Fig fertilizer?

I am looking for some type of insight as to what I should add to my figs for better production. They are several Hardy Chicago, in ground. Soon to be more, plus Olympian, Negronne, can’t remember the others. I have wants of cold-hardy black figs like Takoma Violet, or maybe a Brown Turkey further away, so the whole area will be prepped and later treated the same. I have never added fertilizer at all- just left the fig bushes to fend for themselves. Compost or mulch to keep weeds away. Currently hostas beneath, some Solomons Seal, I think Star of Bethlehem. The dandelions stay away from here, but might have a nettle problem. I have not tested this soil, but that is what grows now. Should I test, or just add fertilizer?

1 Like

Not sure what is recommended… but I have one Chicago Hardy fig… this past spring was its 3rd year. I had successfully protected 5 stumps about 16 inches long over the winter.

I gave it a half handful of balanced organic fertilizer… a bit of Epsom salt and green sand… and 50 lbs compost… and a thick layer pine bark mulch.

I let it send up 10 shoots and most of those grew over 10 ft tall… 300+ figs harvested in yr 3.

Mid summer I did give it another half handful of organic fertilizer.

The last month or two I had to harvest figs with a step ladder.

I plan to do the same this next spring.


Fully aged animal manure is probably the best. If you get a chicken farm or horse farm, you can get busy.

Other than that, you can use any of the organic balanced fertilizers such as Holy Tone etc. 5-5-5 or 7-7-7. This tends to be slow and not a huge boost.

A lot fig collectors use regular water soluble fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro, particularly with container trees. It is very slow for any organic fertilizer to act and those trees need a lot of boost.


Ok, i have a general purpose fertilizer and use manure for my garden. I just hadn’t bothered for the fig- it’s about 5 years old. I figured it might want something. Last year it put out so much fruit it was wonderful.

Some gently fertilized fig trees grow like 2-3’ a year. But well fertilized fig trees can grow like 6-7’ a year. But we need to be careful how we feed the trees. Some people complain about figs being watery and lack of taste. Watering and fertilizing may have something to do with it. Maybe most of us can tell the difference store bought blueberry vs the blueberry we pick from our garden.

I guess this is the reason both figs and grapes taste really good from regions like Greece, Italy and France where they get dry soil. Low water content and rich in minerals.

1 Like

Osmocote Plus is $11/bag shipped on Amazon. That’s about as easy as it gets. I use it on potted and in ground figs.


Your urine has ample quickly available N and K and salt buildup is not a problem in the humid region where you live. It’s what I have used for 25 years to fertilize my own fig trees. My idea is you want vigorous growth out of dormancy and not while fruit is ripening, so I stop fertilizing by mid summer. Slow release fertilizers don’t give you any control and simply release more N as soil warms regardless of need. Fine for establishing trees but not so much for maintaining bearing ones- at least where it rains right into harvest season.


You can’t beat up cycling and free. Also keeping “waste” out of the sewage system. :wink:

I am going to restart my basement bucket with a few modifications to reduce odors. It should make a serious impact on pawpaw and apple tree growth this year. I will try a tiny bit with all of my fig cuttings once well rooted too.

@franc1969 as far as I know, all of the cuttings from your Hardy Chicago you sent me are happily growing, both by me or friends /family. I’m happy to share my new additions with you once big enough to take cuttings (maybe the end of 2022 if in ground for winter pruning).


In my business I’m left with lots of 2.5 gallon jugs that had hort oil in them. I pee into a small gas can and during winter transfer them into these. 2.5 gallon jugs are used to hold many substances for commercial use, certainly landscape companies should be happy to give some away, although state laws can be restrictive when a container held something labeled as pesticide- even hort oil containers are in that category in NYS.

Plastic gas containers can sometimes be found for free at recycling centers.


I utilize the spent 5 gallon DEF buckets from the truck at work. They come with a spout and have a handle built into the bottom. Fantastic for the current topic. The brand is Traveler (from tractor supply). I just need to rig up a funnel and bend the accordion style spout to incorporate an air trap and I’ll be good to go.

markup_89907691000900 (1)


Our fig trees grow too fast for my liking without fertilizer so I don’t fertilize every year, in our hot climate the only benefit to fertilizing is that it can speed up the start of cropping a little. I think that in rainy climates like ours the fertilizer dissolves much faster than in a much drier climate. When I fertilize I use Holly-tone, this year I am going to experiment with nutrients and fertilizer.


Fertilizer needs are even more site specific than species specific. For figs, it also depends partially how you manage them. I dig up mine very year to store in my unheated, dug into a hillside, well-house, which tears up the roots. It’s important with this method to get early vigorous growth that the severe root pruning works against. The figs all form on new growth of the season they ripen- besides brebas.


Most of the fig growth comes from the first one to two months. So if you uncover fig trees by April 15, it’s too late to apply Holy Tone or other organic fertilizer. It takes too much time. This is why animal manure or other animal waste products can act fast.

Also in organic orchard, farmers dig a trench in late winter or early spring. They mix in compost plus manure if they want. They also root prune the trees. I believe this technique can be used for most fruit trees. I know they do this on jujube trees. We can certainly do this with our in ground trees. I try to remember to do this in spring.

For fertilizer, I am on the light side. I like small dry berries with more flavor. But container plants do need to be fed. Water soluble is the way to go. We can use compost tea, fish fertilizer or human ursine etc.


What farmers and what root stocks of what species? I have not heard of root pruning becoming standard practice for any kind of commercial fruit production in the U.S.

I would not root prune trees without some kind of specific info on how much to what affect. Here is an article about root pruning apples that does that.

1 Like

If you’re looking for fast acting liquid organic fertilizers there are many water soluble soy and corn based products now that give amazing fast results. No need to rely on chemical fertilizers because you need ‘fast results’. Liquid organic fertilizers work immediately. This includes fish emulsion also. I no longer use that really but do use water soluble organic powders. Naturesafe makes excellent water soluble organic fertilizers. Just mix with water and you have a fast acting organic liquid feed. Very potent stuff too, I have a 7-7-7 and a 14-0-0. They can be purchased online from Seven Springs Farm in VA.


I believe root pruning is critically important for jujube since it sends out root runners far and away. I believe it is common practice in China and probably Korea too.

Yes, root pruning is important to control the vigor of the fruit trees. Canopy normally goes with the size of the root mass. This can force the fruit trees to reduce vigor and turn to fruit production. At least the theory.

If root pruning is not important, farmers can still dig a shallow trench and spread compost. It is far more effective than piling compost above the root mass.

1 Like

Pardon me if I missed it, but I wanted to stress that figs become more vulnerable to cold when growing vigorously.

If there are nettles growing, the soil is plenty rich.


Yes. My in-ground trees only grow about 2’ a year. I’m happy with that. I’d rather grow thick strong branches than 5’ thin branches. But my container trees did not grow much since I did not put down much fertilizer.


I really like the results of organic fertilizers but having over 200 fruiting plants cost is prohibitive. It’s not important to me to be organic. So I mostly use chemical slow release. Their are now numerous commercial products that use patented time release controls that work very well. So for under $100 I can fertilize everything. I have been using Hyr Brix Fruit and Berry fertilizer. It contains just about everything you need. I also like the fact these companies keep up with current research. Such as for this product which requires fall application to reach maximum efficacy, as per label instructions.
I too like slow growth with less space between nodes, so I try to use a little less than label amounts suggest. Currently a 50 pound bag goes for $52.87 and requires one application a season.
I do supplement if needed with organics. I have not used on my blueberries as Hollytone has worked so well for me. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.
I also like Anderson’s General Purpose fertilizer too. Nice product that works very well! A 9 month slow release product.
Probably the best is Florikan although you have to pay for it. About 87 bucks for 50 pounds.
These products mimic the release rate of organics. Thus run off is less of an issue.
My only complaint about HYR Brix is it uses a funky NPK ratio. Most plants like a 3-1-2 ratio as research has shown. This is the average ratio plants actually use. Although it can vary with species.
Anderson has a ratio of 18-6-12 Florikan varies by product. The NPK plus product has a ratio of 18-5-12. Obviously these products are following the science. All available from LE Leonard which offers free shipping about 3 times a year. When they do, I buy. I currently have 80 pounds on hand, so all ready for next year. Well I did apply already in fall as the HYR Brix product suggests. The others may be best in spring. Florikan products were developed with the assistance of NASA for use in space.
I like to use supplements for any micro nutrients not available in any one product. So I usually use various organics in conjunction with these products. Using a lower amount than suggested usually. As I said, I prefer slower growth. This is what works for me, one must find what works for themselves as we all have different needs, and conditions.


@ Drew51

So all the above fertilizers are water soluble ones?