Growing a fig tree in Arizona can be phenomenally rewarding. They grow two harvests per growing season, produce deliciously sweet fruit and are beautiful trees. Fig trees might take about 3 or more years to start producing a viable crop, but when they really start to produce you will have all the figs you can eat!
Figs being one of the oldest cultivated crops were a favorite of some of our oldest societies. The ancient Greeks, Romans, and even Egyptians enjoyed figs. Fig trees grow anywhere from 10 – 30 feet tall. The plants have leaves that make them look particularly tropical. The common fig tree is deciduous, so you can expect for the leaves to come off in the fall. Having all of its flowers as “female”, the fig does not require pollination to develop fruit. This means you will have bigger crops without having to rely on pollination.
In fact there are usually 2 cycles of harvesting figs per year. The first crop has the name “breba”. This is a crop that is the maturation of the previous growing year’s buds. The following crop is actually the main crop and is the fruit that develops from the buds that are set in spring and summer.
What Figs Taste Like
There are many varieties of fig trees, and fig flavors. A few of the most popular that have become mainstays of our pantries are; Brown Turkey, Black Mission, Sierra, Kadota, Calimyrna and King Fig Trees. Flavors can vary from nutty, caramel-coffee to maple syrup, caramel, honey and almond, and raspberry.
What To Do With Figs
Many new fig tree owners are surprised with the volume of fruit these trees provide, once they are properly matured. It does take a couple of years after planting to get your tree to produce its first fruit. However when the going gets good, it really gets going. Many fig tree owners scramble to hurry and start making jam. But there is so much more that can be done with these versatile fruits.
Here are some of the ways you can enjoy your figs:
Add Flavor To Your Meat – While cooking up a roast for your holiday or weekend meal toss a few figs in with the meat. As they cook they release an wonderful aroma and slowly release their savory juices into the sauce.
Figs In The Batter – When you are making cookies, muffins or scones throwing some fig into the batter can add some unique and delicious flavor. It will set your treats apart and give them a wonderfully unique taste.
Fig Chutney – Chop up some figs and simmer them with a couple sprigs of thyme. Toss in some caramelized onions for a deliciously rich fig chutney. This can be a wonderful addition to your cracker and cheese platters to add some depth and variety.
Planting A Fig Tree In Your Mesa Backyard
Choosing Fig Trees – Most types of fig trees will grow anywhere. But some do better in the hot dry climate we have here in Mesa, AZ. The Conadria and the Kadota fig trees are a couple of the best suited for the Arizona heat.
- Conadria Fig Trees are one of the largest fig trees, and has a high sugar content to the fruit. The fruit a Conadria produces can be used to eat fresh or make great dried fruit. This fig type also resists spoiling in rainy weather and has a small eye size. The small eye size helps with insect resistance.
- Kadota Fig Trees produce a medium to large size fruit. The fruit is yellow in color and deliciously sweet. The fruit from the Kadota fig tree ripen best with hot temperatures and full sun. The Kadota fig tree is grown extensively and is actually one of the most common types of fig to find in the grocery stores.
Choosing A Site – Depending on the type of fig tree you choose you will need to consider the width around where you are planting the tree. Fig trees can grow very large, spanning from 10-30 feet. In fact they can be wider than they are tall. Another consideration when choosing your site to plant your Mesa fig tree is the leaves it will drop. The fig is a deciduous tree and if you have a pool you’ll want to plant this tree in the front yard or as far as practical from your pool. Requiring at least 8-10 hours of full sun a day you’ll also want to keep your fig tree away from the house or anywhere that’s excessively shaded. Needing a soil type that drains well, the sandy soils you find here in Mesa are actually pretty ideal for a fig tree.
Planting Fig Trees – Like most trees that you want to plant in the desert, the time to plant the fig tree is in the fall or early spring. This gives the root system time to mature and be ready for the harsh summer weather we have here in Mesa.
Watering Fig Trees – During normal summer heat in Mesa fig trees require watering about every 3-5 days. If its unusually hot and Arizona is setting records you should water more often. If you’re unsure of if your tree needs water use a soil probe to find out. All trees should be watered to a depth of 3 feet each time there is a irrigation event. There’s no hard and fast rule for how much water it will take for it to reach 3 feet as different soil types will take longer.
Fertilizing Your Fig Tree – Many times fig trees that are planted directly in the ground have no need for fertilization. The exception is if they are planted in sandy soil. If you’re unsure if your soil has the required nutrients you can have your soil tested by a lab. If your soil is deemed to be low in nutrients get a half a pound of nitrogen and divide it equally into 3 treatments. Apply the nitrogen in the months of growth, May, June, and July.
Pruning Fig Trees – One of the greatest parts of growing figs from your own fig tree in Mesa is that they rarely require pruning. They produce two crops per growing season and are best pruned after the second harvest. If you wait and try to prune your fig during the winter risk removing some of the fruit already growing that would be in your first harvest.
Mesa Fig Tree Pests – Luckily in Arizona we don’t have as many pests to worry about as some regions in the United States. There are 3 pests you might encounter with your fig tree. The green fig beetle, birds and gophers are the most common pests for this area. To protect your figs from the beetle and birds you can cover the fruit with bagging or netting. There is little that can be done about gophers.
If you’d like to learn more about fig trees in Mesa or you’re ready to buy one come see the experts at A&P Nursery at one of their 4 convenient Mesa locations.
A & P Nursery
40370 N. Gantzel Rd.
Queen Creek, AZ 85240
A & P Nursery
2645 W. Baseline Rd.
Mesa, Arizona 85202
A & P Nursery
6129 E. Brown Rd.
Mesa, Arizona 85205
A & P Nursery &
2601 E. Baseline Rd.
Gilbert, Arizona 85234