A fig tree is an excellent choice for people new to tree plants because of its versatility and adaptability. Fig trees are easy to size and shape, and that’s a big plus when considering indoor trees.
Edible figs can grow indoors in containers if all their requirements are met. Since they need lots of sunlight, it’s best to place them near the south window where they can absorb direct sunlight. Even though fig trees grow large, they can be kept appropriately sized for indoors by proper pruning.
Figs are just about average plants to grow indoors; easy to grow but difficult to cultivate amazingly well.
That’s why I’ve written this tutorial to lead you on the right path.
Which Fig Trees Are the Best Suited for Indoor Cultivation?
Many different types of fig trees may be successfully grown inside; however, some are much easier to take care of.
I always aim for one of many ficus carica subspecies because I want to eat the fruit. You have a choice between the ones that produce fruit or the ones that will serve more as a decoration.
I wouldn’t worry about the average size of each fig type because you can regulate the size of an indoor fig tree by properly pruning or maintaining it in a tiny container that restricts its growth.
Since I’m working only with common fig types, I can recommend only fruit-producing fig trees.
Aside from Brown Turkey (Negro largo), the most frequent type produced indoors, you may also consider the Petite Negra (dwarf type), the Violet De Bordeaux, Black Jack, or Osborn Prolific. In my opinion, Brown Turkey and Petite Negra are the best ones for indoor planting.
Is It Better To Grow a Fig Tree From a Cutting or Seed?
The biggest drawback of growing fig trees from the seed is that it can take up to six years to develop and produce fruit, which means you won’t know if the tree is male or female until then.
Unless you want to go through the whole process out of curiosity, I advise using fig tree cuttings.
The advantage of using a cutting from a mature female fig tree is that you know exactly what you are getting. A cutting from a female tree will grow into a new female tree that produces wonderful fruit. Unfortunately, it may still take years for your tree to produce fruit.
Young trees have the benefit of already being ready to provide fruit, so you may save money by purchasing a tree that’s already developed roots and treetop form.
How To Grow Figs From Seeds?
It’s crucial to know how to separate seeds with potential. Seeds from figs should be kept in a dish of water for two days to germinate before planting. The seeds that have a chance of sprouting will float to the top, while those with no chance of developing will sink to the bottom.
I like to put approximately a quarter-inch of soil over the viable seeds in a container already filled with soil. Then soak them for at least an hour. For initial seed planting, it’s best to use a plastic takeout container.
It can sometimes take several weeks for them to sprout, so I keep them in a place that’s warm and gets a lot of sunlight. After roughly an inch of roots, it’s time to move the plants into a bigger container from which you won’t replant unless something goes wrong.
How To Grow Fig Trees From Cuttings?
Growing fig trees from cuttings, in my opinion, is much easier than seeds. Not only that, but it’s quicker to fruit as well.
To propagate a fig tree from a cutting, you must first take a few cuttings from a female(fruiting) fig. That is if you want it to fruit. Otherwise, you can find a male fig, or even better, some more decorative species that doesn’t bear fruit.
It is important to remember which end of the twig would be in the ground and which end would grow up while taking cuttings. Cuttings should be shielded from the sun while being cut and some time afterward.
I find it the easiest to put fig tree cuttings in water. It’s the most successful approach I’ve used to root new fig trees. You can use pretty much anything that can hold water and have a bit of an opening left for air to reach in. It’s best to dip only halfway to the first eye in the water. That way, when planting, later on, you can put the cutting into the soil to the first eye, and roots won’t be exposed on the surface.
A bit of air is important for its development, but not too much air because it can dry the upper part of the cutting before it roots.
As soon as the roots begin to grow, I move them into a container of soil. Since fig trees don’t like to sit in water, leaving cutting for too long in the water can make the wood rot.
How Big Should the Pot Be for an Edible Indoor Fig Tree?
Growing a fig tree in a container is advantageous since it encourages the plant to produce fruit. This is true for almost all fruit trees. You can’t encourage 100% of fruiting potential and growth potential at the same time. One takes the energy from another. Smaller containers limit the roots and slow the growth process, so a fig tree grows fruit earlier.
The pot should be a bit wider for a 5-gallon size than standard ones. After all, fig trees grow roots wide and shallow.
What Is the Best Potting Soil for Edible Indoor Fig Trees?
Instead of using conventional compost or potting soil, germinate viable seeds in a tray filled with a wet granular bonsai mix, tiny lava grit, or vermiculite. I’ve seen mold appear well before seeds get a chance to sprout in regular potting mix or compost. I wouldn’t advise ever using garden soil, as well, since it’s likely too compacted and might carry insect pests.
In-ground fig trees need a firm ground to develop strong roots. Still, potted fig trees need to develop many small roots, so soft soil with good drainage is preferable.
To prepare your own potting mix, you need to ensure that it is well-rotted compost, has a fair amount of loam, and has adequate drainage.
Once your fig tree is in the pot, you may add a layer of compost or mulch on top of the soil. I prefer mulch to keep the soil moist for indoor fig trees. Compost indoors can get messy, so I mostly use liquid fertilizers.
How Much Light Does an Edible Indoor Fig Tree Need?
Fig trees require 6-8 hours of sunlight a day to grow, up to 12 to reach their fullest potential. It is a lot, but they can soak reflected light and warmth, effectively reducing their need for direct sunlight.
Indoor fig trees are smaller and need around six hours of daily strong indirect light to thrive. It’s always best to have direct sunlight as well, at least when it’s time for fruit to appear.
You’ll notice fading leaves, brown patches, and leaf drop if your fig tree doesn’t get enough sunlight. You can help it by placing it near a south-facing window or in a conservatory, which should be sufficient to provide it with adequate light.
Luckily, lack of sunlight can be supplemented by a LED grow light. If you suspect the amount of light your tree receives is not enough for it to fruit, it’s best to invest in it immediately. Smaller, cheaper ones will suffice for the first year.
If you don’t want it to fruit, the tree will grow enough with very little light. It might take a year or two longer to reach your desired size, but it will get there. In this case, even reflected light and the sunlight that goes through clouds will be enough.
If you want to learn more about fig tree sunlight requirements you can read my article “Do Figs Like Full Sun?“.
How Often Should I Water an Edible Indoor Fig Tree?
A lot of this is determined by where you live; if it’s hot where you are, you may have to water it more frequently (daily, perhaps) than if it’s colder where you are. Then again, it’s not only about hot and cold. It’s also about humidity and what kind of heating you have. Some heating methods affect air humidity differently than others. Fig trees prefer dry air with regular watering to humid air with less often watering.
I like to let the fig tell me how much water it needs. The leaves of your fig tree will turn yellow and drop off if it receives too much or too little water, and it will also yield fewer fruits. The safe way is by giving it water once a week and increase until you see it flourish.
Fig trees can survive without water, so this process won’t hurt them for a few weeks. Once it gets the right amount of water, it will continue to grow. In a dormant season, cut the watering to 1/3 the amount.
When the tree is newly planted, I would recommend keeping the soil moist at all times. Not too wet, but only a little. You can check if the soil’s wet by sticking your finger in it and see if it’s wet beneath one inch deep.
Additionally, the fig tree container should have medium-sized holes for drainage. That way, you can pour more water, and more often, only to keep the soil moist. While any excess of water will go right through.
In What Climate Should I Grow an Edible Fig Tree Indoors?
Unless you live somewhere where figs aren’t normally cultivated, be sure to pick one that will thrive in your region’s environment because there are many types to select from.
A fig tree should grow well in a temperature as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius), making it ideal for growing inside since temperatures don’t often fall below this range in most households.
However, if you live in zones where fig trees grow well outside, growing them indoors would be a waste. Most people in zones with harsh winters grow potted fig trees to bring them inside during the few coldest months.
Potted fig trees can easily switch from indoors to outdoors and vice versa. Although, you should wait for temperatures to be almost even outdoors and indoors to make that switch. That way, there is no danger of weather shock for the tree.
What Kind of Fertilizer Is Best for Indoor Potted Fig Trees?
A liquid fertilizer or a delayed-release granular organic fertilizer would be ideal for an indoor fig tree. Both work well with mulching, which I prefer over the compost. Less smelly and doesn’t attract insects.
I’ve used all-around liquid plant fertilizers on my freshly potted fig trees. Although, you need to take into account the soil pH levels and which sources promote growth. For example, using too much nitrogen will make the tree grow fast but delay fruiting, while pH balance can always be regulated by adding something extra. You can read more about pH levels and how to change them in my article “Do Figs Like Acidic Soil?“.
If you overfeed your fig tree, it will produce too many leaves, which will divert energy away from fruit production, so be careful not to do it. Fig trees can thrive with very little fertilizer, so it’s better to pick the right time. I like to fertilize after the leaves have grown and fruit starts to form. But way before the fruit starts to ripe. That way, the energy goes into the fruit as much as possible, but it won’t affect its quality.
Can You Keep a Fig Tree Small? – And How to Prune an Indoor Fig Tree
Yes, it is possible to keep a fig tree small by restricting its roots in smaller containers, and by carefully pruning each year to stop it from growing in height. Afterward, all the new growth can be cut each spring so the fig tree can’t develop new branches.
The best time to trim a fig tree is during the dormant season when growth has slowed, especially for potted indoor figs that get easily damaged by wood sap.
I always cut the top branch in year one because I didn’t want my indoor fig tree to become large in height. For indoor fig trees, branches should form a wide “U” shape together. That way, they won’t grow too high, nor too wide.
Old wooden branches yield less fruit than new growth, and chopping them off fosters new development by removing the old wood. I only leave 3 or 4 major branches on my tree, and I remove any suckers that sprout from the earth.
My basic pruning rule for potted fig trees is leaving 1-2 branches in year one, 2-3 in year two, and 3-4 in year three. That way, there is a perfect balance between tree growth and quality fruiting.
You should achieve optimal “open center pruning” form by year four with 4 equal branches, preferably with even spacing around the tree. The open center form makes sure each branch gets light and air adequately.
If you don’t want fruit, it’s better to leave a few more branches, so the tree focuses on growth more.
How Do You Pollinate an Indoor Fig Tree?
Almost all edible fig tree varieties are self-fertile. That’s the beauty of having an inverted flower for the fruit. And it makes indoor cultivation such a charm.
When buying, or taking, fig tree cuttings for planting, make sure to check if this is the case for the fig variety in question.
Picking Figs From an Indoor Potted Tree When They Are Ripe
Depending on a variety, figs begin to become dark or purple as they mature, and this is the first telltale sign that they are ready for harvest.
You may also tell if your figs are ripe by feeling them; unripe figs are hard, while ripe ones are squishy.
The only real difference between indoor and outdoor fig ripening is that you should ease up on watering halfway through the ripening process. I cut it down by one-third. It prevents figs from splitting open and getting ripe too soon, which can greatly reduce the quality.