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Growing Figs in WA

Author

Baileys Fertiliser

Published

19 February 2020

No doubt you're noticing figs are in full flight in your local supermarket at this time of year, late summer - but has the price per kg or quality put you off purchasing? Luckily, growing fig trees in WA is easy, so whether fresh, roasted, dried, stewed or preserved takes your fancy, this delicious fruit can be enjoyed year on year for a fraction of the market price.

Funnily enough we call figs 'fruits', but the part we eat is actually a cluster of flowers - on the inside. Some varieties, require a tiny wasp to enter the fruit and pollinate it, but don't worry; most edible figs in Australia are self-fertile!

Varieties including brown turkey, black genoa and preston prolific, but the most common type is the adriatic fig or symrna fig.

fig fruit

Planting & Maintenance

Figs will tolerate a wide range of climates, but fruit best in areas with a relatively dry summer and little to no frost during winter (so perfect for Perth). Young trees are susceptible to frost and should be protected during their first and second winters. However, once established, fig trees are frost hardy.The perfect time to plant is during the autumn and winter, so the trees can establish themselves while it's cold. If planting during summer make sure the soil is constantly kept moist. You can buy figs as bare-rooted stock or in pots at most nurseries.

The perfect time to plant is during the autumn and winter, so the trees can establish themselves while it's cold. If planting during summer make sure the soil is constantly kept moist. You can buy figs as bare-rooted stock or in pots at most nurseries. 

  • Plant in full sun, in a spot protected from strong winds. 
  • Fig trees will grow in almost any type of soil, but it must be well-draining for best results. Before you plant, you should enrich the soil with compost and manure, which will encourage strong and healthy growth. Baileys Soil Improver contains both and is perfect for preparation. If you have very sandy soils, use Baileys Clay & Compost, it also contains Kaoline Clay and Mineral Silts. Water the new tree thoroughly and spread a layer of composted organic mulch over the surface such as Baileys Moisture Mulch.
  • You don't need a large garden to grow figs. Although mature trees reach a height of 6m, with a 5-6m spread, planting in pots will encourages trees to be more fruitful as well as limiting their size. If potting, use a top-quality potting mix such as Baileys Premium Potting Mix.
  • Figs can also be trained to grow horizontally across a wall in a style called Espalier.
  • When fruiting, cover the tree with netting, as birds are quick to swoop in on the sweet fruit.

Feeding

Caring for fig trees is fairly simple with little work required. In spring and summer, apply a complete, organic based fertiliser such as Baileys Soil Matters Garden. This is high in potassium and will promote fruit production.

Watering

While they are incredibly tolerant of harsh conditions, for good fruit development it is best to water consistently. Make sure you apply water at the base of the plant, because water can damage and split developing fruit.

A general rule is 2.5 to 4 cm of water per week either from rainfall or irrigation. If you have noticed the leaves of your fig tree turning yellow and dropping it's likely you're overwatering.

Pruning

Most fig varieties produce their main crop in late summer, on new season's growth. The trick to maintaining a bumper crop is pruning. Pruning every year in winter will keep plants to an easy harvest height. Old fig trees can be given a more thorough prune by removing half the length of each branch, which will encourage fresh new growth.

Propagating

Figs can be easily grown from a cutting, for best results use cutting taken during the winter months.

Common Problems

Fig Rust, leaf blight, mosaic virus and endosepsis are the main diseases seen in figs. Stem borer, mealy bugs, fruit fly, aphids and scale can also affect fig trees.