Heading fig trees for espalier training?

Hi all,

I purchased 4 figs this year from DWN, they are about 36". So far so good, they all have leaves and are doing well. My plan is to espalier these trees down a fence line and was wondering if I could head the tree next year during dormancy to around 18". I would like the first branch 12-18" off of the ground with another branch every foot or so up to 6’.

Can you cut these trees down that low? I know that they can be pruned heavily but I am nervous that they wont leaf out after being established for a year. I wanted to wait a year to help establish a root system. Does this seem like a good idea?

Thanks so much,


Yes, figs are tough and you almost never have to worry about root stock graft points. You can easily prune down to that point. To trigger branching, make a slight cut ABOVE the node that you want to push a branch.

I do not think you need to wait a full year to begin to establish your espalier.

Best of luck, let us know how things go and send pictures!

thanks @jct ! nice to see another san diegan. I am in the san marcos area. Thanks for the advice!

Remember figs fruit on new wood (same year) so plan on setting it up for that. New growth can be removed each year, well leave a node or two. Also they often sucker, some want to be a bush. You can give them tree form with time if one does that. If you cut that may stimulate suckers to grow when young.

I’m not too far from you, I’m down in the Rancho Penasquitos area. Which varieties did you pick up?

Oh nice! I picked up just some basics…
-celestial (I THINK!)

I wanted to pick up peters honey but they were out. Can you comment on best varieities from DWN?

Thanks so much!

I think you do have the basics covered. VdB is an excellent fig and Panache is supposed to be very good too. I have most of the others but am still waiting to taste some fruit. Unless you want more fig varieties NOW, I’d wait and look elsewhere. There are many better varieties out there than what DWN sells.

If you want to purchase now, another good source is figbid.com. The sellers are vetted by the site owners and disputes are actively moderated. Stay away from eBay as there are a lot of scammers selling false varieties (although some very respected fig growers also use this platform). Your local California Rare Fruit Growing association will host an annual scion exchange where you can pick up a ton of different varieties and this is where I picked up most of mine. Figaholics is a great source of high quality cuttings, but only in season (I think he’s finished selling at this point of the year) as well as https://willsfigs.com/.

There are some very knowledgeable fig growers on this forum, but for all things figs try ourfigs.com. There are close to two dozen SD fig growers on that forum. I’ve picked up several SoCal varieties that were found as seedlings and am eagerly awaiting fruit from them - but it may be a couple of years.

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That’s going to look beautiful, can’t wait to see pictures. VdB and panache are two of my favorite figs. I really like deanna too. We didn’t love the excel, it wasn’t bad, just simple and sweet and we ended up giving it away but our space is limited.

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@Lids, the Deanna cuttings you gave me a few years ago have turned into a nice little tree. We really liked the figs it produced! Thank you again!

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