Most of us fall in love with fig trees as soon as we plant them. Mainly because they are easy to grow and can live for many years with proper care.
Fig tree lifespan will depend on various factors, such as the type of fig tree, the climate it is grown in, and how well it’s taken care of. A fig tree can easily live for several hundred years with the right conditions and good care.
However, if you neglect your fig tree or don’t give it the right care, it may only last 5 or 6 years. So, let’s see how long fig trees live in different conditions.
What Is the Lifespan of a Fig Tree?
Fig Trees are known to live for a very long time. In theory, they can live as long as 1000 years, but they live for about 60-70 years on average. This long lifespan is a result of the tree’s ability to produce new growth from its roots and its stump. If a fig tree is damaged or cut down, it can easily regrow new branches and leaves.
It’s not easy to claim that a fig tree will live for more than 100 years because it depends on how well it is taken care of. There are historical mentions of fig trees older than 500 years, but it’s more an exception than a rule.
Fig trees are hardy trees that can withstand various weather conditions, including cold winters and hot summers. Although, they survive much better in hot summers. They can grow well in sunny and shady areas. However, to produce fruit, they need specific growing conditions, including lots of sunlight and warmth.
And for how many years we can expect fig fruit is the more important question.
For How Long Can Fig Trees Bear Fruit?
Fig trees can bear fruits for many years, but the quality of the fruit decreases with time. Some fig varieties produce fruit every season, while others produce them once or twice a year. It also depends on the climate and the variety of fig trees you have.
For example, if your area is located in USDA Zones 5-10, you can expect your fig trees to produce fruit in the summertime. Many varieties will produce figs 2-3 times per season, while others bear fruits in early spring and late fall. Figs are also sensitive to weather changes, which means they cannot produce good fruit when there is a spell of cold or hot weather.
That is important for the question above because the amount of quality fruit production each year is related to how many years it can produce fruit. Basically, if a fig tree is focused on producing fruit, it will keep its fruit production for many more years.
Once a fig tree starts producing a bad crop, starts to reject it, or even not grow figs at all on some branches, that’s when it starts growing wild. It will focus more and more on its own growth instead of fruiting.
That means that if you live in an area where the temperature varies, you may only get one crop of fruit per year. If this is your case, you can always expect your fig tree to live at least 50 years before it stops producing fruits.
However, from what I explained above, you can conclude that if the fig tree is properly trained to yield quality fruit, it can produce figs for many more years. Several generations of your family line can enjoy quality fruit from a single fig tree.
What Happens to a Fig Tree Once It Stops Producing Figs?
Once fig trees stop bearing fruit, it doesn’t mean they are no longer useful. In fact, you can propagate all fig trees by rooting hardwood cuttings taken from the mother tree. That way, if you liked your fig tree, you can grow copies of it.
You can propagate them by layering, which is a process of bending a branch to the ground and covering it with soil until roots form. Or air layering, which is when you partially cut a piece of fig’s branch and let it root in the water while still attached to the tree.
You can also use the fig tree for shade, and its roots will help improve the soil quality in your garden. So, even if your fig tree has stopped bearing fruit, it still has a lot of life left in it.
Longest Living Fig Varieties
Most of the fig species, in the right conditions, have a lifespan of over 100 years, but some can last longer. However, we have no record of most fig varieties’ lifespan in the US. There is a lot of information worldwide, but very little of it can be verified.
One of the varieties we know lives long is Brown Turkey. It can live up to 400 years! It’s commonly known as the fig variety that outgrows generations of families.
Another example is a Smyrna fig, known in the US as Calimyrna, which can live for longer than 300 years. Smyrna figs are, therefore, one of the longest living fig varieties.
How To Prolong Fig Tree Life?
Now that you know a bit more about fig tree lifespan, here are some tips on prolonging their life.
Keep your fig tree fertilized. A fig tree needs a lot of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous to produce good fruit. You can use an all-purpose organic fertilizer or one specific for fig trees. Making sure that your fig tree gets its nutrients each year will keep it producing fruit longer, thus making its life longer as well.
Keep your fig tree in the sun. Fig trees need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day to produce good fruit. Although, it’s not only about fruit production. Fig trees developed in sunny regions of middle-east Asia and the Mediterranean.
Keeping a fig tree exposed to sunlight and warmth will put less stress on it. The stress from cold weather and high humidity accumulates through the years and severely cuts its lifespan.
Rejuvenation pruning. If your fig tree is not producing good fruit, you may need to do some rejuvenation pruning. This involves removing older branches and leaves so the tree can focus on new growth and fruit production.
In addition to that, rejuvenation pruning will force a fig tree to constantly grow new wood that is perfect for fruit production. That way, a fig tree will take much longer to reduce fruit quality or cease fig production. If you remember what I said earlier, you will know that long fruit production is the key to long fig tree life.
Rejuvenation pruning can, in theory, extend fig tree life by thousands of years. Although, all growing conditions would need to be perfect for it to succeed for that long. Otherwise, the roots wouldn’t survive to support regrowing new wood all the time.
By following those three tips, you can prolong the life of your fig tree and enjoy its fruits for many years. We can conclude that fig trees live less and less the colder the climate is because they rely on sunlight and warmth for their longevity.
If keeping a fig tree alive and producing figs is difficult in your climate, you can simply propagate new fig trees all the time instead of focusing on keeping the one you have alive forever.