When I first searched for companion plants for my fig trees, I thought to myself, “Is there a carnivorous plant that consumes birds and squirrels?” because that would be really helpful sometimes. I wasn’t actually serious, but at least there are companion plants that protect fig trees from insect pests and benefit fig growth.
What to plant under a fig tree?
Good companion plants for fig trees are the ones that limit fig roots, help with nutrients, attract beneficiary animals, or repel pests. The best fig companion plants include marigolds, strawberries, rue, comfrey, stinging nettles, lavender, and rosemary.
Before discussing each companion plant individually, let’s see why companion planting is a good idea and what to be careful about. Knowing these things helped me decide which plants to try and which to avoid.
Why Fig Tree Companion Planting is a Good Idea?
Many studies have demonstrated the advantages of companion planting in terms of enhancing plant health and development. Most figs do best with confined roots, so it’s interesting to see how they do when planted with other plants. Some companion plants aid well with these requirements because the roots from both plants fight for space.
Fig trees that are given an excessive amount of root area will not only grow huge but also provide very few fruits. You can still get good amounts of fruit from large trees, but you need to wait several years for the fig tree to slow down its growth. Instead of waiting several years for your fig tree to establish itself, consider containerizing its roots with companion plants so that you can begin harvesting earlier.
As a result, we must be aware that companion plants might compete for nutrients. It’s wise to consider which nutrients both the fig tree and a companion plant need. Things get more interesting since I found it works both ways when it comes to nutrients. It’s also healthy to make fig trees fight for the same nutrients as companion plants; however, you need to fertilize more often.
Not all useful companion plants contribute by restricting fig tree’s roots. Some attract beneficiary insects and animals, which in turn help with pollination or hunt down pests.
What To Be Careful About When Planting Fig Tree Companion Plants
In the summer, keep in mind that figs require less watering to avoid moisture filling on the fruits, which promotes mildew and dilutes the flavor of the fruit.
Another thing to worry about is damaging fig tree’s roots when digging the soil to plant companion plants. Luckily, I have a solution that I’m using for years.
To prevent cutting the roots, I’m putting a brick border around the area I want to plant, then putting new soil on top of the ground over the fig’s roots—without actually digging—and then just planting the companion plants in the risen soil.
If you live in areas with less sunlight in the growing season, you might want to remove grass and plants from the area beneath the fig tree; bare ground reflects more heat.
It’s good to keep several feet around the tree trunk clear so that you can pick the fruit more easily when the time comes.
How I Plant Companion Plants With My Fig Trees
I have fig trees in the orchard and my home garden, and I try to maximize the soil’s potential by planting as much stuff as possible. I have tried many companion plants with my fig trees.
In my orchard, I tend to plant edible plants as much as possible.
To kill nematodes, I plant and grow small cabbage straight in the roots of my fig at the base. At the same time, I plant broccoli along the outline of the roots on the dark side, and on the sunny side, I plant cauliflower. I throw one foot of wood chip all over the space after the broccoli is two feet tall.
Afterward, I plant tulips and daffodils along the exterior of the roots in the winter.
Sweet woodruff, fennel, chicory, Indian mint, tarragon, sweet violet, and onions can all work under fig trees.
You can also kill nematodes by planting spring corn, summer sorghum, and winter pumpkin along the outside root line.
Every time I’m not planting something edible, I’m planting some sort of wildflowers. Although, I mostly plant non-edible companion plants in my home garden.
I’ve attempted to plant a fall tomato under fig trees, but the worms got it. Those worms looked like something that could invade fig roots, so I decided not to try tomatoes again.
Wildflowers, mint, woodruff, fennel, and violets are all blooming right now beneath my garden figs.
I normally grow perennial herbs and scented plants alongside them to keep deer and other pests away from my fruit trees. For pest control, these are best planted along the edges of your orchards or gardens.
In newly planted containers, I normally plant a few lettuce seedlings. It has a lovely appearance and serves as a superb water and fertilizer indication. Otherwise, mint is always a good option as a planted fig companion.
Let’s see how each companion plant grows with fig trees. These are the ones I tried myself.
Which Companion Plants Grow Well With Fig Trees?
Flowering Marigolds with Figs
Which plant first came to my mind when I started writing about organic gardening, flowers, and figs?
Marigolds come to mind. Many insects are known to be repelled by them.
There are several benefits to growing marigolds in your yard, and they’ll thrive beneath figs. Mycorrhizal fungi develop in the soil, and dangerous nematode species are kept at bay by the presence of marigolds in your garden. Using mycorrhizal fungus, plants may exchange beneficial nutrients.
Figs with Rue
Figs and common rue may have been natural partners for a long time, given the two herbs originated in the same region of the world. Insect pests such as aphids or fruit flies are discouraged from infesting figs by growing rue beside fig trees.
Some people say that you should never plant figs and rue alongside, although they never explain why this is the case. However, as the saying goes, “it’s still not too late to learn,” I’ve never had any issues with this combo. In fact, I’ve never heard anyone that I personally know say they’ve had issues with rue and figs together.
Figs with Comfrey
I’ve been using a lot of common comfrey and Russian comfrey as fertilizer and living mulch around in-ground fig trees. They offer a lot of beauty, and I’ve found them to be practical.
Because Russian comfrey is a hybrid with sterile seeds, I prefer it over common because I don’t need to worry about them spreading via seed. If you dig around its roots, it will spread by root, therefore don’t disturb the plant if you don’t want it to spread. Its roots grow deep and straight down, avoiding interfering with the propagation of fig roots above. Comfrey is such a potent all-purpose mineral extractor that I partially eliminated the requirement for some of my in-ground fig trees to be fertilized.
Comfrey may be pruned back many times each year, is exceptionally frost resistant, and blooms a month ahead of the growth zone in the spring, so it’s a joy to see it bloom when virtually everything else is barren. It boasts lovely little bell-like blooms in addition to its profusion of long luscious foliage.
Figs with Mint
Hoverflies, aggressive wasps, and ladybirds will be drawn to your plot by this helpful plant. These can help remove other pests, but mint itself repels most insect pests as well.
Mint is best grown in pots to prevent it from spreading and becoming unmanageable. Don’t let that discourage you from growing mint in-ground. As long as you put it in the ground with the pot, mint will be manageable. Although, it still requires a bit of work.
I find mint to be an extra good companion plant for fig trees in a wet climate. Figs don’t like too much water, but mint does, and while at first, that seems like a bad thing, mint will absorb an excess of water in areas with lots of rain, so the fig doesn’t suffer from it.
Mint, however, will kill plants like rosemary and lavender.
Figs with Stinging Nettles
It’s an excellent idea to let stinging nettles grow underneath your figs since they’ll enrich your garden and offer a wilder edge to it.
Having stinging nettles can be especially useful if you use food waste as fertilizer. It helps with dissolving organic matter.
Bees, ladybirds, and butterflies are all drawn to stinging nettles because they provide a habitat for these useful creatures. In terms of aphid management and pollination, they are excellent tools to have.
In addition, many pests avoid the area because of the constant activity of beneficiary insects.
Figs with Strawberries
Ground cover and scattered shade from the fig leaves will help strawberries thrive in a wood-like environment. Strawberries absorb a lot of humidity from the air, which prevents many weed species from growing. By preventing the growth of weeds, many harmful pests will be kept at bay, while water and nutrients will be conserved.
There are many helpful insects and pest-killing reptiles that are drawn to the blossoms of strawberries. Lizards like to eat strawberries as well.
Additionally, you don’t have to harm the fig tree’s roots by digging up the soil every year because strawberries are perennials.
In my experience, alpine or forest strawberries are best suited for underplanting because of their small size.
Figs with Lavender
Lavender, like figs, is a Mediterranean plant that thrives in similar climates.
Lavender attracts beneficial insects while repelling pests, making it an excellent pollinator. Herbivores like deer and fleas are supposed to be deterred by the stiff, oily leaves.
When it comes to growth conditions, lavender is quite picky. It is best grown in broad sunlight with little to no water and fertilizer. It likes to be left alone, which means it is perfect to go along with fig. You won’t need to disturb fig tree’s roots often, and they both thrive in the same conditions.
Especially good companion plant in dry, warm climates.
Figs with Rosemary
For those who reside in an area with frequent droughts, rosemary is a fantastic choice for your garden, as it is a Mediterranean plant.
The high-resin leaves of rosemary are similar to lavender in their ability to deter pests. It grows best in similar climates as figs and lavender, making it an excellent companion plant for fig trees.
It’s better to put rosemary beneath the drip line of your fig tree or under your fig tree because it may grow rather big. Its size can soak up excess water that would otherwise pool underneath a fig tree. I find it grows best on the edges of fig trees on the sunny side.
Figs with Vegetables and Other Edible Plants
Some of them I’ve mentioned above when I was talking about my companion planting routine. I won’t talk about each one separately because their benefits for fig trees are mostly limited and the list is infinitely long. They are useful on their own because they provide food, and the ones I previously mentioned, like corn, cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli, add some benefits for fig trees as well.
Many other plants can grow together with figs, but that doesn’t mean they are beneficial for fig trees.
Here is one example.
Rhododendrons with Figs
Rhododendrons are often recommended as companion flowers for figs. However, I’m not sure if that’s true in all parts of the world. To make matters worse, even the tiniest portion of the root is capable of producing an entirely new plant. They tend to grow too quickly and consume all the nutrients from the shallow soil.
As well as being an invasive species, the plant releases substances that limit the success of other plants in the area.
They work well with fig trees only when kept under control. However, keeping them under control sometimes means disturbing fig tree’s roots.