Brown Turkey Fig Trees (Ficus carica). Pot grown
Ficus carica Brown Turkey
Brown Turkey fig trees are the best figs for growing outside in the UK, according the RHS who have awarded it the Award of Garden Merit (AGM). It crops every year, almost without fail, and if Brown Turkey is planted in a nice sunny spot it will produce excellent fruit and heavy crops in sunny summers. There are a couple of tips/tricks to growing figs (see below). If you think it needs more attention than you can give, then take a look at some of our other more unusual fruits instead.
All varieties of Ficus carica (fig trees) are fully self-fertile, so you only need one Brown Turkey to keep a large family very happy.
If you plant a fig tree into the ground without taking precautions, you will quickly realise just how big fruiting figs can grow. In the wild they can be very large trees indeed. So here is what you do...
The principle is similar to Bonsai where a small container restricts the size of the tree. In the case of figs restricting the food supply limits the size of the tree while allowing fruit to form naturally. So, if planting in the garden, preparation is all important. Dig a hole no more than 60cm long x 60cm wide x 75 cm deep. Line the walls with material that roots cannot penetrate. Paving slabs are often used as can the thick plastic damp proof membrane used by builders when casting concrete floors. Put a layer of at least 20-25 cms rubble or hardcore in the bottom of the hole and them fill with ordinary garden soil. Plant the fig in this.
If you want to put your fig in a container, choose one of a similar size to the hole outlined above and make sure it is sturdy.
As long as you follow the rules above, figs can be grown freestanding as a low bush or larger standard tree but they are more generally grown trained in a fan shape against a wall or fence.
Ficus carica is trememndously vigorous and requires pruning every year. Figs crop on last year's wood, which means thay should be treated very like summer fruiting raspberries. Any wood that has fruited is cut out and older structural branches can be removed without fear of hurting the plant. In spring it is a good idea to cut out crossing branches and suckers. Depending on growth, sometime in the summer cut back new growths to 5-6 leaves to encourage fruit formation the following year. Before winter sets in remove any large fruits that have not ripened. However leave the little marble sized figlets for the following year. Always leave 5cm (2in) long stubs when removing any branches.