How to grow potted fig trees

Updated February 21, 2017

If you're looking for a fruit tree that will thrive in a container, consider a fig tree. Fig trees do well when their roots are restricted to a small area, and because they are susceptible to freezing, they can be moved indoors during cold weather. Fig trees are easy to grow and maintain, but the real reward comes every year when you harvest the sweet, juicy figs.

Purchase a small fig tree at a nursery or greenhouse. Fig trees grow fast, so it isn't necessary to buy an expensive, larger tree.

Choose a container slightly larger than the fig tree's root ball. Any type of container will work as long as it has good drainage holes in the bottom. Keep in mind that darker-coloured pots will absorb heat, which may be a problem with an outdoor tree. Smaller pots will dry out quickly and require more water.

Put two inches of gravel or small pebbles in the bottom of the container. Fig trees don't like their roots to sit in water, and gravel or pebbles will increase drainage.

Fill the container approximately 1/3 full with a potting soil mixture and set the tree on top of the soil. Figs trees should be planted deep, so adjust the level of potting soil, being sure that the top of the root ball is at least two inches below the top of the soil. Finish filling the container with the potting soil mixture, leaving two to four inches between the top of the soil and the rim of the container to allow for watering.

Keep the soil damp, especially during the first few months while the tree is getting established. Fig trees don't need to be fertilised, but a two-inch layer of organic mulch on top of the soil will enrich the soil and help it conserve moisture. Wood chips, compost, straw, pine needles or sawdust will work.

Prune the fig tree lightly during the spring and summer months, if needed, to preserve the desired shape and size of the tree. Trim any branches that are getting too long, as well as any that are crossing or growing down or inward instead of up and out. Repot the tree at least every other year to a pot about two to three inches larger in diameter than the current pot.

Bring the fig tree indoors during the winter and keep it in a cool room with indirect light. To allow the tree to enter dormancy, cut back on watering and allow the top inch of the soil to dry out between waterings.


Although fig trees can be grown indoors, they will be much healthier and will bear more fruit if they spend the spring and summer outdoors.

Things You'll Need

  • Planting container
  • Gravels or pebbles
  • Mixture of ¾ commercial potting soil and ¼ perlite
  • Organic mulch
  • Pruning shears
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About the Author

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.