Stark Bro's Plant Manual for Brown Turkey Fig

Getting Started


Plants grown in a greenhouse must be acclimated carefully before planting or placing them outdoors. This is especially true in hot or sunny locations. Many species should never be grown in full sun. Before purchasing a plant, learn about its sun requirements. Knowing the plants requirements can avoid any damage to the plant by incorrectly giving it the wrong conditions.

If your plant has been grown in a greenhouse, here are a few steps we recommend you follow:

  • After purchasing your plant, place it outside in a sheltered, shady spot or on your back porch.
  • Leave it there for 3-4 hours and gradually increase the time spent outside by 1-2 hours per day.
  • Bring the plants back indoors each night.
  • Water it regularly to keep the plant moist.
  • Occasionally spray the leaves with water.
  • After 2-3 days, move the plants from their shady spot into morning sun, returning them to the shade in the afternoon.
  • After 7 days, the plants should be able to handle the outdoor temperatures, if they stay around 50 degress F.
  • After 7-10 days, your plant is ready to be planted in its permanent location. Try to do this on a cloudy day and be sure to water the plant well.
  • Observe foliage daily. If any type of leaf discoloration occurs, put the plant back into filtered light and attempt this step at a later date.
  • Special care must be taken to avoid burning the leaves.

These are general guide recommendations. Some plants take longer than others to acclimate.


Successfully establishing a young fruit tree starts with your planting site and method. Once a fruit tree is established, it needs little assistance to grow and bear fruit; but you’ll want to make sure you give your trees the right foundation.

Fruit trees require fertile soil for good growth, so before you plant, check your soil pH. Contact your local County Extension Office for information about soil testing in your area, or purchase one of our digital meters for quick and accurate results. Fig trees enjoy a soil pH between 6.0 and 6.5.

Planting Site

  • Figs prefer a sunning location that gets sunlight 6 to 8 hours a day.
  • Figs can be grown in a variety of soils, from light, sandy types to heavy clay.
  • Figs do not like alkaline soils.
  • Space your tree 10-35 feet apart, depending on variety.


  • Dig a hole large enough to accommodate the root system.
  • Plant your fig trees 2-4” deeper than they were in the nursery row or pot.
  • Water your plant thoroughly.
  • Do not fertilize your fig tree at time of planting.
  • No pruning necessary at planting time.
  • Keep the ground mulched around the trees to keep it free of weeds, but don’t cultivate so deeply that the surface roots will be damaged.
  • Fig trees need winter protection if you live north of zone 7.

Figs may also be grown in pots and stored in an unheated basement or garage for the winter. If grown in pots, they should be repotted every second year with fresh soil.

Care & Maintenance


If your fig tree is potted or grown in sand, regular fertilization is usually necessary. A well-balanced fruit tree fertilizer like Stark® Tre-Pep® is recommended. Apply according to label instructions.

Fertilizing Tips

  • Be sure not to over-fertilize because excess nitrogen will encourage growth at the expense of fruit production. This can often cause figs to ripen improperly, if at all.
  • If the branches of your fig tree grow less than one foot the previous year, you should fertilize.

Insects and Diseases

Every fruit tree has the future potential for disease and insect damage. Factors such as location and weather will play a part in which issues your tree encounters. If available, disease-resistant trees are the best option for easy care; and for all trees, proper maintenance (such as watering, fertilizing, pruning, spraying, weeding, and fall cleanup) can help keep most insects and diseases at bay.

Fig Rust

Disease appears on leaves as a small yellowish-orange spots, then enlarges and spreads as the growing season progresses, eventually causing the leaves to drop.

Natural Control

  • Serenade® Garden Disease Control

Fig Mosaic

Disease appears as large yellow spots on the leaves, then a rust colored ring surrounds the spot. Can cause fruit to drop and leaves to be smaller.


  • Remove and destroy all infested trees.
  • Plant disease free trees.

Other Control Options

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Root Knot Nematodes

Small worms that feed on roots and burrow into the root system and eat the roots causing reddish-brown lesions, leaves will turn brown and wilt. Roots swell reducing their ability to absorb water and nutrients.


  • Plant disease free trees.
  • Remove and destroy all infested trees.

Other Control Options

  • Consult County Extension Agent


First appears as small black, yellow or brown spots on leaves, then spots enlarge and merge to affect entire area.

Natural Control

  • Serenade® Garden Disease Control


Usually on bark of young twigs and branches, encrusted with small (1/16”) hard, circular, scaly raised bumps with yellow centers, may also be on fruit. Sap feeding weakens the tree.

Natural Control

  • Bonide® Insecticidal Soap


Adults are ¼“ long, flat, oval shaped with a white waxy covering. Yellow to orange eggs are laid within an egg sac. Crawlers are yellow to brown in color. Over winters as an egg or very immature young in or near a white, cottony egg sac, under loose bark or in branch crotches, mostly found on north side. Damage is by contamination of fruit clusters with egg sacs, larvae, adults and honeydew, which promotes growth of black sooty mold.

Natural Control

  • Bonide® Insecticidal Soap


You’ll be happy to know that fig trees need very little pruning! Just basic maintenance is all that’s necessary.

Maintenance Pruning

  • Weak, diseased or dead limbs should be removed each dormant season.
  • Thin the blooms on older fig trees (which grow very little each year) to increase fruit size and to stimulate about a foot of growth per year.


Spraying is important to the survival of your trees. To handle potential diseases and pests, reference the guidelines below to know what you should spray, and when you should use it.

Before you begin, read and follow all instructions on labels.

Natural Control

When To Spray

At the First Sign of:

  • Serenade® Garden Disease Control for anthracnose and rust.
  • * Bonide® Insecticidal Soap* for mealybugs and scale insects.


The watering needs of fig trees is dependent on how it is planted. Use the following guidelines to make sure you fulfill your tree’s watering needs.

Container-Grown Guidelines

If your fig tree is growing in a container it will require watering more frequently. The best way to determine if your container needs water is to check the soil by inserting your finger into it. If the feels dry, water your container.

Ground-Planting Guidelines

Unless you’re in an area where irrigation is usually needed for normal plant growth, you probably won’t need to water after the first growing season. Until then, follow these steps to get your new trees off to a great start.

  • If summer brings about an inch of rainfall every 10 days or so, you won’t need to use the hose. But if it gets really dry, you can give your new tree a good, thorough soaking. The best way to do this is to let your garden hose trickle slowly. This gives the water a chance to soak in instead of running off. You can also use a soaker hose to water several trees at once. Give your tree enough water to soak the ground all around the roots.
  • It’s important to note that even if you’re in the midst of a brown-lawn drought, you don’t want to water too much. Once every 10 days or two weeks is plenty. Worse than dry, thirsty roots is waterlogged, drowning roots.


We strongly recommend giving figs winter protection in areas colder than zone 7.

Winterizing Tips

  • After the leaves fall, before severe weather arrives, wrap the branches with several layers of paper or burlap.
  • Tie them together in a bundle, as tight as possible without breaking them.
  • A final layer of tarpaper, oilcloth or plastic film should then be wrapped around and secured. (Make sure the top is closed so water can’t enter.)
  • Remove the wrapping in spring just before new growth begins.

An alternate method is to grow them in large tubs or pots and move them into a cool frost-proof cellar or outside building over winter.


Are you ready to enjoy delicious homegrown fruit? Harvest is the time to enjoy the results of your hard work. Keep a few things in consideration as you reap the fruits of your labor: the best time to pick the fruit from your tree, and how to store the fruit.

When to Harvest

Figs should be allowed to ripen fully on the tree. Fruit will be a brown/purple color when ripe. Microorganisms carried into the open eye of the fruit by insects will cause souring, so figs need to be picked as they ripen. Fresh figs will only keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days.

You may want to consider using gloves or wearing long sleeves when harvesting. Fig latex, exposed when the fruit is removed from the tree, can cause skin irritation.

Figs are ever-bearers and produce fruit on shoots that grow this year. Next year, they will produce the first crop of the season on wood that grew the previous year, and a second crop on the new seasons growth. In cooler areas, however, the second crop may not have enough time to ripen before cold weather.

Drying Figs

Figs may be dried in an oven or in the sun. In either case, choose fully ripe fruit to dry.

Oven Drying
  1. Remove stems
  2. Bring one-cup sugar and three cups water to a boil
  3. Add the figs and simmer 10 minutes
  4. Remove the figs and place them in a single layer on a drying rack
  5. Place in 115-120°F oven for 10-20 hours. Leave door cracked open to allow moisture to escape.
Sun Drying

When drying in the sun, leave the stems on.

  1. Wash well
  2. Cut figs in half to the stem
  3. Place cut side up on the drying rack & cover with cheesecloth or nylon net to keep insects off
  4. Put the rack in the sun on a table, on a car or on a roof. Bring in each day at sundown.

Figs should be dry after about 2 days. Figs are dry when the outside is firm & leathery but pliable and inside is soft with no sign of juice. Store in refrigerator or freezer in moisture proof bags.