Grow luscious fig trees in large pots in a warm, bright spot where the trees will be protected from late frosts, such as a south facing wall. Fig trees take minimal care and do not require much water or feeding and come in many varieties. In California, fig trees can grow outside all year; in the winter, when exposed to cold temperatures and short daylight hours fig trees go dormant and drop their leaves. In colder climates, plant a dwarf fig tree in a large container on wheels to be moved inside for the winter. A fig tree can grow as wide as it is tall, up to 30 feet, with roots extending even farther. Planting a fig tree in a large pot stops the wild root growth that can make a fig tree a pest. In late winter, wear gloves to prune the fig plant lightly as the plant’s sap may be an irritant to the skin, keeping the shape of a cup and removing any suckers at the base of the trunk.
Figs need to ripen fully on the tree in a warm climate. These sweet fruits are actually compressed flowers, part of the mulberry family. Fig trees bear two crops every year, in late spring and early fall. The spring fruit is borne on the previous season’s growth, while the main crop forms on the current season’s growth. To concentrate the flavor of the fruit, deny the tree water in the last days of the fruit ripening. These sweet delicate fruits need to ripen on the tree and only last a couple of days after being picked. Figs are lusciously sweet, rich in potassium, antioxidants, and fiber, and make a good laxative. Birds also love the sweet juicy fruit, and so cover the tree with bird netting when little fig buds appear. Pull off the ripe drooping figs and enjoy eating them fresh or dry them in the sun for four or five days and they will last for months. A fig tree can make any outdoor living space delightful and add dramatic interest on the patio.