I couldn’t believe it when I saw how little information there is about how deep to plant a fig tree on the internet. What’s even worse, there is almost none about how a hole for in-ground planting should look like, how and where you should place it, and so on.
Most depth recommendations I’ve seen are incomplete. Barely anyone takes into account climate, which is crucial to fig tree planting depth.
Before I talk about planting depth, let’s see how an in-ground hole should look like.
Fig Tree Hole Size
It’s difficult to say the exact hole depth because the size of planting trees can vary a lot. Most fig trees from the nursery require 18 inches deep by 2 feet wide holes.
I prefer to keep the hole square because fig trees tend to have one or two roots much longer than all others. That way, I can turn the tree to restrict longer roots to follow the path directly to the corners of the square.
I measure the root system vertically and horizontally to see how much space it requires.
It’s best to dig a hole equal to root proportions. Fig trees have more than enough strong roots to break through firm soil, but it’s important to restrict them at first. My experience tells me the root system grows much healthier if it has to fight its way through.
Additionally, the soil won’t sink that much in smaller holes which means a fig tree will stay in a higher position. I will go into details on why that is crucial in most climates in the next part of the article.
Larger holes are viable only when there is no need for irrigation because roots will have an easier time going through firm soil.
How Deep To Plant a Fig Tree in Different Climates?
Pretty much everyone recommends planting fig trees 2 inches deeper than it was before. I absolutely agree with that in cold climates. That way, the roots are protected from cold weather, which will increase the tree’s chances of survival.
You can even go up to 4 inches deeper to encourage bush form.
However, warmer climates are a bit complicated.
When I lived in Texas, I learned that the growing season is triggered way easier in warm climates when the tree is planted at the same level or even 2 inches higher. Fig’s growth is triggered by warmth in both branches and roots. The very top of the ground gets warm faster, and the roots along with it.
You have to be careful not to leave roots at the very bottom of the tree trunk exposed to sunburn. I cover it with an inch of soil, half a foot around the trunk, to protect the very base of the tree while leaving the rest shallow.
How Deep To Plant Fig Tree Cuttings?
I’ve been planting new fig trees from new growth cutting for years, and I’ve experienced many issues. Generally, planting fig tree cutting is much complicated and needs constant care.
Fig tree cuttings don’t need big holes. I would advise growing roots in water before planting cuttings. Otherwise, they have a high chance of rotting before the roots form because the trigger process is very slow.
Fig tree cuttings are usually cut with one or two eyes. I prefer smaller one-eyed ones because young fig trees thrive when focused on one branch during their first year.
I read from The fig: its history, culture, and curing, with a descriptive catalogue of the known varieties of figs, by Eisen, Gustavus that I should plant one-eyed cuttings with the eye about 2 inches above the ground. At the same time, there must be at least half the length from roots to the eye in the soil. Two-eyed cuttings need to be planted with the bottom eye barely above the ground.
I like to keep an eye on if a fig tree cutting planted this way elevates the soil as the roots grow. If it doesn’t, it may grow into a bush. I don’t want that, so I uncover them a bit in time to form a single tree trunk.
You can sometimes plant fig trees cutting whole beneath the soil. Planting like this is important when there is no possibility of immediate watering, and the sun is shining. These conditions can dry the cutting before it has a chance to initiate growth.
The sprouts will have no problems pushing through the top layer of soil, if there are no more than 2 inches to go through.
I even used this method once to revive the ones that seemed dead, and it worked.
Can You Plant a Fig Tree in a Raised Bed?
It is preferred to plant fig trees on an elevated part of the soil, making raised beds in a garden perfect for fig trees. The reason is that fig trees are sensitive to a constant source of water. In other words, they don’t like wet feet. Planting figs on a raised ground makes sure they won’t stay in soaked soil for too long.
However, there needs to be decent drainage for this to have any effect.
I plant figs in an orchard where making raised beds isn’t practical, so I make a ridgeline about 1 foot high and 5 feet wide. That way, I can plant a whole row of fig trees on elevated ground. The length is decided by the number of fig trees I’m planting. You can easily calculate it by considering that each tree needs 25-50 feet (size dependant).
I would plant them on level ground only if I can’t water them and there is not too much rain.
Can You Plant a Fig Tree Too Deep?
Planting a fig tree too deep depends on your goals. I personally don’t like them forming bushes so planting fig trees more than 2 inches deeper from how they were previously planted is too deep for me.
If that doesn’t apply to you, then I would say more than 4 inches is too deep. The bark has a higher chance of rot, killing a fig tree in a few months.
There is an issue of girdling roots as well. They appear horizontally from a tree trunk just beneath the surface and are pushed upward by other roots. In time they get exposed above the ground, leading to sunburn in hot climates or frost damage in cold ones.
How Deep To Plant a Fig Tree in a Pot?
The only thing that ever applies to planting fig trees in a pot is to plant them 2 inches deeper than in a nursery container.
Everything else relies upon the size of a pot. I found that the perfect pot size is between 15 and 20 gallons. Preferably close to equal in width and height. You want to give a fig tree enough room to grow but restrict it at the same time. That way, it will develop healthy roots but won’t grow uncontrollably large.
How Do You Fix a Tree That Is Planted Too Deep?
The only way I found to be successful was to uncover the soil around the tree trunk slowly. If any roots get exposed, I try to push them down. If the roots are small, I cut them off because cutting them will do less damage to the tree than leaving them exposed.
Bigger trees shouldn’t have a problem being planted too deep because it would cause visible problems way before they grew big.