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When to Transplant a Potted Fig Tree

When to Transplant a Potted Fig Tree

There is nothing like biting into a fresh fig. Figs are juicy, delicious flowers turned in on themselves. All one needs is to eat a ripe fig bursting with flavor, and they’ll happily surrender a portion of their yard to grow this bushy plant with its unique foliage and flower fruit.

Maybe you’re already sold on fig trees and picked one up from a nursery recently. Perhaps you’ve kept a fig tree potted for a few years and want to know the best time to plant it. 

Fig trees can be transplanted during any mild to moderate seasons. The only times you are limited in transplanting are when the ground is frozen or during times of excessive heat.

Let’s look at some helpful guidelines to follow when transplanting a potted fig tree.

When Should You Plant Your Potted Fig Tree?

One perk of potted fig trees is the flexibility when planting them. 

Buy fig trees online and have them delivered to your door (link to Nature Hills Nursery)

Potted Fig Trees Can Be Transplanted Almost Anytime

Their bare-root counterparts require planting within a short window of time during dormancy, but potted fig trees can be planted year-round.

The only time you definitely can’t plant fig trees is when the ground is frozen, but most fig trees are not well-suited for cold climates anyway. 

The Hardy Chicago Fig is an exception as it is rated for zones as far north as 5, but precautions should be taken to prevent winter injury. Brown Turkey figs are rated up to Zone 6. 

Also, avoid transplanting during intense heat because the process is more stressful on the tree and requires a lot of water.

Dormancy is Best For Successful Transplant

The best time to plant potted figs is during dormancy after limbs shed their leaves and before new leaves form. 

Dormancy is when the trees essentially hibernate, though roots are still active as long as the ground remains above freezing. Trees aren’t as likely to experience transplant shock during this time. 

When planted in late fall, roots have several months to establish themselves in their new home before demands are placed on them to support leaf and fruit production. 

Also, planting in fall requires less water which saves you money and effort. If you transplant during the growing season, make sure to provide your fig tree with plenty of water.

Plant Where You Have a Sunny Space

Fig trees love the sun and heat. They need 8+ hours of sun during the growing season. 

You can plant figs in the open, but south-facing walls are desirable when planting in colder climates. Take advantage of the light and heat that reflects off of buildings.

If you’re planting against a wall, the Royal Horticultural Society recommends placing the tree 18 inches from the wall to take full advantage of rainfall. 

If You Want Greater Fruit Production

Fig tree fruit production is hastened by root restriction. Growing fig trees in pots trigger them to produce fruit sooner than if they’re planted directly in the ground.

However, eventually a fig tree will max out the capacity of your pot, and you will need to prune back branches and roots to keep it potted.

If you desire more figs than your potted tree can provide, transplant it in a space that meets its sun and space requirements. This will allow further growth and fruit production. 

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Planted trees are also lower maintenance as they require less pruning and watering than potted trees.

If you want to maximize fruit production when planting in the ground, the Royal Horticultural Society suggests lining the bottom of your planting hole with rubble and the sides with pieces of pavement to restrict large roots.

When There Are No Root-Knot Nematodes

Figs are known to be disease resistant and low maintenance. However, even they are not immune to the destructive, microscopic, soil-borne root-knot nematode.

Test your soil for this fig pest prior to planting. 

The University of Georgia warns that root-knot nematodes can weaken and eventually kill fig trees even with proper care like pruning and fertilization (source). 

Root-knot nematodes are difficult to get rid of, so do not plant your figs if they are present in the soil.

Transplant Potted Fig Trees When The Soil is Ready

Also, test your soil for proper pH. It needs to be between 5.5 and 6.5 according to the University of Georgia

The University of Maryland recommends preparing the soil by fertilizing it with well-rotted manure. The decomposition should be advanced enough for the roots to absorb the nutrients (source). 

Do not bother fertilizing the soil underneath the roots because the root system primarily grows beneath the soil’s surface.

Consider Keeping Figs Potted in Colder Zones

If you live in Zones 5-7 and are concerned about winter injury, consider keeping your fig tree potted, especially if you are growing a fig rated for a warmer region.

Find smaller cultivars such as Blanche or Brown Turkey that are well-suited for pots. 

As cold weather sets in, move the pot to a garage, greenhouse, or other protected space. 

Bear in mind that potted plants require more water than those in the ground.

I hope you feel equipped to determine when to transplant your fig tree. In brief, test and prepare the soil, consider sun exposure in your location, and plant in late fall if you can. 

Remember that the effort you put into transplanting is worth a bounty of gooey, tasty flower fruit.

Buy fig trees online and have them delivered to your door (link to Nature Hills Nursery)

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