Pruning fig trees in pots
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Figs are part of the Ficus genus, a group of plants that have made a name for themselves throughout history. In fact, there is mention of figs and fig trees cultivated in the most famous gardens throughout history particularly those across the Ottoman Empire, Europe, and the Mediterranean. Fig trees can produce fruit as long as you give them adequate light and protection against severe cold and if grown in a greenhouse will often produce two sets of fruit a year. Given the range of varieties, there are plenty of figs you can grow in containers but the most popular variety is probably Brown Turkey. Like most fruit tree varieties that you grow in containers, you will still have to maintain them with watering being a big part. This also includes properly pruning of your fig trees in pots. Something to note is that they grow much less vigorously in pots than those grown in the ground so generally need minimal pruning.
Growing in Pots
Fig trees grown in containers will thrive if you can move them indoors for the winter and can even be grown in the home almost as a house plant. It is important that you find a fig tree variety that is suitable for where you live, especially if you live in a colder area more prone to very cold wet weather. If you want the tree to actually produce fruit you also have to pick a self-pollinating plant to make things easier. When grown in containers you need to offer well-draining soil and moisture retention to the plant while also ensuring the container is a large enough size for the plant to mature. To encourage additional fruit you can fertilise in the spring. You can also maintain a strong frame for your tree by pruning as we will now discuss below.
Pruning Fig Trees in Pots
You should prune after your fruit has ripened, something that typically happens in the middle of summer. This gives your fig tree enough time to harden off its fresh growth which will be stimulated by the pruning process. Younger trees will respond quite positively to light pruning in order to produce stronger branches. Given the fact that fruit is grown on branches from the previous season, you don’t want to prune the main fruiting branches.
When grown in pots the aim of pruning is to form a well balanced open crown so that the light can get into the centre of the canopy which helps ripen the fruit.
In early spring remove any branches that spoil the over the shape as well as any branches that are damaged or diseased as well as any crossing branches. In early summer you can also pinch out the tips of new growth but do not do this any later than June.
Finally, in Autumn remove any fruit that did not ripen but do not remove the tiny small fruit as these will form the following year’s figs.
A set of pruning secateurs should be properly cleaned so that you do not accidentally transfer bacteria or fungus when you make your cuts. For younger fig tree, you want to remove any suckers that are coming up from the main root structure around the base. You also want to trim any excess branches so that you only have four to six very strong peripheral branches.