A native to western Asia, fig has the reputation of being one of the oldest fruits in the world, being around since 5000 BC. It can either be a small tree or a tall deciduous shrub with a height that can easily go beyond ten feet. It has large, bright green, and alternate leaves. The flowers, meanwhile, are not visible. You can find them inside the fruit. The first fruit is the breba crop while the second one is the main crop. While you can eat it fresh, it is also known for other uses, such as confectionery, alcoholic beverages, and even as a laxative.
Some figs can be too big for indoor gardens, which is why it is important to pay attention to the variety that you will plant. Among others, one of the most popular is the Brown Turkey, which is known for its medium fruit and ease of maintenance. Blanche, or Italian honey fig, will also thrive in an indoor environment. It has an amber yellow fruit and a dense canopy. Another variety you might want to plant is the Celeste fig, which bears fruits that are commonly dried.
Planting and Growing Conditions
The best way to grow fig is from a young and small planting stock, which you can purchase from a local nursery. You can also use cuttings for propagation, although this might take quite an effort. It is not recommended that you plant figs from seeds, especially if you are impatient and a novice gardener.
Choosing the right pot is one of the most important initial steps in planting fig. You can choose any material, but make sure that there are drainage holes at the bottom. Also, choose larger pots in order to accommodate the growth of the tree. Nonetheless, you can start with a small pot to save space and when the plant grows larger, you can transfer it to a bigger pot so as not to restrict the growth of the roots or the plant.
Aside from the pot, the right choice of soil will also be critical. You can purchase and organic potting soil and use this as your planting medium. As an alternative, you can also create your own mix, which should include a well-draining loamy soil and compost. It is important that the soil is light to allow aeration. Fill the pot with a soil, about half and bury the roots. Cover the top part with more soil and water.
The right external environment will play a huge role in the development of your plant. Look for a place that is warm and that receives plenty of sunlight throughout the day, such as a windowsill. There should also be plenty of air circulation, especially during the hotter months. During the initial months, they should receive up to eight hours of sunlight in a day. Nonetheless, the light should be filtered to prevent drying out.
Aside from being delicious, figs are also abundant with health benefits, including the following:
- Promotes Weight Loss: If you are struggling to shed off unwanted pounds, eating figs will help. It is high in fiber, which makes it good for digestion, especially if you consume it in moderation.
- Lowers Cholesterol: This is primarily because of pectin, a form of a soluble fiber. Basically, it gets rid of the excess cholesterol and excretes it out of the body.
- Prevents Diabetes: Figs are also excellent anti-diabetic food. In fact, according to the American Diabetes Association, figs are excellent for the functional control of diabetes. They also prevent oxidative stress that results from diabetes.
- Strengthens the Bone: It is also a rich source of calcium, which supplements the minerals that are needed to have stronger bones, especially for those who are aging. More so, it also has phosphorus that can help in bone formation.
- Improves Heart Health: Especially when the figs are dried, it has high levels of antioxidants that will protect the heart from a variety of diseases. It prevents the damages that are caused by free radicals. Figs will lessen the likelihood of suffering from coronary heart disease.
Pests and Diseases
Weather and location are some of the things that can make the fig tree prone to a number of problems, which can affect the quality of the fruit and the overall health of the plant. When it comes to diseases, some of the most common include fig rust, fig mosaic, anthracnose, and leaf blight. There are also several pests that can bring infestation, such as aphids, and mealybugs.
Care and Maintenance
Here are some tips that every novice gardener will find helpful when growing figs:
- Fertilizing is necessary at least once only in the growing season. Since the plant is not a heavy feeder, avoid too much fertilizer as this can affect the ability to bear fruits. Choose fertilizers that have low nitrogen and high phosphorus. You can also use organic fertilizers like bone meal.
- When it comes to watering the tree, there are different factors that will come into play, such as the type of container and the climate in where you live. Water more frequently if it is too hot. As long as the containers have drainage holes, overwatering will not be an issue.
- Repotting is also essential to accommodate the growth of the tree. When repotting, make sure to choose a potting mix that does not hold too much water. Also, the pot should be bigger than the previous one.
- Know when to harvest the fruit depending on the variety. The change in color is one of the most common indications that it is ready for harvest or once it becomes soft to the touch. If you harvest late, ants and wasps can infect the fruit.
- At the start of winter, your fig tree needs protection from the chilling temperature, even if it is already indoors. With this, it would be best to transfer the plant in an unlit and warm area, such as the garage.
A delicious fruit and a beautiful decorative plant, figs can survive even when you grow them indoors. To be successful, one of the most important is to choose the right variety, making sure that it will grow in a container. Pay attention as well to the external growing requirements, such as light and temperature.