Fertilizing Fig Trees in the Ground: Tips for Healthy Growth

Fertilizing fig trees is an important part of caring for these fruit-bearing treasures. To ensure your fig trees flourish and bear an abundance of delicious fruits, it’s essential to provide them with the right nutrients at the right time. In this article, we will explore the best practices for fertilizing fig trees in the ground.

My young fig tree in the early spring

When to Fertilize Fig Trees

The first fertilization should take place at planting time. Whether you plant your fig tree in the ground or in a container, it’s crucial to give it a nutritious start. After that, plan to fertilize annually in late winter or early spring, and again in late summer as the fruits ripen.

If you notice yellowing leaves or signs of drying at any other time during the year, it indicates that your tree needs an additional feeding. Since figs often require regular fertilization, it’s ideal to divide the feedings into smaller portions throughout the growing season. Personally, I have found success by using a granular, slow-release fertilizer and feeding my trees three times a year: in late winter, mid-spring, and mid-summer.

Fig Tree Fertilizer

There is no specific fertilizer designed exclusively for fig trees. However, you can use a general-purpose fertilizer such as NPK general fertilizer. Granular, slow-release fertilizers are preferred. If you’re unsure about the best fertilizer for your local area, consult a nearby nursery for expert advice on recommended fruit tree fertilizers.

In case you can’t find a slow-release fertilizer or receive expert recommendations for your soil, a general all-rounder NPK 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 fertilizer will suffice. Remember to apply it in small portions throughout the growing season to avoid over-fertilization. Be cautious when it comes to nitrogen (N), as excessive nitrogen can harm the tree. It’s better to apply a small amount monthly and assess the development, rather than risking damage to your trees. Take care when applying it to the soil, as strong chemicals can harm the tree’s roots and bark.

How to Fertilize Fig Trees

Allow me to guide you through my step-by-step process of providing regular nutrients to individual fig trees using granular fertilizers. The following steps were performed in early spring just before the tree’s leaves emerged:

Digging around the fig tree in a circle and clearing weeds

Step 1: Dig around the Fig Tree and Clear Weeds

Start by digging a circle around the fig tree, covering the entire root zone. The size of the circle should match the tree’s crown or canopy. For smaller trees, a smaller circle will suffice, while larger trees require a larger circle. Dig to a depth of approximately 5 cm, ensuring that the fertilizers do not touch the trunk or roots. The photo below shows the size of the dug circle for larger trees.

Four-year-old fig trees just pruned and fertilized

Step 2: Choose a Granular Fertilizer

Select a granular fertilizer suitable for your fig tree. In my case, I use an NPK 7-14-21 fertilizer recommended by a local nursery. This slow-release fertilizer provides tailored nutrients for fruit trees in our area. Its granules dissolve gradually, releasing feed into the ground for the tree’s roots to absorb.

NPK Granular Fertilizer

Step 3: Apply the Fertilizer

Use a small cup or pot to hold the granular fertilizer (approximately 100 ml or half a cup). Sprinkle the granules evenly around the entire tree, extending to the edges of the cleared area. Keep the granules at least 5 to 10 cm away from the tree trunk to prevent bark damage. If any granules accidentally drop close to the trunk, promptly push them away.

Sprinkle the granules evenly around the tree

Step 4: Cover and Water

Carefully cover all the fertilizer granules with soil, ensuring they remain at a depth of approximately 5 cm. Be cautious not to let the granules touch the trunk or fig roots. Afterward, thoroughly water the entire area, preferably using a watering can. This will prevent the granules from spreading or washing away.

Cover the granules with soil and water them

Important Things to Remember when Fertilizing

Here are a few important tips to keep in mind when fertilizing your fig trees:

  • Avoid fertilizing during frosty periods: In colder climates, refrain from fertilizing during the frost season, as it can stimulate premature growth that may be vulnerable to frost damage. Wait until early spring when the first leaves are expected to emerge.
  • Moderation is key: Over-fertilization can promote foliage growth rather than fruit ripening. Apply fertilizers in small portions to strike the right balance.
  • Safety first: Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling any chemicals, including industrially made fertilizers.
  • Read and follow instructions: Adhere to the instructions mentioned on the fertilizer package for optimal results.

Tools

No fancy equipment is needed to fertilize your fig trees. Simple gardening tools such as gloves, a hand trowel, rake, fork, and a watering can will suffice.

Conclusion

Fertilizing fig trees in the ground is crucial for their overall health and productivity. By following these recommended practices and using suitable fertilizers, you can ensure your fig trees grow vigorously and produce an abundance of delicious fruits. Remember to provide regular feedings, divide them into small portions throughout the growing season, and monitor your trees’ development. Happy fertilizing!