Type of Fig tree in So. Oregon

Asked April 17, 2019, 3:04 PM EDT

I live in Josephine County - and want to grow a fig on a small city lot. I have a Sunny, Southern location picked out. I need to know what type of Fig would grow well in N.E. Grants Pass. I'm looking for a smaller type if possible. Can the larger fig trees be pruned to stay small and will they produce fruit if pruned. Nancy Pyle

Josephine County Oregon

1 Response

These three figs are recommended for our area. ‘White Kadota,’ ‘Desert King’ and ‘Lattarula’. All have yellowish-green skin and amber flesh. They are sufficiently cold hardy, ripen nicely and may produce two harvests.

Except for pruning, which can be tricky for beginners, the plants are pretty bullet proof. Plant them in quick-draining soil in the hottest spot in the garden and you’ve done your duty.

When it comes time to plant – fall is optimal – choose a south-facing aspect where the sun shines all or most of the day. The soil should be loose enough to drain well. Adding organic material will help with that. Make sure the pH is neutral; shoot for 6.5 to 7. Adding lime to the soil will bring western Oregon’s typically acidic-leaning soil up to the correct level.

Planting is no different than other trees. Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball and the same depth as it is in the pot. Work some compost into the hole, place the plant and backfill with soil. Water well and you’re good to go. Rather than using commercial fertilizer, top dress the soil around the tree with compost once a year. Don’t expect fruit for the first few seasons.

As far as watering, less is more. Once roots are well established, an inch of water every couple of weeks is sufficient.

Though not as complicated to prune as other fruit trees, it takes some practice to learn the art of pruning fig trees. Most suggest growing your fig as a multi-trunked plant. The plant’s natural tendency is to branch, so why fight it? With two or three trunks, you can keep the tree lower and have the fruit easier to reach. There’s a lot of fruiting wood if you have multiple trunks.

To get going on pruning here are some suggestions:

  • Prune in January or February by opening up the interior of the tree and reducing its height. Start by standing back and studying the tree to see where you want to cut. To open up the interior, concentrate on taking out old wood, including a few large limbs. Leave about a third to a half of the 1-year growth because that is what produces fruit. It’s easy to tell the difference: The 1-year growth is green and smooth. Mature wood is gray. Also, the 1-year wood will have developing fruit on the tips of new growth that look like tiny nubbins.
  • Move on to the top of the tree. Unlike the rule not to cut the top off other trees, figs can be “topped” to restrict height. When reducing the height of a tree always make your reduction cut to an outward growing branch. In other words, come down the branch to a point where a side branch is growing outward and cut above that. This will spread the growth of the tree to improve light into the center. When reducing the height of a tree always make your reduction cut to an outward growing branch. By keeping good light in the interior, it will help to generate new wood lower in the canopy and keep fruit where you can reach it.
  • In colder winters the first crop of fruit may freeze. Check fruit when the tree leafs out in spring. If the fruit is black, it’s dead. As soon as you can, prune out the dead branch tips to generate new growth. The earlier you do this the better chance you have of getting the second crop of figs to ripen.

Hope this helps!