What are Figs? How to Plant, Grow, and Harvest Figs

Figs are one of the oldest cultivated fruits in the world, with evidence of their cultivation dating back to at least 5,000 BC. Figs come in various colors, shapes, and sizes and have a sweet, nutty flavor that makes them extremely popular. They can be eaten fresh or dried, cooked into jams and jellies, and added to various recipes. Figs are also incredibly nutritious, packed with essential vitamins and minerals that can help protect against illnesses like cancer and heart disease. Here is everything you need to know about Figs.

What are Figs?

Figs are the fruit of a tree in the Ficus genus, native to parts of Africa, Asia, and Europe. These trees grow best in warm climates and can reach heights of up to 30 feet when mature. A single fig tree can produce up to 500 fruits each season. The fruits have a unique shape, with thin, leathery skin and soft, sweet pulp. The seeds are small and crunchy, adding texture to dishes.

History and Origin of Figs: 

Figs are believed to have been one of the earliest domesticated fruits, with evidence of their cultivation dating back as far as 5,000 BCE. Ancient Egyptians revered figs as a symbol of fertility, and they were often mentioned in religious texts. Figs were also an important part of Greek mythology and culture, where they played an integral role in many stories and even had their goddess, Demeter. It is believed that figs were first brought to Europe during Alexander the Great’s conquests in 334–323 BCE.

Since then, figs have been used in cooking and baking worldwide. They are particularly popular in Middle Eastern cuisine, where they are used to make fig preserves and stuffed with ground almonds. Figs are also a common ingredient in salads, sauces, and desserts throughout the Mediterranean region. They are a great source of dietary fiber, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Figs remain one of the most beloved fruits worldwide due to their sweet flavor and unique texture. They are enjoyed in savory and sweet dishes and can be served fresh, dried, or preserved.

Types of Figs: 

About 750 different types of figs worldwide, but only a few are widely cultivated. The most common varieties include Calimyrna, Mission, and Kadota.

  • Calimyrna figs have light green skin with golden flesh and a sweet flavor. They are commonly found dried or preserved and often used in baking.
  • Mission figs have a purplish-brown skin and a sweet, jammy flavor. They are most commonly eaten fresh but can also be found dried or canned.
  • Kadota figs have pale yellow skin with golden flesh and an intense sweetness. These figs are often used in jams, jellies, pastries, and desserts.

Nutritional Value of Figs: 

Figs are an excellent source of dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds beneficial for health. One fresh fig (about 40 grams) provides 37 calories, 0.5 grams of fat, 9.0 grams of carbohydrate, and 1.6 grams of protein. It also contains small amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium.

Figs are an excellent source of dietary fiber, providing 2.9 grams per 40-gram portion or about 11% of the daily recommendation for adults. Fiber is important for maintaining healthy digestion and can help lower cholesterol levels and regulate blood sugar levels.

Figs are also an excellent source of vitamins A, B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), and K, as well as minerals such as copper, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Figs contain essential fatty acids that help keep skin healthy and provide antioxidants that protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. The plant compounds found in figs may have additional health benefits such as anti-inflammatory effects and improving heart health.

Figs are a nutritious and versatile food that can be enjoyed fresh, dried, or preserved. They are an excellent source of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals that provide numerous health benefits. Enjoy them as part of a healthy diet to maximize their potential health benefits.

Uses of Figs: 

Figs have been used since ancient times in various culinary and medicinal applications. They are a popular snack, often eaten fresh or dried, added to salads, or used as a sweetener in drinks. Figs are also high in fiber, making them beneficial for digestive health. The fruit is rich in antioxidants that help protect against free radical damage and promote healthy aging. Additionally, the minerals found in figs may provide some protection against certain chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Figs are also a good source of calcium and magnesium, which can help maintain strong bones and teeth. Lastly, figs contain prebiotic compounds that may help improve gut health by encouraging healthy bacteria growth. All these benefits make figs an important part of a healthy diet.

Figs are also a versatile ingredient in the kitchen, used to prepare jams and preserves, baked goods, sauces, and other dishes. They can be added to smoothies for an extra boost of vitamins and minerals or blended into pancake batters for a light, sweet flavor. Fig leaves are sometimes used to wrap food during cooking as they impart their distinct flavor. Additionally, figs can be used to make wines and liquors due to their high sugar content. Overall, figs provide a great way to add flavor and nutrition to any meal!

fig trees

How to Plant Figs?

Figs are a popular choice of plant among gardeners around the world. Their sweet and juicy fruits are often used in jams, jellies, and syrups but can also be eaten raw or dried. Fig trees have an attractive form and make great additions to any landscape. This guide will discuss how to properly plant figs for a healthy harvest.

Choosing a Spot:

When selecting a spot for your fig tree, consider its location carefully. Figs require plenty of sunlight to grow, so it is best if the planting site receives at least six hours of full sun each day. Figs prefer well-draining soil that has been amended with compost or manure to provide essential nutrients. If your soil is poor, consider planting your figs in a raised bed or container.

Planting Your Fig Tree:

When it’s time to plant your fig tree, prepare the site by digging a hole twice as wide and twice as deep as the tree’s root ball. Add compost or manure to enrich the soil and help retain moisture. Place the root ball in the center of the hole and spread out its roots around it before filling it with soil. Firmly tamping down on the soil will help ensure there are no air pockets.

Watering & Feeding:

Figs require regular watering for optimal growth, so ensure you water your plants at least once a week. When the soil feels dry to the touch, water your tree deeply and allow the water to soak in. If your tree is planted in a container, it may need more frequent watering as containers tend to dry out quickly.

Figs also require regular feeding throughout the growing season for proper nutrition. Use a balanced fertilizer every three weeks or so and follow the instructions on the package for how much and how often to apply it. Mulching around your fig trees will help retain moisture, prevent weeds, and insulate against temperature changes during hot summer days and cold winter nights.

Harvesting & Pruning:

Figs are typically ready to harvest in late summer or fall once they’re soft and fragrant. When harvesting, twist the fruit off the stem as gently as possible, so you don’t damage the tree or branches.

It is also important to prune your fig trees regularly in order to keep them healthy and produce more fruit. Pruning helps maintain a desirable shape while encouraging strong growth and larger yields. During winter, prune any dead or damaged branches and thin out crowded tree areas for better air circulation. In late spring, cut back any limbs competing with each other for light or space.

Planting figs can be a rewarding experience that yields delicious fruits year after year. With proper planting, watering, feeding, harvesting, and pruning, your fig tree can be a beautiful addition to your yard and provide you with an abundance of fresh fruit. With a little bit of care, you’ll have a thriving fig tree that will be the envy of your neighborhood.

care for fig tree

How to Care for and Grow Figs?

Figs should be planted in well-draining soil and, if possible, on a south-facing slope. Planting in raised beds is ideal as it improves drainage. Figs will benefit from the addition of compost to the planting area. If you are planting multiple fig trees, space them at least 8 feet apart to provide ample room for growth.

Figs need plenty of sunlight and protection from strong winds; therefore, they should be pruned to a manageable size (no more than 15 feet tall). Pruning can also help encourage larger fruit production. Fertilize your fig tree with a balanced fertilizer once before bud break and twice during the growing season, as this will keep your tree healthy and productive.

Watering your fig tree is essential; however, you must be careful not to over-water and rot the roots. Depending on the soil type, water deeply once or twice a week. As with all plants, it’s important to check for signs of pests such as aphids and scale. If these are present, prune off affected branches and treat the area with an insecticidal soap solution according to directions.

Harvesting can begin in late summer when fruits have begun to ripen and become soft enough to break open easily. Figs that ripen early will often have split open before harvest time, so watch for them carefully! Store harvested figs in a cool place until ready to use.

Figs are a delicious, low-maintenance treat that can be enjoyed indoors or out. With the proper care and attention, your fig tree will reward you with sweet fruits for years to come! Enjoy!

ready to harvest fig

Prevention from Pests and Diseases of Figs: 

Fig pests and diseases can lead to poor yields and significant crop losses. Therefore, it is important to take preventive steps to protect the figs from potential threats.

  • Cultural Control: The most important step in preventing fig pests and diseases is proper care of the trees. This includes removing any dead or damaged branches, keeping up with pruning, fertilizing the soil regularly, mulching around the tree’s base, and providing adequate irrigation when required. Additionally, you should inspect your trees often for signs of pest infestations or fungal diseases and remove infected material promptly when noticed.
  • Chemical Control: Chemical control may be necessary if preventive measures are not enough to control a pest or disease problem. This involves using chemical sprays or dust clouds applied to the trees’ foliage, stems, and fruit. Be sure to choose a product specifically designed for figs, as many insecticides and fungicides can harm other plants. Always read and follow label instructions carefully when applying any chemical.
  • Biological Control: Several beneficial insects can help keep pests and diseases in check, such as ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps. Additionally, some fungi can act as natural enemies against fungal diseases like powdery mildew or botrytis blight. Introducing these helpful species around your fig trees may also help prevent pest infestations and disease outbreaks from occurring.
  • Sanitation: Keeping the area around fig trees clean and free of debris is also an effective way to reduce pest problems, as this will help minimize potential sources of food and shelter for insects or other animals. Additionally, harvest any ripe figs promptly, so they do not become a source of infestation or disease transmission. Good sanitation practices can go a long way in keeping your fig trees healthy and productive.

With proper care and preventive measures, you can keep your fig trees safe from pests and diseases all year round!

How to Harvest Figs?

Harvesting figs at the right time is key to getting their best flavor and texture. Depending on the type of fig you are harvesting, the timing for picking can vary. Generally, ripe figs should be picked when they feel soft and tender but before they become overripe or mushy.

If you’re growing a cold-tolerant variety like Mission or Brown Turkey, harvest them when their skin turns deep purple-black in color. If your tree is producing multiple harvests throughout the season (like Celeste), wait until its second or third crop has fully ripened before picking them all off. You may also notice that some of your figs are turning brown near the stem, which signifies that they’re ready to be picked.

When picking figs, use caution and don’t grab too hard, or you may bruise or puncture them with your fingernails. Instead, look for individual fruits that have softened and become tender to the touch. Gently pull them off their stems with your fingertips when their skin has a slightly glossy appearance. Make sure to leave about an inch of the stem attached, as this will help keep the fruit fresh for longer.

After harvesting, it’s best to refrigerate figs in an airtight container within two days of picking them. If you can’t eat all of your freshly picked figs in that time frame, you can freeze them for up to a year.

Harvesting and eating fresh figs is one of the greatest pleasures of being a home gardener. With proper care and harvesting techniques, you’ll enjoy their sweet flavor all season long! Enjoy your bounty!

How to Store Figs?

Figs are delicious and nutritious fruit that can be enjoyed fresh, dried, or preserved. If you’ve purchased or grown figs and want to make sure they stay as fresh and flavorful as possible, there are several methods for storing them.

Fresh figs should be stored at room temperature in a loosely sealed paper bag or perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator. They will keep best when not exposed to ethylene-producing fruits such as apples, bananas, and tomatoes. Fresh figs should be consumed within 2-3 days of purchase.

Dried figs can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container away from light sources for up to 6 months. Refrigeration is not necessary but can prolong the life of the figs for up to a year.

Figs preserved in syrup or honey should also be stored at room temperature in an airtight container away from light sources. The shelf life of these preserves is 6 months or longer, depending on the ingredients and method used to preserve them.

Finally, fig puree can be frozen in ice cube trays and transferred to an airtight plastic bag or container with a tight-fitting lid. These cubes will keep frozen for up to 12 months.

No matter which way you store your figs, it’s important to inspect them regularly for signs of spoilage, such as mold, discoloration, and squishy texture. Discard any figs that show these signs of spoilage to avoid foodborne illness.

By following these tips, you can enjoy fresh and delicious figs anytime! Enjoy your figs!

harvested fig

How to Use Homegrown Figs? 

Growing homegrown figs can be a rewarding experience, yielding delicious fruits that will make your mouth water! Figs are heat-loving trees that require a lot of sunshine and well-drained soil. Planting them in the right spot and providing the proper care is essential for a successful harvest.

When planting, you should choose an area with full sun (at least 6 hours per day) and good air circulation. The soil should be slightly acidic (pH 6 to 7), light, and fertile, with plenty of organic matter added in. Make sure to dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball but only deep enough so that the plant sits at its original depth when placed in the ground. Water thoroughly after planting and mulch the soil to help retain moisture.

Once established, figs require minimal pruning and care. Figs should be watered regularly during dry periods, with a deep soaking once or twice a week. If your soil is sandy, it will need more water than clay-based. Fertilize in spring and late summer to boost fruit production – use an organic fertilizer like composted manure or blood meal.

Figs are ready to pick when their skin color darkens, and they feel soft and tender when you gently squeeze. Harvest carefully by cutting the stem above the cap — don’t pull on the fruit, as this may damage both the tree and the fruit itself. Enjoy your figs as soon as possible — eat them fresh or use them in baking, preserves, and other recipes.

Finally, keep an eye on your fig tree for any signs of pests or diseases throughout the summer and fall months. Regularly inspect the leaves, fruits, and stems of the tree, and take prompt action if you notice anything out of the ordinary. With proper care and a little bit of know-how, you can have a delicious harvest of homegrown figs!

uses of fig

Potential Risks from Homegrown Figs: 

Homegrown figs may have a few potential risks associated with them:

  1. They can be toxic if consumed in large quantities or when unripe. This is because the saponin content in unripe figs can cause digestive issues, nausea, and vomiting.
  2. Since wasps pollinate figs, there’s a slight risk of an allergic reaction to the pollen of these fruits. It’s also important to ensure that homegrown figs are properly cleaned before consuming them, as dirt and other contaminants can remain on them even after washing.
  3. It’s important to ensure that any pesticides used to treat the plants are approved for use on fig trees so you don’t accidentally ingest any toxic chemicals.

All in all, there are a few potential risks associated with homegrown figs, but they’re easily mitigated if you practice proper safety and hygiene measures when harvesting them.


Homegrown figs are delicious, easy to grow, and a great way to enjoy fresh fruit in season. With proper planting, care, harvesting, and storage techniques, you can enjoy sweet and juicy homegrown figs all season long! While there may be a few potential risks associated with homegrown figs, these can be easily avoided by following basic safety guidelines. So go ahead and add some homegrown figs to your garden this summer – they’re sure to be a tasty treat that the whole family will love!

1 thought on “What are Figs? How to Plant, Grow, and Harvest Figs”

Comments are closed.