We propagate fig trees of various sizes and many varieties,
which are very suitable as a gift for birth, baptism, birthdays or as a tree of life (Celtic June 14-23).
THE FIG TREE -
PROBABLY THE OLDEST CULTIVATED PLANT
In a Neolithic settlement in the Jordan Valley, up to 11,400 old figs were found,
which apparently come from trees that were propagated by cuttings.
The Assyrians cultivated wild figs in Western Asia around 5000 years ago.
The fig is mentioned in the Bible as one of the fruits of the promised land (Deuteronomy) and
was an important food. Because of its great value as a food, the fig also gained
symbolic meaning for wealth and fertility.
The fig belongs to the mulberry family (Moraceae). Some species have come to be known as houseplants:
Ficus benjamina (weeping fig), Ficus elastica (rubber tree), Ficus lyrata (violin fig).
The main types of fruit that are cultivated are Ficus carica L.
Wild forms of fig trees can be 50 to 90 years old and up to ten meters high.
Figs are deciduous and also evergreen in the subtropics. All Ficus species have milk sap cells.
Today the real fig tree is grown in the whole Mediterranean area as well as in Asia Minor, California, Mexico, Eastern Australia,
New Zealand, grown plantations in large parts of Africa and China.
Figs come to us mainly from Turkey (almost three quarters) and Greece (almost a quarter) and the rest from Italy and Spain. Italian figs are in season from June to August and Greek figs from September to November.
In the temperate zone in Austria and Germany (Palatinate), in mild regions of the wine-growing climate, winter-hardy varieties can also overwinter in our open ground and develop ripe fruits. It is advantageous to use small climate areas like a warm south wall.
The fig can actually only be pollinated by the fig gall wasp (Blastophaga psenes),
whose life cycle is closely tied to fig development. The cultivars cultivated today are parthenocarp, ie
they produce fruits even without pollination (like cultivated bananas).
Depending on the variety, the fig produces up to three generations of inflorescences every year:
The first generation, the summer fruits, ripen from June / July.
They are created in late summer or autumn before and overwinter on the plant.
The second generation, the autumn fruits, ripen in mild years from August / September.
Autumn fruits ripen on the shoot of the same year.
The third generation, the winter fruits, are harvested from December to March.
As a rule, these fruits do not ripen in our temperate climate zone.
Figs are aggregate fruits that, like raspberries, consist of many small stone fruits.
We differentiate between yellow, green, red and dark purple to black fig varieties.
The pulp is colored white, golden yellow, reddish or purple, depending on the variety.
The fruits are ripe when they can be detached from the branch under slight pressure and only ripen on the tree.
When shopping, you can only recognize ripe figs by their taste.
Figs are ripe when they have their varietal color and can be detached from the branch with light finger pressure.
Since they are very sensitive to pressure, you should only touch them in the handle area and store them padded.
Fig leaves are ideal as a base and decoration. Figs are perishable and should be marketed or processed quickly. As a sign of overripeness, a drop of honey emerges from the opening at the tip (ostiolum).
Winter hardiness, protection and wintering
The temperature is the limiting factor for the location in the field.
However, figs adapt well to different climates. Precipitation of 500-700mm per year is sufficient.
They need a lot of sun and warmth, especially in autumn.
Fig planting makes sense here in mild regions (wine-growing areas).
In severe winters, the shoots freeze far back. Thanks to its good ability to regenerate, a lush shrub can build up again,
which loses its leaves in winter.
In the long history of cultivation of the fig tree, varieties have been found that are frost-tolerant in the winter dormancy stage. Depending on the variety, damage occurs at winter temperatures below approx. -15 ° C.
Plants in the open ground are covered with fleece, brushwood, leaves or straw mats.
Mulching is very important - the covering of the ground (e.g. with shredded material or grass clippings), which has proven itself due to the fig's superficial root system. Mulching prevents the soil and roots from freezing deeply in winter.
So the plant sprouts out of the rhizome again after extreme winters, when above-ground shoots have died.
In the case of larger trees, the trunk can be wrapped in winter fleece.
They can even endure temperatures below -25 ° C.
To overwinter the potted plants, the figs are brought to the winter quarters as late as possible.
Since the leaves are shed in late autumn, they can be dark, dry and
wintered cool at temperatures of +2 to + 5 ° C (cold house).
Figs thrive in light, deep, calcareous (alkaline pH between 6 and 8) well drained soils.
They adapt well to different types of soil. In the case of potted plants, the soil should have a high proportion (approx. 40%)
contain mineral components.
Diseases and pests
Figs are rarely attacked by diseases in our latitudes.
A small night butterfly, the fig leaf moth (Choreutis nemorana), occurs more frequently and damages our fig trees.
In the case of smaller trees, this can be remedied by crushing the caterpillars and the pupae rolled up in the leaf. Butterfly caterpillars on larger plants can be combated with XenTari (Bacillus thuringensis). Available from www.biohelp.at.
It is best to plant figs in the spring, sheltered from the wind, when the danger of late frost has passed.
As a rule, fig plants are offered in our container. The plants should be two years old at the time of purchase.
To protect them from dehydration and cold, they are planted 5-10 cm deeper than the ones supplied by the nursery.
In the case of potted figs, the plant container should be correspondingly large (at least a diameter of 30-40 cm) and
have large drain holes. Depending on the roots, repot every 2-4 years in spring.
Figs are very drought resistant. However, the plants need a lot of water for fruiting in the harvest phase.
Waterlogging is to be avoided. The fruits can burst during heavy rains.
During overwintering in the leafless state, they must be kept dry without drying out.
Figs react very quickly to fertilization. They need a lot of phosphorus and potash but only little nitrogen.
Fertilization, even with compost, should not be done too late, as the shoots grow too fattened and cannot mature in time before the start of winter. Plenty of fertilization should also be provided for potted plants from May to August.
The aim of the cut is to build up a loose, as load-bearing and extensive framework as possible
to clear if necessary (correction cut).