How to Grow a Brown Turkey Fig Tree

Fig trees are native to the Mediterranean and come in edible and nonedible types. The brown turkey fig bears large copper-colored fruit. It doesn't need pollination to set crops, making it easy to grow in mild climates. Given protection from cold weather, regular feeding and moisture, Brown turkey trees grow 1 or 2 feet per year. They can be grown as trees or shrubs, and their fruit can be eaten from the tree or kept for preserves.

Things You'll Need

  • Spade
  • Water
  • Mulch
  • 8-8-8 fertilizer
  • Burlap

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Step 1

Plant brown turkey figs in the spring after the last frost. Dig a hole, in a spot protected from the wind that gets full sun at least eight hours a day. Space figs 15 feet from other trees as they will grow 10 feet high and spread 10 feet. Protect figs from cold below 10 F. Plant them in containers in the spring in colder climates and bring them indoors in the fall. Cover figs with burlap during cold snaps.

Step 2

Growing figs from seed is difficult. Buy a seedling from an established nursery and plant it in rich soil mixed with one-third humus. Set the top of the root ball an inch below ground level and fill it in with soil, firming it down to eliminate air pockets. Make a mound of soil in a ring around the trunk, creating a basin to retain water. Prune the main stem to 3 feet on bare root stock but leave container-grown plants alone. Water thoroughly to moisten the dry soil. Mulch around the trunk with leaves, pine needles, straw or peat moss to protect the fig’s shallow root system and to control weeds.

Step 3

Water to keep the soil moist until the young figs become established. After they're producing healthy new growth, water only in times of drought. Soggy roots will produce fruits that split. Brown turkey figs produce large fruit with a light copper skin and amber flesh in July, with a second crop of medium fruit in August. The figs are good for fresh eating and preserves.

Step 4

Fertilize the tree every spring just before new growth appears. Use 1 lb. of 8-8-8 fertilizer per year of growth up to a maximum of 12 lbs. Remove dead and crossing branches and suckers and prune to shape the tree after the last frost. Prune to encourage new growth, which produces figs. Pick the fruit just as it softens. Soft fruit is the tastiest. Store brown turkey figs at 40 F for short periods only.

Tips & Warnings

  • New figs are vulnerable to winter injury. Pile loose soil or mulch against the trunk up to 2 feet high to protect the trunk in winter. Remove it in the spring and apply new mulch to protect the roots.
  • Wear gloves during harvest if your skin is sensitive to the fig's milky latex.


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