Figs are ideal fruits for growing in containers as they actually benefit from having their roots restricted. The little figs grow at each branch node and therefore if the tree is more compact then there will be more figs per branch. Having the roots restricted helps this compact growth to occur. Also, as they are frost tender they can be brought inside during the winter, to either a greenhouse or porch for protection.
Figs can be damaged by the frost, though probably not killed. If an entire tree is killed above ground level it may still regrow from its roots in spring. When they are fully dormant in the winter they are able to cope with lower temperatures but when they are actively growing they can be damaged at temperatures below 10 degrees Centigrade. Apparently they get more resistant to frost as they get older.
This is our fig last year, about 3 months after we bought it.
POT AND SOIL
Figs need to be potted into a 12" to 15" pot. The one above is about 11" but I will be repotting it in a year or two as I didn't have the right size when we got it. There needs to be plenty of drainage material at the bottom. I put in about 2 inches (5cms) of small stones at the bottom before I put the soil in. This is because figs don't actually like too much water and need to be able to get rid of the excess easily.
The soil should be a mixture of a soil based compost a little bone meal and a little seaweed meal. If you had a little bit of grit handy to add to the soil this would improve the drainage, but is not vital.
When actually planting the fig make sure that it is planted nice and deep. In other words, the new level of soil in the container should be higher than the old soil level of the fig. This encourages stooling, which means that more stems will grow from the soil level. Apparently this is good although I have not yet established why!
Give the fig a good water to get it settled in. A mulch (gravel, wood chips etc) on the top could be a good idea in order to prevent weeds from growing around the base of the tree. Weeds may encourage mice to come and nibble at the tree. In general I just pick out the weeds whenever I'm passing by the fig and that seems to do the trick.
BEGINNING TO FRUIT
This is our fig waking up after the winter. All the leaves fell off, which I presume is normal, and just the little buds at the top of each branch hung on. I had left the figs outside until I saw that the these buds looked slightly black after some frost so I brought them into the greenhouse. Once they started to open in March I breathed a sigh of relief.
As soon as the buds started to open two little figs started to grow as well. Figs appear not to flower before they fruit, however the tiny flowers of the fig are out of sight, clustered inside the green "fruits". In warmer climates a wasp will crawl into the fruit and fertilise the flowers. However in order to produce fruit, fertilisation is not necessary. They will not produce seed but the fruit will still be as nice, apparently. I do not fully understand the fruiting schedule yet but as far as I know these figs are growing on last years growth. As more wood matures further up the stem then another crop of figs will be produced. Up to 3 crops of fruit a year can be obtained from a fig tree but this places a lot of strain on the plant and sometimes only one crop is allowed to ripen. At the moment I can see the signs of little figs starting in other places on the plant but they have not changed in weeks so I think they are waiting for something.....
Here are the two figs today. At the junction between the brown and the green wood you can see a tiny triangle of yellowish growth. This is the start of a new fig. They seem to stay like this for a while before taking on a growth spurt.
Here is the fig tree today with all its beautiful big leaves. They can be up to 1ft in length so you can see how Adam and Eve managed to preserve their modesty with them once they realised they were naked!
Further posts on fruiting, pruning and general fig care will be added to my blog as I learn more so keep an eye out and if anyone happens to be an expert on fig then please pass on some tips to me so I can put them up here.