and sand in a cold frame.
Pot the rooted cuttings on as necessary, planting out in the spring 18 months after taking the cuttings.
Protect fig shoots by draping sacking, old curtain material, or bubble plastic sheeting against fan-trained specimens.
More effective insulation may be had by thatching the plant with straw or bracken.
Work upwards from the base of the plant and tuck the material in between the horizontal support wires, or tie in with soft twine if no wires are present and secure thatch with large mesh plastic netting.
If figs are badly cut back by the frost, don't despair, new growth will develop from the base in spring.