Fig trees are popular candidates for home orchards since they place relatively few demands on their producers. It can be extremely frustrating when a “easy” tree doesn’t seem to grow well, as they are often marketed as.
A lack of growth in a fig tree is most likely due to injury, disease, pests, or a lack of attention to the proper care of the plant. A fig tree can also grow slow if it is a slow-growing variety.
There are several factors that might cause a fig tree to fail, and we’ll take a closer look at each one to see what we can do to fix it.
Diseases Affecting the Growth of Fig Trees
Fig tree development may be hindered by the following diseases:
- Limb rot caused by Botrytis
- Injury from frost
- Cotton root rot
- Crown gall
Fig Tree Not Growing Due to Botrytis Limb Blight
When it’s rainy and cold in the spring, Botrytis limb blight, a fungal disease, can appear on the limbs.
- Cankers that form on the fruit’s surface and below it.
- Reduction in shoots and dieback of fully developed branches
- Spores of a beige tone that emerge on shoots in the winter or early spring time frames
How to treat Botrytis Limb Blight?
It’s best to cut off all infected branches when dealing with Botrytis limb blight. That’s the only fail-proof way to get rid of the infection for good.
Other solutions include disinfecting affected areas with 10% bleach solution or spraying potassium bicarbonate. I’ve used these methods to contain the disease but never removed it altogether.
Fig Tree Not Growing Due to Cold Injury
Fig trees are particularly vulnerable to late frosts and early spring freezes. Before a frost or freeze, you may discover that the tree’s fresh growth has been destroyed by the abrupt decrease in temperature.
That is a crucial time for a fig tree to enter the growing season in full strength. I always start fertilizing when I’m sure the frost is over, so I don’t wake the tree from dormancy too quickly, only to face an upcoming frost.
However, even if cold and dieback aren’t illnesses, the dead branches and tissue on the tree might become breeding grounds for disease-causing organisms. After any late frosts or sudden spring freezes, look for evidence of cold harm on your tree.
How to treat a cold injury in a fig tree?
Again, the best course of action is removing all of the dead leaves, twigs, and branches off the tree. Cold injured wood is almost certainly dead and dry. It won’t allow wood sap to flow through, and that leaves us only with the option of growing it all back from the beginning.
I make sure to remove all mulch if warmer days are ahead. Mulch keeps the soil warm and winter but also cold in summer. At this point, the tree will benefit more from warm sunlight than mulch keeping cold and moisture beneath.
Fig Tree Not Growing Due to Crown Gall Disease
There is a wide range of fruit trees that are susceptible to crown gall, which is a frequent disease in fig trees as well. Having an open wound on a tree’s roots, trunk, or branches puts it at risk of developing crown gall.
You can identify crown gall disease by swollen wood, looking like a tumor. That mass of abnormal wood will stop the flow of water and nutrients. That’s how the tree stops growing or grows only some of its parts.
How to treat crown gall in a fig tree?
Crown gall may not be bad news if your tree is already old enough to be able to adjust to it without much of an effect. You may simply ignore it in that case, especially if it only affects a single branch.
Consequences of developing crown gall in young trees include susceptibility to secondary issues and a lack of future resilience.
As a result, the crown gall can easily spread through soil, unclean pruning instruments, or by colonizing the roots of other plants that come into contact with the affected crown gall.
I use a 10% bleach solution to sanitize any pruning tools that I will use. To stop the spread of the disease, it may be necessary to remove diseased limbs, or even whole trees, and burn them.
Although, you may observe the disease first and see if it even spreads or not.
Fig Tree Not Growing Due to Cotton Root Rot
A fungus may produce cotton root rot in areas with hot summers and somewhat alkaline, calcareous clay soils. Fig trees and other plants indigenous to the Southwest region of the United States are the only ones susceptible to cotton root rot. At least to my knowledge.
Cotton root rot is caused by three different types of soil-borne fungus. The whole root system of the tree has already been invaded by the time we can see any signs above ground. It’s not uncommon for trees that have been damaged to fall to the ground with little effort.
Common symptoms include brown, bronze, and yellow leaves, and a fig tree seems to have no water, which is true because the whole root system is likely dead.
It’s not uncommon for a fig tree to suddenly die from this disease, even during the most vigorous growing season.
How to treat cotton root rot in a fig tree?
A root-rot fungus may persist in the soil for years, even if they’re hidden deep under the surface. Commercial producers can benefit from most treatments available, such as growing wheat or other cereal crops on an affected site.
The best course of action is not planting anything on that soil for several years. Also, avoid replanting the same fig tree elsewhere if you believe it has cotton root rot.
Pests Affecting the Growth of Fig Trees
While fig tree fruits are a favorite food source for many insects, these pests are unlikely to create development difficulties for plants. On the other hand, fig farmers face a serious fig growing threat from a single insect.
Root-Knot Nematodes Stopping Fig Tree From Growing
Root-knot nematode infestation is a typical problem with fig trees. There are parasites that dwell in the soil and penetrate tree roots, making themselves quite at home. Nematodes.
When the roots get knotted, the water and nutrient flow stop, causing slow or completely stopped growth, wilting fig tree, leaves becoming pale and yellow from lack of water flow, figs not forming, and even tree death.
How to treat root-knot nematodes in fig trees?
The only cure that works is to stay away from the problem in the first place. There are no chemical nematicides that are suitable for use in a home garden since nematodes proliferate fast.
If you don’t know the previous planting history of a location, take a soil sample to your local Extension agent or horticulturalists and request a nematode test.
However, there are natural ways to control their population growth. I’ve successfully used lime, fire ashes, and tobacco dust to suppress the nematode population. You can prevent nematodes if the soil is treated with these before a fig tree is planted.
Improper Cultivating Methods Affecting a Fig Tree Growth
If none of the possibilities listed above sound plausible, there may be something wrong with the way your fig tree has been cultivated. Inadvertently harming fruit trees is a typical occurrence for gardeners.
Fig Tree Not Growing Due to Underwatering
Insufficient water is the primary cause of plant death, and fig trees are no exception.
There are times during the driest months of the year when plants lack sufficient water to evaporate. This results in leaf droop or dark patches on the leaves. Growing or withering of young shoots is non-existent in their early development stages. It’s all because a fig tree doesn’t have enough water.
You must water your fig tree on a regular basis if you want it to thrive. You should check the soil around the tree on a regular basis, and if it is dry by 1 to 2 inches, you should water the tree.
Make sure to give the fig tree enough water to soak up. Don’t build a swamp, of course. While you may only need to water once every seven days in hot weather, you may need to do it once every ten days in less-hot weather.
When it’s raining, don’t water. In the winter, it’s not required to water the plants as much. In most climates, it’s better not to water at all.
Potted plants, on the other hand, require more frequent watering. If you live in a hot climate, you should water your pots every other night, but with small amounts of water. Use only pots with holes for drainage.
Fig Tree Not Growing Due to Overwatering
The fig tree will also cease growing if the soil is wet for an extended time. For starters, water prevents air from reaching the roots, causing the roots to rot.
Second, root rot occurs in extremely damp situations. The roots cannot transport water and nutrients to all sections of the tree in this circumstance, which leads to slow growth.
As a result, the tree’s development can even be halted. The leaves begin to wilt and fall off. Young shoots do not mature or turn black. Closer to the ground, the bark might sometimes fracture.
The first step is to use less water. Only if the soil dries to a depth of 1 to 2 inches, water the fig tree, the tree will ultimately recuperate and grow again if root rot hasn’t set in.
You may expose the tree to as much sunlight as possible to increase the amount of water evaporation.
Even reduced watering won’t help if root rot has already set in. If the tree has adequate strength, it should be able to defeat the rot, and once the damaged roots rot away, new ones should grow freely.
You can move the fig tree to a less moist area next spring. Also, choose well-drained soil while replanting. However, do not replant the fig tree in the growing season!
Fig Tree Not Growing Due to Low Nutrition
The fig tree produces enormous fruits in addition to large leaves. All of this necessitates a lot of energy from the tree, and if the soil is inadequate, the tree’s development will be delayed or even cease altogether. You should also not expect much fruit.
First and foremost, this pertains to thick clay soils with little trace elements. In addition, figs do not thrive in sandy soil.
Furthermore, if the soil is still extremely alkaline, the tree will be unable to acquire any nutrition elements.
To correct the condition, loosen the dirt around the tree while being careful not to injure the roots. After that, add some all-purpose fertilizer into the loose soil and stir it together.
It would be even better if the fertilizer were water-soluble because it would get absorbed by the tree much sooner. For potted fig-trees, water-soluble fertilizer is a must!
Then mulch the entire soil surface surrounding the tree if the weather is not warm yet. Otherwise, let the sunlight naturally warm the soil.
The mulch covering should be no thicker than 2-3 inches thick. Also, avoid burying the trunk’s base in the mulch to prevent it from decaying.
All of these will make the soil more nutrient-dense and somewhat acidic, allowing the fig tree to absorb nutrients. To get the best acidity of 6-7, you may use some coffee grounds mixed between the mulch. However, test the pH levels and only do that if the soil is alkaline.
Fig Tree Not Growing Due to Lack of Sunlight
A fig tree’s failure to develop is often due to a lack of sunshine. In partial or full shade, the fig tree will grow slowly, with few branches, sagging leaves, and a sickly appearance. Of course, you can almost forget about fruit in this scenario.
The fig tree needs as much light as possible to thrive. It has huge leaves that absorb a lot of sunlight, and it’s crucial to grow and produce excellent fruit.
A fig tree, in general, requires at least 8 hours of direct sunshine to flourish. It can only get this much light if it’s planted in an open, non-shaded region.
If you put a fig tree in the shade and it doesn’t grow, you’ll need to move it to a brighter spot. However, do not transplant it right away; wait until late winter or early spring to do so. At the time of transplanting, the fig tree must still be dormant.
Avoid damaging the plant’s roots when transplanting since this might trigger transplant shock, which halts growth.
Fig Tree Not Growing Due to Transplant Shock
A fig tree can be severely stressed because the growth circumstances quickly change after planting or transplanting. That is commonly referred to as transplant shock.
For example, you bought a fig tree in a nursery. It was flourishing in the mild shade, with regular watering and plenty of fertilizer. In addition, the dirt in the container was quite light.
Then you planted it in full sun with thick soil in your yard. The plant may take a long time to adjust to the new surroundings and will not grow very tall. In most situations, one year is sufficient to recover from transplant shock. However, trees can be dormant for up to two years.
You should partially shade the fig tree for a period after planting to help it recover from transplanting stress, giving it more and more sun hours each day.
Also, water the fig tree regularly, but not excessively. You may remove the shade after the tree has begun to develop.
Climate Not Allowing Fig Tree to Grow Larger
The size of fig trees largely depends on the climate. It’s known that southern fig trees are quite large compared to northern ones.
The fewer natural sun hours there are, the slower the tree will grow. But that’s not the whole story. The amount of sunlight also limits the fig tree’s growth ceiling.
Then there is cold. Cold weather affects fig trees similarly to sun hours. Mainly because cold climate means the growing season is shorter. Logically, fig trees don’t have enough time to grow large in short growing seasons.